Route 66 (1) – All the Way Down to California!

May 11, 2017

Blogger in front of Route 66 sign Illinois
Illinois - my first State on Route 66

The German couple looked puzzled by signing the contract for its rental car. I hesitated for a moment then I talked to them. They seemed to be very relieved. The guy from Alamo also felt relieved because now he got someone who was able to translate everything and I also was relieved because I had not to think about how to get my own car out of that traffic hell in Downtown Chicago. Only few minutes later I was off. Eleven weeks just me and my car on the road from east to west and back again. Probably 8,000 miles or even more. I loaded up 9 gallons of water and loads of nuts, fruits and crisps. Here we go!


First challenge: The automatic gear. I've got a manual car in Germany. So I failed right in the basement garage by doing a full braking. Great fun for the people from! By the way: They got me a huge GMC although I booked a small car. “This is the smallest car we have!” The lady smiled. “Awesome”, I replied by feeling awful.

The First Miles on Route 66

GMC on Route 66
My "small" rental car

I left the garage like Queen Elizabeth. It felt like wearing far too big shoes.

After 20 minutes of stupid city tour through Downtown, I finally found my way out of Chicago. I had to stop at Dunkin Donuts for sugar. And for screaming into my phone to tell my friends that I just started my trip on Route 66 without any demolition. Then I passed the first signs saying “Historic Route 66 Illinois”. What a feeling! The legendary road. You need to know that this road is famous in Germany. Lots of people are in love with American vintage cars and dream about driving Route 66 once in a lifetime. I’m 26. It did not take me a lifetime to decide what is important to me and what needs to come true before it’s all over.

Tornados and storms on Route 66

Fancy Ice Cream in Joliet

Sign of "Rich & Creamy" on Route 66 in Joliet
At "Rich & Creamy" on Route 66 in Joliet

My first stop was Joliet. There I booked a room at Motel 6. I like traveling with Airbnb much more because of all the amazing local people you're able to meet. But there are some cities along Route 66 where it's hard to find a proper Airbnb. The Motel was rather shady. It was clean but a lot of strange figures were hanging out there. Afterwards I heard about a big prison located in Joliet. But in the morning my car was still there and that’s what counts in the end on a road trip, isn’t it?

On the next morning I headed off to Bloomington where I met two wonderful guys in a fantastic Airbnb. Lots of hugs and nice talks and donuts were awaiting me. I just would like to thank you for everything guys. It was just one evening but you will remain on my mind!

Off to St. Louis

Ambler's Texaco Gas Station on Route 66, Dwight
Ambler's Texaco Gas Station on Route 66, Dwight

Then I went off to St. Louis where I decided to stay there for one more day. It takes you nearly 190 miles from Bloomington to get there. For Americans this is just a short walk around the corner but for Europeans it's a long ride. We don’t have those huge distances over there. If someone in Europe/Germany tells you that he needs an hour to get from A to B it is “far away”.

It was getting hotter every day. On my way I met lots of wonderful people so far from all over the world. I visited historic gas stations, museums and crazy shops with antiques. Fun fact: When American people call something “historic” it often means something like 1860. In Europe “historic” means 1470 (maybe before Christ).

A dinner in Ferguson

Gateway Arch in St. Louis
Gateway Arch in St. Louis

The streets were wide and even the sky seemed to be bigger. Everything was wide open. The landscape, the roads and the hearts of the people. I started to fall more and more in love with this country. This country I'd already loved before I came here.


In St. Louis I met an interesting and awesome lady. Her name was Pat and I knew her from Instagram. We'd been texting for months and when I told her that I was coming to the US down on Route 66 to St. Louis she invited me for Dinner. What to say? She was a sweetheart! I was so happy to meet her in real life. We went out for a tour to Ferguson. Yeah, Ferguson, St. Louis. Should I tell you something? It’s just a normal neigborhood with nice people. No violence, no ghetto. Just people who took their dog for a walk and kids playing on the streets. So don’t get stuck with your prejudices or things that appear on the media. Afterwards we had a great dinner at the local brewery and Pat bought me a Shirt. In America they have T-shirts for everything. Thank you, Route 66, for all the welcoming people and the great ride so far!

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