Posts tagged Route 66
Posts tagged Route 66
Miles traveled: 390
States: 2 (Illinois, Missouri)
Started the day with an appointment at the Apartment People office in Lakeview. The hope was to find an apartment I liked and get the leasing process started so I could move as soon as possible after returning to Michigan. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. The leasing agent I worked with was very nice, but there just weren’t many options I could check out. I’ll have to go back and try again.
The drive down was pretty uneventful. I was trying to make good time, so I didn’t bother with many stops. Pretty much just tried to get as far as I could before I needed to sleep. As I neared Cuba, MO, I decided to stop at the Wagon Wheel Motel for the night. It’s a Route 66 attraction and a place I had really wanted to stop on my way down the first time.
It’s a great motel. The pricing is fair, the rooms are very recently refurbished, and the management is incredibly kind. I actually called after hours (which I didn’t realize when I dialed) and the manager drove out from her home to check me in for the night. I can’t stress enough how great she was.
Miles traveled: 356
States: 3 (Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma City)
What a day. I don’t really know how I’m going to be able to sum it all up, but I’ll try. I started the day well rested in Springfield. After a big breakfast, I left town with the intention of making it to Oklahoma City by nightfall. However, with Joplin in between, I knew there was a strong possibility I wouldn’t make it so quickly.
The first stop was at Gary’s Gay Parita gas station re-creation, located in Ash Grove, MO (about 25 miles west of Springfield). I actually drove right past it at first, but decided to turn around and check it out. Great decision. I walked toward the porch, and before I could say anything, I was greeted with a hearty hello and asked how I was and where I was from. The man who greeted me was Gary Turner, the owner of the station. He told me to take a look around and take some pictures, and that he would then tell me some places to check out where I would “burn up my camera” before the day was over.
The station was fantastic. Everything looked pristine. I took some photos and returned to talk to Gary. As we talked, another visitor from Tunisia walked up. His name was Abdelhak. He came all the way here just to drive Route 66. Pretty amazing. Also at the station at that time were a couple from Switzerland.
Gary explained the history of the station, told us what was ahead on the Route, had us sign his guestbook, took a few photos with us, and gave us hand-drawn maps to the must-see stops nearby. He also promised that if we sent him a letter once we returned home, he’d send us a Christmas card. Gary and the Gay Parita re-creation are everything Route 66 should be. Interesting, entertaining, friendly, and deeply committed to preserving and restoring the glory of The Mother Road.
After I left, I went to check out the next stop Gary recommended – Spencer Garage, a former garage and gas station in Spencer, MO which is in the process of being restored. The was closed up but it was a fun place to look at. As I walked around, I discovered people had spelled out the names of their home states or countries with stones along the wall of the station. I saw Italy and New Zealand written out. From what I’m told, there are plenty of people who make the trip over to the US from outside the country just to drive the Route.
A few photos later, I was off to Red Oak, 30 miles west of Spencer, near Carthage, MO. Red Oak is a kooky little town north of the Route where you can find colorful houses, restored general stores, tractors, classic cars, and a number of interesting, whimsical sculptures. I wasn’t able to speak with anyone there, but I walked around for almost an hour and took plenty of pictures.
Back on 66 I ran across Abdelhak again at a gas station and talked to him for a bit. We exchanged contact information and I told him if he ever comes back to drive Route 66 again to give me a call when he’s in Chicago. I’m finally starting to open up and feel comfortable talking to the people I meet along the way. This has made a huge difference.
Leaving Red Oak, I knew I would never make it to Oklahoma City by nightfall, but I decided I was going to make my best effort to get there quickly. Still, Joplin was ahead. However, even before I got there, the Route had different ideas.
As I was nearing Joplin, I drove past a sign that read “Superman Museum and Ice Cream Parlor.” Intrigued, I decided to check it out. The shop, SuperTam, turned out to be great. I had a great conversation with the owner, Larry Tamminen, about the history of the shop and that area of Route 66. He also told me a bit about Joplin and where to go to see what things are like these days. If you’re on Route 66 through Carterville, definitely stop by SuperTam.
Just over a mile out of Carterville, a classic car exhibition had Route 66 closed for a few blocks. So, naturally, I stopped to check it out and take some pictures.
After Webb City, I finally reached Joplin. Driving into town on Route 66, it didn’t look like there was any damage at all. I remembered that Larry had said to drive up 20th Street, so I made my way to that end of town. As I neared the street, I noticed that the treeline was broken. Then I noticed there were no houses on the street. I had to stop for a moment to collect myself. Anything that hadn’t been swept away by the storm had been deconstructed to make way for the recovery. It was a truly shocking sight.
I stopped on a side street to take a few photos, and when I stepped out of my car, I stepped onto an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) package. They were still strewn about in places, either from the immediate aftermath of the disaster or from the recovery effort.
I asked around to see what organizations were handling the recovery efforts, took a few more photos, stopped at McDonalds to process all of the shots I took, and then headed out for OKC.
Because it was after dark when I finally left Joplin, I drove by most of the attractions after that without being able to really check them out. During that span of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, I saw the 4 Women on the Route station in Galena, KS, the abandoned Avon Motel in Afton, OK, the Blue Whale of Catoosa, OK, and the Round Barn and Pop’s Soda Shop in Arcadia, OK. I even got to see a shooting star just east of Depew, OK.
I arrived in Oklahoma City around 5 AM and tried to catch some sleep in my car in a Walmart parking lot. No luck. I decided to just say forget it and head on to Austin.
Sunday photos. None from the show. No “professional” cameras allowed.
More photos from Saturday. I’ll have to write the recaps for this weekend later. I haven’t had much time to sit down and write them.
I’m at the McDonalds in Joplin, MO. I had planned to be in Oklahoma City by now. Once I stopped in Joplin, I knew that wasn’t happening. I’ll still be driving on to OKC tonight, but I had to stop and get these photos transferred and edited.
I can hardly put into words what this place looks like right now. Apparently they’ve recovered a bit, but some of the areas look like they haven’t been touched since the tornado.
I’ll have some photos up shortly.