National Memorial in Oklahoma City
We have completed the first loop ‘Round America. After over 12,000 miles, we are home in Atlanta.
Bozzie Jane flew back to Atlanta after spending some time taking care of her father and helping her mother in Dallas. I took her to the airport in Lubbock for her flight to Dallas, and then I drove Route 66 from Amarillo to Oklahoma City to Tulsa to Springfield to St. Louis. I left Route 66 there and drove to Cape Girardeau, Memphis, and Nashville…then back to Atlanta.
It was a most enjoyable 45 days, and I look forward to completing the trip. 15 states down and 35 to go, but I’m guessing the trip is 40% behind us. We’ll top 25,000 miles in total. We’ve been through 989 towns so far with 2,500 on our itinerary. We’ve bought 616 gallons of gas. We’ve traveled the two-lane roads as planned, and I’ve passed only 10 cars in 45 days. Technically, I’ve passed only eight cars, but I passed two vehicles twice.
We’ve met a lot of nice people and some very interesting folks. The Floating Neutrinos (Day 18) still top the list of most interesting, though Harley and Annabelle in Erick, Oklahoma (Day 38), and the three chicken farmers in Maysville, Arkansas (Day 40) were very interesting as well. We’ve probably met close to 800 people so far as that’s how many business cards we’ve given out. I can list 611 who I know we’ve met.
We’ve seen incredible sights. Major sights included the Grand Canyon, Daytona Beach, South Beach, Key West, Savannah, Bourbon Street, South Padre Island, Big Bend, Trinity Site, The Array, Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Route 66, the Rose Bowl, Sedona, Santa Fe, the National Memorial in Oklahoma City, the arch in St. Louis, Graceland, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Equally enjoyable were Harry and the Natives, the world’s largest lobster, the world’s smallest church, the Perky Bat Tower, The Shell Factory, Sponge-O-Rama, the world’s smallest police station, the world’s largest Neptune statue, Lamberts, the human statues in New Orleans, the Orange Show, the Beer Can House, TeePee Motel, Little Graceland, the Los Ebanos Ferry, Freddie’s Fast Lube & Snow Cone Stand, the Rio Grande River, Terlingua, the Roy Orbison Museum, the Roswell UFO Museum, Pie Town New Mexico, Truth or Consequences New Mexico, Bisbee Arizona, the airplane graveyard in Tucson, the center of the world, the Doheny Woodie Show, the home of the world’s largest flag, the Dawsons, the DiSantos, the towns of Bagdad in Florida and California, the Bagdad Cafe, Tinkertown, Cadillac Ranch, the Big Texan Steak Ranch, Toad Hall, the sawed off Giant’s legs, the Buddy Holly Museum, Prairie Dog Town, the Shanklins, Palo Duro Canyon, the Will Rogers Museum, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, the small version of the Twin Towers in Tulsa, George Robertson, the Overalls and the Huggins, the home of Rush Limbaugh, Beale Street, Sun Studios, Karaoke Night at Wet Willie’s, Paradise Gardens, numerous sunsets, and flags and patriotic displays everywhere. Brief comments have been added on the major sights and other attractions, so click on these links to get the low-down.
We’ve eaten some great food. In fact, in 45 days, there was just one meal that we were disappointed with. We’ve eaten 49 “pies,” and there have been some mighty good ones. The Key Lime Pie at Harry and the Natives (Day 5) still ranks #1.
We’ve learned or relearned some great lessons.
I’m sure I’ve entertained a lot of people with the beads I’ve worn since I received them from the Floating Neutrinos on Day 18. I’ve probably told the beads story at least 100 times so far.
Only one traffic ticket (Day 3). I was also stopped and “busted” for drugs in Missouri (Day 41) No serious car problems that we know about. I bought one new tire…but that was for five missionaries in the middle of nowhere in Texas. We did come across a number of people who we felt were trying to steal my camera, but we managed to stay out of harm’s way. I’ve driven every mile myself. Barbara and I combined to take 5,257 photos — an average of 116.8 per day and almost one photo per half mile; at this pace, we’ll probably take 12,000 photos.
