Day 13: In the beginning, Route 66

Before I get to the Route 66 part, there is this.

I’m driving around near our hotel while Shirley is checking out the local Cosstco and I spot this from a distance. I work my way over to get a closer look. What is it?

Well, it turns out it’s pretty much what it looks like, a vending machine for cars! You buy a car online, it’s delivered into this contraption and you receive a large “coin”. When you want to take delivery you show up here, put your “coin” in the slot and the machine delivers your car to the main floor, ready to go, all without any human assistance. Carvana.

Today has a dual purpose. First to tour the James Charnley House and second to begin our exploration of Route 66. The day begins with a drive into the heart of the beast, downtown Chicago. The GPS guides us through several freeways, constructions zones and the morning rush hour traffic to get us to The James Charnley Residence, also known as the Charnley-Persky House, a historic house museum at 1365 North Astor Street in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.

Why this house? Well, because it is one of the few surviving residential works of Louis Sullivan, and features major contributions by Frank Lloyd Wright, who was then working as a draftsman in Sullivan’s office. I’m a FLW fan and we’ve seen several of his works in Chicago and elsewhere.

Parking in the heart of downtown residential Chicago is pretty challenging, we’re just blocks off the lakeshore and it looks like parking is at a high premium for residents let alone tourists like us. However, there is an apartment complex across the street that has casual parking available for some unknown price and we’re desperate as the tour will begin shortly so we drive in, leave the keys with a ver nice guy and trust we can get it back in an hour or two. For cash as it turns out, which requires a trip to a near by bank machine.

We line up with a few others and wait for the doors to open as it’s first come, first served for a limited number of people. We make it in with about 10 other older people from various parts of the world.

The tour is interesting and the house has quite the history but for me it doesn’t have the impact or wow factor of many of the other Frank Lloyd Wright designs we’ve see. Early days I guess and he was not fully in charge but you can see his influences for sure.

A fireplace in every room
Back stairs for servants and main staircase for family

With the tour concluded we retrieve the car and venture even further into downtown Chicago. Our destination, Michigan Ave & Jackson Blvd., the start of the historic Route 66.

As you can see in the photo on the left, it’s raining lightly and we circle the block about 3 time to get the photo because of course there is no parking anywhere near by. Shirley grabs the snap out the window as I slow roll by the sign.

For the rest of the morning we wind our way out of downtown, not on the freeways and Interstate but as close as possible to the real “66”. Lots of gawking at all the buildings and sights, ever vigilant for the next brown “Historic Route” sign to guide us.

Still raining and off we go, winding our way out of town. Well, the town really never seems to end, we just cross some invisible line and we’re in a different city.

A couple of stops here and there for a photo or two.

A Las Vegas spinoff
There is a great toy store here, Berwyn’s Toy & Trains, lots of trains!

Late in the afternoon we turn back towards our hotel and get ready to leave Chicago tomorrow for more Route 66 exploration with the destination being Springfield, Il. No Interstate and lots of stops to explore.

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