Our four-day journey back to Scottsdale included stops at places that were deemed by the Diversions Committee (President, Philip Miller) to be important or memorable, and (most importantly) were directly on the route home. One such city was Pontiac, Illinois (visitpontiac.org), home of the National Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum. A majority of our travels both east and west were on Route 66, so we were interested!
Pontiac is a small, old-fashioned town with lots of charm, and even though it is small, it houses four great museums:
- Livingston County War Museum (honoring members of the Armed Forces);
- Pontiac & Oakland Automobile Museum (all things related to Pontiac and Oakland cars);
- Walldog Mural and Signart Museum (history of outdoor mural & advertising painting);
- National Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum (memorabilia from the glory days of the “Mother Road”).
Pontiac had old-fashioned bakeries, toy stores, boutiques, and the town’s “coffee shop” was actually just the downstairs garage of one building, where they threw open the garage door each day and had lots of little bistro tables in there. It was adorable!
We only had time for one museum (gotta stay on schedule, don’tcha know!), so we chose a converted 3-story building housing the Route 66 Museum, full of memorabilia and stories of the people who helped shape the first national byway. Outside was this funky bus that actually ferried schoolchildren along Route 66 in Illinois. It had (obviously) been converted and modified in lots of fun ways!
The famous Bob Waldmire orange 1972 VW bus is housed here. Bob Waldmire was a famous artist who died in 2009, but during his life he traveled Route 66 constantly and lived in this bus. He was a well-known snowbird, who actually spent his winter months in Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains. This bus was the inspiration for the character of Fillmore in the “Cars” movie (they actually wanted to call it Waldmire, but Bob was unwilling to sell the marketing rights to Disney for the toy series that would be in McDonalds Happy Meals). Seeing all the junk inside reminded us of how our RV is starting to look after two weeks on the road!
The Campanelli Route 66 Photo Journal Exhibit was cool because each room was of a specific state (the Kansas Room; the Illinois Room; the Arizona Room; etc.) and had amazingly beautiful and vibrant photos. We had never heard of some of the cities listed under some of the Arizona photos, and had to wonder if they no longer exist, or we are just woefully uneducated and self-absorbed.
But what was really amaze-balls about Pontiac, Illinois was the town’s collection of huge wall murals painted on 23 different buildings. Can you believe these are painted and not real?
Many of them were “advertisements” from a long-gone era.
Of course, we liked the one featuring Sprinkles the best!!!!
Our travels continue through Springfield, Illinois … next stop, Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, where we will indulge my love of history, tour guides, multimedia presentations and gift shops, all in one stop!
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