Route 66 #1

Route 66 #1
Route 66 Museum

Friday, June 28, 2013

Travelers Retrospective #5: June 28, 2013 Part 2

Barstow is another larger town with 66 as its main drag. After the desolation of some of the towns we just passed through Barstow seemed like a nice change of scenery. But we have been to Barstow before and didn't feel the need to stop. So on to Victorville. 

On the way to Victorville we passed through more classic 66 spots like Helendale. Victorville is another larger town, and is home to the California Route 66 Museum. Unluckily for us we got there too early and didn't have time to wait. So it was on to the Cajon Pass.

The Cajon Pass was in 66's prime a deadly stretch of highway. Steep grades and curving roads. But at the top of the pass is the Summit Inn. We stopped here for lunch, this place is another 66 classic. After here it was on to San Bernardino and the start of LA and its suburbs.

At San Bernardino Route 66 becomes suburban highway and thoroughfare all the way to Santa Monica. A very long and frustrating trip, that takes several hours. One of the first sites we saw was the Wigwam Motel at Rialto, which at that time was being restored. After that it was lots of modern suburban sprawl. Until Pasadena when the terrain changes a bit and Pasadena stands out against other cities in its beauty. Just outside Pasadena 66 joins Colorado Boulevard, as in the "Little Old Lady from Pasadena", and to Parade of Roses.  

After Pasadena we passed through some places we have defiantly heard of like West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles, and drove on such famous streets like Sunset, and Santa Monica Boulevards all on and part of 66. 

Finally Ocean Avenue to our stay at the Georgian Hotel, and dinner on Santa Monica Pier.

Another long day but looking out at the ocean and raising a glass to Route 66 made it all worth it. 

Travelers Retrospective #5: June 28, 2013

We left Fenders and got breakfast at a great place called the Wagon Wheel, Western motif, great food, great staff, very kitschy 66.  

What's wonderful about California is that original sections of 66 are still in place. I -40 isn't built on top of it. So outside of Needles we started chasing 66 through the Mojave. Luckily, my wife is a native Californian and wise in the ways of the Mojave, but we didn't need her expertise. But this section of 66 from Needles to San Bernardino was at one time frightening to travel. Cars had a hard time getting through the desert, and travelers too before A/C. Many travelers would travel through here by night, and it's not uncommon to see that suggested in old 66 guides. This is also the place where those canvas water bags that hung off the hood ornament use to be deployed. Luckily for newer cars this trip even in day time is no problem.

The road hits some legendary 66 desert towns, like Goffs and Essex, and makes it into Amboy. Amboy is a nothing place with a lot of surprises. The first surprise was the shoe tree, a tree with pairs of shoes hung by their laces, hundreds of them. Sadly on our last trip through the tree had been hit by lightening and collapsed into a wash, but I understand that a replacement may be found. 

Amboy is home to Roy's an old 66 landmark with a blue and red sign that sticks out in contrast to the bright brown glare of the desert. Roy's was a mid-desert tourist colony long ago, that provided gas, food, and lodging (small cabins). But over the past few decades had changed owners and now is rarely open if it is at all. It was closed on this trip. 

After Roy's you see a second surprise, a volcano. Yes a volcano in the middle of the desert. This is the extinct Amboy Crater, we didn't get too close on this trip but its a cool site, and a state park. 

After Amboy we pushed through Ludlow, and on to Newberry Springs. East of Newberry Springs we ran across a brown bar called the Bagdad Cafe, this is the spot the movie of the same name was filmed. I will talk about it in a later post. 

After Newberry Springs we where on to Dagget the home of a strange solar power plant that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. After that we go past Fort Irwin USMC logistics base and on to Barstow

Continued in part 2

Travelers Retrospective #4: June 27, 2013 Part 3

A lot to see in Arizona for Route 66.

We took old sections of 66 into downtown Flagstaff. We stopped at the Museum Club, another Route 66 classic. Of course we quickly found out that it was a bar and not a restaurant but the staff and customers where awesome and really nice, and took some time to talk to us. They where really cool, and also suggested a restaurant next door the Crown Railway Cafe, in the Howard Johnson. It was a great suggestion since Flagstaff was served by the Super Chief and is still served by Amtrak. My son loved it.

Flagstaff is about the size of a large Chicago suburb like Downers Grove, or Schaumburg. Meaning it does have traffic problems, especially on 66 which is a main drag in Flagstaff. We made or way out of town, but stopped off to see Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson. I'm not a motorcycle guy but they have cool Route 66 stuff, and the owner loves talking to 66 travelers. It was a nice experience. 

After that we headed into the hills by I-40, back here on red dirt roads are several old alignments of 66. I was glad I was driving a Jeep it was a bit harsh for a car. Here are sections from the 20's, 30's, and 40's, some still visible some not. It was really cool. 

Eventually we returned to I-40 and took a quick jaunt thought Williams, which had the opportunity for other adventures. After that we looked through Ash Forks, and later broke off to Saligman. We stopped in Saligman for a while and got some sodas at the the Snow Cap. The Delgadillo family still runs it and are a ball of laughs to joke with. Saligman is an iconic Route 66 town thanks to a Life Magazine photo taken of it in 1947. After Saligman is Hackberry and Peach Springs (basis of Cars Radiator Springs perhaps?), the we stopped for a bit in each town but it was getting late. 

We found our way back to I-40 bypassing Kingman, and Oatman, this time.  We got to Needles and stayed at Fenders Resort. It was a quiet little place on the Colorado River, and being tired from a long day of touring Route 66 Arizona we wished we could have stayed another day there. 

Pacific Ocean here we come!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Travelers Retrospective #4: June 27, 2013 Part 1

We left Holbrook that morning in a mad scramble. For a small town it has a busy rush hour on Monday mornings. It didn't take to long to get on to I-40 and we where on our way. Our first exit was exploring the route at Joseph City, and slowly making our way to the Jackrabbit trading post. "Here it Is" remarks the huge yellow sign with the Jackrabbit on it. If it looks sort of familiar it's because it was the basis for Lizzys Curio Shop in the movie Cars. Coincidentally, this is where we saw or first movie poster for Cars, keep in mind it was 2005 and the movie wasn't due out for another year. As far as I know the poster is still there as are the autographs of John Lassiter, and a few other celebrity's. 

