Author Archives: ron_starkey

Route 66 Day 12 Pontiac, IL to Chicago, IL

Woke to clear skies and a 2nd day of no fire trucks at our motel . After a trip to the hardware store for a part to repair the steering column and an hour of goofing around getting it to fit we got the last leg of this quest in motion. First stop was the Pontiac Route 66 museum which was ok but not a real show stopper.


Dwight, IL

 Where do you insert your credit card?

No worries……the fire chief is on her way!


Wilmington, IL

The Muffler Dude




Moved on up the road to Joliet which is the home of the now closed Joliet Prison and the home of the Blues Brothers.

Rialto Theater

Marx Brothers

The Joliet Route 66 Diner

Dick’s on 66

Rich & Creamy Ice Cream Stand with the Blues Brothers on the roof!

Left Joliet and pushed on to Chicago and the end of our journey ………

CALIFORNIA to CHICAGO on Route 66!!!!!!

Route 66 Day 11 St. Louis, Mo – Pontiac, Il

Day 11 St. Louis, Mo – Pontiac, IL


Nothing better than waking to a symphony of screeching, crunching , thumping, smashing, grinding sounds as the Hilton’s dumpsters were being heaved into a truck at 5:00 am below our room. How did they know we were staying there?

After breakfast we took a hike to the St. Louis Arch on the shore of the Mississippi River. Dang, that thing is gigantic!

630′ across the base

54′ Wide at the bottom of the arch

630′ Tall

For some reason Kathy didn’t have any interest in taking the gondola, elevator or what ever it is to the top of arch.

Mississippi River Queen

Bridge over troubled waters

Old Courthouse

Time for rock-paper-scissors

With rain in the forecast we checked out of the Hilton and worked our way around town until we found a way across the Mississippi to Illinois. Once there we went to the base of the old Chain of Rocks Bridge to check it out before picking up route 66 to continue our trek to Pontiac, Il.
Jumped back in car only to have the steering wheel suddenly drop into my lap as the bracket holding the steering column to bottom of dash broke.  Connecting with my inner redneck enabled me to strap the column up with a combination of tywraps and wire. Another example of my excellent field engineering skills.

This segment of Rt. 66 doesn’t have as many of the roadside attractions as we’ve seen so far but it is still a great drive through beautiful country and a number of small towns that are pure Americana.

Nilwood, IL

Atlanta, IL

Pontiac, IL
We arrived in Pontiac 4 hours after a snow flurry

Tomorrow we drive to Chicago and the end of our Route 66 journey.

Kathy flies home on Sunday and I will begin the unsupervised journey home

Route 66 Day 10 Lebanon, Mo – St. Louis, Mo

Lebanon, Mo – St. Louis, Mo

We stayed at the Munger Moss Motel which has been a landmark stop on route 66 for the past 72 years. Woke up to clear blue skies, no fire trucks outside of our motel and a car that starts. Things are looking up.

The original old school bathroom heater


We are so rockin’ the ’50’s              A Pink Bathtub!!!


Left Lebanon on great roads thru the Missouri countryside in search of the giant bowling pin.

It appears the bowling pin has been over shadowed by that other adult activity.

Found this truly cool land yacht there

Probably owns the adult store





The Uranus Fudge Factory is another one of those roadside oddities that makes route 66 so great. They have dinosaurs, old cars, fudge, gift shop, space ship, a police car and much more.

Guard Dogs

“Our duty is to serve and protect Uranus”  (1949 Chevy)

Uranus Probe


Gift Shop Security Guard



Fanning Outpost General Store
Fanning Outpost General Store and worlds 2nd largest rocking chair is about four miles west of Cuba, Mo on Route 66.



From Fanning we went on Cuba, Mo which is known for its murals and they certainly earned that moniker.



Wagon Wheel Motel Cuba, Mo

Kathy checking out a 1950 Chevy Deluxe 4 dr in need of some minor work


Left Cuba and after a few miles of pleasant country driving we found ourselves looking at this.

Who needs a stinking map and GPS when you’ve got this.

So after a game of rock–paper–scissors we opted for the 1926-1933 Route 66 byway.  This highly scientific approach to advanced navigation led us to Manchester which appears to be some kind of St. Louis suburban version of Yuppieville. Complete with Macy’s, Golds Gym, a Lexus dealer and every known popular chain retailer and restaurant. There was no evidence that route 66 had ever passed through there. No diners, old gas stations, curio shops, Rt. 66 signs or museums. Sort of sad to see that it had all been swept away by “modernization”.

