Rt. 66 through IL to St. Louis

Double Cheeseburger
2011/11/18 12:44:25
I've posted on here for a number of years now, but this is my first trip report. I think I'm comfortable enough with the photo-posting process to make this work.
My wife and I recently flew from Philly to Chicago, rented a car at O'Hare and headed southwest on Rt. 66 to Springfield to check out the Lincoln sites.
Our first Route 66 landmark was the giant spaceman outside of the now-closed Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, IL:

After passing by one of the classic gas stations along Rt. 66:


post edited by phlmaestro - 2011/11/18 12:53:11
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Test 2011/11/18 12:46:25
We moved onto the Old Log Cabin Restaurant, which has been in Pontiac, IL since the 1920s, for our first meal:

I had the hot roast beef sandwich and mashed potatoes. I could have used a little less gravy:

My wife's pork tenderloin sandwich was better:

I should have gotten one of those too.
We also ordered peach cobbler, which was kind of disappointing.
More to come.
post edited by phlmaestro - 2011/11/18 12:58:43
Re:Test 2011/11/18 13:34:29
That looks like a frozen pork pattie and tater tots.
Filet Mignon
Re:Test 2011/11/18 14:05:26
Nice photos!
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Test 2011/11/18 14:25:56
That's a great start so far!  Really nice photos and I'm looking forward to reading more.
Re:Test 2011/11/18 15:19:03
Wonderful for a first trip report
Hope to see some more good roadfood
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Test 2011/11/18 15:27:42
Thanks for the comments. I've got photos of some other trips from the past few years. Maybe I'll let the floodgates open after I finish with this one.
The pork sandwich, by the way, had a nice crispy coating and I thought lots of flavor. I don't have a lot of experience eating pork tenderloin sandwiches, being from the east coast; so I don't have much reference point, although I did once get to Gnawbone Food and Fuel before they went out of business.
The place on Rt. 66 that we ate on the way back to Chicago at the end of the trip wasn't anything special as far as the food went, but it also had a great vintage atmosphere. I don't mind an average meal on occasion (but only on occasion!) if the experience of just being at a place is worthwhile.
post edited by phlmaestro - 2011/11/18 15:29:43
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Test 2011/11/18 15:41:53
Our main reason for going to Springfield is that I'm a huge Lincoln fan and wanted to see some of the main attractions they have there.
Here is the house he lived in for a number of years before he left for Washington after being elected President. The second floor was added a few years before he left:

The inside is open to tour.
The main room in the Lincoln Museum, which is a fantastic place to visit (they only allow photos to be taken in the central room; there are a lot of great side exhibits):

Outside of Lincoln's tomb, in what is the second most visited cemetery in the U.S., behind only Arlington:

The inside of the tomb is filled with statues of Lincoln. Here is a replica of the one at the Memorial in Washington:

His body is 10 feet down from here. Stanton's famous quote, made just after Lincoln died, is in the background:


For lunch that day, we stopped at Krekel's Custard so I could try my first flat midwestern style burger:


The burger was fine, but nothing special. A little disappointing. I enjoyed my malt though.
The night before, we had arrived late in Springfield and stopped at a Culver's, which is kind of a big deal to me because it's something I never get to have here (both the butterburgers and real frozen custard). 
As we moved on to St. Louis the next day, we stopped at the Chain of Rocks Bridge, which I walked part-way across:

post edited by phlmaestro - 2011/11/18 15:46:31
Re:Test 2011/11/18 15:48:03
No cozy dogs? Maybe on the way back ... ;)
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Test 2011/11/18 15:51:29
After we crossed over into Missouri, our first stop was Carl's Driven-In in St. Louis, which I first read about at Hollyeats.com.
This was another flat midwestern-style burger, and there was no disappointment this time. It was hot, right off the grill and packed with flavor. I had a double-cheeseburger with the standard toppings of ketchup, onions and pickles with a large mug of freshly made root-beer:



From there, it was a fairly short ride to Ted Drewes for sundaes:


Double Cheeseburger
Re:Test 2011/11/18 15:57:05
I had a brain freeze and forgot to take our camera with us for our main day out in St. Louis. We got to the zoo and the Missouri History Museum, both of which were free and worthwhile. We also made it to Crown Candy Kitchen for lunch. I had a grilled cheese, one of the best I've eaten, and a chocolate malt with fresh bananas. That place is definitely a classic. There was a line out the door at 11:30 a.m.
On our way back to Chicago, we had to take Rt. 55 most of the way because we needed to make sure we caught our flight. But we did get onto Rt. 66 to head into Atlanta, IL, which has a classic mid-20th century feel to it. We ate at the Palm's Grill which was renovated and re-opened a couple years ago. I had corned beef hash, which was nothing special, but not bad either. My wife enjoyed her french toast. This was another place that was worth it for the atmosphere:


We finished off the trip with another Rt. 66 giant, this one across the street from the Palm's Grill:

Re:Test 2011/11/18 16:34:37
When you say, "the now-closed Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, IL", do you mean closed for the season, or closed for good?
BTW, you were on one of my favorite stretches of road, exploring a bygone time.  I hope the trip lived up to expectations.
We did a similar roadtrip with my daughters when they were (holy crap) 20 years younger.  My older daughter (posting here on Roadfood as abe_froeman) caught the "66" bug and made the trip as an adult with her husband (then significant other) a few years ago.
I have a particular affection for Odell, Illinois, site of that restored gas station pictured in your first post.  Both of my parents worked when I was a kid.  There was a neighbor woman who used to watch my brother and me when we got home from school.  When she and her husband retired, they moved to Odell.  My brother and I would go down there every summer to stay with them for a couple of weeks on their (very) small farm.  They even had an old horse that we would hitch up to a wagon and ride around through town.
Years later, when we started the Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce business, we featured a leg of Route 66, from Chicago to Hazel Green, MO on our original label.  It was kind of a (intentionally) crudely drawn map, highlighting cities along the Mother Road that had special meaning to us.  Naturally, Odell was a dot on the road.
Using Route 66 as an icon on our label earned us some unexpected connections over the years.  Not long after we started, I was contacted by the restoration committee that was bringing that Standard Oil station in Odell back to life.  They were running a charity auction and wanted me to donate a few cases of sauce for the cause.  Naturally I obliged.  I like to think, in our own small way, we helped save a piece of Route 66 history.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to the rest of your report.  I hope you went a few miles past St. Louis to Meramec Caverns.  Exploring the caves and the canoe ride down the neighboring river remain a favorite memory for me, even though I was a teenager at the time and hated the idea of being on vacation with my parents.
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Test 2011/11/18 17:17:00
Hi Buddy,
Those are great memories.
I'm actually not sure about the answer to the Launching Pad Drive-In question. I read somewhere on-line before the trip that it was closed and I assumed at the time that it meant permanently. But I suppose since I was there in November, it's conceivable it's only down for the season.
That's basically it for this trip. I'd love to do all of Rt. 66 in one big shot, but my wife isn't that fond of spending huge chunks of time in the car. The best I can hope for is to hit Rt. 66 gradually, one or two states at a time. At one point, south of Springfield, we got confused and wound up on the 1926-1930 alignment of 66 for an hour or two. It was interesting, but I think I missed some good sites as a result of the mistake.
One of the great side benefits of being married to my wonderful wife is that she has many friends and relatives in the Midwest, mainly in Ohio and Indiana, but as long as we're out there, I can usually talk her into visiting a neighboring state so I can do a little food exploring.
I do have photos from several other trips that weren't related to Rt. 66 in any way that I'll share.