Monday, August 26, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 10: Auburn, IN to Toronto, ON

Always hard to tackle, a long last day home via Detroit. From Auburn we cut across to the Ohio Turnpike and splurge $4 on the toll which rushes us to Toledo, Ohio. A pitstop for gas then stock up on Goldenberg's peanut chews from Rite Aid.
We have no delay at the border and within 20 minutes are back in Windsor, ON. We stop at the Dutton ONroute for coffee and diesel. We can't help questioning why our provincial government is in the food court business. The amount of travel information provided is minimal and there are no staff to answer questions.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 9: Springfield, IL to Auburn, IN

We overnighted at the Drury Inn in Springfield, IL, a chain that provides a hot breakfast and a 17:30 Kick-back, consisting of light supper and drinks (including alcohol). Great view of the adjacent smokestacks.
Next morning we leave Route 66 behind, heading across endless farm country. We pass an Alcoa plant and a Subaru factory before stopping at Barnes & Noble in Fayetteville, IN. This cavernous bookstore has a questionable business model. I purchase "Nothin' but Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland" by Edward McClelland. The book discusses the concepts of ruin-porn (photographing derelict buildings) and rust-belt-chic.
First rain of the tour so we stop at J D's Riverside Café, in Whitley, IN, in a downpour. Salsa and tortilla chips.
We press on to Auburn, IN, in time to tour the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Automobile Museum at 1800 South Wayne. (The change from Central to Eastern time means we have lost an hour in the day.) This is rust-belt-chic at its finest - an exquisite art deco building, where the cars were once made, celebrating the largely defunct Indiana motor industry, which contains a wonderful collection of the three marques, plus a smattering of other vehicles including an Indiana-made Crosley Hotshot once owned by Frank Lloyd Wright.
To the Quality Inn, walking to Wal-Mart for bagel take-out supper. RLT.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 8: Springfield, MO to Springfield, IL

We normally try to avoid chain restaurants but a US road trip just wouldn't be complete without a breakfast at the Waffle House. We stopped at one in St. Robert, Missouri and it didn't disappoint. A friendly Viet Nam vet helped us map a route over the Mississippi while avoiding the bulk of traffic through St. Louis. Route 30 was a great choice and we made good time. We diverged off the Interstate Highways driving along various alignments of Route 66 in both Missouri and Illinois. Nothing matches the bump-thump of Portland Concrete and the brick road near Auburn, Illinois really channels the ghosts of Route 66.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 7: Fort Smith, AR to Springfield, MO

We drive north through the Ozarks and are impressed with the trim town square in Bentonville, AR, home of Wal-Mart. A museum housed in the first Walton's 5 & 10 cent store tells the story of Sam Walton's rise from humble beginnings to the owner of 1,960 Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Supercentres that employed 380,000 people at the time of his death in 1992. Parking and museum: no charge.
Eureka Springs is a resort community strung out on winding roads in the hills. $5 parking and nothing entices us to stop. After lunch at a poorly-operated restaurant in Branson, MO, we agree it's not the place for us.
We check into the Best Western Rail Haven Motel on Route 66 in Springfield, MO, featuring at-the-door parking, where two Ford cars from the mid-fifties and vintage gas pumps greet you as you drive in. After downtown tour to Steak-N-Shake for supper, 1158 E St Louis, for burger, veggie melt, strawberry/banana shake and coffee, $20 incl tip.

Chuggabug Tour Day 6: Joplin, MO to Fort Smith, AR

From Joplin, MO, we drive to Darryl Starbird's National Rod and Custom Car Hall of Fame just outside Afton, OK. A superb collection of "one of a kind" cars from the 50s to the 80s. Excellent displays about the Hall of Fame members and their cars are richly illustrated with photos and magazine clippings.  En route we revisit Galena, KS, and stop to admire the elegant facade of the Coleman Theater in Miami, OK. Pitstop at Wal-Mart for grits to take home and "Cars" DVD.
Lunch at Nana's Cafe, Jay, OK. Down home cooking including deep fried okra.
At Fort Smith, AR, we are disappointed that, contrary to advertisements, the trolleys are not running. Staff at the Comfort Inn cheer us up with kind offers and the best laundry experience we've ever had at a hotel.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 5: Kansas City, KS to Joplin, MO

Heading south of Kansas City, KS, we find small towns in various stages of dereliction. At Fort Scott we briefly tour the historic site that gives the town its name. Established in 1842, the fort has successively served many roles in early settlement, the Civil War and railroad development.We sit at the counter of the Nu Grille where short order cooks are going full out to cater to the Sunday brunch crowd. One guy looks up and quips: "You guys are still sharing pie? I haven't done that since High School."  I suggested he find someone to share pie with;  he might enjoy it. Our waitress adds: "We tell him that all the time."  Back on the "Mother Road" at Galena, KS, we have lunch at "Cars on Route 66" in the converted Kan-O-Tex service station. Trudi has her photo taken with Tow Mater and friend, stars of the movie "Cars."

Chuggabug Tour Day 4: Kansas City, KS & Kansas City, MO

Very interesting day sightseeing in Kansas City, Missouri. I took this photo of the city with Union Station in the foreground from the World War I Liberty Monument. Inside the station, we visited the "National Geographic Real Pirates" exhibit which highlights artifacts from the wreck of  the Whydah, a former slave and pirate ship. Next we toured the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art which was one of the reasons for this trip. We drive back through Country Club Plaza, a 15 block district of high end shops and restaurants in stunning Spanish architecture.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 3: St Charles, MO to Kansas City, KS

Driving westward on Highway 94, which follows the Missouri River to the north, we stop to fill up at McKittrick, MO, where the diesel at BP is just $3.599 per gallon. At Jefferson City, the Missouri State Capitol (seen here) we enjoy "Three Story Coffee" sitting outside the Via Roma Cafe. A guy in the most beat up jallopy we've seen in a long while asks, "Did you get that car out of a cereal box?"
At the Drury Hotel we get spruced up and take a taxi to the New Theatre Restaurant where we're treated to Director's Box seats by the star of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Zachary Stevenson.  The service, food and especially the show are stellar, never to be forgotten.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 2: Indianapolis, IN to St Charles, MO

We visit Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, in Clermont, IN, home of the NHRA Nationals, before the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame which has a very impressive car collection. Driving southwest out of Indianapolis, through endless fields of corn and soy beans we feel the call of the "Mother Road" and connect with Route 66 at Litchfield, IL. After enjoying cherry turnovers and coffee at Jubelt's Bakery, established 1922, we stop for a photo op at Soulsby's Service station at Mount Olive, IL. We check into the Country Inn at St Charles, MO, and walk through the charming historic downtown for dinner at the Little Hills Winery and Restaurant where the action on the street provides entertainment.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 1: Toronto to Indianapolis, IN

Leaving home at 5:40 am payed off as we blast out of the GTA and breakfast at the TA truckstop just outside Woodstock, ON, about 7:15 am. We cross the Ambassador Bridge, paying the $4.75 toll, and waste no time getting away from Detroit, travelling south to Toledo, OH.  The region has become known as the rust belt but Ford Mustangs, La-Z-Boy furniture and Jeeps are still made locally. The weather is on our side and we opt to take state highways rather than the interstate from Fort Wayne, IN, to Indianapolis, IN, stopping at the farmer's market in Huntington, IN, (pictured here) to pick up some fresh fruit and home-made goodies. Sandwich at Starbucks on arrival.