"We're on a mission from god"

Trip Start Sep 16, 2011
Trip End Nov 20, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Sunday, September 18, 2011

Good start to the day. Elwood woke up singing, 'It's a great day, it's a great, great day!"  Smiles all round!

And then, we had a bit of a crisis this morning as none of our cards are working nor are our phones. So, after a few battles with a phone card (I accidentally bought one with the instructions in Spanish), and another hearty breakfast, we were ready to roll.

The rest of the day was fun despite the weather's attempts otherwise. The rain started as a rainbow in the distance when we had breakfast but developed through the day to a thrashing as we made our way to Bloomington.

We set off this morning to the windy city. Our plan was to visit 3 parks, the beach, the pier and the zoo, with a couple of other stops around Chicago before hitting historic Route 66.

We managed the zoo, a great diner and got to Route 66, so a pretty good result.

The zoo was amazing. And free, (apart from the 17 dollar car park.) We saw all Woody's favourites and a magnificent polar bear. He did have a word with the giraffe keeper that they weren't big enough for his liking, but it was great to see so much with the back drop of the city scape.

Next we tried our luck with the pier. There's a big ferris wheel and a beach on Lake Michigan, but with the extortionate car park fees and rain, we decided against it.

Then, we got our sat nav so confused it gave up and left us driving the labyrynth of mad roads underneath the city's skyscrapers, like some sort of secret city. It was very cool. I think Elwood's totem powers saw us right and we finally found Lou Mitchell's diner.

This was a lovely old fashioned place with booth seats, a warm, busy atmosphere and great coffee. As our budget is strict, we had a couple of refilled coffees, fruit toast and a bowl of fries to see us through. Elwood also charmed a small ice cream from a very kind waitress, who also charged our camera and gave us doughnuts. Wow, that's an odd sentence having read it again! You know what I mean…

So, to Route 66. As the radio kicked in, Highway To Hell came lunging out the speakers! That's got to be a good sign, right?!

Our first destination was Joliet, which is a town with the prison that Jake gets released from in the Blues Brothers. (Hence the 'mission from god".)  It's a tourist spot now, although not so much at 6pm on a sunday night. But, we took some pics, danced about like idiots, had an odd chat with a local and left feeling good.

We then drove on through some very cool towns, which looked like film sets. From beautiful but understated houses, to disused warehouses, to authentic but retro looking garages, we just kept saying how ace everything looked. We're very happy bunnies.

Much to our amazement, Bree spotted in the distance 'Elwood' written on a massive ball, 100 feet up in the air. We took a very sharp right and promptly saw the 'Bank of Elwood'. Much to his glee, there's a town called 'Elwood' ! It was a bit like the Truman show, but very nice all the same, and many photos were taken. Elwood thinks it's brilliant and wants to live there.

Back on the road, we took more and more of the historic Route 66, rather than the interstate, much to the dismay of our sat nav who was constantly telling us contrary directions. All the little towns looked magic. We stopped en route taking loads of photos.

Braidwood was particularly cool. There's the Polka-Dot Diner. 50's to the max, with Elvis, Marylin, James Dean and Betty Boo statues outside and proper retro looking inside. We were only going to stop for pics, but Woody was enamoured so we popped in.  He befriended a little girl, who it turns out lives in a town here called Essex. That's the name of the county we just left in Blighty! After a bonding over Elvis, Disney princesses, finger clicking and being 3 and a half, they had a quick dance to Great Balls Of Fire and we left.

We finally got to Bloomigton at 830 having driven through the lashing rain. We're in another Super 8 on a retail park, but, do y'know what, we feel very lucky!
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