Next up was Winslow, AZ. Feel free to sing the Eagles song Take it Easy since there is a street corner downtown dedicated to it. Winslow has a great visitors center to see, with helpful docents and cool stores nearby. We also saw the La Posada, an old Harvey House restored and making a life of its own. It's probably one of the most beautiful hotels we have ever seen.  

Immediately following Winslow we hit three more Arizona Route 66 attractions. The first attraction that we saw was Meteor City and of course it would be Meteor Crater. Meteor Crater is awesome and has a great visitors center dedicated to space exploration and meteors. Our son and kids in general love it rocks, and astronauts, what can I say.  

Next up are the Route 66 relics of Two Guns and Twin Arrows. Two Guns is now  in ruins (dangerous to explore), but back on the day was an tourist trap based on Old West lore. It had fake shoot outs, pony rides, rattle snake pits, and all the trappings of the late 40's through early 60's Western craze. 

Twin Arrows is a little further up. At that time we could see the two huge arrows sticking out of the ground on and angle,  but in following trips it was one and the remains of another sticking out of the ground. This is a really iconic place on
66 but has had a tragic recent past and fallen on hard times, and sadly is deteriorating quickly. I have heard that there is a restoration effort underway but I haven't seen much on it. 

After getting some photos there it was in to Flagstaff.

Continued in part 2

Route 66 Kids Picks - #6 Illinois: Land of Giants?

A Kids Opinion  - James 9 Years Old

"There are a bunch of statues of giants in Illinois. They are really funny cause the all look alike and are holding things. I like the Gemini Giant the most because he is an astronaut and has a rocket. The restaurant (the Launching Pad) had good food too". 

Yes, Illinois has three "giants" on Route 66. The most notable being the Gemini Giant located outside the Launching Pad Diner in Wilmington, Il. The 30 foot giant is dressed in a green short sleeved spacesuit (say that five times fast), with a silver helmet holding a rocket with Launching Pad markings. The Gemini name is an obvious reference to the Gemini (pronounced Gem•a•née in NASA speak) NASA program of the mid-sixties, about the time the giant would have found his way to Wilmington. 

The next giant is "Tall Paul" in Atlanta, IL. Essentially it is the Gemini Giant but in lumberjack clothes, no helmet, and holding a hot dog. It is my understanding that Tall Paul wondered Route 66 for many years, and at one point held an axe (Paul Bunyan), before the residents of Atlanta, IL welcomed him. 

Lastly, there is Lauterbach Tireman in Springfield, Il. Think of the other two giants, but with a beard. Holding a tire (formally a muffler), wearing a blue shirt and black pants with his name in yellow on the legs of his pants, oh and wearing floods. Sorry I don't have a picture but he's easy to lookup. 

Apparently these giant fiberglass "giants" where a popular advertising gimmick in the 60's. Considering that was Route 66's heyday it's fitting these giants are here. Route 66 isn't the only place you can find these guys it's just a fitting place to find them. Kids love them because...well kids love giants especially ones wearing spacesuits. Guess it gives a whole new interpretation as to how high the beanstalk went. Anyway, make sure you stop by and see these guys, and get some pics. 

Blackhawks Parade and Route 66

If your a fan of Hockey, the Blackhawks, Chicago sports teams, or any or all of the above you will know that the Chicago Blackhawks parade, or victory parade is happening tomorrow morning. Most of the parade will follow down Madison directly from the United Center to Des Plains and then continue eastbound down Washington (to go past City Hall of course), Washington if you didn't know is three blocks from Adams, and four blocks from Jackson which are West and Eastbound 66 respectively. 

But, the parade will cross Route 66 at Jackson on Columbus. This part of Jackson is unique since it is two ways from Michigan Ave to Lakeshore Drive, and since a post-1933 alignment of Route 66 started and ended on this section at Lakeshore Drive. The rest of Jackson from Michigan to Ogden is Eastbound only. 

The Blackhawks Stanley Cup Parade starts at 10:30 AM, (June 28). 

If you are a local or out of town visitor be prepared for huge crowds, 2 Million people are expected to attend. I would suggest using public transportation, and avoid traffic and parking issues with your car. Metra Chicago's commuter railway is offering tickets for $5 that will give you unlimited rides for the day, something to consider its a huge bargain. 

Note: The map below marks the "official" parade route, but any Chicago sports fan will tell you the parade starts "unofficially" at the Hawks home the United Center

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Travelers Retrospective #3: June 26, 2013

We left Santa Rosa having scoped out what was left of Route 66 the night before while hunting for a place to get dinner, and ending up at the Sun & Sand a Route 66 classic. Our next stop was Clines Corners which in retrospect I believe I could have easily passed and missed nothing. It's nothing more then a  tourist trap with a shop of nothing special items. Sorry Clines Corners! 

We had lunch in Moriarty, and the followed some old alignments around many parts of Albuquerque. The terrain gives way to the old road as it was carves our of the Malpais (lava badlands) and we see and feel the curving winding route past old missions and adobe settlements now long forgotten, and occasionally see Whiting Brothers gas stations also long forgotten. By the afternoon we where in the red rocks near Gallup. We choose to miss seeing the Acoma Pueblo since as nice as its suppose to be its a trip in itself. Route 66 makes its way through downtown Gallup and gave us a chance to see a town that once catered to 66, but now caters to I-40. We passed hotels like the movie star magnet the El Rancho, and with the sun getting made our way onto I-40, another Interstate section built on Route 66, and made our way to Holbrook for the night to stay in the Wigwam Motel. It was quiet and relaxing there, and we had a blast. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

International Route 66 Travelers Unite

Hello my fellow Americans and International audience. I just thought I would like to give a shout out to any international readers planning on traveling Route 66 with their families.

