GG Columbus, Route 66 in Chicago back to CO

The Goodguys Summit Nationals was over.
I left Columbus Monday morning and headed to Indianapolis to meet a friend for lunch.
Larry asked me if I had ever been to the Mug ‘n Bun.
I hadn’t.

The Mug ‘n Bun is a super-cool old-school drive-in that’s been there for almost 50 years.
It’s even got car-hop service.
If you want to eat in your car just park and flip on your headlights and a server will be out to take your order.
So cool!!
We ate inside and enjoyed the AC.
Larry told me that just a mile away is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the home to the Indy 500.

We didn’t get on the track – I’ll have to save that for another time.
But it was still super cool to get The 55 into IMS!
I followed Larry over to check out his shop – it’s just past Lucas Oil Raceway.
After checking out his shop and seeing the sights I was on my way up to Chicago and the official start of Route 66.
But – as luck would have it – just east of Chicago is Indiana Dunes National Park.

For those of you keeping track – Indiana Dunes National Park is National Park number 26 for me & The 55.
From Indiana Dunes National Park we crossed over into Illinois and Chicago.

When I saw the “Cook County” sign my mind immediately went to “The Blues Brothers.”
They were “on a mission from God” to get to the Cook County accessors office.
Once I had the Blues Brothers in my head I had to go and see the “Triple Rock Church” with my own eyes.

When I woke up this morning… I heard a disturbing sound.
I said, when I woke up this morning… I heard a disturbing sound.
What I heard was the jingle jangle of a thousand lost souls!
I missed the Reverend Cleophus James – but I did see The Light!!!
The Triple Rock Church in the movie is the Pilgrim Baptist Church of South Chicago in real life.
And it’s hardly changed at all.
Chicago was built around a maze of railroad tracks – they’re everywhere.
And they’re amazing.

I found this Mid-Century Masterpiece – Pride Cleaners – and I had to stop for a picture.

It’s not a batwing, but it’s certainly got that batwing vibe.
Chicago has one of my favorite museums ever.
The Museum of Science and Industry.
When I was a kid, my parents took me there and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Every time I’m in Chicago I have to go.
If you’re a big kid like me, you’ll love it.
It’s got massive train sets, a farm combine you can climb up and sit in, the Pioneer Zyphyr train and the U-505 submarine.
Yeah – a real life German submarine from World War II.
I love this place!!
Just down the road from the Museum of Science & Industry is the Robie House.

The Robie House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and is recognized by the American Institute of Architects as one of the ten most significant structures of the twentieth century.
It’s the only house in the neighborhood that’s low and flat – all the other houses are tall and thin.
The Robie House is considered the best known example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style of architecture.
It’s also his crown jewel.
It was getting late and I was getting hungry so I had dinner and hit the sack.
I got up bright and early the next morning and hit the road.
My first stop was to Rays Music Exchange – another Blues Brothers location – but when I got there I found out the building was gone.
It was a dirt lot.
I read that the building had burnt down in a fire and was recently scraped.
Very sad…
From the site of Rays Music Exchange I made my way up into downtown Chicago and the official start of Route 66.

I can now say – The 55 & I have been from Chicago to Santa Monica on Route 66!!
I’m pretty proud of that.
Now I’ve got to do the whole Route 66 trip from beginning to end with no side trips.
I told you I dig all of the train overpasses in Chicago.
Something you don’t see in every city is the elevated train tracks that the trains runs on.
They call it the “El.”

Pretty cool right?
I was getting hungry and I didn’t want a hamburger.
Only a cheezborger would do.

No fries! Cheeps.
No Pepsi!! Coke.
The Billy Goat Tavern is on Lower Michigan Avenue and it’s an American institution.
That’s right – there’s an upper and a lower Michigan Avenue, and the lower is like another world!!
Click here to see my drive to the Billy Goat Tavern.
It was made famous from a Saturday Night Live sketch with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray.
From the Billy Goat Tavern I went east to see another Claes Oldenburg sculpture – the Batcolumn.

