Thursday, December 16, 2010

Get Your Kicks: Our Christmas Route 66 Trip, Day 2

We woke up this morning to snow on the ground and crazy after effects of last night’s storm. We had a few inches of snow on the car. Fortunately, the roads had been plowed and salted. While we avoided any mishaps, we did see several wrecked cars along our route. We traveled from Indianapolis across Indiana and Illinois before hooking up with Route 66 in St. Louis. As we approached the St. Louis arch, we knew the roadside Americana portion of our trip had begun! We didn’t follow Route 66 very strictly, but we did use two guides to help us decide when we would stop off the modern interstates and take the scenic byways, Route 66 for Kids and The EZ66 Guide for Travelers. We chose to mostly drive the interstates as we traveled along the approximate path of historic Route 66. The Mother Road's main season is the summer, so many of the attractions were either closed or operating with reduced hours. Nonetheless, we had plenty of side trips and places to stretch our legs that would offer something more picturesque than your typical rest area. We stopped at several roadside attractions along our way from St. Louis to Miami (say my-AM-ah), Oklahoma, where we ended the day.

We arrived in St. Louis just in time for lunch and then concretes (custard smoothies) at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. The last time we passed through St. Louis as we moved to Detroit, it was over 100° F with 100% humidity. This time we got the city after the snow storm, so we have yet to see the place at its finest. There's nothing like a concrete when it's barely above freezing outside!
Not only do they sell custard, but Christmas trees! 
The child approves.

From St. Louis, we headed on to see the kitschy bits of the Show Me State along our route. On one side road we thought our brakes had given out as Hallie tried to pull to a stop only to discover that the road was a complete expanse of black ice. You get that with 100% humidity and freezing temps, apparently. We opted to take the interstate for a bit after that (so much for the historic vacuum cleaner museum and world's largest bowling pin).

We stopped by the "World's Largest Rocking Chair" (one of many other giant or otherwise remarkable attractions designed to draw people like us off the interstate and into a souvenir shop), where we proceeded to go into the shop and buy something after having a chat with the cashier, who said she enjoyed this job more than working at the local school district. Apparently, the shop stays busy all year long between the tourists and the attached archery range for the local hunters and the taxidermy business the owner does as a side job. Landon thought it was fun to skate along on the slick gravel outside the shop.
The chair we came to see

The shop it drew us to

The mural here is an example of the many we saw painted on the sides of buildings along our way. 

In the evening, we pulled off the main drag and took the historic route through Kansas and to the Eisler Bros. Old Riverton Store for a taste of some road food and nostalgic atmosphere. Landon was about done with sitting in the car all day (poor little trooper). He had spent the last little part of the day watching Cars on the portable DVD player (side note: SUCH a help! We told him he could watch a movie after his afternoon nap each day, and he was so patient about waiting. Plus, once he woke up from his nap and had the movie, he was in hog heaven. What did road tripping parents used to do – other than talk to, sing with, and otherwise interact – with their kids?). Actually, that last thought reminds me of how we would while away the time on the road to visit relatives in Utah: church musicals on tape, activity books, and tormenting the siblings.
Eisler Bros. Store

Landon hangin' with the gang from Cars

After Eisler Bros., we trekked down past the historic Coleman Theatre and to our hotel in Miami, Oklahoma. While we didn't see much nighttime neon during our after dark drive, we did see some Main Streets decked out in lights, garlands, and banners to ring in the Christmas season. Once he got into the hotel, Landon bounced off the walls and beds and anything else available, then it was off to bed. 
The Coleman was showing It's a Wonderful Life on the big screen! 

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