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My Route 66 Road-Trip Chronicles

My Route 66 Road-Trip Chronicles

How did I make a long road-trip into its own vacation?! Plus, where to find the best roadside attractions and plan your road-trip.

God did not create me to live above the Mason Dixon line – when I accepted my new position in Louisiana, I immediately began to plan a road-trip to beat all road-trips. I have always wanted to take a week or so to travel the United States to see the unique attractions our nation has to offer! This move gave me the perfect opportunity – 14 hours, 900 miles, and 4 states worth!


Day One – Route 66

My brother and I embarked on the trip bright and early. My car was packed to the roof with all of my possessions, our road-trip snack essentials, the best country playlist! Our venture into roadside America was ready to begin!

We could not have asked for better weather! Bright sunshine greeted us as we got underway leaving Chicago. Nothing says “Mid-West road-trip” like bright blue skies and corn fields!?

Paul Bunyon Hotdog Statue

Our goal for this trip was to make at least one stop in each state we traveled through, with the hopes to find the most interesting and bizarre roadside attractions possible. We definitely hit the mother load with this first stop. Located in Atlanta, Illinois stands a 19 foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan holding, yep you guessed it – a giant hot dog!

My brother had spent the morning driving and when I plugged into the GPS our first destination, he eyed me suspiciously. Soon after arriving, he too had caught hold of the excitement of the odd statue.

The statue used to serve as an advertisement for a local hot dog stand. Sadly, we were unable to grab the statue’s namesake hot dogs at 8 am in the morning because the restaurant closed in 2002.

Because of the early hour, I was also able to snag an amazing Route 66 photo. Where else would you be able to sit in the middle of Main Street without getting run over by a soccer mom speeding to brunch!

The Rooster Car and Museum

When I stumbled upon the sight of a Pink Elephant and Rooster Car in my research, I knew that we had to make a pit stop to check them out. I originally planned on just taking a photo with the elephant and posting a witty insta Roll Tide pun. Instead, we were excited to find a mecca of amazing memorabilia and odd statues at Blackwell Motors in Bonne Terre, MO.

We were able to spot the pink elephant peeking over the highway from a few yards away. As we pulled off to stop, we realized that there would be more to this stop than just a quick snap of the camera.

Upon exiting the car, we were greeted by one of the salesmen for the dealership. He could tell automatically that we were there just for a photo, but convinced us after we were through to make a stop inside the dealership to check out the venue.



Electric Guitar Sidewalk

Back on the road again, we began to divert from the east to west Route 66 and turned our noses south. Officially on what is known as the Rock N’ Roll Highway. The stretch of road in Arkansas was named because of the multitude of amazing artists that played up and down the highway. Artists included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and many many more! My brother and I have grown up on traditional southern rock and country music. To be able to travel down this path that so many legends had traveled was an amazing experience!

We made one official stop at Cavenaugh Park to visit a unique sidewalk in the shape of an electric guitar. Not only was the sidewalk dedicated to the musical inspiration of the highway, but also featured an outdoor walkable museum with information on each artist the Rock N’ Roll Highway had been pinned after

If not for the over 100-degree temperature, we would have stayed there for hours listening to the music and learning about the legends.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Our road-trip finished day one in Little Rock, Arkansas. We had reserved a hotel room prior to beginning the trip and rolled into town early enough to explore before the sun went down. My former boss had ties to Little Rock, but other than the stories I heard about the minor league team there, I did not know much about the town. I am not a big city girl (I know! I know! I used to live in Chicago – Hello, hence the move!) and Littler Rock I soon discovered was the perfect size city.

Parking downtown, we walked over to the river walk which was filled with families with young kids, teenagers, and tourists alike enjoying the summer evening. Along the river walk were landmarks and historical sites, like the USS Razorback Submarine and kiddie splash pad.

While traveling with a college football player, one thing you learn is FOOD is always the most important thing. The mixture of heat and exhaustion and hunger was beginning to get to my brother. We quickly found the boy something to eat – more like, he stuffed his stomach full of a three meat dinner, mac and cheese, and two rolls from Whole Hog Cafe. We finished dinner off with dessert, Ice Cream for my brother and macaroons for me from Loblolly Creamery.

What is the issue with a full stomach of food, summer heat, and a mile long bridge? You don’t force my brother to go on a post-dinner walk up that said bridge without ending up with a sweaty mess when you finally reach the car. The bridge in question is Little Rock’s Big Dam Bridge (let’s pause for the genius who named the bridge!). It is the longest pedestrian bridge in the United States, so you know we had to traverse its length.

We hit the top of the bridge at the perfect time for a photo – sunset! As we descended, the lights on the bridge turned on, changing colors and making the perfect back drop to a wonderful first day.

Day 2 – Flat Roads and The Middle of Nowhere

The second day of our road-trip was set to be shorter than day one. We only had two stops scheduled before reaching our final destination of Natchitoches, LA. We left Little Rock, AR early in the morning and set off down the highway. Very soon, we came to the realization that the cornfields of Illinois were more interesting than the flat landscape of Arkansas farmland. Flat and Straight!

Fun Fact: Arkansas is one of the United States leaders in rice crop production. A fact we found out after trying to figure out what the plants in each farm were for about 3 hours!

Birthplace of Johnny Cash

Out of rice field territory and smack dab in the middle of logging country we followed our GPS directions and turned off the state highway onto a red dirt unpaved road. My brother, the worry wart he is, immediately decided that we were going in the wrong direction. I convinced him that we had to see where the road took us – it was part of the adventure. After 15 minutes of driving along the dirt road, my car was bathed in a dusting of gravel and we were no closer to seeing the supposed landmark of Johnny Cash’s birthplace. Pulling off to the side of the road we decided that we would move on to the next stop and take the dirt road adventure as our first memory of the day.

Death Site of Bonnie and Clyde Barlow

Since our first site was a birthplace it was just fate that right over the Louisiana border was the location where Bonnie and Clyde Barlow were caught, arrested, and killed. If we thought the birthplace of Johnny Cash was off the beaten path, we really were off the path for this destination. We drove for a good hour without seeing another vehicle or building before finally reaching our landmark. Along the side of a Louisiana highway is a plaque and headstone marking the site of this historic event.

Along the side of a Louisiana highway is a plaque and headstone marking the site of this historic event. It was a little eerie reading the inscription on the headstone, but also awe inspiring imagining the chase and lore associated with the historic duo.

Final Destination!

The final stop on our tour complete, it was back on the road and en route to the final stop and purpose of the entire trip – my new home, Natchitoches, LA. Small town, USA!

We traveled the final two hours along the highway and each minute I found myself getting more excited to be back in the south for good. Home to the City of Lights Christmas Festival, Northwestern State University, and the site of the filming of Steel Magnolias, Natchitoches, LA was bound to be an exciting town for me to explore and live.

How Do I Go About Planning My Road-Trip?

If you’re looking for more information about planning and finding destinations along your road-trip route, I found and used these helpful sites and posts in planning this trip.

Where would you want to road-trip to? What is the wackiest roadside attraction you have had the pleasure to visit?

Stay up to date on what I am trying in my Erin Condren, new happy mail I receive, and just funny commentary about my life by following me on Instagram at @cleatsforcinderella.

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