Heading on from Bloomington-Normal, westbound drivers will encounter the next two towns in sonorous order—Shirley and McLean. Wordplay aside, the stretch of Illinois farmland between Bloomington and Springfield is rich in Route 66-related heritage.
In McLean, 55 miles from Springfield and 16 miles southwest from Bloomington, old Route 66 emerges from the shadow of I-55. You can follow old Route 66 along the west side of the freeway for just over four miles past the delightful anachronism of Funks Grove (309/874-3360), where the friendly Funk family has been tapping trees and selling delicious maple “sirup” (that’s how they spell it) since 1891.
If you’re here in late winter or early spring, you can watch them tap the trees and hammer in the spouts; each tree can produce up to 4 gallons of sap a day, but it takes 35 to 50 gallons of sap for each gallon of the final product. Free tastings are available, and a full range of bottles is on sale.