There is a certain stretch of Interstate 55 leading out of Chicago that is simply a nasty stretch of road, everyone drives like madmen. Before the television show made the term famous. And there’s lots of them. A peaceful way to avoid this is to take Old Route 66, this stretch being identified as Illinois Route 53.
Some years ago, I had the adventure of actually driving the entire length of Route 66, from Los Angeles to Chicago. My brain kept ringing the Nat King Cole tune “go through St. Louis, Joplin Missouri, and Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty…” .
Central Illinois has its share of oddities, though they are different than what I’ve encountered elsewhere.. Nothing like the “throw your trash into Orbit” roadside trash bins in Manitoba, with approaching signage timed to 100 km/h, or even the sign outside the CHAT Radio transmitter on the Trans Canada Highway in Medicine Hat that pronounced “10,000 persuasive watts” that had my mind in childhood fearful of these 10,000 critters roaming around, persuading people.
“Giant Gemini” at the Launching Pad Restaurant in Wilmington, Illinois is a good example. Although there have never been any rockets (that I know of) launched from anyplace close to Wilmington, this concrete and sheet metal aberration – complete with its own electrical transformer so that the face inside the helmet can light up at night.
My favourite is the Java Stop coffee stand in Dwight, Illinois. A creative reuse of two metal freight containers, this is a visible piece of pop art visible for miles around. Too bad that it recently closed; I hope that it finds a new owner soon.