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Capturing moments. Sharing adventures.

Los Angeles native. Tennessee transplant. 

Route 66: Day Eleven

Route 66: Day Eleven

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TODAY IS/WAS THE DAY!!!! We finally reached the beginning — or our end — of ROUTE 66! Thanks for coming on this journey with me! Especially Krystal and Steph who were physically next to me and endured all the long driving, car singing, and overall craziness of each day.

Without further ado...

Day eleven {projected*} itinerary: 

*Because we backtracked a bit this day to go to Shaw's Nature Reserve and spend some time there, and because I always seem to schedule too many things into one day and forget that places close around 5pm, we did not get to see Abe's tomb, the Dana-Thomas House, the Drive-in Theater (is only open select dates of the year and wasn't showing any more movies), Funks Grove, or the Route 66 Museum.

Approximate mileage: 382

Approximate driving time: 6 hours

Approximate expenses: $49.39

  • Gas: $29.39 @ $2.199/gallon, 13.367 g
  • Food: $15 
  • Experience: $5 Shaw Nature Reserve

Read more for map, trip details and photos...


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We did backtrack a little bit to see Shaw's Nature Reserve. But out of all the things on the list to stop and see, the nature reserve was one of the top five for Krystal. She loves loves loves botanical gardens, especially ones that have a cacti or succulent garden included. So it was decided. We needed to go back.

It was a beautiful day too. And the gardens with all the flowers and greenery were so pretty. We didn't know exactly where we were in the reserve or where we were going, but that wasn't entirely new for this trip so we picked a path and followed it all the way through before heading to our next destination.


Illinois!

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We made it to Illinois!!! The final state of the Route 66 part of the road trip!


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Did you see those stairs?? Driving for so long every day doesn't allow too much exercise, but we sure got it in this day. Krystal impressively ran up a set of those stairs. #props

I learned about the Cahokia Mounds from a class I took at UCLA. There are a lot of historical sites like the mounds throughout the United States, and they're not seemingly impressive maybe as something like the Aztec Temples because on the outside, and I guess on the inside, they're just a lot of dirt. But these mounds are part of the most "sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico," and "was larger than London was in AD 1250" (source).

The more I learned about this place in class, and then seeing it and experiencing it and re-learning about it through the museum and exhibits was amazing.

I also was excited that the day we came, they had a special event going on that highlighted American Indian people and their cultures.


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I didn't really understand what a "catsup" bottle was except maybe a different spelling of "ketchup" but we found the world's largest one in Collinsville, IL. Also, it's FOR SALE if anyone is interested! 

It is very large. And very high up, so it's hard to get a picture actually with it unless from a distance. If there is any catsup in it, good luck trying to get to the top too.


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We made it to Springfield and went directly to the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln's tomb resides only to realize it had closed just about five minutes before we got there. We debated about jumping the fence, but we were also really hungry so we decided to leave it on our list of things to come back to and get something to eat.

Cozy Dog Drive In was an awesome decision. It was cheap, historic, and good food. Plus the posters they had were hilarious. They also had a little store with a bunch of great Route 66 buys — that's where I ended up getting all my postcards from.


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Our second to last stop of the day: the Gemini Giant! 

I was so excited to get to our destination of the Route 66 sign that I wasn't too stoked to even make this stop, but I'm so glad we did. It's not anything thrilling, but this random giant statue was kind of a fun precursor and a good last randomality of our journey.


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WE MADE IT!!!!!!!!!! 

As soon as we hit the city we drove into some heavy traffic (we had been getting so used to open highways and fields that it felt kind of strange to be in a bustling city again), but after getting through that, and circling the area a couple times, we found a space right next to the sign (I can't remember if it was an actual space or we made it one for the five minutes we were there) and got some photos. 

It was pretty late at night so I was grateful there weren't too many people everywhere, but there must have been some event that night at the Art Institute (which the sign faces) because some fancy dressed people were walking by us as we were taking in the moment and getting photos. One man in the fancy dressed group stopped and asked if we'd like them to take our picture. They were all super nice and we laughed together and then he insisted to be in our picture. They also told us that now we can't say Chicago people aren't friendly. Which was very true of our entire time in Chicago.


Reunion with Madeline

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After our stop at the sign, we drove thirty minutes or so more to spend the next couple nights at my friend Madeline's house. Madeline and I had met on a program we did in high school — the same program Whitney and I had met through: AFS. We all did a week long camp in Tuscany region before being placed with various host families in Italy for 5–6 weeks and then reunited at the end to share our experiences before heading back to the United States. 

That was the summer of 2008, and Madeline and I had talked since then and kept in touch, but we hadn't seen each other. So it had been... just over seven years! Krystal had no idea until the next day when we told her because Madeline and I picked up right where we left off. She's so intelligent, funny, introspective, beautiful, honest, and strong. I was so so happy that we could finally meet up where she grew up and spend the next couple days together!

Route 66: Final Days in Chicago

Route 66: Final Days in Chicago

Route 66: Day Ten

Route 66: Day Ten