I’ve done some writing — but mainly just a recap of the day’s events. I have recorded far more thoughts, and I have collected over 120 pounds of brochures and information that I will use in writing the book.
In 45 days — 1080 hours, we did not see any rain until Day 44! Amazing. It rained for several hours on Day 44 from Memphis to Nashville, but we saw only a few minutes of raindrops in Florida prior to this. I drove right between serious tornados in Oklahoma but never saw a drop of rain.
We’ve had relatively few problems. The biggest problem was the inability to connect with the Internet for a week that put me hopelessly behind on the web site work. I have obtained an 800-number Internet service for the remainder of the trip so I will be able to dial in from anywhere with a phone line. Cell phones don’t work in much of the west. Another inconvenience was having hotel / motel reservations that necessitated that we make it to a specific town each night. This stopped me from spending more time with interesting people, seeing some sights, and pursuing some stories. It also caused me to be driving at night a lot more than I wanted to. So, we will not make advance reservations for the rest of the trip. The convertible was a lot of fun, but we will be in a PT Cruiser the rest of the way. Driving alone is much more difficult as the two-lane roads are not always easy to find. I will actively recruit some navigators for the remaining segments when Bozzie Jane will not be along.
We had one complication since April 1: We unexpectedly sold our home in Atlanta! It wasn’t for sale. Some folks put a note in our mailbox saying they would be interested in buying our home. We let them see it, and they gave us a contract. Bozzie Jane is not at all excited about moving, but we need to find a new house, so the date for resuming the trip will be delayed until we have found a house. We’ll keep you posted.
Many people ask what has been our favorite experience. There are too many wonderful experiences to pick just one, but my favorite day is still Day 18. Barbara’s favorite days are Day 2 in Savannah and Day 25 in beautiful San Diego.
We have MANY great sights yet to come. We are especially looking forward to North Dakota where we have received more invitations for dinner and pie than we can imagine. We’re also scheduled for a lot more newspaper, radio, and TV interviews on the second half of the trip.
I will be spending the next few days getting the Daily Journal up to date. At least the time when we aren’t babysitting for Miss Madison.
It’s the last day of the first round of the trip ‘Round America. I’m in Nashville – headed for Atlanta.
J.P. at the Fairfield Inn asked about the beads, so he, Tammy, and Tom from Michigan heard the Floating Neutrinos story, and I was off.
I drove the 2-lanes today. I’m anxious to get home, but I couldn’t end the first loop of the trip on interstate highways. That wasn’t the program, and I want to continue following the Rules of the Road that say we will avoid the interstates and use them only when necessary.
Cloudy and ugly all day. I was so excited to get home that I forgot to eat today.
I took a number of barn photos today. That was about all I saw for several hours – farm and ranch land and barns. I reached Chattanooga just before noon, but I’m just going to have to come back and do the sights here later. Lookout Mountain, Rock City, Ruby Falls, the Chattanooga Choo Choo, the Tennessee Aquarium, and the International Towing & Recovery Museum will have to wait as I need to see Bozzie Jane, Brittany, Miss Madison, and Kitty B Kitty.
As I drove through Trion, Georgia, I saw a sign for Paradise Garden, and I hit the brakes and hooked a U. I had read somewhere about Reverend Howard Finster and Paradise Garden. He was a minister who became a prolific (and renowned) folk artist late in life. He built Paradise Garden and churned out massive numbers of folk art pieces. He also did album covers for REM and Talking Heads. Two blocks and I was there.
Grace Kelly and her husband, Michael, were trying to get the swampy grounds ready for the annual Howard Finster Fest to be held this weekend. Nice, nice people, and they gave me a great tour and told me a lot about Howard and the place. It’s in bad shape. There’s no money to maintain it, and the swampy conditions make it really difficult. They desperately need a rich benefactor who will provide the money to save Paradise Garden. I took a lot of photos, and I will write a lot more about it and what I learned in the book. The rains have been torrential in the North Georgia area, so I was really worried about the Howard Finster Fest over the weekend; the forecast was not good.