Made our way through St. Louis to the edge of Mississippi River and the Hilton Hotel.


Tomorrow we go to the great St. Louis Arch.

Route 66 Day 9 Bentonville, Ak – Lebanon, Mo

Day 9 Bentonville, Ak – Lebanon, Mo

Consistency is proving to be important in our daily events. Yesterday it was the fire department showing up at our Oklahoma City motel following a Tornado strike to free guests stuck in the elevators when the power went out. Today it was the fire department arriving after the motel fire alarm went off at 5:30 am. The good news was that it was only a cooking fire caused by guest using the stove in their room .  I guess that can happen when you’re frying kale in bacon grease and pouring Velvetta over it.

We said goodbye to Bensonville (galactic Hq. of Walmart) in a light rain and headed to Joplin, Mo to pick up route 66.

Slipped through Joplin on 66 and continued to be amazed by the beauty of the landscape, rural farms and old Americana towns.


Carthage, Mo


Red Oak II
Took the time to stop at Red Oak II outside of Carthage. It’s a town that has been relocated and restored. This is a must see if you’re ever in this neck of the woods.

In a addition to the buildings that have been restored  there are a number of junk metal and wood sculptures, old cars, a WWII Bomber and more.

Images of Red Oak II

School Marm House


Junk Metal Bi-Plane Sculpture

Bi-Plane Hood Ornament

General Store

Junk Metal Sculpture

Belle Starr House

Red Oak II Cemetery

Garfield Wylie Cabin

Otis Cabin

Furey The Black Stallion

WWII Bomber

Junk Metal Sculpture

Wood Wagon Airplane Sculpture

Spencer, Mo
Spencer Gas Station and Bridge

Found Spencer’s closed for the season but were able to take some pics of the gas station and the old iron bridge.

Gay Parita, Mo
Gary’s Gay Parita Sinclair Gas Station


took the route 66 bi-pass around Springfield and stopped for the night at the famous Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon. Tomorrow St. Louis:-)

What a day!!

Route 66 Day 8 Oklahoma City to Bentonville, Ak

Day 8 Oklahoma City to Bentonville, Ak
Map to Bentonville
Welcome to Oklahoma City. Woke up to thunderstorms and rain this morning which was not encouraging nor was the tornado warning that arrived just as a spot tornado touched down 100 yards from our hotel laying waste to 3 power poles! Knocked out the power to the hotel, trapped 2 people in the elevators but no worries….Maryjane was OK and oh yeah so was Kathy.

Met a motorcyclist in the lobby from Romania while hanging out during the power outage who cracked me up with his crazy stories. We’ve added him to the list of people we’ve met people from England, Germany, Italy, Serbia, Canada, Austraila and France.

So, after that bit of drama, we fired up Maryjane and were back on 66. The road surface was beautiful as was the gorgeous landscape of Oklahoma. what an amazing contrast to the desert and range land we had passed thru in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The rain followed us but didn’t prevent us from enjoying the ride. Wound our way through the countryside and small towns towards Tulsa.

Arcadia, Ok
Pops 66 Soda Ranch restaurant and gas station is know for having a great gift shop, 700 brands of soda, and an old school diner with great burgers, Shakes and Root beer.

66-foot-tall color-shifting LED sculpture-bottle

The Round Barn


Chandler, Ok

Old mini gas station in process of being restored

Sapulpa, Ok

We detoured off of route 66 after Tulsa to deliver a telescope to our nephew in Bentsonville, Arkansas. Had a great time and quite a few laughs with Kevin over dinner before passing the telescope on to him.

Tomorrow Lebanon, Mo and back on 66!

Route 66 Day 7 Amarillo – Oklahoma City

Day 7 Amarillo – Oklahoma City

After futzing around with another electrical problem we hit the road towards Oklahoma City in light rain.

Conway, Tx
Stopped in Conway at the “Bug Ranch” which is a parody of the “Cadillac Ranch” with old beetles.


Couldn’t go thru Groom without stopping at the famous leaning water tower


Shamrock is the home of the U-Drop Inn and Tower Conoco. A very nicely restored gas station garage and diner complete with local museum and docent.

Remember when……

U-Drop Inn Café

Old post office


Sayre, Tx

You got something to say buckaroo


Crossed in to Oklahoma and passed through Erick which was the home of singers Rodger Miller (King of the Road) and Sheb Wooly (Purple People Eater).

The rain started coming down with gusto when hit the outskirts of Oklahoma City and then went to blinding buckets of rain that was so intense we could only see 10 yards with any clarity. The taillights of the truck in front of us were our life line for the next 15 minutes which seemed like an hour.

