Hello to an old friend, Goodbye to an old road…

After the speed and excitement of the Indy 500, we were happy to slow the pace down a little bit for a couple of days.  On Monday we left Indiana and crossed back into Illinois for the second time and stopped in a sweet town called Charleston to visit a great friend.  Thadd and I have been friends for over 12 years, but strangely have never actually met!!  So we were lucky enough to stay with Thadd, his girlfriend Misty, his brother Andrew, their two dogs Pippin and Erin and their cat Pepe – plus us three and it was a full house!!

Illinois is all about ol' "Honest Abe", so we had to visit the Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum in Charleston.

Illinois is all about ol' "Honest Abe", so we had to visit the Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum in Charleston.

Nathan and Erin, the cutest dog in the world, officially.

Nathan and Erin, the cutest dog in the world, officially.

Epic breakfast (chocolate chip pancakes - yum!) at What's Cookin' with Andrew, Thadd and Misty.

Epic breakfast (chocolate chip pancakes - yum!) at What's Cookin' with Andrew, Thadd and Misty.

Then on Tuesday it was back to Route 66 for the last time.  We drove from Charleston to Springfield then followed the Mother Road North to Chicago.

I met Bill Shea of Shea's service station - Bill has been managing this Springfield service station (now museum) on Route 66 since 1955!

I met Bill Shea of Shea's service station - Bill has been managing this Springfield service station (now museum) on Route 66 since 1955!

Route 66 in a town called "Normal"

Route 66 in a town called "Normal"

At the Illinois Route 66 museum in Pontiac we saw Bob Waldmire's van - the inspiration for "Fillmore" in the Cars movie.

At the Illinois Route 66 museum in Pontiac we saw Bob Waldmire's van - the inspiration for "Fillmore" in the Cars movie.

The Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad Drive-thru in Wilmington.  We stopped here for dinner and the burgers were awesome.  :)

The Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad Drive-thru in Wilmington. We stopped here for dinner and the burgers were awesome. 🙂

It is so hard to believe that the Route 66 portion of our trip is over.  It has been totally incredible, I can’t recommend it highly enough!!  I am officially in love with Route 66, the Main Street of America.  But fortunately for us (and for you, if you’re actually enjoying this blog), this isn’t the end of the road trip.  First we’ll check out Chicago, then it’s on to “Motor City” Detroit, then Niagara Falls and then finishing with New York, New York!  (Which, I imagine, is nothing at all like “old” York!)

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The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

St Louis seemed like an interesting city, we would have loved to spend a bit more time there, but we just had time for a couple of quick stops Saturday morning, before leaving Missouri and Route 66 and heading to Indiana on Saturday afternoon.

The St Louis Arch, otherwise known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

The St Louis Arch, otherwise known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

The Mississippi River in St Louis - I think the water level was a little higher than usual.

The Mississippi River in St Louis - I think the water level was a little higher than usual.

Chain of Rocks Bridge, St Louis.  An original Route 66 icon, mainly famous because it joins the two states Missouri and Illinois and it has a bend in the middle.

Chain of Rocks Bridge, St Louis. An original Route 66 icon, mainly famous because it joins the two states Missouri and Illinois and it has a bend in the middle.

The world's largest "Catsup" (ketchup) bottle, apparently.  Collinsville, Illinois.

The world's largest "Catsup" (ketchup) bottle, apparently. Collinsville, Illinois.

We arrived safely in Indianapolis!  Gee, I wonder what we could be here for...

We arrived safely in Indianapolis! Gee, I wonder what we could be here for...

The Indianapolis 500!

Apparently the biggest motorsport event anywhere in the world, and I’d believe it.  The grandstands hold 350,000 ish people, and I don’t think there was a spare seat today!  The race was really amazing.  I thought it would be a bit boring, just cars going around in a circle, but it was incredibly exciting.  After the first 6 laps I wasn’t sure if I could last the whole 200 laps!  I think it helped having a fellow countryman, Scott Dixon, racing in the number 9 car.  Scott raced really well.  He lead the race up until half way, then he was very strong in the second half as well, and was in second place at lap 199, but somehow lost 4 places in the second half of the last lap.  Gutting!  We’re still not sure what actually happened…

A small section of the crowd in the SW Vista stadium

A small section of the crowd in the SW Vista stadium

The fly-over at the beginning of the race during the national anthem - a V2 bomber!

