In the days before a big road trip, I am like a kid at Christmas. Each hour drags by even though there are a multitude of last minute details to attend to, and the sense of anticipation and excitement becomes almost unbearable.
The restrictive and tight schedule is far from ideal but in my way of thinking, the worst day on a road trip, especially one on Route 66, is better than the best day anywhere else. We have 9.5 days for this grand adventure that pencils out to something like 4,000 miles.
As this will be my dearest friends first venture into the Ozarks, I have requested that Connie Echols of the Wagon Wheel Motel place an order for fall color. We will be joining acclaimed author Joe Sonderman there on Friday evening, October 7, to sign books as well as talk Route 66.
Even though the schedule is going to be railroad time table sharp, we will have to stop at Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois. This has been on my “to do” list for at least forty years.
The closest I came to making this important stop on my presidential homes pilgrimage was on a trip west with my family in 1967 or 1968. We arrived just before sunset and it was closed but the stop did allow me to peer over the fence and into the windows.

One of many treasures awaiting discovery at
Afton Station.

Another exciting visit on the list of unofficial stops is Afton Station. It is always great to see Laurel and the gang in their native habitat but the 1917 Packard motor home added this past summer has truly piqued my curiosity.
The publisher is still wrangling with Barnes & Noble for meet and greet sessions in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Springfield, Illinois, Des Plaines, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. Meanwhile, the session at the Route 66 Museum in Berwyn with historian and author David Clark, and the ones at the Route 66 Museum in Lebanon, Missouri, with Joe Sonderman, and at the Powers Museum in Carthage, Missouri, are still a go. Details are found at the tab on top of this page.
Food is always an important part of any adventure but on Route 66 that quest takes on a special importance. The Midpoint Cafe is always a stop. My list also had the refurbished Palms Grill Cafe as a stop but after seeing the first installment of the Billy Connolly special, there is no doubt we will most likely stop at least twice.
While we are on the subject of food, I must confess that I have yet to experience the culinary wonders and hospitality at the legendary Ariston Cafe. Rest assured, that will be rectified on this trip!

For those who look for our trademark safari wagon in cafe parking lots, the Jeep is being a much given rest as we will be traveling incognito with a yet to be identified rental car. I am quite sure the Hinckley Hillbillies will have a field day with the gadgets.
In fact, I am quite sure there will be more than a few Hinckley Hillbilly tales when this trip is through. After all, we will be looking for dining in Greek Town in Chicago.
As is always the case even when time is not a concern, we will miss more than a few places as well as great events. Of the latter, one that we truly hate to miss is the Octoberfest in Galena scheduled for October 8. So close and yet so far away is how this story goes. We will be in Carthage on that day until 5:00 and need to be in Tulsa that evening.
Between now and the date of departure we have a litany of loose ends to attend to. Heading this list is stocking the house to ensure our house guests/slash caretakers (my son, his fiancee, the 2.5 grand kids, and something that may be a dog) are comfortable as well as fed, and making a valiant effort to ensure I have a job to come back to.
Then there are the last minute book orders to fill. That reminds me, signed copies of Ghost Towns of Route 66 are now available at the iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, and at 66 to Cali on Santa Monica Pier.
So besides catching up with Dale Butel, “Croc” Lile, Kumar Patel, and John Springs, who else will we see on the road in October?

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