Day 3: May 16, 2005
Home on Fifty-Two



As I already mentioned, I ended Sunday at the Braidwood Motel in Braidwood, IL. I realize that some readers may think that a good $30 motel is an oxymoron but I believe that that is what the Braidwood is. Small rooms, no frills, maybe even a chip or two in the porcelain. It wouldn't please everyone but it pleased me. For the curious, some other views are here. The wide view of the Polka Dot was taken last night before I checked into the motel but the shots of the drive-in's best known decorations were taken this morning when the parking lot was empty.

The word "breakfast" appeared in at least one sign on a restaurant just down the road. They may serve breakfast sometime but not at 7:00 AM. I headed a few miles north to the Wilmington House where they serve a fine omelet and, at 7:30 appeared to have been open awhile. When I crossed the street to get the Wilmington House picture, it gave me an opportunity to photograph the Van Duyn's sign up close. In addition to the two fairly new signs, there is a depopulated neon sign on the Van Duyne property. Maybe the fish represents a previous name for the motel. I hope that's a walleye and not a crappy.

Incidentally, crossing IL-53 (Historic 66) wasn't all that easy. Traffic was pretty steady on the old road. When I did get back to my car, I crossed the bridge over the Kankakee and turned up Water Street to the Schutten-Aldrich house. The unusual eight sided house was built in 1856. Then it was back to Sixty-Six and past the Launching Pad. The Gemini Giant is one of the best known of the repurposed muffler men and I told myself that I wouldn't take yet another picture of the helmeted giant. Turns out that I don't listen to me, either.

At Joliet, I left Sixty-Six for US-52. This large round barn is right on Fifty-Two not far from Joliet.

US-52 is nice enough but it is divided four lane from the Indiana line to Indianapolis and little struck me as photo worthy. This and the next two panels represent short side trips near Lafayette. The first picture is of Prophet's Rock where Tecumseh's brother, Tenskwatawa, sang to encourage the Indians during the Battle of Tippecanoe. The other pictures are at the battle site.

(Bonus: For a look at what is roadside just a few yards northeast of Prophet's Rock, click here.)

In the early 1950s, volunteers manned this watchtower around the clock watching the sky for enemy aircraft. The tower, near West Lafayette, was officially commissioned by the USAF on August, 16, 1952. It claims to be the first but, on a plaque at the site, there are quotes on the words "The First". The tower was such a deterrent that all Soviet plans to bomb Lafayette were canceled.

The Red Crown Mini-Museum was presented to the city of Lafayette by Donald Stein in 1991. It is filled with automotive and petrol memorabilia and is apparently open at least once in awhile - a guest book is visible inside. My visit was limited to viewing the stuff outside and peering through windows.

This chrome diner caught my eye near the Tippecanoe-Clinton county line and I turned around for a visit. The place is aptly named and the atmosphere is that of a farm community cafe rather than a roadside diner. Three men sat at the counter when I entered talking about crops, weather, and repairing equipment. Not long after I started sipping an iced-tea, one of them left and, as if on cue, another walked in to take his place. One had a broken arm and had apparently dropped a few pounds while it mended. "Don't lose any more weight", he was advised. "But I was thinking that if I just lost a little more I could fold my pants in two and wear them twice as long."

East of Indianapolis, Fifty-Two does become two lane. It slowly gets better and somewhere west of Metamora, a few tree lined stretches start to appear. Metamora itself is pretty interesting but was empty when I passed through. I do have some Metamora pictures from another road trip. Some pretty sections do indeed appear west of Metamora but this picture is well east of Metamora and east of Brookville, too. A couple of miles from the state line US-52 merges into I-74 and it enters Ohio on the back of the interstate. The fun was over.

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