RT12: St. Louis to Normal

We are up early so we can explore St. Louis a little before hitting the road to Bloomington/Normal, IL. We really liked what we saw last evening and regret that our time is short in the city. Originally we planned to stay two days but time constraints on getting back to real life forced us to cut a day. We considered, staying over anyways when we saw the city but then we would have to drive straight through to Chicago, an 8 hour drive, and we really wanted sometime to explore Route 66. This turns out to not be the best choice, but that’s life.

Wow, it got cold! We were in 106 degree heat 2 days ago. It is about 60 degrees, windy and chilly. Brrr… We have no time to explore the funky west side where we are staying and head downtown. We want to see the famous arch up close and explore City Park, a beautiful place featuring water, sculpture and plantings. St. Louis appears to be a city with great vision and commitment to civic pride. We will include it in another road trip sometime and really do it justice.

It’s time to hit the road. Our first stop will be Ted Drewes on Route 66. We first learned about Drewes on “Feasting on Asphalt” with Alton Brown. It’s a frozen custard stand that has been here since 1929.

The menu boasts many exciting and exotic flavor combos that are served sundae or “concrete” style. I get a “Cardinal Sin” concrete – tart cherries and fudge, Rob orders a “Dutchman” concrete – pecans, chocolate and butterscotch.

The custard is very creamy and smooth. To quote WiseGEEK: “Frozen custard is to regular ice cream what cream is to milk. Frozen custard is richer and creamier that standard ice cream because of a higher butterfat content, slower production time and less air blended into the mix.”

Back onto Route 66. We pass the “Invaders” Motorcycle club members from Indiana, cornfield after cornfield and more cornfields, cornfields, cornfields, small one-horse one-street towns, metal silos and a very occasional sign from bygone days, and then some cornfields. All the way to Springfield. Nothing to see of note, with the exception of the spot on the Mississippi River where Lewis and Clark began their journey.

The Lewis & Clark Expedition started here. Really. There’s a plaque.

Nothing to eat except fast food. Part of the problem lies in the fact that there were many Route 66s in the area throughout its lifetime. There were many forks in the road and paths to take based on which era you were interested in driving. Unlike the Northern Arizona route we took in a previous trip, where there was only ever one route so all artifacts and landmarks were concentrated along one roadway, multiple paths provided too little “bang for the buck”. It wasn’t a very interesting drive. We’ll look carefully at the Route 66 map from Normal to Chicago to see if it’s worth traveling tomorrow.

When we pull in to Springfield, we hope to have a “Horseshoe” sandwich, a specialty, unique to Springfield. We head to the joint that Triple D featured. Closed. We backtrack to Jungle Jim’s noted as THE place for a horseshoe: closed.

We make an executive decision to take the interstate the rest of the way to Bloomington/Normal. This drive is surprisingly more interesting and varied, with nicer vistas.

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