Finally made it to our hotel with a sigh of relief.


Route 66 Day 6 Tucumcari, Nm – Amarillo, Tx

Day 6 Tucumcari, Nm – Amarillo, Tx


Map to amarillo


Sorted out the wiring problem this morning and had a great breakfast at Kix on 66 which is owned by the folks that own Del’s where we had a great dinner last night.

Shot more photo’s around Tucumcari then hit the road on route 66 towards Amarillo, tx.



Stopped at Russell’s Auto Museum 30 miles east of Tucumcari in Glen Rio for a look at a really cool car and memorabilia collection.




Couldn’t pass up stopping in Adrian which is the route 66 midpoint between Los Angeles, Ca and Chicago, Ill.





The Magnolia gas station was originally a service station ran by the family that lived upstairs. Now it has no second floor, and you can see just how small this service station was. A vintage look to show a taste of old Route 66.

Local Scrap yard




Stopped at the Cadillac Ranch  an art and sculpture installation that was created in 1974.  The beauty of art is in the eyes of the beholder and this installation seems to resonate with a lot of people.  Maybe its the planting of cars that are the symbols of the rich folks or just a love of novelty. Who knows? But it must be right of passage to come down here with dayglow paint and go just a little nuts leaving your mark.






Cadillac Ranch RV Park




Bates Motel
Interesting place.  The guy that runs the place keeps muttering about his mother and doesn’t seem to take very good care of the rooms.  The one we looked at had a torn shower curtain and was kinda creepy.  We decided to look for a room somewhere else.


Dodged a couple of storms and arrived at our hotel in Amarillo.

View of the old Paramount Theatre from our room.

Route 66 day 4-5

Day 4 Albuquerque – Santa Fe

Our stay at Casas de Suenos in Albuquerque was terrific. The room was cool, the décor and landscaping were awesome and the customer service was great. We walked around old town Alb. in the morning before taking off for Santa Fe and an afternoon of Rest and Relaxation.

Navigation the route has been a bit of challenge with Kathy juggling two route 66 guide books, map and the Garmin to provide the heads up to keep us on course. We’ve missed a few turns here and there but we found our way to Santa Fe .

Route 66 never fails to provide amazing landscapes and views of life in another time and today was no exception.

Santa Fe
It’s been at least 25 years since we were last in Santa Fe and to say that it has changed would be a huge understatement.  Al ot of upscale stores with ritzy stuff that we didn’t even know we needed.

After checking in to La Palomas  and grabbing a quick nap we went out for a forgettable dinner at a restaurant within walking distance of our room.  Afterwards we strolled through the old town plaza.
Along the way we found a wine tasting room that was still open so we sampled their wares and bought more than we needed. On the way back to our room we encountered a police officer who asked if we had seen any suspicious characters on the street. He apparently was looking for a purse snatcher and hoped we might have seen something.  I told him the only unusual person we had encountered had a flashlight and a badge.

NOTE: Never let me drink wine before encounters with law enforcement! Luckily he had a sense of humor.

Las Palomas Bed and Breakfast

Old Town Santa Fe





Day 5 Santa Fe – Tecumcari, Nm

Meow Wolf

Went to Meow Wolf, which is a multi level neon, dayglow, interactive art play space for all ages in a converted bowling alley in Santa Fe. What a hoot this place is!  Impossible to describe, you just have to experience it. I thought of it as a combination of Disneyland and Alice in Wonderland on LSD.

These amazing giant sculptures on the grounds of Meow Wolf 


Left Meow Wolf on the famed Santa Fe Trail and spent numerous hours on the road where we rarely saw another car.


Santa Rosa, Nm

Santa Rosa appears to be another town that suffered being bypassed by the interstate highways that displaced Rt. 66




  Bozo’s Garage and Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa




Said good bye to Bozo’s Garage and Museum in Santa Rosa and headed East to the Cuervo turn off to get back on the last leg Route 66 for the 40 mile run in to Tucumcari, Nm.

This late in my life I should know  that anytime the name Cuervo comes up there is going to be trouble …….and there was.  As soon as we took the Cuervo exit there was a cattle grate and the car immediately stopped running when we rumbled across it.  This isn’t something we really wanted to deal with as sunset was approaching, nobody else was getting off of Rt 40 there and it was cold.  Guess it could have been raining or something worse but the impending darkness and cold were enough.  We pushed the car to the side of the road and I began troubleshooting the problem. There was weak spark at the plugs and it appeared to be the HEI ignition coil was blown.