It’s a big-ass baseball bat made out of wire mesh…
But it’s a work of art.
The whiffle structure helps it withstand Chicago’s windy weather.
I left Chicago and headed west on Historic Route 66.

I love that Illinois is so proud of their Route 66 heritage.
Another Route 66 gem is Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket.

Dell Rhea’s has been on Route 66 since the late 1930’s or early 1940’s.
It was closed so no chicken or cocktails for me…
I continued to follow Historic Route 66 while I listened to the Blues Brothers soundtrack.

I wasn’t on a “Mission from God,” but I had to see Old Joliet Prison with my own eyes.

This is the door Joliet Jake gets out of prison from.
Where Elwood picks him up in an old cop car.
“You traded the Bluesmobile for a microphone?”
“I can see that.”
I’ve seen the movie so many times it’s like an old friend.
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get The 55 with Interstate 55.

It was past lunch time and I was getting hungry.
I came across the Polk-a-Dot Drive-In at just the right time.

I had a cheeseburger – not a cheezborger.
Fries – not chips.
And a Mountain Dew – no Coke.
The Polk-A-Dot Drive-In has been on Historic Route 66 for over 50 years.
If you’re driving Route 66 you’ve gotta stop into the Polk-A-Dot Drive-In.
I continued on Route 66 and in Gardner, Illinois I saw some painting on the road.
In all of my travels on Route 66 I’ve never seen a tribute like this.

Look at all of the Route 66 signs painted on the street with the name of each state the road travels through.
Pretty cool right?
The Gardner, Illinois post office was too cute to pass up.

You know I’m a Frank Lloyd Wright fan.
Right down the road in Dwight is the last surviving bank designed by FLW.

The First National Bank of Dwight.
Also in Dwight is Ambler’s Texaco Gas Station.

Built in 1933 – it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
And according to the sign – it’s a Route 66 Roadside Attraction.
Continuing on Route 66 to the town of Odell I found this Standard Oil Gas Station.

Built in 1932 – it’s like stepping back in time.
It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places.
As I was driving along I spotted the Palamar Motel and I had to stop.

Would you look at that?!?
I love it!!
It kind of looked abandoned when I drove up, but then a little boy came out of the front lobby and stared at me while I took this picture.
On this section of Route 66 I drove right next to the original old Route 66.
It’s been made into a trail you can hike or bike on, but no cars are allowed on it any longer.
Then I discovered this Route 66 decommissioned Illinois State police headquarters.

It was built in 1941 and is supposed to be designed to look like a derringer from the air.

This is one of the original parts of Route 66 asphalt.
If you look off to the left there’s an old car driving by.
As I was taking these pictures a car club drove past me on their way to Chicago.
There must’ve been 30 of these old classics running down the road.
I saw them and waved and they all started honking their horns and waving back at me.
Very cool!!!
Continuing on Route 66 into Normal, IL I found Sprague’s Super Service Station.

Built in 1931 by William Sprague it looks more like a Tudor house than a gas station.
It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places.
There’s lots of cool history on Route 66.
As I headed back down to see Cotten I came across this cornfield.

No cars and only tall, green corn as far as the eye could see.
Amazing.
And kind of creepy.
No one was around for miles and all you could hear was the wind whistling thru the corn stalks.
I’m glad no one came out of the corn and grabbed me.
Cotten and I made it back to Big Mama’s BBQ Express, but the were out of the pork steak again.
It’s gotta be good if they always sell out of it right??
We got the burnt ends, potato salad and baked beans.
And it was – fantastic!!!
Let’s be honest – any place that serves snouts has got to be legit BBQ – am I right?!?
From Cotten’s I went back into St. Louis and met a friend for lunch at Zia’s on the Hill.
When I told Cotten I was going to Zia’s he told me he was coming along with me – it’s that good.
I had no idea.
It turns out my friends dad started Zia’s almost 40 years ago.
His sister owns & runs it now.
It’s seriously good Italian food.
Their calamari is probably the best I’ve ever had – light and crispy and full of tentacles.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm…. tentacles.
After lunch Nick took me to see the worlds largest Amoco sign.

