Thursday, July 28, 2011

Route 66 Day Fifteen

Thursday, July 7th, is day 15 of our trip, and this is the cute little cabin we stayed in last night.  Leaving from Chandler, after another McDonald’s breakfast, we are off down the road through Davenport, Stroud, DePew, Pulaski, Bristow, Bellvue, Kellyville, Sapulpa, Bowden, Oakhurst, and into Tulsa.

The real pull today was south of Tulsa to a community called Jenks which advertised itself as the antiques capital of Oklahoma. While that proved a little lame by what we found actually in Jenks, it did not stop us from shopping the River Mall and spending $85 on a number of old boxes, a child’s metal chair, a potato peeler, a bamboo tray and two knickknacks.

Back in Tulsa, we thought it would be fun to eat at a place called The Coney I-Lander for a dog (which was fine) and a bowl of chili (which was not).

At Green County Salvage we found a Dodge on a stick. 

Our next stop was The Blue Whale in Catoosa, a tourist trap with a great deal of charm. In the old days, children could slide and dive off, but today it has been moved to a little pond and stand rather forlornly on its own.

Then the miles piled up as we head through Verdigris, Claremore, DeGroat, Sequoyah and Foyil. East of Foyil is a placed called Ed Galloway Park where a 90 foot totem pole is surrounded by other totems and a house that includes his carved violins. This is quite a display of outsider art.

On we went down the road through Bushyhead, Hisle, Howard, Chelsea, White Oak, and into Vinita where we found another car jacked up for our enjoyment. 

In Afton we found the abandoned Palmer hotel where the amenities are now on the outside of the rooms. 

At an old garage and gas station south of Narcissa I had a chance to do a little off roading exploration.  Whooee, was the place special.  Not only was I treated to really cool abandonment, but there was vintage car parked in here and the driver's side hood panel from a '57 Chevy.  I will admit, I tested the weight of that piece but there was no way I could lift it and get it into my van. 

Next up was Narcissa, Dotyville and then Miami (no, not that one) where you cannot not eat eat at the Ku Ku. 

Then we polished off Commerce and Quapaw and crossed into the state of Kansas to visit Commonwealth, Baxter Springs, Riverton, Galena. Then we were into the state of Missouri and the city of Joplin. Everyone knows Joplin’s story but we were surprised and pleased to be able drive across the city without seeing any evidence of the tornado. We did not want to add to anyone's burden or be tempted to take tragedy pictures. 

After Webb City, we reached Carterville where we stop at Bulger Motor Company to take a picture of this Cars truck tribute.  The owner can out and talked to me about the truck (his father's), the firm and the influence (he believes) of his family's business of the making of the movie.  It was very interesting to talk to him but I do not know how much to believe. 

Through Brooklyn Heights, we were in Carthage when we decided to hunker down for the night at an Econo Lodge. Dinner was at the Sirloin Stockade with authentic cowboy decor and foreign born owners.  At least our waiter warmed up to us after awhile and we discovered he was an American born, ex-Las Vegas resident who had returned to this city with his Native American wife. Everyone always has a story on The Mother Road. 

Miles today: 291

Total miles for the trip: 4,827

See all the photos from this trip at

Route 66 Day Fourteen

Wednesday, July 6, is day 14 on the road and our departure point is Elk City, Oklahoma.  On the road at 8:00 a.m., after a hotel breakfast, we are through Canute and into Foss where we found a freeway underpass that was covered with swallow nests.  The swallows were swarming the nests until I got out of the car and then they flew in a big circle above the freeway.  An amazing site to see that, unfortunately, produced some rather boring photos of no interest. 

Clinton produced an old Phillips station with some cool signs and another wonderful old vehicle at the White Dog Bed and Breakfast.  It also produced two antique stores.  At the first, I bought an old violin for $20.  At store number number two a got a tool box, gopher trap, washboard, tools, and a doll for $86.

The next thing we came upon was Weatherford and the 66 West Twin Drive In.  I had a few quest items on this trip:  breaking into an abandoned building and getting a good shot, finding an old car in a field and getting a good shot, Cadillac Ranch, etc.  One of those bucket list scenes was an abandoned drive-in and we had a few failures along the way.  Today:  gold.

From Weatherford we went to Hydro where we found Mema’s, Momma’s and Mine Antique, Collectibles and Junk store.  This might have been the most reasonable seller we found on Route 66 and I bought two cow skulls, tools, a stove part, a brass vase and a metal fold up ruler for $33.  We also made a stop at Lucille's, considered one of the iconic stops on the old Mother Road.  I do not know if you can read this pump, but the 26c per gallon fuel was long gone. 

For travelers on the historic route, it is really appreciated when we stumble upon a site so well preserved.  Someone has taken the time and money to make this a destination stop which has to help the local economy in some fashion or other. 

Now we went through Bridgeport, Hinton Junction, Geary, Karns, and into Calumet.  Here we drove past a weird site:  what appeared to be a big field full of metal being picked over by numerous people in multiple trucks.  I said it looked like a junk yard blew up.  Later, we were told it was a surplus store hit by a tornado on May 22nd, the same day as the Joplin big one. 

We decided to take a side trip to Fort Reno, a site established in 1874.  It was used as an Army remount station until 1947 when it was turned over to the Department of Agriculture.  The old Army buildings have been preserved as a museum and at the visitor's center we met an ancient but very nice docent who explained all of this to us.  Later, after we toured the site, we could see on barn blown down and some trees damaged by the May 22nd tornado.  The tornado literally missed the historic buildings by feet. 

Fort Reno has a graveyard for settlers and some Army personnel. 

