On interstate 40 last week on the way to a class reunion in Arizona. The Texas Panhandle is pretty flat but the skies were interesting. Lots of people tell me how “boring” this stretch of road is. I don’t find it boring at all! Oh no, I see all sorts of interesting things while driving.
I stopped for gas in Shamrock, Texas. Shamrock is home to the Tower Gas Station. A beautiful art deco structure from the 1930’s. It has been restored and is beautiful. It is no longer a gas station but more of a visitor center.
Attached is “Do Drop Inn” a former restaurant that has also been preserved. Roadside America has a post on this stop. The gas station and former cafe are big stops for Route 66 fans.
Further to the west on the freeway is the Bug Ranch. It is kind of like Cadillac Ranch (for a later post). I found it fun. It’s free and they take donations so I gave them a couple dollars. It’s another Route 66 attraction. Most references call it the slug bug ranch.
You can buy spray paint but I declined. I just wanted to take photos.
They had a couple of other vehicles as well.
I love road trips. The rest of my family hates them. I kind of like the Route 66 attractions but I don’t spend much time driving Route 66. Too slowwww!!!
This past weekend I attended the Route 66 Roadfest in Tulsa. It was an event sponsored by AAA to celebrate all things Route 66. They had a similar event in Oklahoma City the previous weekend.
The event features cars (lots of cars!), music (which I missed).
They had a section on vintage travel trailers.
When I was a kid our family had a similar trailer, a little bit bigger. We went all over the place in the thing in our family of five. Soon, my brother and I got kicked out into a tent on our own, which was fine with us.
The thing I wasn’t expecting and enjoyed the most is the “pods” they had set up showing the history of the Route 66 by decade and highlights of the culture of that time. The above diner was in the 1950’s pod. They had hosts in costume who would show you around. (Who knew that women in poodle skirts could be so fetching?) So each pod was like a time capsule.
Also, in the 1950’s pod was a display of photographs by Charles and Irene Custer who got married in 1950 and took off on Route 66 supporting themselves with photography. Fast forward to recently when somebody found almost 90 negatives in a barn made with a medium format camera. They processed the photos, digitized them and put them on internet. They are incredible. Check out the site here. (I am not displaying any because they are copyrighted so check out the link.) They are incredible visions of an all but forgotten world.
The above was in the 60’s pod showing a wall on school safety. When I was in grade school in Price, UT I was so jealous of the crossings guards. I wanted to be one but I was not a cool kid.
Remember window decals. So many families plastered their cars with travel decals. There were two types of families back then, window decal families, and people who wouldn’t be caught dead with them (that was us.) It was fun looking at all the old stuff and talking with the people there. I loved the pods and had no idea they would be part of the show.
The best part though I just stumbled onto. Michael Wallis, the writer and historian, who wrote “Route 66: The Mother Road” among 20 or so other books, participated in a conversation about the history and culture of the road. His book is credited with a resurgence in interest of Route 66. He did most of the talking. And he is a great talker with a wonderful voice. “He was the voice of the Sheriff in the animated movies Cars.” Some of the high points of what he said were:
He looks at the road, stretching from Chicago to Santa Monica, as a one big community traversing eight states. He said it is Blue on either end and red in the middle but the road itself is purple with very little rancor like you see in the rest of country. He is hoping that the road will help bring the country together as it approaches its centennial in 2026.
He talked about how we cannot romanticize history. We have to be on a continual search for the truth. He said for example people get upset when he brings up the fact that the businesses on the road were just as racist as any place in the deep south and there were a bunch of sundown towns where people of color were not allowed to be after sundown. He said the racisim ebbed away after the Civil Rights laws of the 60’s were enacted. He said history is never set, it is like an onion that has many different layers and one cannot be afraid of you will find out.
He said the road is for travelers not tourists. It is for people who are not in a big hurry and like to stop and look at things and try out local restaurants and independent motels instead of the chains.
He also told a bunch of stories. One of my favorites concerned a snake pit in the Texas panhandle where a business had a pit holding dozens of rattlesnakes. He said at 4 pm every day a friendly grandmotherly lady would come out with a basket little chicks in it and dump them into the pit. He said that was a big hit. He had a bunch of other funny stories to tell.
He finished by saying, “Remember, life begins at the off-ramp.”
His 45 minutes flew by. It was the best part of the show.
I think they are going to have this show yearly leading up to the centennial of the road in 2026. I’ll be back!! (And I’ll take in the music next time!!)
El Reno is a gritty suburb west of Oklahoma City. It’s in the center of the wheat belt so there are a lot of grain elevators. It was a Rock Island railroad hub, and an oil and gas operations center as well. Nearby Fort Reno was a cavalry outpost during the wars with Native Americans. And Route 66 runs right through town.
They even have a special place for love-locks.
And it is part of my year long turning 66 on Route 66 celebration.
Son Logan visited us over the weekend and on Monday I took him back to college. Our little 6′ 3″, 250 pound son is in his final semester (he better be in his final semester) and graduates this Fall. We are really proud of him! Anyway, dropped him and his stuff off, made a visit with the bursar and paid his tuition and fees and headed back to Tulsa.
I took the scenic route on part of it on Route 66. I was hunting down geocaches and doing a ten state Adventure Lab geocache at the same time. Hit the links to find out more about what I’m talking about. First stop was Pops on Route 66. They have a gas station and a huge selection of pop. I got me a selfie cuz I am 66 years old this year on Route 66.
