A Motor Tour Story for 2012

Many thanks to frequent contributor, Josh Friedrich, for writing the following account which invites us to share his family's experiences on Motor Tour 2012.

It was a gorgeous Friday and we began our three day journey along the Main Street of America. This year was going to be extra special because it would be Lizzy’s first Motor Tour. We loaded everyone & everything into the van and hit the road.

Our first destination was Collinsville and to see the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, a first for us. It was an impressive sight to say the least. We also made a quick stop at Ashman’s Pharmacy to pick up a few Brooks Bottle souvenirs.

Now it was westward to the St. Louis Zoo for the day. We ended up spending eight hours at the zoo searching out wildlife, riding the train, and the amazing Carousel. The kids enjoyed a 4D experience called Mumbles Wild Ride based on the movie Happy Feet 2. Elizabeth loved the penguins, which are also Wendy’s favorite. Charlie really liked the orangoutangs and apes however his favorite thing was riding the train around the zoo.

Chain of Rocks.JPGAfter that it was time to go to Wendy’s favorite stop in St. Louis: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard on 66. We got ours to go and made a beeline to Edwardsville and the Motor Tour kickoff party at the Mother Road Festival. The festival seemed to have a great turnout with good music, mouth-watering food, and roadie friends. We picked up our tour packet from Marty and caught up with author Cheryl Eichar Jett. Charlie signed the Scenic Byway car hood and then we let him loose on the multiple inflatable bounce houses. I bought a festival shirt and pint glass to add to my collection. We had gotten a Ted Drewes pint glass earlier that day. After the long day it was time to head to the hotel and take a swim. The water was a bit cool, but it was refreshing.

I was excited and raring to go Saturday morning because we would be crossing the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge by car, which would be another first for us. Previously, we had only walked it during 2 of the St. Louis Route 66 Festivals. The Missouri side of the bridge was packed full of cars of all types ready to begin cruising. It took quite awhile for everyone to cross since nearly everyone stopped to take a picture at the famous bend in the bridge, including us. I captured the moment with a Polaroid Instant Camera, a new found hobby that was sparked by the book Polaroids from Route 66 by Christopher Robleski. After crossing I took the path to the right to get a nice side view from the riverside of the bridge.

Ra66it.JPGNow we made our way to the Luna Café, the neon signs looked great (even in the daylight). One of these days I’ll catch it lit up. We zipped along to Hamel to Weezy’s Bar & Grill and then over to Route 66 Ridez. I was quite impressed with the selection and interior of Route 66 Ridez plus the tour goodie bag!

After that we went on safari at the Pink Elephant Antique Mall searching out various oversized roadside attractions. Treasure was found a used with original box Polaroid One Step 600 Instant Camera for a good price, so the stop was well worth it. Since we were so close we had a mandatory stop at Henry’s Ra66it Ranch to visit with Rich and his furry friends. As always it was a warm reception and he was looking forward to driving 66 later that afternoon and evening. Plus he was honored by being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, it couldn’t go to a more deserving person.

We continued on along the ribbon of road to Mount Olive and Soulsby’s Station, a must stop for gas station enthusiasts. Now it was nearly time for lunch so we headed over to the Wooden Nickel Winery & Saloon just past Litchfield. However, we decided to hightail it over to Springfield and the Cozy Dog Drive In for a bite to eat and a brief stop at The Curve Inn. We were way ahead of schedule, the kids were hot, and home was close by, so we let the kids play in our kiddie pool and relax. We freshened up and dropped them off with a set of grandparents and headed to Lincoln for the Hall of Fame Banquet. The company at the dinner was superb, the food was good, and the new inductees were honored and grateful. It was a good evening.

We started Sunday at the Lincoln Heritage Museum; a pleasant and quaint museum that we had not visited before. We had to stop in Atlanta to see the recently repainted Tall Paul muffler man.

Next up was the big event of the day the dedication of the Midpoint of Illinois Route 66 at Funks Grove. It was a wonderful sign unveiling with Steve & Glaida Funk the guests of honor. We received a sweet treat which was vanilla ice cream cups with Funks Grove Maple Sirup on top, yum yum. I was honored by having the elder Funks autograph one of my Images on 66 books by David Wickline.

While driving thru Normal Wendy and I spotted on old, dead end alignment cut off by the interstate. It had been marked with a painted Route 66 shield by roadie Rich Dinkela of Missouri. Another interesting site along the segment was a traditional Cricket game being played next to it.

We got back on the hard road and meandered our way to Dawn Patterson’s D.K.’s Garage in Towanda. If you haven’t dropped in on her and seen it you must make the time to see this eye-appealing display of Route 66 mementos. We especially liked all the Route 66 themed puzzles framed along the walls.

We then went around the bend for our lunch stop at Kicks on 66 Bar & Grill. Next up was one of the more historic stops of the tour in Chenoa at the Matthew Scott home. I reminded me of Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield a bit.

Jail.JPGWe pressed on to the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum and looked at the impressive array of cars, advertising, and varied items of car culture. Walked to the Wall Dogs Museum and saw an awesome assortment of hand painted dresses with black light sensitive paint. We then went over to the Hall of Fame Museum and saw Bob Waldmire’s Road Yacht.

Onward, to Gardner and the 2 Cell Jail and Streetcar Diner, both of which provided great photo ops with the kids. We then let the kids play in the playground across the street to let off some pent up energy. We then stopped at the Launching Pad for an afternoon snack and a picture with the Gemini Giant in Wilmington.

We were now making our way to the final passport stop of the tour in Elwood at the Lloyd Erickson Park. The kids enjoyed playing in their interactive children’s garden play area and the other playground equipment. We then decided to continue our own tour westward to Joliet before heading back south to home. It was another great motor tour and we cannot wait for our next trip on the Mother Road. You never know where the road will take you and what is just around the next bend.

Thanks for coming along,
Josh, Wendy, Charlie, and Elizabeth Friedrich

Enjoy this slideshow of the photos Josh included with this story:

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