Being a long time Route 66 traveler, and enthusiast I know Route 66 has a huge international appeal, and why not there is nothing in the world like it. There is one thing that bothers me though and that is as I travel the route I notice that we have very few international travelers with their families. I see groups of adult men and women on motorcycles, some renting classic cars, or new one, even international travelers biking or hiking old 66. It seems families are few and far between though. 

So my International audience let me know what the story is. We really want you to bring your kids because there is so much a family can enjoy together.

Stay tune to my blog for more!!!

Route 66 Kids Picks #4 – Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX

A Kids Opinion – James 9 Years Old
“I saw cars sticking out of the ground and it made me think of the mountains in the movie Cars. It looked like they where painted like a rainbow, then we got up close and they where all painted with bright colors and had words painted on them. I could see it was the back of cars, and they even had the tires on them, and you could even spin them. My Mom and Dad, let me paint the cars on a few spots too, I put my initials. There where cows there too, mooing at us that was funny. I didn’t think it would be fun, but it was and it was really cool”
Speaking relatively the Cadillac Ranch is on the Western outskirts of Amarillo about 3 miles out, but that changes as Amarillo expands and the “sculpture” moves out of its path as it has before. The ranch consist of 10 1949-1963 Cadillac’s with the front ends buried in the ground so the fins (back ends) face out on an angle. Every year the Cadillac’s are spray painted black so to act as a clean slate for another year of artistic, and tourist markings. The Cadillac’s have even been painted pink in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month on occasion as well.
The Ranch is located on the south side of I-40, which through many parts of Texas, is old 66. It sits out in the middle of a pasture, and as James says cows are sometimes there but they keep there distance, beware of cow pies though. Get off at exit 60 to access the Cadillac Ranch, and park beside the frontage road. Just enter the gate and walk a little ways beyond and your there. To heighten the experience though you may want to pick up some spray paint, don’t worry there is a Home Depot a little East of here that can hook you up and they are use to helping us crazy tourist go mark up the “Caddies”
Sorry there is no website for the Cadillac Ranch, but its pretty much always wide open to visit. Below is the website for Amarillo’s Visitors Bureau, which may help you plan your trip to Cadillac Ranch. 
Like this Blog? Follow me, and be sure to look for my upcoming Kindle book Traveling Route 66 with Kids.

Travelers Retrospective #2: June 25, 2013

Eight years ago today we left Shamrock, TX. Our first stop was in Shamrock itself with the famous U-Drop Inn. This iconic gas station and diner is no longer in business but does serve as a visitors center for Shamrock. If the building looks oddly familiar it was the model for Ramon's House of Body Art in Pixar's Cars. 

The Texas Panhandle is actually rich with Route 66 landmarks and famous sites. One of the coolest places is McLean, TX. Here we saw the Devils Rope (barb wire) Museum, as well as got a good look at what a true Route 66 town looked like back in the day, and some great photos. Also the famous leaning water tower of Britten is nearby.

We also saw the forgotten town of Conway, TX a town almost dedicated to serving 66 travelers but now long forgotten.  We also saw the famous Jericho Gap, the giant cross at Groom, and dined on steak at the Big Texan, and watched some unlucky guy try to win their  72 oz, steak challenge. 

By the afternoon we saw the Cadillac Ranch (also got awesome photos there), and ate Ugly Crust Pie and the Midland Cafe, in Adrian, TX. Adrian is also the geographic middle of Route 66 between Chicago and Santa Monica. There are also many other cool sites to see on small towns before leaving Texas. 

We passed Mile Marker 0 at Glenrio TX/NM, and then made our way to Tucumcari. At Tucumcari we stopped to see ans thought about staying at the worl famous Blue Swallow Motel. But at that time in 2005 the motel was closed and between owners. So we only stayed to take pictures, and made our way accross the street to another Route 66 icon Tepee Curios to do a little Kachina hunting and get the scoop on the Blue Swallow. We then made our way West and spent that night in the old 66 town of Santa Rosa, NM.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Route 66 City Takes Stanley Cup

Chicago eastern terminus of Route 66 was proud to claim the Stanley Cup tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks won game 6 of the Stanley cup finals. Game six was a real nail bitter, as the Hawks tied up, and then scored the winning goals in the last two minutes of the third period. The Blackhawks second and third goals where scored within seventeen seconds of each other. Congratulations Chicago, and the Blackhawks organization. 

Travelers Retrospective #1: June, 24 2013

I can't believe that this past weekend celebrated the first time my family and I ever took a planned trip down Route 66. Saturday would be eight years since we left, which means eight years ago today we left Claremore, OK finally ending up in Shamrock, TX for the night. Eight years ago today we saw the Blue Whale of Catoosa, traveled down some forgotten stretches of 66 in Oklahoma, saw the flour mulls at Yukon, and ate some fantastic real Texas Roadhouse BBQ in Shamrock, TX. It was also the first time on our trip that we made it to our motel before 6PM. Thank God we did because we would see a lot more the day following.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Great Stays: #1 The Georgian Hotel - Santa Monica, CA

There is something that can be said about a great hotel or motel stay after a few days of road tripping. Although many places to stay on Route 66 are nice, hospitable, and even unique, there are times when you need to be pampered, and to rest in luxury.

The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica is one of those places to rest in luxury. The 1933 Art Deco hotel not only exudes the class and sophistication of the era it was built, but on top of that offers a level of service that you only see in really fine hotels thanks to its pleasant and helpful staff. Part of the reason this hotel always ranks high on travel websites.

The Georgian Hotel is located at 1415 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. Meaning that the hotels west side has some breathtaking views of Santa Monica Pier, Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Not to mention via some pedestrian bridges the hotel is only a short walk from Santa Monica Beach, and Pier, and if you forgot beach towels the hotel will lend you some for your stay.

The Georgians history definitely connects it to Route 66 since that section of Ocean Ave was a section of Route 66 leading to its western terminus  at Santa Monica Pier (or Will Rogers Hwy marker at nearby Palisades Park). Plus dating back to 1933 this hotel defiantly saw Route 66 and the LA area in their respective heydays.