So we called AAA and got an operator in Portland, Maine and had to go through an exhaustive description of where we were, what had happened and that we needed a tow to the D&B garage in Tucumcari.  He said OK I’ll contact the nearest tow service and have them call you.

While we were waiting I started thinking about all of the vibration we endured crossing the cattle grate and decided to try hot wiring the distributor just in case there was a flakey connection from the fuse to the distributor.

Just as I getting ready to test it the phone rang.  Kathy picked it up and the local tow dispatcher told her they were sending a winch.  I could here Kathy saying wrench…. wrench we don’t need a wrench we need a tow.  The dispatcher then told her that the message they had gotten was that we had run over a gate at D&B auto in Tucumcari and had to be winched out of ditch.  So after telling her what really happened the dispatcher said she was glad we cleared that up because if we were at D&B auto and had run over their gate we must be stealing a car.

It was at that moment that I tested the hot wire fix and the car started…..Whew! We thanked the frustrated dispatcher and happily drove the last 40 miles to the famed Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari just s the sun was setting and  were serenaded by 50’s rock coming from their outdoor speakers..

The motel, built in 1940,  has 14 units, each with its own garage and the rooms are restored in retro ’50’s style

Every garage has a custom mural painted on the back wall

Had one of better meals we’ve had on this trip at Del’s Restraurant in Tucumari and it was and it was only $37 for two.

After dinner we hung out with folks from the UK, Germany, Texas and Illinois around the roaring bonfire at the Blue Swallow. Great folks with great stories…all true vagabonds.

Another amazing day!


Route 66 day 3

Day 3 Holbrook to Albuquerque
Pried ourselves out of bed in preparation for another adventurous day on the road.

We prowled around the property taking pics of some of the old neglected classic cars
before heading out.







Should you stay here? Well it is a bit of a novelty and if you don’t mind a squeaky bed, minimal creature comforts, the sound of trains passing through night, a property with a bunch of cool old cars and an office with a bitchin’ neon sign then you should stay here once.

Found a do it yourself car wash and gave Maryjane a well-deserved cleaning before subjecting her to more dust and abuse. While there a toothless guy wandered up and told us that at one time he had lived in Indio, California and wanted to know if we might know him or his father….hmmm. Somehow I seem to attract these characters among others.  Didn’t have the heart to tell him he looked like a kid I saw on a milk carton once.

Painted Desert

painted desert

Buzzed on down the road and went on a tour of the Painted Desert and Petrified National Forrest. The Painted Desert was beautiful but during our abbreviated tour of “Petrified Forest” we failed to find a forest of any type and the only thing petrified appeared to be the old folks stumbling off of the bus. Most of the petroglyphs in Petrified Forest National Park are thought to be between 650 and 2,000 years old.

painted desert

painted desert

painted desert

painted desert

The desert continues to amaze us with its amazing vistas and layered rock formations. The brilliant blue sky sprinkled with formations of luminous clouds seems to go on forever.

Stateline, Nm

Can you see the statuary above the store?


Grants, NM
Time has taken its toll on Grants and many other towns that have been bypassed by the highways that replaced Route 66.


Leaving Grants

Whiting Brothers gas stations were established in 1926.  At their peak there were over forty locations on Route 66



Our stay at Casas de Suenos in Albuquerque was terrific. What a great way to end a day. The room was cool, the décor and landscaping was awesome and the customer service was great. We toured around old town Albuquerque before hitting the road to Santa Fe.
Casa de Suenos Bed and Breakfast

The KiMo Theatre was built in 1927 and restoration began in 1977




Route 66 Day 1-2

October 1st. Armed with Rt 66 maps & guide books by Jim Ross and Jerry McClanahan, Garmin GPS, tools, parts and a lot of other stuff we roared out of San Luis Obispo to begin our grand tour of Rt 66 from Barstow to Chicago in Maryjane our restored 1950 Chevy Fleetline

We’re both suffering a bit of the jitters not knowing what lies ahead and how the two of us will deal with it over the next 14 days. Adventure, Mayhem, Weather, Mechanical Failures, Excitement, Wacko’s, Mysteries, Challenges and more await us.


Day 1 Barstow to Kingman
We picked up Rt 66 in Barstow after electing to skip the start/end of the mother road at Santa Monica Pier in LA for a couple of reasons. One of which was to avoid the traffic and chaos and second was that much of Route 66 in the LA basin has been altered enough over time to not give us big alligator tears over having missed that section.




