Here it is - one of my bucket list trips underway at last! It's a beautiful day and despite the usual hustle and bustle of the roads on Monday morning it was a great day to begin a journey of discovery. The bike has been prepped and packed for nearly a week and the weather is cooperating, though a pleasantly cool (49 degrees) morning in Michigan is leading to very hot and muggy weather to the south!
For the sake of time I did what I try not to except when I must - that is, I rode the expressway for many miles today, all the way from home to my hook up with old Rte 66 just south of Chicago. It would have been fitting to ride one of Michigan's historic roads such as the old Sauk Trail (US 12) or the old Pottawatomi Trail (Michigan Ave) to get to northeast Illinois but I've made those rides several times, so as the saying goes: been there, done that. Today I was destination oriented until I connected with 66, then it was slow down and explore!
Started south on 66 at I-80 near Joliet. After just a few miles it's all very cool! The original road, light traffic and surprisingly pretty surroundings as a large restored prairie is one of the first places I ride by.
The road soon becomes the road of old, narrow with light traffic. It seems that half of the businesses in every small town along the route are trying to capitalize on the legend. "Rte 66" is found somehow in the name or advertising signs for a great many businesses.
There is a long stretch where 66 is being repaved under the President's Invest In America stimulus package. It's a great stretch with almost no traffic and silky smooth. It was hard keeping my right wrist under control!! I thought this was quite extraordinary - the road that changed millions of lives 75 years ago in the Depression is itself being renewed and changed due to another economic downturn. Deep! Or maybe I'm getting carried away.
The town of Pontiac is very cool. Drive through their downtown if you're ever nearby. A couple dozen very nice murals on the downtown buildings, a wonderful Rte 66 museum,and a beautiful courthouse square and monuments.
The road often parallels the I-55 XWay, but at times is surrounded by nothing but fields. All the small towns are charming and cling to their 66 heritage to one degree or another.
Made it south of Springfield, St. Louis first thing Tue. morning!
470 miles total today.
(Posts will be shorter than planned for the first couple days until I get used to typing on this tiny Netbook keyboard. It is a marvelous tiny compuuter, however, opening many doors!)
Off to find a campsite.