Day 1: September 28, 2007
Surprised at the CoR
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Vandalia, IL Vandalia, IL Vandalia, IL It never occurred to me that Jay's Inn would be full but it was. It could frequently be that way for awhile because of a big construction project nearby whose workers have a large number of room continuously booked. I checked at the Travelodge next door and booked a room for just about the same price as Jay's. I personally think Jay's is a bit nicer but I'd certainly have no problem staying at the Travelodge again or recommending it to anyone who asked. I've taken pictures of the Travelodge's mini-arch when I've stayed at Jay's so it only seems fair to take a picture of Jay's sign from my current roost. It really is in there beyond the rocket and arch.

Then a quick swing through town before I took to the road. The Madonna's doing well but not so the Depot where I ate on my last visit. A fire early in the month did significant damage and the 85 year old building may be a total loss.

Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge On the Illinois side of the river, there is a gravel road that leads to the water's edge near the old Chain of Rocks Bridge. I had just enough time to try it today and I got a rather different view. The middle photo is looking straight on at the span originating in Missouri with one of the water intake towers in the foreground.

Chain of Rocks Bridge I also made a brief stop at the Illinois bridge entrance. There were a few cars there and I spoke with a couple of their drivers and shared what I knew about the crossing drive originating on the other side. After a bit of chatting among themselves, they decided they wouldn't bother and would just wait for the caravan. That would change.

As I was leaving, a Mustang from Columbus, Ohio, pulled in. Its occupants decided they wanted to do more than just watch cars come off the bridge and they followed me to the Missouri side.

Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge In Missouri, things were busy but under control. A nice touch from the organizers this year was dash plagues to the first 65 cars. I walked out on the bridge to take a few pictures and heard someone call my name as I returned.

A couple from Virginia, Wes & Dee, had been in a Corvette in front of me when I crossed the bridge for the first time in 2003. Wes had been back alone in 2004 and with his son last year. We had exchanged emails about this year's festival and knew they couldn't get away to attend. At least they couldn't up until Wednesday night. After watching video and flipping through pictures of past festivals, one of those "I will if you will" exchanges occurred. Bosses were called, a cat sitter secured ("You can't go this year, Jason."), and they hit road about 4:00 AM. And there they were, the last folks I expected to see any where near the old bridge, ready to cross it again.

Route 66 IL Route 66 IL Dee, Kent, & Wes. Route 66 IL That's Dee and Wes with "almost local" Kent in the middle. It was Kent who hung with me last year as I drove toward Springfield expecting total transmission failure at any moment. Kent lives in Missouri but is quite familiar with much of the Mother Road in Illinois and he headed up our mini-caravan. American Road Forum member Don (a.k.a RoadDog) and wife Liz are in the black car. They used last year's festival as the kick-off for a full length cruise of Route 66.

There had been some cheering onlookers on the bridge and even a few on the local road leading from it but I don't think any of us expected these cheering and waving students near Mitchell. Now, that's education!

Henry's Rabbit Ranch, Staunton, IL Henry's Rabbit Ranch, Staunton, IL Henry's Rabbit Ranch, Staunton, IL Henry's Rabbit Ranch, Staunton, IL Our first stop was at Illinois' most famous ranch. That's Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton. In Illinois, cars that were actually buried, ala the Cadillac Ranch in Texas, would just rust away so that VW Rabbit tail is a prototype for some "simulated burying". Rabbits of another kind really are buried in the bunny cemetery guarded by Big Bernie but there are plenty of unburied rabbits - of both kinds - around, too. Matriarch Montana is getting on in years (9?) and no longer cares for crowds but Rich did coax a pose and a smile from her.

Country Classic Cars, Staunton, IL Country Classic Cars, Staunton, IL Country Classic Cars, Staunton, IL Next stop was at Country Classic Cars where no one bothered us for the expected and posted entry fee (and we didn't volunteer:-). There is an amazing collection of classic (or at least old) cars here and every one is for sale. Kent returned to that red '57 Chevy several times and I'm pretty sure I saw him patting his pockets for his checkbook at least once but no deals were made.

Route 66 IL Route 66 IL Don and Liz left us at the "used car lot" in order to get to Broadwell for the dedication of a marker at the site of the Pig Hip Restaurant. We briefly tried to fill their spot with this combine but it didn't work out. The shot of Wes, Kent, & Dee was taken right after lunch at the Ariston.

City Nights Cruise, Springfield, IL City Nights Cruise, Springfield, IL City Nights Cruise, Springfield, IL After Kent headed to his hotel, Wes, Dee, & I stopped by the brick road near Auburn then headed for our own hotels. Continuing the good timing, I had just enough time to check in and head off to pick up Don for the big street cruise. Pat Bremer brought his Corvair and Don graciously agreed to supervise while Pat took care of some road dust. Kent is an old hand at this but it was a first for Pat, Don, and me. What a hoot! There were people along the street from the instant we started the 5+ mile route and they were two or three deep in the downtown area. No pictures since 1) there wasn't much light, 2) I really didn't want to rear end Kent's car while taking a picture, and 3) I was having too much fun.

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