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(long one guys, this ain’t no tweet!)

A few of you asked me to post about Route 66 so, as promised, here it is. I can’t promise it will be short, this place has a way of overloading the senses. I can only promise it will be honest and i’ll try to keep it interesting. Onwards then..

Route 66 starts right in the middle of Chicago, a couple of miles south of the city center and a few blocks from our Hotel which itself sits right on the coast of Lake Michigan, 200 miles south of Beaver Island (Twinned with Arranmore where mum lives). If you didn’t know where you were you’d believe you were stood on the coast, the lake is one of the Great Lakes and is about the size of England!

What a fantastic city! You can’t walk for more than a few minutes without seeing a building you recognise from a movie or, even better, seeing something actually being filmed on the street as you walk by catering vans, lights & film crew trailers, trying to steal a glimpse of a movie star (it’s probably being shot for US cable but one can dream).

Last night on Navy Pier (3000 feet of city centre pier featuring the once worlds biggest ferris wheel) we were treated to a firework show but low cloud cover made the sky look like we were in the middle of a US air strike (with the current Syria situation, lets hope it’s not prophetic!). 

Chicago is an amazing city, so much to see and do. I sampled deep dish Chicago pizza at one of the oldest pizza houses and it was ok, the crust is traditionally very crusty, not my favourite but very tasty nonetheless. 

The band we saw last night was astoundingly good. The venue was called ‘Howl at the Moon’, the stage was set with 2 pianos facing each other with the audience sat in the round, all four band members could play piano, drums, guitar, bass, sing and the girl in the band played fiddle as well! One of the best lineups I have ever seen! Every song was an audience request, I asked for The devil went down to Georgia and they nailed it with four part harmonies and screaming fiddle! If we weren’t all exhausted from a day in the city I’m pretty sure we’d have sat there till they closed!

We left Chicago this morning after an epic omelette bagel, picked up our GMC SUV and hit the road. I had the naive notion that Route 66 would be a straight road but so far we’ve been off piste a couple of times  (people seem to like having their own R66 signs which is patriotic but about as useful as an extra cranial orifice when you’re trying to follow the feckers!). On our way to St Louis Mick had a craving for a slice of pie so we stopped at a little diner in Atlanta Illinois called the Palms Grill Cafe. This place was just like walking into a Stephen King novel, 50’s tunes, chrome milkshake machine and a selection of pies to die for! It is now trip policy to follow up Mick’s cravings immediately, he has an inbuilt radar for the weird and interesting! 

Christina, our waitress, was so proud of her milkshake skills and her pride was not misplaced as even with sturdy straws it took 3 of us to even put a dent in it! I’d put 50 bucks on her still working there when she’s 50 and there would be not one thing wrong with that. This is a proud land full of proud people, not proud of what their country does as much as who they are and what being an American means to them. I wish I felt a grain of this patriotism for my own land, maybe the fact that national pride is so suppressed back home takes the wind out of my flag waving spirit – but not for these folks – not here!

The highway is full of thundering Mack trucks and the throaty V8 growls of Mustangs & Camaros. The scale of this place is breathtaking. I’m typing as Mick is driving us along a 2 lane blacktop road with cornfields flanking the highway. At one point we climbed a crest and as the road rose it revealed a view of endless cornfields as far as the horizon, then the terrain dipped back down, the vista vanished and the flanking corn sentries returned.

So, from my backseat i see the St Louis skyline sitting squatly on the horizon, not the seething metropolis of Chicago but smaller, more industrial looking buildings peeking over the roofs of the middle American suburbs, promising more adventures and delights. So, borrowing from Mr King, I will invite you, the constant reader, to join me again next time for more tales and adventures from the heartland.

J ‘Dubya’ D 

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