The Georgian offers some unique dining experiences as well. The Georgians restaurant "The Veranda" serves Breakfest, Lunch, and Dinner, as well as cocktails with recipes dating back to prohibition served in the afternoon and evening. The food and drinks served at The Veranda for all meals are first class just like the hotel itself. But be prepared prices can get a little high on their menus, but the food is worth it.

On that note you may also like to know that the Georgian can get a bit high on room prices as well anywhere from $200 to $450 (Ocean views) per night. Which after days of Route 66 classics charging you $50-$100 a night can seem expensive but the stay at the Georgian is worth it, especially to celebrate reaching the end of Route 66 in style and luxury.

Now don't let the prices make you think that the Georgian is not family friendly. The establishment is remarkably welcoming to families including leaving a special little gift named Georgie for kids on the Bathtub. Plus the rooms come with optional Nintendo systems which may help ease your kids traveling angst. But with the beach and the amusement park on Santa Monica Pier nearby I doubt your kids will feel like spending a lot of time in your room.

Here is the website for the Georgian:

Also here is the site for the Santa Monica Pier which is close by the Georgian, and a must see for the Route 66 traveler:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Route 66 Kids Picks #2 - Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, AZ

 A Kids Opinion – James 9 Years Old
“I liked it because it was like sleeping in a tent, but really being inside. I liked the old cars around other tipis, and the town was really cool because of the petrified woods, and the dinosaurs near the one place that sells the petrified wood. The tipi had was white like a real tipi and had a red stripe on it. We got to park our car right in front of it. It also had a TV in it, I liked staying there.”

The Holbrook Wigwam Motel is actually just one of two of these motels on Route 66, the other being in RialtoCA. Although I should mention that these structures are not strictly confined to Route 66, since Wigwam Motels was actually a chain once found around country originating inKentucky, where the third surviving Wigwam Motel still stands. Many of the structures date back to as early as 1935 making them true historic Route 66 landmarks.

Both the Holbrook, and Rialto locations are well restored and maintained and worth staying in if you have the chance. Essentially each ‘Wigwam” is a small concrete cabin in the shape of a tipi. Although a bit smaller then a standard motel room, the one we stayed at in Holbrook was still very comfortable and allowed us room to move around, and bring some of or luggage in. The rooms come in one or two bed varieties and have there own private baths complete with showers. So although they look small they actually have everything you need.

I can tell you for certain that the Holbrook Wigwam is very clean and well kept, and from reviews the Rialto Wigwam is as well. Pricewise on the other hand the Holbrook Wigwam will set you back in the neighborhood of $50 a night depending on the day of the week, and the Rialtoabout $100.
These motels are true Route 66 gems, and definitely pop culture icons, ala the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars. Your kids will love it and it will defiantly make and impression. The Wigwams are a great and fun family stay.


Like this Blog? Follow me, and be sure to look for my up coming Kindle Book Traveling Route 66 with Kids

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lure of Route 66 - Preface

What is route 66? In once sense Route 66 is a teenage dream, that place of fantasy we have after we obtained our drivers licenses and want to step out into the freedom bought by driving a vehicle. The mere daydream of boys 14 or 15 years old completely unexperienced behind the wheel.

Just saying Route 66 conjures up images of the American landscape, the open road, and ultimately that freedom that comes from both.
Route 66 in essence means adventure. The thought of traveling it conjures up the image of a great odyssey. An adventure in which one may seek to find a new place to live, a beautiful woman, a new job, a new way to live, or might also seek to find themselves on this road.

The open road no matter where it is or what it is named always presents a chance for self-discovery and self awareness. Ultimately any road traveler no matter what the age, no matter what the relationship status, or their lot in life travels upon the open road to discover something new about themselves. Route 66 even though it is a particular name that travels through a particular place in essence embodies the spirit of the open road no matter where it is.

Traveling route 66 weather by yourself or with a girlfriend or boyfriend or with your family is always an adventure. It is a journey through history, a journey through many different types of terrians, a journey through many different types of regions, and it is a journey to discover what is in your own soul.

I won't lie to you there is a certain amount of hype in Route 66. This is hype and myth that has been left to us by previous generations. Yet at its core there's something unique and special about this journey. When you start your journey on it you will start as a stranger you'll find yourself feeling as out of place as the road itself is in our modern age. You will feel the call to travel the interstates to travel quickly to travel safely. You will feel the call to climb upon airliner and get to where you're going in a couple hours. Route 66 at first will not feel right but as you continue on your journey something about it will feel right, something about it will make you feel whole. You will find that the open road beckons you, and you will also find so too does it's many ghosts. For this route is not only a route from modern city to modern city it is also route through time and through the remains and graveyards of a world that once was.

These graveyards will present themselves in forms of forgotten towns. They'll present themselves in the forms of long-lost gas stations, tourist courts, roadside attractions and cafes formally all teeming with tourists and travelers but now forgotten to deteriorate into ruins next to the interstates and modern facilities that have replaced them for good.

Although Route 66 may have many ghosts so to does it have many of the living. Those who remember the route and it's heyday who are willing to pass down it's stories whether positive or negative. You will meet those who remember the route as it was, and who made their business and their lives upon the road. But you will also find daydreamers those who have staked their existence upon the road as it once was to bring it back to his former glory. Those who have purchased and are restoring businesses and buildings that once used to represent the road and all that it epitomized. You will also find a road that is very much alive. You will see as it travels through Chicago and as it meanders through Los Angeles that the route although sometimes forgotten very much lives and is used every day by people on their way to work or to home or any other place they may have to travel. You will also see the route as the main thorough fare through many other small towns and small and medium-size cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, and Flagstaff just to name a few. Not to mention you'll see 66 as part of the famous Colorado Boulevard through Pasadena California meaning that Route 66 is the star of every New Year's Day as Pasadena presents it's Parade of Roses.