The fly-over at the beginning of the race during the national anthem - a V2 bomber!

The Parade lap at the start - Scott Dixon was in the second row on the grid, you can see him in the middle here in the red Target car.

The Parade lap at the start - Scott Dixon was in the second row on the grid, you can see him in the middle here in the red Target car.

And they're racing!

And they're racing!

Turn one during one of the yellow flags.  As you can see we had a pretty good view.  :)

Turn one during one of the yellow flags. As you can see we had a pretty good view. 🙂

Race leaders as at Lap 198 - I bet Scott Dixon wishes the race finished here!

Race leaders as at Lap 198 - I bet Scott Dixon wishes the race finished here!

The fly-over at the end of the race.

The fly-over at the end of the race.

But anyway, we all had a fantastic day.  We had a good view of corners one and two, and a TV screen opposite us for all the rest.  The track is MASSIVE, it would probably take over an hour to walk around the outside.  The atmosphere was really awesome – so many mental people, but everyone was really friendly and considerate and had a great time.

Overall, an incredible day!!  By far the most exciting motorsport event I’ve ever been to, even if they did drive around in circles.  😉

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Somewhere, under the rainbow…

…it’s probably raining.

We knew we had a long drive ahead of us, from Tulsa, through Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri to St Louis (400+ miles), so not a lot of time for stopping along the way.  Although we did manage to fit in a couple of photo ops…

We found an original piece of Route 66 between Afton and Miami, Oklahoma.

We found an original piece of Route 66 between Afton and Miami, Oklahoma.

When they first built Route 66 in Oklahoma they only made this section one lane to save money.  It's known as the "Sidewalk Highway".

When they first built Route 66 in Oklahoma they only made this section one lane to save money. It's known as the "Sidewalk Highway".

We found a friend also using the sidewalk highway.  There were other cars coming, so Lance carefully moved him to the grass verge.

We found a friend also using the sidewalk highway. There were other cars coming, so Lance carefully moved him to the grass verge.

The Rainbow Arch Bridge, Kansas.  The only one of its kind remaining on Route 66.

The Rainbow Arch Bridge, Kansas. The only one of its kind remaining on Route 66.

Kan-O-Tex historic gas station in Galena, Kansas.  The name stands for Kansas-Oklahoma-Texas.

Kan-O-Tex historic gas station in Galena, Kansas. The name stands for Kansas-Oklahoma-Texas.

This old tow truck was the real inspiration for the character "Tow Mater" in the movie "Cars".

This old tow truck was the real inspiration for the character "Tow Mater" in the movie "Cars".

And then the rain began!!  As we drove through Kansas we could see storm clouds and lightning, and then just as we pulled up at the Kan-O-Tex in Galena the rain started.  We took shelter for a while and waited for it to ease, but we seemed to be driving the same way the storm was going, so we kept catching up with it!  This made the driving pretty slow going, and unfortunately we didn’t see much of Missouri…

Awesome storm clouds in Missouri.  There was lightning too.

Awesome storm clouds in Missouri. There was lightning too.

Joplin being rained on.  Just doesn't seem fair, does it?  We stayed away from the damaged areas but saw lots of broken windows and a couple of refuge centers.

Joplin being rained on. Just doesn't seem fair, does it? We stayed away from the damaged areas but saw lots of broken windows and a couple of refuge centers.

But we did manage to get to the famous Meramec caverns just in time for their last tour of the day!

The famous Meramec Caverns, Missouri.  Hideout of Jesse James.

The famous Meramec Caverns, Missouri. Hideout of Jesse James.

Meramec Caverns, MO

Meramec Caverns, MO

The curtain Stalactite, Meramec Caverns, MO

The curtain Stalactite, Meramec Caverns, MO

Oh, P.S.  If you’re ever in Missouri, don’t even think about speeding.  We saw more police pulling people over in one day then we’ve seen in the whole road trip to date!

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Well, I’ve never been to heaven, But I’ve been to Oklahoma.

Day two in Oklahoma (wow, two whole days in one state?  That’s unusual!) and we had a bit more time on our hands, so we decided to take the opportunity to stop at as many Route 66 attractions as possible.

Lake Overholser Bridge, currently closed.

