The Route 66 Road Trip

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My Inspiration for THE ROAD TO YOU and THE ROAD AND BEYOND…

The Road and Beyond

In THE ROAD TO YOU and THE ROAD AND BEYOND, Aurora and Donovan take a driving trip down one of the world’s most famous highways, Route 66, which spans nearly 2,500 miles from Chicago, IL all the way across the West to the California coast. Below are photos I took from many of the fascinating, memorable sites along the way, as well as a few snapshots of places/objects of interest that relate to the story:

66 1978 Firebird Trans Am (2)

A 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – Donovan’s car!

66 MN - lake

One of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes – Aurora and Donovan’s fictional hometown of Chameleon Lake might overlook one like this.

66 IL - 66 signs

The start of historic Route 66 in Illinois.

66 IL - signs Chicago

Signs letting drivers know the current highways to take to Chicago and Bloomington-Normal.

Normal

A classic movie theater in downtown Normal, IL.

The Quad - Normal, IL

The Quad that Donovan and Aurora visit on the Illinois State University (ISU) campus in Normal.

66 IL - travel mat (2)

A restaurant travel mat that depicts famous stops along Route 66 from Chicago, IL to Springfield, MO.

sm-mt rushmore car

So many cute painted cars in downtown Pontiac, IL.

66 IL - Ariston

The Ariston Cafe – which has existed since 1924 and has been located in Litchfield, IL along Route 66 since 1935 – still serves fabulous food for travelers!

66 IL - Ariston1

An outside shot of the Ariston.

66 IL - Ariston4

Me at the inside counter.

66 IL - Ariston2

Delicious burgers for dinner!

66 IL - Ariston3

And did I mention their tasty desserts?

66 IL - Whirl-a-Whip

Other places – like Whirl-A-Whip Sandwiches – are no longer in operation along the route.

66 IL - soda fountain

But Doc’s Soda Fountain seemed to still be in business – just, unfortunately, not open when we were driving by…

sm-Ted Drewes

We did manage to get to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard – YUM! – in St. Louis, MO.

sm-Gateway Arch

The famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis!

sm-Joplin Library

Aurora is a big fan of libraries and all the information they contain, so she and Donovan make a stop at the Joplin Carnegie Library in Joplin, Missouri – it was still open to the public in 1978.

sm-Blue Whale

The adorable and unusual Blue Whale – Catoosa, OK.

sm-historic rt 66

Some of the original Route 66 highway.

sm-National RT 66 museum

The National Route 66 Museum in Oklahoma.

Lucille's

Lucille’s Service Station – built in 1929! – is the classic stop for gasoline out near Hydro, OK, and I loved visiting but, thankfully, we’d already filled up our tank.

sm-Big Texan

The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, where I had the best and most tender filet I’ve ever tasted!

sm-steak meal

The Big Texan’s famous 72oz. steak meal! Eat all of this in an hour (by yourself) and it’s free…

sm-Cadillac Ranch pix

The Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX – one of the trip’s big highlights for me!

sm-Cadillac and me

And this shot was a particular favorite of mine :).

sm-Blue Swallow Motel

The Blue Swallow Motel – the cutest motor lodge anywhere – in Tucumcari, NM.

sm-Blue Swallow wall

Just look at this awesome mural on the the back wall of one of the Blue Swallow’s garages…

sm-santa fe church

The beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in the heart of Santa Fe – it reminded me of the style of church that Aurora and Donovan visit during their time in New Mexico, although the one they go to is much smaller.

sm-santa fe jewelry

Lots of unique jewelry and arts/crafts shops to be found in downtown Santa Fe!

sm-Rt 66 Diner

The Route 66 Diner – with great food and fantastic décor – in Albuquerque, NM.

sm-wall by rt 66 diner

This is the wall at the edge of the Route 66 Diner’s parking lot – full of “66” signs!

sm-sandia mts

The gorgeous Sandia Mountains of New Mexico.

**Even though my road trip down Route 66 ended in central NM, the journey down The Mother Road/America’s Main Street continues westward through Flagstaff & Topock, Arizona…and San Bernardino & Pasadena, California…and I’m hoping I’ll be able to continue the adventure sometime soon!**

Stairway to Heaven

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” ~Led Zeppelin, “Stairway to Heaven”