That's the thing about Route 66 there are so many juxtapositions. From farm fields to deserts, from urban blight to urban renewal, major world cities to forgotten small towns, rich to poor, from future to past. In many ways there is a surrealism about the whole route. On a three day trip down the route one could find themselves at Navy Pier in Chicago indulging in the cities luxury, and twenty-four hours later find themselves in the flatlands of Oklahoma sharing a cheap motel with oil field roughnecks. Then the day after that sleeping in a Wigwam Motel in the deserts of Arizona, and the next day starring out accross the Pacific on Santa Monica Pier. 2000 miles of changes, 2000 miles of different ways of life, 2000 miles of incongruity bought together for one uniform past.

In a way that also sums up Route 66's history, incongruity bought together for one uniform goal. 66's past is that of a country with growing pains, and ever changing opinions. The route was aligned, and realigned over and over to suit the needs of the country that traveled it, till finally it had popped its seems and needed to be superseded. Much like the philosophy and beliefs of our nation had been superseded as we moved into a more progressive and unfamiliar new era.

Dont misunderstand me the journey down 66 does not require some deep philosophical understanding of history and politics. It just requires that the traveler be willing to grasp a new understanding, and appreciation for the route and our nation. Most travelers on Route 66 discover the route engages them and not the other way around. The route presents a level of awe, hospitality, and lighthearted playfulness to the first time traveler. It's story may be sad but it's a story about life going on, and drawing inspiration from the pasts mistakes and triumphs to move forward, expressed on a level of accessibility and optimism.

All I can tell anyone is to take the journey, and most importantly if you have children make it a goal to take the trip. Experience Route 66's wonders, and emotions. Feel the adventure, and the excitment of the unpredictable around every corner, just as life always is for children. Be open to what the road had to show you, and be willing to discover. 

Family Travel Must Haves: #2 Dirty Laundry Helpers

It’s the day before you leave on your big trip. You make sure all the laundry is done and that you have all the clothes you really want ready to go. You pick out the outfit you’re leaving in, and maybe something nice to wear after you get back till you can do the laundry again. You pack all the suitcases nicely, folding here, rolling there, and stuffing things in a bit too.
A day or two later you suddenly become terrified when you realize some of your nicely packed clean clothes are now dirty, and crumpled and having to share space in your suitcase with all your clean and folded items. Yes, dirty laundry is the scourge of any trip longer then a weekend, and so is managing dirty laundry while you travel. But, don’t worry I’m here to help with a few great suggestions and gadgets I know you’ll love.
Tip #1) Plan ahead for dirty laundry – Be sure to recognize that all those nice clean folded clothes will at some point, be the exact opposite and need cleaning. Then based on the length of your trip ask if its practical wait to get home to clean or clean on the road. For instance a trip of 4 days or less may allow you to just repack dirty clothes, but anything over that may mean odors from dirty clothes may affect your clean clothes.
Tip #2) Factor in the type of trip to your laundry dilemma – Going to a resort for seven days? Or since you’re on my blog can I anticipate that you’re in for a real road trip moving from place to place daily? These factors will allow you to decide how to keep dirty laundry stored. 
Tip #3) Accommodations – Some hotels offer laundry service, but it can be expensive and take a day or so to get clean clothes back. Most motels and hotels though do not offer laundry service but many have washers and dryers for guest to use. Based on your downtime at the motel and availability of these facilities they may be very convenient in getting a quick load, or all your laundry done.
Tip #4) Keep clothing cleaning supplies on hand – Laundromats and motel washer and dryer facilities have detergent and bleach available in vending machines, but the usual price is a $1+ for a small one load box. This is why you may want to consider bringing your own detergent and bleach. You can find small bottles of each at your local store, and although the small bottles may sell for as much as a larger one, odds are it will still be a cheaper option then buying your soap out of a vending machine. Just make sure you keep the bottle of bleach in a leak-proof bag in case it should somehow leak while you on the road.  Also, carrying stain treater’s with will help to keep stains at bay till you can wash your clothes, Oop’s, and All are just a few companies that sell travel stain treaters. Oh and I nearly forgot to mention change, getting a 1 or 2 $10 rolls of quarters from you bank will  be a great way of making sure you always have the change on hand to pay for washers and dryers at your motel or at a laundromat.
Tip #5) Watch where you put dirty laundry – Enclosed bags are OK, if you have an odor and moisture absorbing device you can place inside. But, my best suggestion is to choose a mesh container to put them in so smells and moisture can escape and not replicate in a small enclosed area.
Now Time for the Gadgets!
Mesh Containers
You have two travel friendly options, one is a mesh bag, and the second is a travel hamper.
Mesh bags are a great option if you’re traveling on a road trip like down Route 66. Essentially what you would want is a mesh duffle bag. Depending on whether you’re traveling by yourself or with your family the mesh bags come in a variety of sizes.

The mesh duffle bag gives you the ability to put dirty clothes in a breathable sack, therefore cutting down on odor and moisture. But the mesh duffle also has a few other bonus features as well, for instance they are enclosable meaning that a draw string or zipper will keep all your dirty laundry together and not floating around your car. Also the mesh duffle is flexible and can be smooshed, and stuffed into your vehicle in open spaces you may have, these may not save space but at least it is not ridged and needing a defined space.

Travel Hampers are very cool and can give you a lot of options in separating and cleaning your clothes. If you find yourself staying in one place for a few days they give you the ability to set one up in your motel room or bathroom to act like a regular hamper you have at home. If you’re on the road though these may not work, out but the travel hamper still can help you. Travel hampers can be used as makeshift laundry baskets to help you separate clothes when laundry time comes around. The best part is that these hampers have a wire inner structure that allows them to be folded down into hoops about 9” inches in diameters, and about ½” inches thick, small enough to hide in your suitcase. There is also a wide variety of travel hampers out there now too, some allowing you to separate clothes within two or three compartments in the hamper itself. Others come in sets where each hamper is a different color which may be great for presorting clothes or assigning everyone traveling with you their own hamper

Mesh laundry bags, and travel hampers can be found at stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and even Wal-mart. But for a really great selection I would suggest checking out, here are some links below to a few of the items I mentioned

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Route 66: How long does it take?

