Fit and Healthy on Route 66 – Floating the Meramec River

April 15, 2012
Meramec River Float

Meramec River Float

On Saturday, April 7, 2012, I joined members of the St. Louis Adventure Group (SLAG) for a float on the Meramec River. The Meramec is a prominent feature of the Route 66 corridor from Phelps County to St. Louis County, where it makes it’s way toward the Mississippi River. It is visible from Route 66 in St. Louis County and crosses paths at Valley Park and Route 66 State Park. Once you leave St. Louis County you will have to travel a little way off of Route 66 to see the Meramec River at spots such as Onondaga Cave State Park, Meramec State Park or Robertsville State Park. In between the parks are additional points where you can put in and take out boats.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has provided maps to show where the put-in points are. On our April 7 float, we put in at Pacific Palisades Conservation Area (147.3 on the map below) and Allenton Access (154.2).

Meramec River Access Points
(click for larger image)

This was a fairly short float. We stretched it into about three hours by really taking our time. It was also easy – there are only a few spots where you really have to pay attention to navigate around snags that always seem to be right where the current is swiftest! Our group was made up of experienced paddlers but the Meramec River should always be respected regardless of experience level – it is deep and fast enough to drown people, so if you are going to float it please be sober, make sure you can swim, and use a personal floatation device. You might consider carrying a knife on your person to cut yourself free in case you get tangled in anything. Read here for more safety tips and legal guidelines.

After the float, several members of our group headed to Super Smokers (a Route 66 Association of Missouri Business Member) for a delicious BBQ dinner. We were very impressed by the swiftness at which they served our large group. The food was fantastic!

If you would like to try one of Missouri’s many beautiful float streams but don’t own a boat or need a shuttle, check out our list of Business Members – there are a couple of outfitters on there who will happy to tell you about their offerings.

See photos of our float:

Carolyn’s photos

SLAG member photos

ROUTE 66 … An adventure for the whole family

April 5, 2012

People come from around the world to experience the thrill of traveling the most famous of all highways, Route 66.

On June 8-9-10, the Route 66 Association of Illinois will provide to you an opportunity that others can only dream of.

The Illinois motor tour of Route 66 is a once a year opportunity to experience life in the slow lane. You can virtually step back in time. Visit people and places that the song. “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”, was written about. The cruise is available to any kind of vehicle of any year. The tour begins at the Missouri border on the Mississippi river and ends at the delightful town of Elwood, Illinois. That is just south of Joliet, Illinois. These towns are famous for Jake and Elwood, the “Blues Brothers”.

Friday June 8th is the start of this adventure. It begins in Edwardsville, Illinois. This town will welcome you and show you how to party, dance, sing and eat. After registration on Friday night we will get together for a short drive to the Luna Café for the second grand relighting of the old neon sign, which was just restored. Sunday June 10th the tour will end with a fantastic thank you party. Live foot stomping music, great food and more fun. Your final ride home will be very pleasant as you reminisce about all that you did, along with remembering all the people and places you visited.

You will long remember this weekend tour of Route 66. For information and registration… contact;

Jerry Law – 314-440-0040 or Email –
Marty Blitstein – 708-444-1312 or Email –
You can print out a application for the motor tour at

The historic Mother Road is expecting you!

Route 66 Icon in Needles Gets a Makeover

April 3, 2012
66 Motel Sign in Needles, CA

66 Motel Sign in Needles, CA

Needles, Calif. – Many folks simply slow down and stare. Some even honk their horns and wave. They are waving to a man, 25′ off the ground painting a sign. And yet this is not your ordinary run of the mill sign. It just happens to be one of Needle’s most famous signs.

Ed Klein came to Needles in January 2011 on a request. The request came from Linda Fitzpatrick, a resident of Needles who was trying to figure out ideas on how to grab the estimated 40,000 travelers who make Route 66 their annual pilgrimage. Her plan was to restore the old abandoned gas station on the corner of Dobson and Broadway – or famously known as ‘Carty’s Camp’.