Lake Overholser Bridge, currently closed.

Giant Milk Bottle, Oklahoma City

Giant Milk Bottle, Oklahoma City

"Pops" in Arcadia, OK, where they sell nearly 500 types of soda, and have a giant soda bottle outside - which lights up at night!

"Pops" in Arcadia, OK, where they sell nearly 500 types of soda, and have a giant soda bottle outside - which lights up at night!

I got Bawls!  We stopped for yummy burgers and soda for lunch at Pops.

I got Bawls! We stopped for yummy burgers and soda for lunch at Pops.

The Round Barn in Arcadia.  Not much more to say, except, awesome place for a barn dance.

The Round Barn in Arcadia. Not much more to say, except, awesome place for a barn dance.

This 1920's petrol station is now a motorbike museum in Warwick, OK.

This 1920's petrol station is now a motorbike museum in Warwick, OK.

The Rock Cafe in Stroud, OK, is built from 100% locally sourced stone.

The Rock Cafe in Stroud, OK, is built from 100% locally sourced stone.

Dawn from the Rock Cafe was the inspiration for the character "Sally" in the movie "Cars".

Dawn from the Rock Cafe was the inspiration for the character "Sally" in the movie "Cars".

We continued to notice how green and lush and beautiful Oklahoma is.  In fact, for the first time since we arrived in the USA, we were reminded of New Zealand.  The weather was just gorgeous – sunny, warm, blue skies.  And to top it all off, I was driving and we ended up in Tulsa – a perfect day!!

Beautiful, lush Oklahoma, and awesome Route 66.

Beautiful, lush Oklahoma, and awesome Route 66. Did I mention I was driving today? 🙂

The Golden Driller in Tulsa.  Tulsa was once known as the "Oil Capital of the World".

The Golden Driller in Tulsa. Tulsa was once known as the "Oil Capital of the World".

Cyrus Avery Memorial Bridge.  This gorgeous art-deco bridge was once part of Route 66 in Tulsa, but is now closed and maintained as a memorial to one of the founders of Route 66.

Cyrus Avery Memorial Bridge. This gorgeous art-deco bridge was once part of Route 66 in Tulsa, but is now closed and maintained as a memorial to one of the founders of Route 66.

The Blue Whale in Catoosa.  This used to be a popular swimming spot, and you could jump off the whale into the water - so cute!

The Blue Whale in Catoosa. This used to be a popular swimming spot, and you could jump off the whale into the water - so cute!

Desert Hills Motel, Tulsa, OK.  A Route 66 icon and our accommodation for the night!

Desert Hills Motel, Tulsa, OK. A Route 66 icon and our accommodation for the night!

P.S.  In case you didn’t get the title, it’s a reference to the Three Dog Night song, but I first loved it when these guys played it in London.

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Cowboys and Indians

New Mexico to Texas to Oklahoma

We only have sporadic internet access, so this will be another two-day update.  Hope it’s not too boring!  🙂

Tuesday we woke up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and decided to check out the center of town.  One thing we noticed particularly in Santa Fe but all throughout New Mexico was the very different style of houses and buildings.  I guess this is from it’s Spanish/Mexican/Native American origins.  Santa Fe was beautiful, has heaps of character and the people were friendly.

Beautiful building near the Plaza in Santa Fe

Beautiful building near the Plaza in Santa Fe

Route 66 was actually re-routed in 1937 to go through Albuquerque instead of Santa Fe.

Route 66 was actually re-routed in 1937 to go through Albuquerque instead of Santa Fe.

Heading south from Santa Fe

Heading south from Santa Fe - the highlight of the morning was seeing actual tumble-weed blowing across the highway!!

Next we stopped in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, at the Route 66 Auto Museum, which was nothing short of AWESOME.  We all agreed we’d like a garage like this.

Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa

Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa

Sold!  A bargain at $55k.

Sold! A bargain at $55k.

My favourite - 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

My favourite - 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

After that we continued heading East in New Mexico, had a quick stop in Tucumcari for photos and souvenirs, before driving to Glenrio, which was a bit difficult to find with the Sat Nav – not surprising considering it doesn’t exist.  Glenrio is a ghost town, one of the many towns that died completely after Route 66 was bypassed by the interstate.  A sad, scary place.  Oh, and this stretch of Route 66 is unpaved!  The state border runs through the middle of “town” so we can honestly say we drove from New Mexico to Texas on a gravel road!!

The Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, NM.  Every motel room has it's own garage!

The Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, NM. Every motel room has it's own garage!

Yes, this is Route 66.  Yes, this is gravel!!

Yes, this is Route 66. Yes, this is gravel!!

Glenrio, NM/TX.  Now an abandoned ghost town.

Glenrio, NM/TX. Now an abandoned ghost town.

Then it was on to a few small Texas towns, Adrian – home of the “Mid Point Cafe” (1139 miles to either Los Angeles or Chicago) – and Vega – home of a cute, restored 1920’s “Magnolia” service station, before finding ourselves in a field in the middle of nowhere, where some numpty has buried some Cadillacs…

The Midpoint Cafe - Half way on Route 66!

The Midpoint Cafe - Half way on Route 66.

The famous Cadillac Ranch!  Yes, it's very random, but well worth seeing.

The famous Cadillac Ranch! Yes, it's very random, but well worth seeing.

And finally, our Texas home for the night – the Big Texan Motel, Amarillo.

The Big Texan - as they say, everything's bigger in Texas...

The Big Texan - as they say, everything's bigger in Texas...

The Big Texan Motel

The Big Texan Motel

You can get a FREE steak meal here.  If you eat it within 1 hour.  Oh, it's a 72 oz steak, plus bread, potatoes and salad!!

You can get a FREE steak meal here. If you eat it within 1 hour. Oh, and it's a 72 oz steak, plus bread, potatoes and salad!!

Okay, that was Tuesday.  Are you still with me?  Now on to Wednesday…

A few Texas photo stops along the way at Groom, McLean and Shamrock, before heading into Oklahoma and stopping at the National Route 66 museum in Elk City and the Oklahoma Route 66 museum in Clinton.

This cross in Groom, Texas, is 19 stories high!

This cross in Groom, Texas, is 19 stories high! The fuzzy black thing at the base is Nathan.

This was the first Phillips 66 station in Texas, built in McLean in the 1920's.

This was the first Phillips 66 station in Texas, built in McLean in the 1920's.

This beautiful Conoco service station was the inspiration for "Ramone's" in the movie "Cars".

This beautiful Conoco service station was the inspiration for "Ramone's" in the movie "Cars".

One thing we noticed, almost as soon as we crossed into Oklahoma, was the amazing change in scenery.  Texas was very flat, dry, dusty desert.  Oklahoma is surprisingly green with rolling hills and lots of farmland – beautiful!

Oklahoma seems very green.  Those rain clouds might have something to do with it...  For those that are interested, we haven't hit any bad weather thankfully - just a lot of strong wind!

Oklahoma seems very green. Those rain clouds might have something to do with it... For those that are interested, we haven't hit any bad weather thankfully - just a lot of strong wind!

Tonight we’re staying in Oklahoma City, tomorrow is a special day – we’re going to Tulsa!

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Cruisin’ Route 66 – Arizona and New Mexico

Sunday was going to be a busy day, so we started with a full breakfast from Mr D’z Diner, Kingman, Arizona, which is a gorgeous 50’s style diner with tonnes of character.

Mr D'z Diner, Kingman

Mr D'z Diner, Kingman

Looking forward to pancakes and french toast!

Looking forward to pancakes and french toast!

First stop of the day was the Hackberry General Store, which is more of a Route 66 museum and possibly one of our best stops yet.

Hackberry General Store

Hackberry General Store

Corvette at Hackberry General Store

Corvette at Hackberry General Store

After that it was a long, beautiful drive along Route 66 to Peach Springs, Arizona where we stopped at the Grand Canyon Caverns.  These are a series of caves 200+ ft under the ground, well worth a visit.

Beautiful Route 66 between Hackberry and Peach Springs

Beautiful Route 66 between Hackberry and Peach Springs

Grand Canyon Caverns - for $700 a night you can actually stay in their cavern suite!

Grand Canyon Caverns - for $700 a night you can actually stay in their cavern suite!

Then some more beautiful Route 66 driving and a quick stop in Seligman…

Route 66 between Peach Springs and Seligman

Route 66 between Peach Springs and Seligman

The Snow Cap in Seligman.  Their neon sign says "Sorry, we're open".