This is one of the biggest questions I hear from people when I talk about
traveling the route. Often I have to counter ask "how much time do you have?" or
"how much do you want to see?". There is no right or wrong amount of time,
although I would say that anything less than 3 days is unrealistic, unless your
flying over the route in a plane.

If time is a factor you’ll have to ask yourself some basic questions. Start with how much time do you have and how much do you want to see? Then ask yourself how long do you want to travel each day? And lastly how well does my family take to long periods in the car? This last one should be asked even if time isn’t a factor.

For my family and I our first trip true to the route took 7 days. The 7 days allowed us enough time to see a majority of 66's sites and even linger at some of them a bit. By the end though we were exhausted and our two days at the Georgian Hotel, and at Santa Monica Beach where greatly appreciated. But being our first trip there was also a
learning curve, we had a few long travel days brought about by time wasted here or there that could have easily been cut to bring us shorter travel days or to have shaved a day off the trip.

Three days may be enough time to travel the route, just be prepared to have long travel days and to have very little time at the many sites. Obviously, though the longer you can take the shorter your travel days. Ideally speaking two weeks would be perfect for this, but some RVers, and motorcyclists have been known to take a month making the trip. Traveling with kids though I could tell you a month would be exaggerated, and probably lead to
boredom and discontent. This is why it’s also important to know how your family behaves on the road. For some families 4 hours a day in the car for 14 days maybe as bad as 12 hours for 3 days.

Ideally speaking, to give yourself enough time and to see as much as you can I would suggest 7-10 days. Keep in mind that unlike the long an boring interstates Route 66 has plenty of distractions along the way perfect for kids, and spending time at these sites can make for an enjoyable trip for the whole family.

It is my hope that through this blog I can pass what I have learned on to you,
so you can avoid or at least be aware of time eaters so as to properly prepare
for them.

Route 66 Historical Facts: Part 1 Bloody 66 - A Harsh Reality

Travel Route 66 today and you will find much of the route parallels the interstates that replaced it like I-57, 44, or 40. As a matter of fact you will find that some of Old 66 in its two or four lane forms is actually part of the interstate. There are examples of this in many spots.

But as a mental exercise when you do find  yourself on an original section with an interstate next to it, take a few moments to conceptualize something. Take all that traffic flowing down the interstate in both directions and place it on that two lane section of 66 your traveling on. If you are nearing a large town or city its a pretty frightening thought to be stuck on a two lane highway with that much traffic, unable to find places to pass.

Well that was how Route 66 was in many places, and yes traffic was that bad even then. As matter of fact some of Route 66's sister US  routes that are still active highways today, are often congested that badly. One excellent example is US 12 through Richmond, IL which on summer weekends is jammed with travelers, trucks, and locals often times for miles outside of the town.

This regular over crowding on 66 often had tragic consequences, especially as we factor in primitive traffic control devices, vehicles with few safety features, and the narrow and winding road construction methods indicative of the era in which 66 was in its heyday.

An added problem that made the highway dangerous lies within one of its nicknames "America's Mainstreet". Route 66 connected small town to small town usually via their respective main streets. This meant that there was a dangerous mixing of locals, fatigued truck drivers, and travelers in a hurry coming together amongst a tangle of intersections, side streets, and pedestrians in or near every towns center.

Eventually Route 66 began to be known as Bloody Route 66, Bloody 66, of other gruesome nicknames like Blood Alley. Know one knows precisely when theses term where first used or who first used them but the most common belief is that it was first coined in the late 40's by Illinois State Troopers for a section of Route 66 between Dwight and Lincoln, IL.

But Illinois State Troopers weren't the only ones to use this term and have sections of road like it. Perhaps with the exception of Kansas which only had a few miles of 66 running through it, just about all the other states had sections of highway that routinely saw the horrors motor vehicle accidents. As a matter of fact in 1956 alone Arizona State Police estimated that 1 of every 6 traffic fatalities in Arizona occurred on Route 66. Other estimates say that from Missouri to Texas nearly 4000 people lost there lives on the route in a 20 year span between 1935 and 1955.

In Jon Robinson's book  "Route 66: Lives on the Road", the author interviews several state police officers. For the most part they give a lighthearted account of their careers along the route, but can't help not alluding to traffic accidents they had worked over the years.

Obviously thanks to the interstates, safer cars, and modern traffic control the Route 66 you can travel now is far safer then it ever has been. But knowing this bit of history about 66 is a good glimpse into why the highway had to be replaced by the Interstates. It's also great insight as to why so many towns had to be bypassed leaving behind relics of what once was a bustling industry of tourist services. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Family Travel Must Have's: #1 The Car Sick Kit

No matter what way your traveling the odds are you or one of your family members has the tendency to get ever so slightly motion sick, and with that some unpleasant consequences that can make for a heck of a mess. My ordinarily iron stomached older son found his limitations twice, traveling down the winding roads through the mountains, and both times we where unprepared. After that second time, and with the possibility of more mountain roads ahead of us my wife and I decided it was time put something together to help limit the mess of car sickness, and if necessary always have the tools to clean it up. 

We came to call this “The Car Sick Kit”. As unpleasant as the thought of having someone on your trip get sick in the car may be, its even more unpleasant to be completely unprepared. So even if your traveling with kids, or even all adults “The Car Sick Kit” may become one of your best travel buddies.

Here are some tips towards making your own.

First, try to prevent the mess. I don’t mean by traveling down flat and straight roads only but provide a car sick passenger with a way getting sick but not messy in case you can’t pull over. The airlines lovingly call them barf bags. But you can also call them grocery bags, try to keep a few plastic grocery bags (make sure to check them for annoying holes) in storage areas in for your back and front seat passenger, make sure the storage compartment makes access to the bags easy, and quick. By doing this you can contain the mess until you can get to an exit of some type, and you may be able to avoid using a lot of the other items in “The Car Sick Kit”. Just be sure to remember that this option is probably not good for smaller children since they may not have the reaction time to reach for the bag, and/or the use of a plastic bag like this may be dangerous for them.