When Ed and Linda met, the ideas started to flow about how to get travelers to stop and enjoy the history Needles had to offer its Route 66 travelers. After a few hours of brain-storming and several return visits back to the gas station, Ed asked Linda what the plans were for the old 66 Motel sign, as he put it, ‘had seen better days’.

“I looked at the sign and felt it was a shame such a classic and iconic sign as this one on the route was looking as beat down as it did. I had to figure something out,” said Klein. “The restoration of the gas station would be a very large project over a few years, but the sign could be done in a few months.”

Klein is the owner of a website dedicated to the preservation and travel information on Route 66 ( and has had his hands in several restoration projects along the route.

After a few weeks of preparation, several phone calls to the 66 Motel owner as well as Linda Fitzpatrick, Klein and his wife set on their 5 hour drive to Needles.

Starting off the weekend was figuring out the old neon and wiring which at one time pumped vibrant life into the glowing sign. Most of it was disconnected, broken, or simply cut.

“We spent a good few hours trying to figure out the wiring and removal of the neon. I need to keep as many pieces intact to have them recreated.” Klein said.

The one factor Klein did not consider was the wind this weekend. Wind gusts of up to 35 MPH hit late in the afternoon and proceeded to continue through Sunday. The wind blew hard throughout the southern part of California and Needles would not the exception. It blew hard enough Klein had to stop the painting early due to fears he might be blown of his 32′ ladder which was leaning up against the sign.

The historic sign will go through a total restoration. Klein told me he will do this in three phases. The first two phases will be painting and getting the neon ready and the third phase will be installing and lighting the neon, which will be the first time it has been on in over 15 years.

This total restoration is not costing the owner of the motel or the town of Needles a dime. Klein said he was paying for the paint out of his pocket as a ‘donation’ to the route and the town, and there will be a fundraising event via his website to raise money to pay for the neon, electronics, and installation.

“You would not believe the wave of support when I mentioned what I wanted to do to this sign. I have heard from travelers all around the world who want to help out with this restoration and there are so many historic businesses along the route who are donating their items for donors. They are all giving back to what we all care about so much, and that is the preservation of a true American icon. You will not meet the nicest, passionate people than those who live on, work on and drive Route 66” Klein added.

Preserving Route 66 is a Good Investment for the Future

April 2, 2012

$132 million spent per year in communities along Route 66

A recently completed economic impact study shows that $132 million per year is spent in communities along historic Route 66. This information sheds new light on the importance of heritage tourism and historic preservation along Route 66 as a contributor to local, state, and national economies. Route 66, which runs from Chicago to Santa Monica and is known as the Mother Road, is America’s most celebrated automobile highway, and a symbol of twentieth-century American culture and history. The study was directed by professor David Listokin of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and was carried out between 2008 and 2011 in collaboration with the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and World Monuments Fund, with the support of American Express.

The study demonstrates the tremendous influence tourists have on the economies of towns and cities along the route:

  • More than 85% of Route 66 travelers visit historic places and museums, and these tourists spend $38 million dollars a year in these communities.
  • Heritage preservation, through Main Street revitalization programs and museums, add another $94 million in annual investments.
  • The national impact is an annual gain of 2,400 jobs, $90 million in income, $262 million in overall output, $127 million in gross domestic product and $37 million in tax revenues.
  • At the local level, the restored Route 66-themed motel, restaurant, and gift shop anchor the downtown in many small communities and bring new life and revenue to towns once bypassed by the Interstate Highway System.

In other words, preserving Route 66 is a good investment with significant community and economic benefits.

“This study shows that preserving historic places is important to travelers on Route 66, and brings enormous pride as well as social and economic benefits to those living along the route,” said National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program Manager Kaisa Barthuli. “We will to continue to work with communities and other partners to preserve the special places that tell this vibrant part of American history, which in turn creates valuable economic opportunities.”

“The 2008 World Monuments Watch brought attention to the cultural value of America’s Mother Road,” said World Monuments Fund President Bonnie Burnham. “The Watch was the catalyst for developing this study, which now demonstrates the tremendous economic value tied to those traveling this historic route and argues for investment in preservation.”