The Snow Cap in Seligman. Their neon sign says "Sorry, we're open".

…before diverting off the Mother Road to the Grand Canyon!  This was a must-see, obviously, and it was really amazing.  Although that was to be expected, really, I guess they wouldn’t call it the “Grand Canyon” for nothing…  We had a quick look at Mather point and then went around to Grandview point which is aptly named.

It's a canyon.  It's grand.  You get the picture...

It's a canyon. It's grand. You get the picture...

And this was the last we saw of Nathan...  Just kidding!!

And this was the last we saw of Nathan... Just kidding!!

After that it was a spirited drive via Flagstaff to find our Route 66 accommodation for the night – in the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook!!

Our car in front of our (concrete, replica) wigwam.  It was cosy and fun.

Our car in front of our (concrete, replica) wigwam. It was cosy and fun.

Words can't even express how cool this place is.  Can you see why we liked it?

Words can't even express how cool this place is. Can you see why we liked it?

On Monday I was back at the wheel, so I decided to start the week with a famous Route 66 icon: the Jack Rabbit Trading Post.

Here it is!  I found it!

Here it is! I found it!

Lance looks amused.  Jack Rabbit does not.

Lance looks amused. Jack Rabbit does not.

Then, I drove through the fascinating Petrified Forest National Park, and saw the stunning “Painted Desert”, before working on my “Driver’s Tan” on the way to Gallup, New Mexico for a lunch stop at the El Rancho Hotel.

Petrified Forest - ancient trees that have turned into rock.

Petrified Forest - ancient trees that have turned into rock.

The Painted Desert - really gorgeous, photos don't do it justice.

The Painted Desert - really gorgeous, photos don't do it justice.

El Rancho Hotel, Gallup, New Mexico

El Rancho Hotel, Gallup, New Mexico

Inside the El Rancho Hotel.  Lunch was lovely too.

Inside the El Rancho Hotel. Lunch was lovely too.

Nathan took the wheel and after a quick stop in Albuquerque (a much bigger city than we expected!!) we headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a well-earned night’s sleep at the Silver Saddle Motel.

Good night, time for a rest!

Good night, time for a rest!

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A Dam, a Bridge and a Highway

After the bright lights in Las Vegas, we headed further into the desert for more of our Route 66 road trip.  First stop was the Hoover Dam on the Nevada/Arizona border, which is an amazing feat of engineering and example of the tenacity of the human spirit.  Plus it’s a nifty photo spot.

The Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam

Finally I got in the driver’s seat, and it was off down the interstate along some great roads to Lake Havasu City, to visit London Bridge which was purchased in 1968 and reassembled in the Arizona desert.  Sounds a bit stupid, but it’s now a very popular holiday spot and is well worth a visit!  But boy, was it hot, hot, hot!!  96F apparently, which is around 35C.

Nevada Interstate 93 - I was driving!

Nevada Interstate 93 - I was driving!

London Bridge in it's new home in Lake Havasu

London Bridge in it's new home in Lake Havasu

Next, Lance took the reins and it was onto Historic Route 66 for the most epic part of our journey so far, and possibly full stop.  We drove the Oatman Highway from near Lake Havasu up through Oatman and into Kingman.  The scenery was absolutely incredible, it really defies description.  We stopped in Oatman on the way which is a genuine “Wild West” type town – it looks like a scene from a movie, but it’s all real!!

Historic Route 66 - This is what it's all about!

Historic Route 66 - This is what it's all about!

Oatman looks like something from a Wild West movie, except it's genuine!!

Oatman looks like something from a Wild West movie, except it's genuine!!

Oatman was a gold rush town in the 1900's-1920's but had nearly died out by the mid 1940's.

Oatman was a gold rush town in the 1900's-1920's but had nearly died out by the mid 1940's.

The Oatman Highway inspired many of the scenes in the movie "Cars" - you can see why!

The Oatman Highway inspired many of the scenes in the movie "Cars" - you can see why!

Cute retro gas station on the Oatman Highway

Cute retro gas station on the Oatman Highway

Then finally to Kingman to our rest stop for the evening and Taco Bell for dinner.  A good rest was needed for our next adventures…

Hill Top Motel in Kingman

Hill Top Motel in Kingman

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