The Kit Itself:

My wife and I opted to use a Kelty Camp Container to put the kit in. A Kelty Camp Container is a rectangular bag that can store a lot, but do to its shape and size takes up little space. You may want to consider using a container like this to keep the contents of you kit together, and easy to grab.

Picture of Kelty bag and kit

Drinking Water - The next item that is a must have to the kit is a gallon of drinking water. Now remember its always good to keep drinking water with you in your car, especially on cross country trips, but this water is to help clean up. You can use this bottle of water to help clean car seats and other areas, as well as the sick passenger, or anyone else he or she might have gotten. Keeping it to drinking water also allow the sick passenger to use some of it to drink or wash their mouth out with.   

Paper Towels – Yes a roll of paper towels like you have in your kitchen. You’ll find out in a hurry restaurant napkins don’t go far. Paper towels get the mess cleaned up, and can even take a little bit of water without crumbling to pieces. Paper towels will make your clean up efforts a lot easier and they are also disposable.

Mouth Wash – Lets be honest if you passenger is old enough they aren’t going to dig being covered in vomit, they also aren’t going to be too happy with the taste in their mouths. Gum isn’t going to do the trick, and full out brushing teeth may not be within reason. Keeping a small bottle of mouth wash will allow your passenger to get a little more cleaner, and they can spit the mouth wash out on the ground if they need to. Mouth wash isn’t suggested for all ages, but there are mouth washes out there now for kids that adults will find pleasant too.

Deodorizing Spray – Perhaps you can get away with opening the windows, but if its too hot or too cold that option wont work, plus there is no promise open windows will get the odor out. This is why you may want to keep a small spray can of deodorizer. Companies such as Yankee Candle and Fabreeze make small spray cans perfect for this. I would suggest not using something overpowering like Oast, and also picking a scent that is clean smelling but not prone to getting your sick passenger sicker, or getting yourself and other passengers sick.

Fabric Cleaner – Yeah your going to want to get something on your seats right away to get that stuff off (assuming you have cloth seats). A fabric cleaner such as the afore mentioned Fabreeze works well in this roll. If you have leather seats you may want to see what the manufacturer suggest for caring for them in such an event.

More Plastic Bags – Plastic bags can be used to hold the dirty paper towels, and other garbage from what you cleaning up. If the passenger has the ability to change clothes they can also throw their dirty clothes into these bags for cleaning later. The plastic bags should to some degree be able to hold odors in, until you can get them out of your car.

Disinfecting Wipes – Clorox, Lysol, or generic your going to want a small tube of these in your kit. After the main mess is cleaned up these can help disinfect the areas your just cleaned, there are also great for cleaning up plastic and vinyl in the car as well as other items that may have gotten soiled.

Baby/Diaper Wipes - Theses are easy on the skin and great for removing stains from clothing. Baby wipes are great for helping freshen soiled adults as well as baby's, and can help a sick passenger or victim of one get skin and clothes clean until they can get changed elsewhere.    

Old Towels – I wouldn’t suggest using cloth towels to clean up a car sickness mess, but they can be used in helping clean up your passenger(s), as well as being placed on the recently cleaned seat so your passenger(s) don’t have to sit in a wet spot. Having a few old wash clothes, hand towels, and maybe a bath towel may come in handy.

Anti- Bacterial Hand Sanitizer – In case your cleaning up no where near a bathroom your going to want to get hands clean any way you can. Hand Sanitizer is the best way of getting everyone hands clean without soap and water, a minimizing the potential of additional illness.

Here are a few additional items you may want to have in the event of car sickness, but should be kept outside the kit.

Ginger Ale – Or a 7up like beverage are also great for calming the stomach, it may help in preventing illness, or help a recently sick passenger feel better quicker.

Saltine Crackers – Or Ouster Crackers also help calm the stomach, used in conjunction with Ginger Ale or Lemon Lime soda it may help in preventing illness, or help a recently sick passenger recover quicker

*Pepto-Bismo – Or something like it, can help reduce additional nausea and additional illness. Remember this may not be appropriate for all ages.

*Dramamine or Motion Sickness Remedies– I’m not one for medicating my kids unnecessarily, and these remedies aren’t for younger children. But these remedies can help those who suffer from chronic motion sickness, it can also me used to help a recently sick passenger feel better, and get them in better shape for traveling, especially if the motion sickness persists after the initial illness.

*Please consult a doctor on use of these items for your kids, other family member or yourself. Chronic motion sickness may be a sign of other medical conditions.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Along the Route: Chicago

According to most Route 66 traditionalist, historians, and devotees Chicago is the start of Route 66. In transportation speak Chicago is actually called the Eastern Terminus of Route 66, i.e. the beginning and/or end. Historically and also in transportation terms Chicago is the start of Route 66 since the city is the transportation hub of the United States. At the time the route was developed Chicago was the railroad hub of the US, and still is to this day. Since then though the city has also been able to boasts having O'Hare Airport as the world’s busiest airport, and the Dan-Ryan Expressway as the nations and one of the world’s busiest stretches of multi-lane highway.

Besides all this though Chicago is one other thing; the best spot to start your Route 66 trip hands down. Chicago may seem like a dauntingly huge city, but it is surprising easy to get around in your personal vehicle or through a wide variety of public transportation methods. The city also offers an excellent variety of activities and attractions for everyone in your family.

Chicago offers excellent hotels many 4 or five star, world class dining in restaurants owned and operated by celebrity chefs, superlative shopping opportunities on the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue), and pro-sports teams galore. Add to all this museums with treasures you have only seen on TV or in books, and entertainment options of all types. 

I know what you’re thinking it sounds like Chicago will cost you half your vacation budget to visit. Although the city offers a lot of first class luxury a family can still indulge in what the city has to offer without worrying about blowing the family vacation bankroll.