The study draws on a wide array of empirical information on Route 66 from the national decennial census, a first-ever comprehensive survey of Route 66 travelers, a Route 66 museum survey, Route 66 case studies, and other sources. The result is a better understanding of the mosaic and dynamics of America’s Main Street, and the identification of opportunities to improve preservation of this resource and to enhance its already significant heritage tourism and economic contribution. The organizations behind the study are currently working to raise awareness of the significant findings among both the private and public sectors. A follow-up event, including industry, government, and others, is being planned for 2012, with a goal of leveraging the new knowledge provided by the Economic Impact Study toward
improved investment and innovative partnerships in heritage tourism and historic preservation.

A Synthesis of Findings of the Route 66 Economic Impact Study, along with a two-volume Technical Report, are available at:

Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy at Rutgers
The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is one of the nation’s key centers for the theory and practice of planning and public policy scholarship and analysis. The school was established in 1992 by the Rutgers University Board of Governors to provide a focus for all of Rutgers’ initiatives and programs of instruction, research, and service in planning and public policy. The Bloustein School was ranked No. 3 in the United States in the latest survey of the nation’s top graduate programs in urban planning by Planetizen, a Los Angeles–based planning and development network.

National Park Service, Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program
The National Park Service, Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program was established in 2001 to help preserve the special places and stories of historic U.S. 66. The program collaborates with private individuals, organizations, government agencies, and others to identify and address the priority needs of this historically significant American icon. The program offers cost-share grants to assist with preservation, planning, research, and educational initiatives. Learn more at

World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund is the leading independent organization devoted to saving the world’s most treasured places. For over 45 years, working in more than 90 countries, its highly skilled experts have applied proven and effective techniques to the preservation of important architectural and cultural heritage sites around the globe. Through partnerships with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF seeks to inspire an enduring commitment to stewardship for future generations. Headquartered in New York City, WMF has offices and affiliates worldwide.,, and

American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Historic preservation has long been the hallmark of American Express’ involvement in the community, reflecting the company’s recognition of the importance of cultural sites and monuments as symbols of national and local identity, and the role that their preservation can play in attracting visitors and revitalizing neighborhoods. Learn more at and connect with us on,,,, and

Pipes & Sticks on Route 66

April 2, 2012

Pipes & Sticks on Route 66Five ‘rock stars’ of the bagpiping world are gearing up to hit the road this April as part of their much anticipated ‘Pipes & Sticks on Route 66’ tour. Scottish pipers Willie McCallum, Stuart Liddell and Angus MacColl and drummer, Jim Kilpatrick, will join forces with American percussionist Mike Cole before setting off on the historic highway from Cole’s native Chicago April 7th. The group will then follow the ‘Mother Road’ through 8 different states before landing inCalifornia, with 6 concerts and numerous appearances scheduled along the way.

While each member of Pipes & Sticks has achieved considerable success in their solo careers, this will be the group’s first time playing together on U.S.soil. In the Celtic music community, the five are regarded as the best of the best in competitive piping and drumming, with over 150 major awards and titles between them.

Joining them for the ride is California filmmaker John McDonald, who will chronicle the crew’s journey in a new documentary. For McCallum and MacColl, it will be their second time working with McDonald, who followed their performance with The Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band in his award-winning 2009 film “On The Day.”

“When the guys approached me about filming the adventure, I didn’t have to think too hard about it,” McDonald says. “It seemed like the trip of a lifetime, with all the potential of being a really entertaining film.”

In addition to concerts in Chicago, Tulsa, Lubbock, Albuquerque, Flagstaff and Los Angeles, the Pipes & Sticks lads are planning a series of impromptu pub performances, cross-cultural jams with cowboys and Native Americans, and a musical tribute to World War II veterans.

For McCallum, who hatched up the idea with Liddell during a cross-country flight last year, touring Route 66 is more than just a pipe dream. “Route 66 has an iconic status for people in the UK, even for a guy brought up in a very small town in Scotland,” says the piper. “For me, it’s about seeing a part of the USA I’ve never been, and retracing the steps of the thousands of people who’ve traveled this road. To do it with some of my best friends in music, that just puts the icing on the cake.”

