This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Following old route 66

Early in June I went west, paralleling old Route 66, once an important way of getting from Chicago to Los Angeles. Now Interstates 55, 44, and 40 make the trip much faster, but the towns along the route have found that hyping old Route 66 is good for the tourist business. One of the rest stops in Missouri features the theme.
On the floor inside is a map of US 66. We went as far as Flagstaff. One day more and we would have been in LA.
The route goes through the panhandle of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois.
 A number of the rest areas along the route were closed, perhaps budget cuts. There was only one in the Texas panhandle and I was totally unimpressed with those in Oklahoma. I also did not care for the stretch Oklahoma made into a toll road. It was confusing. On some entrances and exits you paid and on some exits you got a refund. I am not sure what you did if you did not have exact change.

When we crossed the border into Arizona I wanted to stop and get a map at the Welcome Center. The sign in the door told me I would have to find it elsewhere. However, they did keep the restrooms open.
Flagstaff is at 7000 feet above sea level. I was unpleasantly surprised to find that I was short of breath after a little walk. I did not expect the altitude to affect me so much.

A railroad parallels the route in Arizona and New Mexico. The line has double tracks and is very busy with trains full of containers. Flagstaff has only two Amtrak trains a day, the same as Rensselaer, but they have enough passengers getting on the train that they man the old ticket counter in the depot.
In Flagstaff I visited a Goodwill outlet store. In it you bought things by weight and there were little scales built into the floor by the check out so it was easy to weigh your purchases. The clothing was in bins.
Some of the towns in Arizona and New Mexico advertise their murals. I did not get many pictures of murals, but did find an impressive one in Flagstaff.
Once we left Illinois, we rarely saw corn being grown. There was some wheat in the Texas panhandle and a lot of wind farms. Missouri had a lot trees along the route and little visible agriculture. The speed limit in the western part was 75 mph.

Coming back we stopped in Bloomington, IL and were guests at the State Farm Insurance Company swimming pool. State Farm is headquartered in Bloomington and has about 15,000 employees there. I was blown away with the employee pool. It was a small waterpark with a large splash park, a small lazy river, a large swimming pool, and a very nice locker building.

From Rensselaer to Flagstaff is about 1600 miles.

1 comment:

Butch said...

Mary and I followed the "old road" thru Ill, St Louis and into Missouri one year for vacation......across the Mississippi River is a [very narrow] two lane bridge that used to carry 66 traffic but is now a pedestrian only...right in the middle of the bridge/river is about a 15 degree bend in the bridge that I am sure made for many horrendous wrecks in the vehicular days. Great bit of history tho.....nice ride for anyone.......Butch Claussen