Then we drove through Forrest Park.
Forrest Park opened in 1876 and is bigger than Central Park in New York.
It also houses the Saint Louis Zoo and the Saint Louis Art Museum.
When I saw it – I slammed on the brakes and pulled over.
Another Oldenburg just sitting there in the grass!!
I had no idea we were going drive right by another Oldenburg.

The Giant Three-Way Plug was just sitting there taunting me.
I explored Forrest Park and then went back over to Webster Groves on Route 66 to visit Dr. Buck.
This time in Webster Groves Dr. Buck made us dinner at home – cheeseburgers on the grill.
And they were tasty.
I left the next morning and headed west towards Eureka and another batwing.

This batwing is part of a tire service chain in the Saint Louis area.
I took Interstate 44 west and exited onto highway 50 in Union, MO.
Highway 50 is a beautiful, rolling, curvey two-lane blacktop.
It’s a great road especially when there’s no one else in front of you holding you up.
I’m surprised that this section isn’t a National or a State designated Scenic Byway.
My favorite part is from Rosebud to Jefferson City.
I couldn’t miss the Rosebud post office.

I stayed on highway 50 until I got to Whiteman Air Force Base.
My buddy Rio is an A-10 pilot and got me into the base for a little fun.

Do you like video games?
I do.
Rio put me into the A-10 simulator.
Yeah… the real life military A-10 fighter jet simulator that the pilots train in!!
It turns out blowing up tanks with the GAU-8 isn’t as easy as these guys make it look.
Go past the target, then turn in, drop down and get that GAU-8 rolling.
The GAU-8 fires 30mm rounds at a rate of 3900 rounds per minute.
Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapp!!!!!
That’s a lot of firepower!!!!
After all that excitement I had built up a powerful hunger so Rio took me to Jazzy B’s BBQ for dinner and it did not disappoint.
The burnt ends were so good they didn’t need sauce.
And the baked beans were some of the best I’ve ever had.
I left Kansas City the next morning and I was still full of BBQ goodness.
We had over 600 miles to go to get back to Colorado so I got on the Interstate and let The 55 eat.
With the new rear gear it is a highway cruising machine!!
I got off of I-70 at Oakley and got onto highway 40 towards Colorado Springs.
As it turns out this is a part of Kansas’s Western Vistas Byway.

Not a National Scenic Byway – a state designated scenic byway.
I love Scenic Byways.
I slowed down to drive thru Kit Carson, and as I sped back up I heard a pop.
It felt like the car didn’t want to accelerate.
Like it was resisting.
Great…
I turned off of highway 40 and onto highway 94 headed towards Ellicott.
My mom taught English at Ellicott high school for years and I wanted to go by and get a picture next to her class-room, but I’ll have to save that for another time.
I limped The 55 back up to Evergreen with more pops but no more drama.
We made it!!
Six states, two National Parks and almost 3500 miles in just 14 days.
That’s a pretty good run.
Especially in a 66 year old car.
Now I’ve got to figure out what the popping sound is.
I think it’s a bad coil-pack, but we’ll see.
So…
Until the next time.
I hope to see you out on the road.
I’m Jeff Thisted, and I drive a 55
#idrivea55


2 thoughts on “GG Columbus, Route 66 in Chicago back to CO

  1. Great presentation on that trip. Hope you got your 55 fixed. We sire enjoyed our conversation with you and your Dad!

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    1. Thanks so much Pastor Phil!! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I just got back from another road-trip adventure and this time we got The 55 fixed!! New fuel injectors did the trick!!!! It was great seeing you guys – let’s get together at Fargo’s sometime soon

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