For full tour dates and tickets, visit

More information on the documentary at

Scheduled Appearances:

April 4            Honor Flight, Chicago, Welcome Back WWII Vets from                          Washington DC

April 5            Mo Dailey’s Pub, Chicago 8 p.m.

April 7            Concert, Irish American Heritage Center, Chicago 7:30 p.m.

April 8            Scottish Arms, St.Louis 8:30 p.m.

April 10         Oklahoma State University, Tulsa 7 p.m.

April 11          Tribute at Oklahoma City Memorial Park

April 12          Concert, Cactus Theatre, Lubbock 7:30 p.m.         

April 14          Concert, El Rey Theatre, Albuquerque 7:30 p.m.

April 16          Play with members of Navajo Nation, MonumentValley

April 17          Recital, American Legion Hall,Flagstaff  7:30 p.m.

April 18          Play in Seligman, Arizona, where the Route 66 revival began

April 20          Pub Crawl, starting at Lucky Baldwin’s, Pasadena 7:30 p.m.

April 21          Concert, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Pasadena 7 p.m.

Download Tour Poster

Route 66 Association of Missouri Invites You to Annual Motor Tour

April 2, 2012

The Route 66 Association of Missouri is heading “Westward Ho!” on its  23rd Annual Motor tour. This year’s tour will be held September 7th, 8th, and 9th., starting east of Carlinville, IL and ending in Lebanon, MO. Tour registration begins on Friday, September 7, at 4:00 p.m. at the Magnuson Grand Hotel, located just off I-55 at Exit 60 (Carlinville exit) east of Carlinville, MO, where a block of rooms has been reserved for tour goers. Registration will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. in the lobby of the Hotel. Also, on Saturday night, there will be lots of activities, including a car show and complimentary Hors D’oeuvres for tour goers to enjoy. More information on activities will be available at registration.

On Saturday, September 8, tour registration will resume at 7:45 a.m., and the tour will depart at 8:00 a.m. from the Magnuson Grand Hotel. Tour goers will be provided a pamphlet at registration containing recommended but in no way mandatory stops between Carlinville and Lebanon. This will give you the opportunity to select your own stops and proceed at your own pace. Additional details on what to see on the way will be included in your Motor Tour Agenda Folder available at registration. In addition, tour goers will have the opportunity to cross the Chain of Rocks Bridge, at a cost of $5.00 (you must pay in cash at the bridge to cross). If you want to cross the Bridge, you must be at the Illinois entrance to the Bridge by 11:30 a.m. Tour goers will proceed from the Magnuson Grand Hotel, through St. Louis (passing Ted Drewes) to the Meramec Caverns Motel at Meramec Caverns (aka Jesse James’ hideout), located 3 miles south of Stanton, MO on CR W. We have arranged for a block of rooms to be held at the Meramec Caverns Motel, and Saturday night’s dinner will be held at the Caverns, where tour goers can chew the fat about the days events.

On Sunday there will be a nondenominational worship service at 8:00 a.m. At 8:30 a.m., tour goers will leave Meramec Caverns and proceed to Waynesville (recommended stops will be included in the pamphlet). Here we will tour the Pulaski County Historical Society Museum and possibly other locations, and otherwise congregate to proceed, caravan style, to D. C. Decker’s Cowboy Emporium, located in the former Wrink’s Market in Lebanon. There we will end the tour in true cowboy style with a chuck wagon lunch featuring cowboy stew and biscuits. The Caravan to Decker’s will commence from Waynesville at 12:00 p.m., and we will have lunch at Deckers at 1:30 p.m.

Additional information on any planned stops or activities along the way will be made available at registration. For more information contact Kip Welborn at (314-776-7385),, Jane Dippel at 314-843-7132,, or visit our website (where you will find a registration form you can download) at Here’s hoping that you can join us on our trek Westward Ho! on Route 66!