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.