America Family Travel Illinois Kansas Route 66 Travels

Route 66: Day 1- Illinois, Missouri, Kansas

Gemini Giant, Wilmington, IL

Goal: Tulsa, OK

Day one of our Route 66 road trip took us through Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas.

Gemini Giant, Wilmington, IL
Gemini Giant, Wilmington, IL

If you ask my son what his favorite part of our Route 66 road trip was, he would say the Gemini Giant. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why he always names this stop as his favorite. This was our very first stop along the way in Wilmington, IL, only about 60 miles from Chicago. The only thing I can figure is that this is where our kid preparation started to pay off. As mentioned in a previous post (see Preparing Kids for an Epic Family Trip), the kids and I visited websites and downloaded coloring pages of sites that we would see along our route. And one of those sites was the Gemini Giant.

What is the Gemini Giant, you may ask? Well, it’s just a little bit of that kitschy America that’s sprinkled along Route 66. It’s a monumental ex-Muffler Man (more info here geared up like an astronaut that accompanies the (now defunct?) Launching Pad Restaurant right next door.

Reflecting on why we actually took this trip?!?! Launching Pad Restaurant, Wilmington, IL
The Arch in the pouring rain. Did you get a pic? Good, let’s go! I’m soaked!!! St. Louis, MO

After snapping few pics and exchanging a few puzzled looks with my husband, silently asking each other what the actual goal of this trip was and why we pulled over and got out of the car to experience such a weird, side-of-the-road garage sale moment, we piled the family back in the car and went back on our way through the rest of Illinois and on to St. Louis, MO where we stopped for lunch in the pouring rain.

St. Louis was pretty anti-climactic (and adversely climatic), so after some pizza, we got back on the road again.

Route 66 traverses 8 states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. As you exit Missouri, the main highway goes straight to Oklahoma, but Route 66 travels through the slightest little corner of Kansas. And, in order to keep the kids happy, so did we. To find the inspiration for the movie Cars.

Route 66 Cars Disney

Route 66 Mater Cars Disney Kansas
The kids with life-sized Mater, Galena, KS

Route 66 Cars Disney

Route 66 Gas Pump

The weather started to turn and packed us a wallop on the way out of Kansas.

We found ourselves in a comfy hotel room in Tulsa, OK way after the sun went down.

Day one goal: Accomplished

Janette DeFelice, MD, MA is a writer currently focusing on how the changing environment affects our health. Her essay collection Resistance Essays from the Heartland and her new novel Delia Rising: A Ballet in Three Acts are both available now. She has also published at Be The Change Mom, ChicagoNow, and She holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from Chicago Medical School and a Master’s degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago, where her major essay was Hegel and Ibsen: The Evolution of Consciousness in Ibsen’s Prose Play Cycle. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Indiana University. A former professional dancer, former adjunct Humanities professor, and former lecturer in Medical Clinical Skills, as well as a mom of 9-year-old twins, she currently finds herself at a career/life crossroads at which she is trying to figure out how to use all aspects of herself (her art, her medical and scientific knowledge, her philosophical explorations, her interest in popular culture as a teaching tool, and her unique perspective) for the good of humanity.

2 comments on “Route 66: Day 1- Illinois, Missouri, Kansas

  1. Fun! We did a similar road trip with the kids in 2015 and saw many of the same sights. The entire family loved it!


    • Very cool! Keep traveling! We did it about a year ago. My son keeps saying he wants to go on another Route 66 road trip. I’m sure we could see many different sights if we went a second time!


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