Along the way: Atlanta, Illinois?
IT WAS GETTING TIME FOR DINNER AFTER OUR LUNCH OF CARAMEL CORN AND ICE CREAM IN SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS. We had just finished our Land of Lincoln fun and had begun the trek to Chicago. Our goal was to get to the location which we would use as headquarters for the rest of the vacation week.
So, we did what any hungry family would do…we watched exit after exit pass by with no real promise of restaurants on the horizon. All of a sudden one sign peaked my interest. It read,
Exit 2 miles”
So after laughing for a moment I said, “I want dinner in Atlanta, Illinois please. It’s just too good to pass up!”
And miracles of all miracles, my dear husband obliged and exited off for a peak into the town. I hardly expected my statement to be taken seriously, but really we had nothing to lose but time at this point. He took me by surprise and I loved it!
And this is what we saw:
Yes, that’s right. Atlanta, IL has a population of 1, 649. Much different than Atlanta, GA’s population of half a million in the city and 6 million in the surrounding region. But hey, if you want to see the golf course just follow that arrow! And then as we got closer we realized that Atlanta, IL one of the early stops for the famed Historic Route 66. Then I felt bad for making fun of it’s population. Especially since I was raised in a true southern small town. Guilt and loyalty – it hit me all at once.
To our dismay, we didn’t find a restaurant open in the town, but we did find this amazing sight soaring 21 feet into the air:
A Muffler Man customized to hold a hot dog. We stopped in awe and laughter to take photos. You just never know what you will find along the way…and this was a jewel of a vacation memory. The kids were squealing with delight. I often get blamed with over planning our vacations, but if you have a sense of adventure then the surprises you find along the way will be the most fun. I learned a lesson that afternoon – leave a little time to wander in the plans.
You can more plainly see the orientation of his hands in this photo. That’s a very important characteristic of a Muffler Man. They were originally made for cafe and auto shop advertising in the early 1960′s by International Fiberglass. Normally the hands held a muffler or tires.
And the scale was pretty funny to William and Grace. They enjoyed standing on his shoes and looking up at the giant statue…quite a contrast from the Lincoln items we had seen earlier that day.
But that huge hot dog made us even more hungry, so it was time to say goodbye to the little town of Atlanta, IL.
Too bad that cafe wasn’t open across the street. We didn’t have time for the golf course there, but if you ever want to visit make sure you turn left on Vine Street.
We got back on the highway and ended up eating fast food that night as a storm approached across the skyline. We were anxious to get settled into the Chicago area and gear up for the busy Monday we had planned. I love to travel and see new things. Good surprises during travel are even better. (I could write a book about bad surprises during travel!) Our family had already enjoyed a marvelous day in Springfield amid all the Lincoln memories, but later that night as I tucked the kids into bed they were still giggling about the Muffler Man with the Hot Dog. You can’t beat that for a life experience!
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