Before you visit Chicago on your Route 66 vacation, take some time to determine what you want to see and just how long you can visit the city. I have to warn you that Chicago is such an extraordinary place with so much to see and do and can easily become a time bandit, so try to know how much time you do have before you arrive.

Here are some great places to visit on your trip that won't break the bank and allow you to experience Chicago and Route 66.

Lou Mitchell's:

Anyone who knows anything about traveling the route will tell you that you need to make Lou Mitchells one of your stops. The first one in fact if you are heading West or perhaps the last one if you are going east. Lou Mitchells is located near the corner of Jackson Blvd and Jefferson, at 565 W. Jackson, which is also east, bound 66. The restaurant has numerous Route 66 decorations and memorabilia, but has a more important place in history as the place Milk Duds where first introduced. The food here is excellent and there are options for everyone in the family including a children's menu. Prices are very reasonable too, and you can get everyone a good meal without going broke. Some of the favorites here are their homemade Chicken Pot Pies, Milk Dud Pancakes, and a turkey platter that will make you think Thanksgiving has arrived early. As a word of warning Lou Mitchell's is only open from 5:30 AM to 3 PM Monday through Saturday and 7 AM to 3 PM on Sundays, also they do not take debit or credit cards, but there is an ATM near the entrance. Also if you’re in a rush because you spent too much time shopping on Michigan Ave, you can phone ahead for a to-go order in, including box lunches.

The Berghoff:

Located at 17 W Adams (West bound 66), the Berghoff is one of Chicago's premier dining establishments. Behind its bar you will find City of Chicago Liquor license #1, meaning they have been around for a while. A lot of tourist pass the Berghoff by thinking it looks a little too expensive for their budgets, especially with kids along. Actually although the Berghoff has prices slightly higher than the afore mentioned Lou Mitchell's, most people who venture in find that prices in the Berghoff are very reasonable, and the food beyond their expectations. The restaurant also has a kids menu and more then welcomes kids and families.
The Berghoff offers fine quality German and eastern European foods. They also make their own phenomenal Root Beer, Beer, and Brandy. Some of the favorites here are their one of kind Sauerbraten, Mascarpone Mac and Cheese, and Schnitzels. Be sure to get the kids some of their root beer. Their hours run from 11AM - 9 PM, Monday through Saturday, closed Sundays.

Keep in mind the restaurants I mentioned here I named do to proximity to Route 66's start in Chicago, and family friendliness. Chicago has hundreds of fantastic dining options depending on what you crave, how far off the Route 66 path you want to get, and how much you want to spend.

Millennium Park:

This is kids and tourist central and kids really do love it here. One of the parks biggest attractions in a sculpture known as "The Cloud Gate", but locals call it "The Bean" it's a sculpture shaped like a large bean and covered with a mirrored finish. Tourists from around the world come here to get their pictures taken with, or in the reflection of "The Bean".
But one of the favorite spots for kids in the park is a place called the "Crown Fountain". The fountain is two block towers with moving projections of everyday Chicagoans that at certain intervals "spit" water from the towers. On warm days you will find kids here galore playing in the water of these fountains and waiting for those lips to pucker and water comes spitting out. You may want to put a bathing suit on your kids under their clothes and bring some towels because no kid can resist the fun of playing here.
The park also has a large metal sculpture of a T-Rex, that looks like one of those wooden kids’ puzzles. During summer months the park also host a corporate sponsored (usually Target) Family Fun Fair in a tent at the Chase Pavilion. Here kids can do story time, play games, dance, and make arts and crafts all for free.
Access to the Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, sculptures, and Family Fun Fair are all free, making Millennium Park a definite family favorite.
The park also has concerts, operas, and plays in the Pritzker Pavilion but usually tickets have to be purchased for these events although they are usually inexpensive. The park also has a great grill if you’re looking to make a day of it. The park is located to the north of the Art Institute (the start of Route 66 West bound @ Adams and Michigan) on Michigan Avenue between Monroe and Randolph.

The Willis (Sears) Tower:

Willis Towers formally the Sears Tower is one of the world’s tallest buildings, as a matter of fact it is the tallest building in the U.S., North America, and the Western Hemisphere. Many in the architectural community still debate whether the tower is or isn’t still the worlds tallest based on things like roof heights, spires, antennas and what not. But any way you look it it's one of the tallest building you’re going to find within several thousand miles.
Willis Tower is a Route 66 attraction based on location since the building is bordered to the North by Adams (Westbound 66) and to the South by Jackson (Eastbound 66), with the cross streets of Wacker to the West and Franklin to the East. The Willis address is 233 South Wacker Dr.

If you should decide to visit the tower on your trip keep in mind that at certain parts of the day wait times to see the tower can get pretty long, so try to get there as early as possible to avoid a long wait. Also keep in mind you will be required to go through a security checkpoint to enter the tower so try to avoid having a lot o metal items, or weapon like items (keychain Swiss Army knife, and similar items). Also be sure to check the weather the view and how much you see depends on cloud cover a good rule of thumb is if you can't see the top of the tower through clouds and fog, you probably won't see anything up there although the tower will still be open. The price for admission is $17.50 for adults and $11 for kids under 11, there are also extras that you can add, and gift shops. Trust me it may not be cheap bit your kids will love it just the same.

Here are some other items worth mentioning that may be off the Route 66 path.

-Blue Man Group: Family fun and lots of laughs
-Navy Pier: Ferris wheel, shopping, restaurants, boat rides and more.
-The Field Museum: Sue the T-Rex, and more
-The Shedd Aquarium: Tropical Fish, Sharks, and Jellyfish all inches from Lake Michigan
-The Adler Planetarium: Travel the universe without leaving Chicago
-John Hancock Building: A little cheaper than the Willis Tower, but a heck of a view.
-Museum of Science and Industry: Control a tornado, and visit a coal mine

If you are interested in seeing a lot of sites in Chicago and don't want to spend a lot you may want to consider a Citypass. Citypasses are available all over the country in larger cities, and you may also want to consider one once reaching LA as well. Citypass runs $89 per adult and $79 per child for a one day pass that gets you into just about everything.