For some reason, I awoke feeling renewed. It was almost as if my misery, anxiety, and sense of loss were relieved by sleep. Then again, I felt like it wasn’t just sleep—something was rejuvenated, rebooted, and the sun was our guide for the day. We took too much highway in Missouri and ended up taking too few side trips.
The entire day was overcast and Kyle and I were in one of our hurries—a hurry to the west so we could feel some accomplishment. But in our haste we missed a lot on the Mother Road, forsaking the parts of the original byway and the access roads for the highway. Also, we woke up so early to make our getaway from The Redwood Motel, by the time we got to Litchfield, Missouri, nothing was open. We were then molested by a pair if Illinois finest. Kyle and I continued on to cross the state border into St. Louis, where we visited the Gateway Arch together, and then separated to take in the city. I was feeling so beat—rain had let loose, the area around the Arch was all commercial and boring, and the Mississippi River smelled like a jock’s sweaty, dirty feel being set on fire. Kyle and I met back up around lunch and took in O.T. Hodge Chile Parlour. It was O.K., if you like Hormel chili. I was done—I had to leave.
John’s Modern Cabins is one of the most famous road relics on Route 66. The buildings have been allowed to decay for over 30 years, with most of the cabins on the verge of no longer being salvageable. Some of the cabins, ironically the newer ones, are piles of rubble with energy inefficient refrigerators and random piles of rusting metal collapsed in junkyard forts. The “main” cabin that holds the neon sign with its brains blown out still stands with the red paint chipping off, the metal crumbling into detritus and remnants of glass tubes hanging off the face of the sign like old scars.
The main cabin with the remains of the neon sign.
The first time I went to John’s Modern Cabins, in 2005, the main cabin was in a good enough condition that it could have been picked up and shipped to the Smithsonian. Now, it’s head has been bashed in and the walls left to rot in the Ozark rains. Continue reading →