Route 66 Day 3: Breaking Out of Joliet

It is Day 3, and well, we are still in Joliet. Yup, we have so many memories here, and so much we wanted to see, we travelled about 250 miles and are in still in the city! Time to break out, and our first stop out of town was the old Joliet Prison.

The architecture is amazing for a prison, and with the abandoned rooms and broken windows, it has just the right creep appeal. 

After we had our fill of the prison, we took a last drive through the city as we headed south along historic Route 66. The clouds and sunlight lit up the steeples of this church from afar.

As we travelled south, we got to see new landscapes and sites along the road. Parts of the road are original and have the worn feel to them to prove it. Along many parts of the roads we travelled, we could see the original Route 66 roadway parallel our path. We stopped to get photos of an original bridge on the old route, alongside the new. 

This old barn caught my eye as we travelled along. Art has been phenomenal at piloting and getting us in position for the right shots. I have been navigating with our book, and 2 apps with directions and sites to see, but there are lots of spontaneous photo ops.

This barn was like an ancient oasis in the middle of an intermodal center. I have never seen so many semi trucks in one place, ever. A constant stream of trucks, scurrying about like ants. As we took photos of this barn, it was an endless convoy of trucks in both directions on the road.

We pushed on, traveling though small towns, and near Dwight, we came upon some classic cars. These brought back lots of memories! I think I have old photos from my parents with pictures of cars similar to this one. 

We drove through a large wind farm, with turbines on each side of the road. these old farm buildings were a stark contrast of old and new. 

Today we felt our perspectives shift; seeing the miles of farm land, multiple grain silos, and the wind turbines, really made us think about how day to day life can be so very different than what we are used to.

I think this quote by Terry Tempest Williams reflects how our travel influenced us today: 

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns

in order to look at things in a different way. 

Terry Tempest Williams

Art and I both had our creativity stirred by looking at things in a different way, so much so, that Art will be joining me in our blogging, with “A View From The Driver’s Seat”

Art’s View From The Driver’s Seat:

Deb, as always, does a wonderful job at describing the emotional aspects of our travel, something that I’m totally incapable of doing. I’m more into the practical aspects of the trip planning and execution.

We rented the vehicle for a month since we didn’t know how long it will take. Turns out that was a good decision since we’ve been driving for 3 days, 8+ hours a day and have only gone about 285 actual miles (somehow we’ve put more than twice that on the odometer with all of the side trips and backtracking). Since we lived in Illinois for so many years, I thought we’d be through it in maybe a day. Tomorrow is day four of driving and maybe we will finally get to Missouri.

We reserved the vehicle (a Jeep Compass) a few months ago and one of the things we came to realize is that the tax on a rental is a significant component of the daily cost. The tax is specific to whichever city you rented in and is charged for each day whether or not the car stays local or is driven across county as we’re doing. We discovered that for a one month rental, the same vehicle from the same company is over $400 cheaper if rented in Milwaukee versus Chicago. Since Milwaukee is only about an hours drive from the Chicago area, it would have been travel malpractice not to fly into Milwaukee to rent the car.

Side note, the key fobs for the Jeep are massive and they give you two of them permanently attached together with a cable. We were told that they have to be returned attached but there is no way that these two keys are going to fit into any pants pocket short of a clown suit. A quick trip down the tool aisle of a nearby home depot solved that problem. They’ll get their keys back, attached together with a zip-tie.

Route 66 is a meandering road that starts as city streets in Chicago and becomes progressively more rural. I’d say also less well maintained but Chicago doesn’t set a terribly high bar, so it’s hard to tell. A lot of our time has been spent stopping at sites that are either on our must-see list or that we happen upon and decide that it’s worth seeing. But the real reason the pace is going so slowly is the number of times we slow or stop to take a photo. Old signs, buildings, barns, Route 66 has them all.

Deb has termed the phrase Route 66 paparazzi for what we do. It’s a combination of her shooting out the front window, or me driving slowly while she takes a few shots with her window down, or stopping completely so I can take a few shots out my side. Mostly, we simply pull off to the side or, if nobody’s behind us, stop in the middle of the road and we both jump out and fire away. It’s somewhat like a fire drill and we’re getting pretty fast at exiting and reentering the car. I’m thinking that this should be a competitive event for all those doing the Route 66 drive.

Deb wrote about our drive from Chicago to Joliet, a town I lived in for over 8 years without once thinking about the fact that Route 66 runs right through it. In fact, it ran less than a quarter mile past our first townhouse and I traveled it every day on my way to work with absolutely no thought as to the history. I’m glad we finally have a chance to do this trip and hopefully, some day soon, we’ll get past Illinois.

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