Then there is a stone wall over which you can pass via some staircases into the graveyard for the foreign prisoners of war from World War II.  Italian and German soldiers are buried here, men who were captured and interned in the middle of our country never to return to theirs. 

After the fort we entered El Reno where we discovered this public art on the side of a silo.  Who knows what inspired this but I wish in America we had more of this kind of adventurous art spirit to see. 

We ate lunch at Sid’s Diner in El Reno today and then we were off through Yukon and into Bethany where we saw more wonderful Route 66 signs. 

After Warr Acres we entered Oklahoma City with the idea of visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial.  It is a very moving site on the exterior.  We did not take the time to go inside the museum but we both agreed that spending time at the reflecting pool and the memorials to each victim is enough emotion for one day. 

Now we put Edmond in the rear view mirror before filling up the tank at a gas station with soda bottle and straw in Arcadia. 

Then Luther, Wellston, and Warwick disappeared before we decided to bed down in Chandler, OK, at the Lincoln Motel. 

Miles today: 220

Total miles for the trip: 4,536

View all the photos from this trip at

Monday, July 25, 2011

Route 66 Day Thirteen

After time off for the holiday (yeah, right!) it is now Tuesday, July 5, and time for us to get to business.  So I decided to rise before the sun and head back out to The Cadillac Ranch.  When I got there in the dark, a mother and two small children were policing the grounds which are littered with spray cans and their tops.  Although they did not get them all, I was impressed with their effort even while I was confused by their choice of time to do it. 

This morning, I had Cadillac Ranch to myself for about 45 minutes from sunrise till the first spray painters showed up.

After returning to the hotel, it was time to pick up Denice and eat some hearty hotel food for breakfast.  This was not our hotel but...

neither was this one

or this. 

Denice had discovered that on the first Tuesday of each month the Amarillo Livestock Auction has a Tuesday auction and the public is invited.  We drove over there but it was too early so we just drove around Amarillo for awhile.  Then it was back to auction only to discover this Tuesday there is no auction. 

This delay led to our being able to go to 6th St. which has many antique shops trying to recapture the old 66 days.  Seriously, this was not my fault.  At the first place I bought a creepy baby doll, a cherub adorned dish, and a cool old steel tape measure for $22.  At the second place I bought two small spindles and a huge spindle painted like a circus pole for $20. 

Then we discovered an Army surplus Quonset hut now a junk place run by some old dudes.  When I asked old dude number one how much this rusty old folding chair was (thinking $5 tops, baby) he ran in the back and consulted the second old dude.  Consensus price:  $25.  We were outta there. 

You see the strangest things on Route 66.  This old gas station sits in the front yard of a rather nice house.  The amazing thing to me is that they have preserved the station but have not done one thing to fix it up including failing to paint it.  Although I am glad it was there to see I do not understand why you would stare out your front window at this pile o' junk every day and not think, "Man, that would look darn pretty with a little white wash." 

So it was off down the road to Conway where some enterprising businessman at some point decided to out Cadillac Ranch the Ranch by placing his cars east of Amarillo to capture all the gullibles before they got to the real deal.  Thus, The Bug Ranch was born.  Yes, its Volkswagens. 

This bad boy had the misfortune of being abandoned by the Volkswagens so he got the same treatment from the spray paint. 

Now the gas station is a ghost town.  What amazed me on this trip was what I would find inside these abandoned structures.  Here the gas station still had tools hanging on the walls and cans of fluids laying around on the shelves.

The weirdest thing was inside the station itself where I found a saddle.  Yes, it was a complete saddle, laying on the floor in front of what used to be the cash register counter.  I was so freaked out and also thinking it might be a trap that I just walked out.  I did not even take a picture. 

Then from Lark we were into Groom where the largest cross in the western hemisphere is located. This has proven to be a great way to attract people into the town and the complex that the cross is on has stations of the cross and other statuary in addition to the cross. 
While I am not a religious person it did seem like it was still hot as hell on this trip. 

Lunch today was at The Grill in downtown Groom where I had Larry’s sandwich (egg, ham, bacon on Texas toast).  Actually, it was a sandwich called Larry's sandwich and I have no idea what Larry actually had for lunch. 

In Jericho I fell in love with this old car we found in a field behind some abandoned buildings.  To my surprise, Denice wanted to explore these buildings with me and she really got into it.  There were all sorts of structures at this site including an old motel.

Pickin' at this site left me with two sets of door knobs, some rusty wire, some rusty metal and a bone!  The bone was the part that Denice was not too thrilled with. 

Alanreed fell beneath the tires before reaching McLean and the first Phillips 66 gas station to be restored in the restoration of The Mother Road.

Lela led us to Shamrock and the U-Drop-Inn Restaurant and service station with its gorgeous art-deco tower.

We took a mid-day brunch at McDonald’s (which is Niebuhr travelese for either someone had to pee or I was having a diabetic episode) and then it was miles and miles of Fuller, Texola, Erick, and Hext.  At Sayre, we found The Odd Shoppe was still open at 6:30 p.m. (in startling contrast to some shops which appeared to have very irregular hours).  It was only after we left that Denice told me they had a flood of some kind and were only there to watch the big fans running to dry everything out.  I was so intent on junkin' I never saw the water, the damage, or the fans.  Prices here were a little to "to" so I only walked out with a hand held butter churn for $6.

By this time we had been on the road a long time and despite plans to reach Oklahoma City, we only made it to Elk City and a Super 8.  We asked the clerk's recommendation for the Homestyle Cooking restaurant across the street and her eyes bugged out of her head so far we both had to step back.  So we went to Amando’s Italian Bistro which is not as toney as it sounds but had good food. 

Miles today: 331

Total miles for the trip: 4,316

You can see every darn photo from this trip at