About us

It was the ultimate open road, so American.  Most of us knew it simply as Route 66 …

aka DJ-SweetMarie

Maria R. Traska

U.S. Route 66 was one of the greatest driving roads you’ll ever see on the North American continent, possibly the world.  It was officially designated and open for travel on November 11, 1926 and decommissioned on June 27, 1985, when its last remaining section was replaced by the Interstate highway system.  It began in downtown Chicago but a few blocks from Lake Michigan and went through eight states before terminating near the Pacific shore in Santa Monica, CA and was the first winter-safe cross-continental road linking Chicago and Los Angeles.  It was variously known as The Main Street of America, The Mother Road (a name given it in 1939 by author John Steinbeck in his novel The Grapes of Wrath), and the Will Rogers Highway (a federal designation that came much later, but nobody outside of Oklahoma and maybe California ever really used that).  While it existed officially, Route 66 captivated travelers and embedded itself so firmly in the hearts and imagination of the American public that devotees of the historic highway have since managed to resurrect parts of it as National Scenic Byways in some states (Illinois is one of them).  For us, it’s still the Dream Road.

Joseph D. Kubal

The CuriousTraveler66 blog is about our upcoming book, The Curious Traveler’s Guide to Route 66 in Metro Chicago, what’s still here on this section of the original 1926 path of the route, and what we’re learning as we write the manuscript.  There’s more out here than even diehard Route 66 fans think.  We are:  Maria R. Traska, author, editor, independent journalist, webdiva, astronomy and physics buff, jazz fan and occasional swing DJ (aka DJ SweetMarie); Joseph D. Kubal, geographer, data analyst, fellow fan of astronomy and particle physics, and fellow reader of hard sci-fi; and Keith Yearman, geographer, finder par excellence of aerial photos, all-around tech guy and assistant professor of geography at College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.  Marie is our designated writer, editor and blogger, but we all write, research, photograph and contribute.

Keith Yearman

Keith Yearman

We are all of us amateur historians, researchers, Chicagoans, unapologetic foodies and avid fans of Route 66, especially in our neck of the woods, which is the six-county area known as greater Chicago.  We also know that the front end of Historic Route 66 – between downtown Chicago and downtown Joliet – is one of the most skipped over sections of the Mother Road, and unjustly so.  Which is why we’re writing a book on it:  so that everyone else learns what there is to see, eat and do out here near the famous highway’s point of origin (then again, maybe we just wanted an excuse to eat our way down the road … ).

Bottom line:  Route 66 fans just wanna have fun.  Welcome to our blog!

9 thoughts on “About us

    • Jim — thank you so much! We’re so glad you think so — and we hope you’ll tell everyone you know! Chicago to Joliet is the least known (and least appreciated) part of the route, but we aim to change that. See you on the road! — Marie


  1. I am eager to purchase your book once it is completed. Having traveled the entire original Route 66 a few years ago, and bits and pieces of it beginning in the late 1940s as a child, I am a devoted aficionado of the Mother Road and have “turned on” many others to its attractions. When in Chi-town, I always make a point of eating at Lou Mitchell’s on the Route, opened three years before ’66 was dedicated in 1926 and still operating. I have no doubt Lou’s restaurant and bakery will be highlighted in your upcoming book.


  2. Thanks for all your great work promoting Route 66. I really enjoyed traveling the Chicago to Joliet path, although I must admit it was a bit difficult filming downtown Chicago in my RV. I’ve produced a 90-minute DVD covering the entire route called “Route 66 RV Adventure: Exploring the Mother Road.” I’d be happy to send you a copy for review. You can find more info at my website:



    • John — Thanks so much for your feedback! And you’re welcome. We don’t really do media reviews, but now I’m curious; I’ll be sure to check out those links. Hope you enjoy the blog and become a follower. We’re also on Twitter: @CuriousTravel66 — Marie


  3. Nicely done Marie — I don’t know the time frame you talking about exactly, but as an 85 year old senior citizen, there are some omissions regarding Blacks and Jews in North Lawndale.


    • Fred — Thank you! To answer your implied question: The era of the Jewish West Side is roughly 1910 through 1960. The departure of the Jews began immediately after WW II ended. The population of North Lawndale was about 95 percent white in 1940 and about 87 percent in 1950. Between 1950 and 1960, virtually all the Jews in greater Lawndale (North Lawndale and the southern part of Garfield Park) departed for greener pastures and single-family homes, as there were very few of those in greater Lawndale; some moved to Austin and Oak Park, but the majority moved to the far north side (Edgewater, Rogers Park, West Rogers Park, Albany Park) and the North Shore suburbs. By 1960, North Lawndale was 91 percent black.


  4. Maria, I just learned from Pete Nekola that you folks would be interested in talking to the Chicago Map Society.  Please contact me to discuss this further.  Thanks, Bob


  5. Pingback: Christmas Memories of Marshall Field and Company | Brilliant Viewpoint

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