RT 66 In Illinois, Gardner and Two Celled Jail Ride

Having lived in Illinois when I first started riding, at 18 years old, I am familiar with the western suburbs and the rural areas west of the Fox River and Joliet IL.  I found myself with an extra day in June of 2018 during a visit back home, and decided to retry some of the roads I once rode over 35 years ago.  One of the most famous, route 66.

My first bike was a Honda CB400F, a 400cc 4 cylinder with 4 exhaust. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_CB400F).  Mine was bright yellow and black highlights. I called it the bumble-bee.  I miss that bike. It was a very nice ride.  This day, many years later, I will be riding the Honda GL1800, a bit of an upgrade from days ago.  It’s not often I get an opportunity to ride solo on the Goldwing, since I most commonly have my wife on this bike with me. I’m excited to ride it solo today and see how it performs. The Goldwing is such a versatile machine, it’s supreme riding for two passengers is amazing. The ride solo was no less exciting.

two celled jail

Two Celled Jail in Gardner, IL

The US route 66 highway is one that has a romantic and legendary past.  Having moved away from Illinois some 15 years ago, to the southwestern area of this country, I have had many opportunities to ride route 66 from Santa Rosa NM, through to Santa Monica CA, mainly the sections of the route in New Mexico, Arizona and California.  Much of this famous highway has been replaced with newer roads, for example I55 in Illinois replaced much of it. I was excited to find that I was within a short days ride to a portion of RT66 that still remains in Gardner, IL.  And Gardner hasn’t lost touch with it’s segment of this highway. A quick search landed me on an interesting stop, the Two Celled Jail, build in 1909.

The day was perfect for a ride. Temperatures stayed in the mid to low 70s, with a slight breeze to help keep the humidity in check.

Taking this ride in June was perfect. The farm lands and rows of crops create a view that I knew I missed. Water is scarce in the southwest, so the farm fields are circular to help the sprinkler systems work at optimal capacity. No corners, basically. But here in rural Illinois, and in June, the corn is about 3 feet tall, the wheat about 2 feet. The green and golden colors were amazing.

Take a close look at the maps I’ve provided. The roads here can become congested and traffic loaded. But staying just a mile off the main roads, you’ll find you’re the only one out there, road to yourself. I was able to ride this route with very little interaction with automobiles or trucks.

Newark, IL

Newark, IL, at intersection Big Grove road and Townhouse road in the summer of 2018

Outbound route to Gardner IL, staying west of Randal road, passing through Elburn, Big Rock, Plano and Seneca IL

Return route, again keeping west of Randal road, passing through Yorkville and LaFox.

Area map view of the area of this ride. Notice the beautiful patchwork farm lands all around. Riding in this area of the country is unique and wonderful. Solitude and peaceful.