Pops is a stop on the Adventure Lab and it also has a real geocache that I had found previously. Nearby there was another one.
A little bit down the road is the Round Barn of Arcadia, another stop on the Adventure Lab. With an Adventure Lab you don’t find a physical container, you have to answer questions about the stop.
And nearby is minor attraction in Arcadia. Tutons Drug Store. I think it has been closed very years but I love the rock work.
And another stop is an “Auto Trim Museum.” It was closed but I got the information I needed from the gate.
And then this find. Paul McCartney, on his 66th birthday, drove Route 66 with his girlfriend back in 2011. Not being a geocacher the former Beatle got lost and had to stop at a house and ask if if he was still on the Old Road (as Route 66 is called by some.) This was on an “alternate alignment” of Route 66 and I never would have found it if were not for geocaching. I guess great minds think alike.
Another stop was at this marker commemorating a stop Washing Irving made on his travels in Oklahoma way back when. Another bit of info I would have never known if hadn’t been for my sport.
It was close to here while looking for another cache that a couple of sheriff deputies stopped and asked me if I knew that my car tag was almost two years expired. I said no I didn’t. We chatted about that for a while and then they asked what I was doing and I told him all about it. So they said to get the tag renewed cuz they don’t care about it but you get a highway patrolman in a bad mood they have been known to impound your car and leave you standing by the road. (I took care of the tag the next day.)
And then a little later, I stopped at this old gas station from the early in 20 the century. Anyway I had earned the Adventure Labs cache and was a little unnerved by the thought of encountering a highway patrolman in a bad mood so I went on home.
So thanks for sticking with me. Here’s a photo from our vacation looking out the back side of the condo we were staying in. I took my drone but didn’t fly it. We were on the 15th floor so it was kind of like a stationary drone.
I hope everybody is well. I got my third jab yesterday and a flu shot. I’m still being careful and avoiding crowds as much as I can.
Sunday morning after dropping the kid off at work I headed to Turkey Mountain for a little hiking.
I’ve been reading the novel, The Overstory by Richard Powers and it is blowing me away with its talk of how trees in a forest are all interconnected and they exchange nutrients with one another and with other plants via a network of fungal hyphae, miles and miles of tubular fungus that exchange minerals with trees for sugar. I already read the book and then I started reading it again. It’s pretty amazing.
The woods on Turkey Mountain are very new. It used to be small farms and ranches but oil was discovered and what trees that were there were cut down for fuel for the boilers that powered the pumps.
So the trees that are there now are pretty new and mostly skinny. There are a few older ones that are bigger and are more spread out. I find the whole life cycle of tree thing to be fascinating.
I know that Sunday I pretty much had the place to myself. Most people on Turkey Mountain stick to the more established east side with its overlooks of the Arkansas River and well developed trails. The west side is a little wilder and the trails less established and mapped.
I went all the over the the YMCA and took a pic. Not much going on there.
Just 3 miles but hey I was refreshed.
In the afternoon I checked out Route 66 for some geocaching. I stopped one of my favorites. The Blue Whale of Catoosa.
Right next to it was this. Apparently it is supposed to be an Ark as part of a journey through the Bible attraction but it didn’t really take off.
I found this museum in Catoosa. It was closed but it has a great mural out back.
And this is an old bridge on Route 66 that has been relocated. So I am continuing my turning 66 on Route 66 thing that I have going on.
Rock Creek Bridge is a single lane steel truss type structure located on an original section of Route 66 in the Tulsa suburb of Sapulpa. It was built in 1924 when the road was called the Osage Trail. It is not in bad shape for being almost a hundred years old even though it is now rated for no more than four tons. The modern Route 66 is off to the south a couple hundred feet or so more and has a more modern concrete bridge.
This bridge was part of ten Route 66 locations featured in a new type of Geocaching called Adventure Labs. They don’t require you to find actual containers or other physical objects. It’s a lot of fun if you don’t feel like disturbing snakes, getting spider bit, or explaining yourself to the local authorities. Read the link to find out more.
A few nights ago we had the Full Pink Moon on a clear evening. I love taking moon photographs.
This is Howard Park in Tulsa. A funky little park, bounded on the west by a Freeway and to the north and south by decrepit commercial properties and to the east, right across Route 66, a refinery. There are no houses anywhere close with children to play in its playground but you know I like the park. You can see the refinery storage tanks on the left side of the photo.
Speaking of Route 66, this is the “Route 66 Rising” in east Tulsa, where Route 66 enters the city. It is in the middle of a traffic circle so to get a decent photo you have to park on private property and cross a busy street but you know, it’s my bloggers duty to do so. I don’t think one person in a hundred in Tulsa know about it.
Route 66 cuts right bisects Tulsa from east to west and we have a bunch of Route 66 monuments in Tulsa and the surrounding suburbs. Well we have one more. Buck Atom, a 21 foot tall statue holding a rocket marks the location of a tourist shop. It is right on Route 66 where it is 11th street just east of downtown Tulsa. Right next to Meadow Gold sign.
The unveiling was quite the scene with crowds of people and speeches. The mayor even showed up. Read all about it in local newspaper.
I love the goofiness of your typical Route 66 attraction. They are made with the express purpose of being an attraction. If you are going to do that, make it stand out is what I think and I think that is what Buck Atom does. Oh well, at least Buck Atom was done entirely with private money (as far as I know!)
Are you a Route 66 fan? I am kind of. I like the attractions and the many geocaches on the road but to get from point A to point B give me an interestate highway!!