May 12, 2015
We travelled in three states today; however, there are only about 15 miles of Route 66 in Kansas and we just crossed over into Missouri.
We had three places on the schedule and they were early in the day; the first couple of hours. But right out of the gate we hit Pops in Arcadia, Oklahoma. We had forgotten about it but needed gas and pulled into this strange looking station with a giant bottle outside.
.It’s a gas station that also sells soda pop – lots of soda pop. The walls are a glass pyramid with many glass shelves with many pop bottles.
The bottles on display are glued down; you need to pick your pop from the refrigerated cases. We bought some gas and some boring water.
Less that thirty minutes away we hit the Rock Cafe in Stroud, Oklahoma. This has been on my must-see list for the trip.
Having just eaten breakfast we enjoyed some iced tea (you need to specify unsweetend in this nec of the woods) and a plate of beignets. Bonnie is one of the main people; owner or manager – not sure. She was sweet; she’s a grandmother too with one of her grandkids back east, so she totally understood our trek to Chicago.
It was built in 1939, was damaged by tornados in 1999, and by a fire in 2008. The only thing standing after the fire was the brick walls and the old Wolfe griddle. Andrew and I stopped there for lunch the first week they opened after the fire when he moved from Tucson, Arizona to Chicago for graduate school I had to get a picture of that griddle.
If you look closely through the window to the kitchen you can see Julia and John in the kitchen. This place reminds me of Emma Jeans Hollandburger in Victorville, California: a small town excellent restaurant with good food and good people.
Chandler, Oklahoma is just down the road apiece and is the home of Jerry McClanahan, whose EZ66 Guide for Travelers is the book we’ve been depending on for directions.
He’s also an artist focusing on art of the Mother Road. We dropped by his gallery where he signed our book, we bought a couple of pieces of art, and we talked for a bit. I bought a nice piece featuring an old gas pump. We shared common memories of summer vacations along Route 66. If I remember correctly, his trips ended in Victorville, California while ours started there. He’s a neat guy and loves to share his knowledge of the road. He was glad to hear we follow his EZ66 updates on the web. He reminded us that the Rock Creek Bridge on the Ozark Trail near Sapulpa, Oklahoma was open (it was reopened it after he published the latest edition of his book).
I’m glad he reminded us. We took the old, old road. Look at that brick roadbed!
The road and the railroad run right next to each other here. The road bridge has a cross beam 7’2″ above the ground to make sure no oversize vehicles drive on it. We actually drove back west on this section because we missed the eastbound turnoff. Lucky me! We saw a train waiting about 1/2 mile back.
This is certainly not the Transcon. This is a local train. In fact, we lost track of the BNSF main line back in New Mexico; we’ll meet up with it again in Illinois. The train was long for a local, stretching back to an overpass at least 1/4 mile down the road. We got a motorcyclist heading west under the overpass.
With all this green and water around, it’s hard to picture the dust bowl of the 1930s. I think the dust bowl was mostly in the more westerly part of the state – but even that was very green when we drove through the day before.
We spent a while driving along the back roads that make up Route 66 in Oklahoma; later in the afternoon we took a side trip from Foyil to see the Totem Pole Park.
The large totem pole is over 90 feet tall (largest in the world) and was built by Ed Galloway during the war years. The totem poles and the grounds have been recently restored. The grounds are beautiful with plenty of space for picnicking.
Visiting the road side attractions has been fun; especially so because it’s May, so school is still in session and there are no crowds.
A while later we hit Afton Station in Afton, Oklahoma. Unfortunately they close at 3:30 and it was past 4:00 when we got there.
We still got to peak through the windows. It was a hoot looking at the sign post and remember the places we’ve been.
It’s a restored gas station, so there will be a gas pump photo.
In 2009 this was recognized as the “Route 66 Business of the Year” (Wikipedia article).
Just before leaving Oklahoma we drove through the town of Commerce where I couldn’t resist another gas pump photo and a shot of an old gas station turned into a burger joint.
We wanted to spend the night in Kansas, but since we got through such a small part there were no hotels. The interstate just misses the corner; I think you could spit from the westbound lanes, which are in Missouri and Oklahoma, and hit Kansas. But we did have dinner in a little barbecue shack in Baxter Springs. It was nice. Similar to the night before in El Reno, a couple of youngsters are in charge during the dinner rush. They grow their younguns responsible in Oklahoma.
Then we sauntered into Carthage, Missouri. We took about 10 hours to cover approximately 250 miles. When we’ve finished our trek, I’ll publish the stats.
On May 13 we made a dash up to Meramec Caverns and entered our last Route 66 state: Illionois!