May 31, 2012

KIT™ Day 6

Today was an interesting day.  We knew we only had approximately 100 miles to travel (actually it was more like 150, but we did just fine), and it was planned that way since we knew we would have a late night with Laurel.

We got in our workouts (there was no air-conditioning in the workout room, so Beth had an abbreviated one), had a spot-o-breakfast at the Marriot, and then headed out to get some local pictures in Tulsa.  

We headed down to the start of the Tulsa Route on 11th street to let Beth get some googie pictures, and that was a major theme of the day (I took 22 pictures, Beth took over 80 :o).  Based on our discussions with Laurel and Ron, we knew that Tulsa was the Art Deco Architectural City of the USA, so we did some driving around to confirm that, and we have to agree that they earned their chops! Loved the Blue Dome and the Dust Bowl-ing alley :o)  

We then headed out of town, but first had to fill up, because Tulsa has some of the lowest gas prices in the nation (that's right, we filled up for $3.14!!!)

Next it was on to Sapulpa, and my first near miss of the Route 66 driving experience.  We had stopped to get a googie picture, and I was turning across traffic, but there was a sign obstructing my view, so when I pulled out there was a pickup barreling down on us --- luckily the Chrysler 300 has some get-up-and-go, and when I punched it we just missed getting clipped (the rear tires have a bit less rubber on them).  Lesson learned...

After our adrenaline rush, we headed toward Sapulpa and a spur that was part of the Ozark Trail.  The bridge pictured here was built in 1921 and used through 1952.  On the same spur was an abandoned Drive In, sad but at least they are growing hay in the open spaces.

Next up was Stroud, the beginning of the Sac and Fox Nation Reservation.  We could not tell what parts were part of the reservation, but I plan on paying closer attention to this as we move  through our trip (I am 1/8 Osage, so this really resonates with me).  

Just outside Stroud was a short spur with the Shoe Tree.  I think it needs a few more pairs.  We then did another spur of the Ozark Trail and spotted this Obelisk at one of the junctions.  I loved this picture because you can see the landscape that we have been traveling through.

As we continued on, we had another side trip through Depew.  Depew had the original road through downtown from 1926 through 1933, but then a new stretch was constructed, and Depew was Bypassed.  The cool thing is that this may be only town with the original Mother Road going through the main downtown street -- it was like looking at a time capsule.  The bank at the left of the picture is dated from 1910, and at the end of the road is a vintage building that may become an artist center.

As we proceeded on our sojourn for the day, we passed through Davenport (an under-utilized word, just say'n) and the Early Bird Diner.  They did a nice job on the restoration.

When we are traveling the route, we do not stop at every historical building.  However, outside Arcadia, we stopped at an old stone service station.  It was worth the stop, it was built in the early teens or 1920's.  There was not electricity in the area at the time, and they used barrels and pumps for the gas and drums with spigots for the engine oil.  The owners then had the opportunity to get into some counterfeiting, and they built an addition accessible from a back window.  Printing a sheet of bills was a 2-3 day ordeal since it took about 24 hours to dry a sheet, and you needed to print front and back separately.  After they got caught, the station was closed and never reopened.

Our last stop was with Mr. John Hargrove (this was after we did the only spur in Oklahoma that showed original Portland Cement and subsequently paved road on the same stretch of road).  Our first pass through this area showed that Hargrove's driveway gate was closed, but as we were driving, we saw a Model T pass us.  After we finished the short spur, we got back on the Route and found the Hargrove gate open.  We did a U-Turn and headed up to talk to another recent icon of the road.  The official designation is "Oklahoma County 66 Auto Trim and Mini Museum",  and his place is amazing for only 10 years worth of effort.  His vehicles are awesome and his museum and replicas are beyond reproach.  We loved the Volkswagen through the second floor wall, you could sit in the seats, and see out the window.

Shortly after leaving Hargrove's, as I got the car up to cruising speed, I saw a local police cruiser pass us and as I watched through the rear-view mirror, I said to Beth that he as going to come after me.  After five minutes, he pulled up behind us and put his bubble lights on.  He turned out to be a really good guy, gave me a warning for doing 64 in a 45 (drat, I have been so careful to obey all the speed limits), and gave me a warning that was a non-warning because his computer/printer jammed.  This was in Edmond, so I say to Edmond police, you are real "troopers" and thanks for being understanding. [Aside... being respectful to our law enforcement is only a plus, and this time it served me well]

We then drove for another 30 minutes, and based on pending storms, found a place to hang our hat, and wind things down [but here it is again 1240, so no early to bed for me].

A bad driving day, but a great day with my wife and best friend, and seeing some more of our great country and meeting nice folks.

May 30, 2012

KIT™ Day 5

We hit three states today on our Kicking It Trip.  We started out in Springfield, MO and then proceeded on through all 13 miles of the Mother Road in Kansas, and on into Oklahoma.  

 Our first stop was in Paris Springs, MO.  Here we took the advice of some of Beth's roadie friends and visited Gay Parita (original station established in 1930) and Mr. Gary Turner.  We were warned that Gary can talk your ear off, and that was an understatement.  He was a hoot, a gracious host (a soda to drink and one to take with us for a vanilla ice cream with black cherry soda, ice cold, poured over it), and a great ambassador for Route 66.  He took a great shine to Beth, with her great smile and inner and outer beauty.  Gary was quick to remind a man to love and appreciate his wife (he has been happily married for 51 years).  He was quick with a quip, and almost had a soda snort from Beth, and after that, she was wary of her sips :o) We had a very memorable 45 minutes and Gary advised that once you have done the trip, you will be back, and I do believe that we will meet and chat with Gary again.

