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Report 2041: Driving the Great Mississippi River Road

By BJinNM from New Mexico, Fall 2012

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Page 16 of 33: Day 16-Route 66 Illinois

photo by BJ Firestone

Henry's 66 Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Ill.

One of the many benefits we have in being co-in-laws with Chery is that she is a Route 66 in Illinois expert having written four books about Route 66 and the towns along it. We have had such fun this week exploring the Mother Road and today was no exception. We started off by going to Henry’s Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois. Not only is Rich Henry an avid Route 66 fan and not only is his shop filled with Route 66 memorabilia, but he also fosters rescue rabbits, has several of his own, and has his own VW Ra66it Ranch with half buried VW Rabbits. At one point in our lives we owned three VW Rabbits so this “ranch” was fun to see. Rich has a prize winning (real) rabbit named Big Red who, if you buy a postcard of him, will “autograph” the card by grabbing it and chewing it with his mark.

After exploring Rich’s store (and buying a 1000 piece Route 66 jigsaw puzzle), we journeyed on down the road through Gillispie to Carlinville. What a cute town this is. Besides having a really good lunch there, we got to see the town square, the million-dollar county seat building and the old jail. Hopefully we will get to both Staunton and Carlinville again and explore them some more.

Chery has a friend named Joe Sonderman who writes about Route 66 in the St. Louis area and all down the road including through New Mexico. We went into St. Louis late this afternoon and saw his amazing collection of Route 66 “stuff” which fills his basement and his garage. Again it was hard to know where to look in order to see all there was to see. The next time we come through we’ll go out on the road with him and see the St. Louis parts of Route 66. He also has a pristine blue ‘57 Chevy Bel-Air that is to die for. Boy, do we all remember that car!

Tomorrow we will leave Chery to get back to her regular life and her article deadlines. We'll take the River Road down to Cape Girardeau, MO going through Chester to see the last two Popeye characters. Cape Girardeau is close to New Madrid, MO where we hope learn more about the huge New Madrid earthquake in 1811-1812.

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