Leaving Barstow on rt 66 we drove thru Daggett, Newberry Springs and Ludlow


rt 66

Stopped at the Bagdad Café in Newberry which was featured in the 1987 film of the same name.

rt 66

It was here that we met 2 young guys from Venice, Italy that came to cruise Rt. 66 on Harley’s.

rt 66


Stopped in Fenner for gas and met a young couple from Hungary that were touring the Southwest deserts on a Harley. Adventurers and vagabonds abound!


Continued east where we crossed the Colorado River into Arizona. Passed thru Topock and started the 25 mile journey to Oatman. The road isn’t great, the views are spectacular and Maryjane was up to the challenge. It’s a bit of climb and presented us with some spectacular vistas of the desert below. Rain had passed thru earlier and the sky was broken clouds and brilliant blue. The shadows from the clouds accented the rock formations.

Road to Oatman

Oatman is an old mining town that was founded during the gold rush in 1901 and has wild burros wandering the streets just to add a little more flavor to this throwback town. Made friends with the burros, had lunch, trolled the shops.

It’s Woody the Burro



The road down to the Cool Springs station from Oatman is steep, winding and breathtaking. Along the way we found a spectacular view point where memorial crosses had been placed overlooking the desert.

rt 66


Cool Springs Cabins is a classic and well worth a stop. the truck that was the inspiration for Tow Mater in the Cars movie was found here. To our dismay we discovered that Tow Mater had been stolen and is now believed to be in Canada. (Sounds like the basis for a sequel).


Cruised on down to Kingman to the famous El Trovatore Motel and got a room that Marilyn Monroe had once stayed in. It seems The El Trovatore motel, which opened in 1937, hosted Hollywood film greats Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean when they were in the area  filming.


It was more than a pleasant surprise to find Marilyn waiting for me in our celebrity room.  How lucky can one man be?


Kathy trying to hitch a ride with Mr. Magoo



Day 2 Kingman to Holbrook.

Started off the day with a great breakfast at Mr. D’s (Andy Devine was a Kingman native hence the name Mr. D’s)

After breakfast we ventured across the street for a quick peak at the small Kingman RT 66 museum.  Found this awesome Studebaker on display.


Said goodbye to Kingman and headed for Hackberry General Store which is about 25 miles southeast of Kingman. A lot of really cool old cars in varying degrees of decay, antiques and bits and pieces of Rt 66 memorabilia.



Hackberry General Store

The local girls were shy but I know they wanted me.

Continued on to Seligman which is another one of those old towns that is all about Rt 66. Seligman was on the original U.S. Route 66 from 1926 through 1978, when Interstate 40 bypassed it a few miles south. In 1987 Seligman gained its name “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” due to the efforts of Seligman residents, who convinced the State of Arizona to dedicate Route 66 a historic highway. Seligman was the inspiration for the town of Radiator Springs in the animated movie Cars.



Met a strange character all duded up in cowboy gear with a knife and gun who was there with his horses. Couldn’t quite figure out what his deal was but the man could talk your leg off. A bus load of Chinese tourists pulled in and distracted the boy long enough for us to escape.

Walked the town

Had a great lunch at the Roadkill Café.

Leaving Seligman we reached an elevation of 7500+ feet and found the vegetation suddenly transitioning from desert scrub brush to trees before starting the long descent to Williams.

Passed thru Flagstaff and  continued on to Winslow




Winslow, Az.  is a vibrant timeless ’50’s town where we had to stop to see the “Standing on the Corner in Winslow, AZ” statue commemorating the 1972 Eagles / Jackson Browne song “Take it Easy”

If you look carefully you can see the “flatbed Ford” sitting at the curb in the photo.

In the mural you can see the flatbed Ford reflecting in the window and Glenn Fry kissing the “Blond haired girl” in 2nd floor window. There’s an eagle sitting on the window ledge of the next room. How cool is that!

After Kathy’s failed attempt to run away with Mr. Magoo she tried to escape on the jackrabbit at the Jackrabbit Trading Post.  should I be worried?

Like yesterday the sky was filled with a variety of cloud formations that ranged from black to puffy white clouds interspersed with the most brilliantly clear blue sky.



Pulled into Holbrook and checked in to the famous Wig Wam (Teepee) Motel. What a hoot

Had a great Mexican dinner down the street at Roma Restaurant.

So far we’ve met people from Italy, Germany, Serbia, Belgium, Hungary and the UK. and have seen a bus load of Chinese tourists. Oh , and we did hear a couple speaking French in a cafe. There is no doubt rt 66 is an international destination.