One of the places that was in our guide book, and recommended by Mr. Turner, was a stop at Red Oak.  Red Oak is the brain child of one Lowell Davis, and is located just outside Carthage, MO.  The first picture is of a "crap duster", a manure spreader with wings and a V8 engine added.  If you saw this, then you were 100 yards past the road that leads to the little town that has been built by Mr. Davis.  He has relocated and decorated many vintage buildings, and then had to relocate the whole town about five miles.  It was an amazing site, even if it was a little bit like "twilight zone".  I can only imagine that Mr. Davis is a bit eccentric, but in a good way, preserving a bit of history and nostalgia for future generations to enjoy.

Once we entered Carthage proper, a recently renovated Boots Motel was our next visit.  This motel had been converted to apartments, but recently returned to a motel business and reopened on May 8th.  The bigger openings are covered parking between the rooms.  I hope they are successful because this is a nice little place.

After Carthage, we ventured into Kansas, and the first stop was a renovated Kan-O-Tex station in Galena, KS.

Then it was a visit to the only remaining Marsh Arch bridge (there were originally three), built in 1923.  

Our next Kansas stop was in Baxter Springs, where a Phillips 66 station has been renovated and turned into a visitor center.  We were warmly welcomed by two ladies that had great enjoyment and pride in their visitor center, and they were very helpful.  I loved the fact that they had all visitors sign the wall with their names and where they were from.  A great tradition and you can see from the wall that they have had many visitors.

After Baxter Springs, we crossed into Oklahoma with our first stop being in Commerce, the birthplace of Mickey Mantle.  The Conoco Station built into the side of the building (now a snack shop) and Dairy King are wonderful restorations.

As we headed toward Afton, we had the opportunity to travel over two different stretches of about 2-3 miles each of "ribbon roads".  These stretches of were built in 1922 and served as the original portions of Route 66, and they were fully bypassed in 1937.  They are only nine feet wide, and if you can imagine the boxier cars of the day traveling the roads, it must have been interesting to pass (the gravel has been added now to allow two way traffic, but I can only imagine back then overgrown grass on both sides).

Then it was onto Afton and Afton Station [established in 1930, restored and opened in 2004], a D-X (a local OK gasoline vendor back in the day) Station, and Packard Museum.  This was the highlight of the day as we have been on-line friends with the Co-Owner, Laurel Kane, for several years.  Our string of meeting on-line friends continues with nothing but goodness.  Laurel and her Afton friends are wonderful people, and we had fun meeting, chatting, and viewing the cars. 

It was only a temporary goodbye to Laurel as we left Afton and headed into Tulsa.  Just outside Tulsa, in Catoosa, we stopped and visited the very happy looking Blue Whale.  The Blue Whale used to be a pair of slides and a diving platform for a swimming pond, but is now just another icon on the Mother Road, and I would challenge anyone to not leave with a smile on their face and a bit of a skip in their step.

Then it was on into Tulsa, checked into our hotel, and then met Laurel and her friend Ron for dinner at The Local Table, a restaurant that focuses on local ingredients.  It was good people, good food (three course dinner for $20), and fun conversation.  It was great meeting Laurel and Ron!

All in all, a great day meeting great people.

May 29, 2012

KIT™ Day 4

Today was a simpler day, so ya'll get a break from a lengthy post.  As I mentioned yesterday, we needed to double back a bit today to get back on plan.  So we packed up our things from our little bungalow, not quite a cottage [hehe], and bid a farewell to Munger Moss.

We re-entered our adventure with the first four lane section of the Mother Road in Missouri, constructed from 1941-1945 to provide a route for wartime preparations at Fort Leonard Wood.  This was necessary to provide a bypass to the Devil's Elbow.  The original Devil's Elbow was a reference from 1870 to a bend in the Big Piney River.  The original road had lots of twists and turns, and curbs were even installed to try and keep folks from going off the road.  But for wartime transit, a more straightforward approach was necessary.  As part of this new route, the Hooker Cut was needed, a 90 foot path through the Missouri hills.   This whole section of the trip was spectacular as you can see from this view.

As we made our ninety mile plus sojourn today, we passed this unidentified, what we think was a motor court, and had to do a Ken-We-Need-To-Go-Back maneuver.  It was worth the effort.  Not part of the information books, and that is part of what made it interesting.  Nothing like new discoveries :o)

Once we got into Springfield MO, we did some driving around.  In the spirit of absolute candor, we had spent more than an hour hoping to find a spot to have a pint and a bite, but the smaller towns  during a holiday weekend did not cooperate.  So we finally ended up in the downtown and found a great place, the Bistro Market.  We scored a pizza and a pitcher for $10.  How can you complain?

After we checked into our hotel, we went back out and found some Route 66 landmarks, one of which is shown here.  It was a fun afternoon, but we will be glad to get out of the city and back onto the local and more rural routes.

We were especially pleased to have the chance to meet up with my sister and her new husband tonight, and have some great discussions and laughs.  

All in all, a pretty good day :o)