Route 66, Day 2: It DOES go down to Saint Louis!

(note: this is a report for Saturday’s driving, though I didn’t get a chance to type it up until Sunday. Relevant photographs can be viewed on Twitter (@tamarasiuda) in real time. More photos and links were edited in on February 10, 2012.)

My old iPod has a little habit, sometimes endearing and sometimes not, of playing meaningful songs when it’s first turned on. The first full song for the trip was a Sinatra tune. Meaningful for a drive through history, but the song in particular? “Ring-a-Ding Ding.” No idea what sort of omen that is.

It came in handy later, when a DEVO song came on. Arieni and I have noticed that the Spud Boys can be particularly auspicious. Tom Petty can be too, and I got nice messages both from the DEVOnation and the Oracle of Tom. Came in handy, as my first leg of Route 66 wasn’t very pleasant, at least through Springfield, IL. The car was encased in ice, and getting it cleared off enough to see and then be able to drive took much longer than expected. Then I followed the wrong exit to Wilmington and ended up on a very desolate, untreated road through the wildlife preserve.

Once I got into Wilmington, though, I got a photo of the Gemini Giant. Seeing that muffler man dressed in a ridiculous Plan 9 From Outer Space sort of getup, and also encased in ice, made my morning. I stayed on old 66 through Dwight, then got back on to the freeway as I’d had enough snow-covered road for two days.

Because the roads were still atrocious I stayed on I-55 through Illinois. It turned out to be for the best; between Joliet and Springfield, I saw seven different sets of vehicles being towed out of the median or the ditches, and in a couple of cases, multiple cars or semis. I hate to think what the rest of those roads were like. At the rest stops there was some fun. At Limestone, a man had to hold his tiny dogs because they kept falling through the ice layer and being stuck in snow deeper than they were tall. One dog, a Pomeranian, was jumping up and down in the hole it made and snapping and snarling at the snow, while the other just shivered in place. While it made me miss my cats it also made me glad they weren’t in the car.

Between Mt. Olive and Benld (I know why it’s named that, but how do you pronounce it, I wonder?) all the trees and even the tall grass in the median were covered in a thick ice. As it was early still, the sun made the whole thing glisten. It was beautiful, even if scary to drive through. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about living in Illinois is the ice storm. We really never had them in Michigan, not like this, anyway.

Near Litchfield I had to wait for the police to reopen lanes after they dragged a truck out of the median, then I continued on. Finally I made it to St. Ann, and Sesha and Shemem’s house. They were kind enough to feed me and help me check my map before I headed on. The Middle Eastern place they took me, Sahara, was really tasty. I hadn’t had a good Turkish coffee or a kibbeh in months. Could’ve sat there all night, but the visitors’ center folks suggested I try to get out of the metro area before it got too late, as they were expecting more freezing rain. So I said goodbye (to Shemem and Sesha as well as Greta and Roxy) and headed out.

I had no idea that the area immediately after St. Louis was so hilly! Driving up and down curving grades in the darkness – no moon to light the hills, so I could only make out shadows of trees from headlights reflecting off from them – was surreal. I found myself both wishing I could stay until it was light out, and realizing I did not want to be there when the ice came. An exit after Meramec Caverns, near Sullivan, ended up being where I called it a night.






Leave a Reply