Smyrna, Georgia – 4:45 pm. I was at our daughter’s home with Bozzie Jane, Brittany, Ace, and granddaughter Madison. I missed these guys. Madison is even more beautiful — almost 11 months old.
At 6:30 pm, I pulled back into the garage of our home in Atlanta. 44 days and 10 hours since I left. 40,325 on the odometer – 12,289 miles since we started the trip on April 1. Kitty B Kitty isn’t being friendly. We are very close, so she’s just mad. I hope she gets over it before I take off again.
I will spend longer in Atlanta than planned as we have a house problem to deal with, and I need time to get caught up on my writing and photo processing.
We’ve learned and/or relearned a lot of lessons on the trip. The only thought I have tonight is that there is a lot of comfort in being at home with the ones you love.
Rain. On the road for 43 days without any real rain, and it is really raining today.
Lee Ann and Bill at the Fairfield Inn went above and beyond to make sure the Cottage Restaurant was opening at 10:30, and they provided great directions. They didn’t know the address of Prince Mongo’s house, so I’ll have to try to catch his place next time. Prince Mongo is apparently the most visible eccentric in Memphis. He’s not really a prince, and his home isn’t really a castle, but he puts all kinds of funky stuff in his yard.
The Cottage Restaurant was great. I was quite the celebrity there. The ladies really got into the book and their mention in it. I met Mary, Gloria the Pie Lady, Miss Annie the Nana Puddin Lady, Helen, and Linda. The Cottage Restaurant is a classic local café, and the place opened at 10:30 and was packed for lunch by 11:15. I enjoyed Fudge Pie and some Nana Puddin, but the ladies there were what made it so special. When in Memphis, make a point of going to the Cottage Restaurant!
With the rain and the late start due to the late opening of the café, I drove the interstate to Nashville. I encountered the same signage problems when I hit Nashville. A sign on the interstate indicated there was a Visitors Center at the next exit, but I never found one.
I made my way straight to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and I took the tour. It’s a very impressive museum and Hall of Fame. There was no photography allowed. There are all types of artifacts and exhibits of various types…and a lot of great country music. I enjoyed everything but the inclusion of the Dixie Chicks in an otherwise excellent video about country music on TV for the last 50 years. I Met Michelle, Kelly, Louise, and Melanie.
Unfortunately, the Grand Ole Opry is only open on the weekends. I really wanted to go, but I had to settle for the museum and Hall of Fame.
I drove to Second Street and parked and walked around the bar and restaurant areas in downtown Nashville. I met a lot of policemen; it’s obvious they have to have a high profile in the area to keep the tourists safe. I took photos of Karen and Rita and their horses. I met Arnold from Boston and had a nice chat with him. I really enjoyed speaking with Katmandu, Roger, and Sheila – three street people. Katmandu told me a great story about the Biker “Babe” in Uncertain, Texas who had his scoot (bike) repossessed. He invited me down to the river to see his shelter. I didn’t go. Roger said they are starting a band called Street Trash and go on a tour called the Need Gas Tour. There are a lot of street performers in Nashville. I suspect many of them are homeless.
Ryman Auditorium was home to the Grand Ole Opry for many years, so I enjoyed seeing it. I saw the famous Ernest Tubb Record Shop and a number of great old buildings and well-known clubs.
Two bicycle policemen responded in unison when I asked where the best place was to eat – Jack’s Barbeque. It was great. Jack’s offers a number of sauces, and I especially liked the “Tennessee” sauce.
I’m not sure what I learned today. I learned a lot about the early days of country music. I learned that the Grand Ole Opry is only open on the weekends. I learned that as you get closer, you get anxious to get home no matter how much you are enjoying your trip. And as Dolly Parton said: “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
Since I had been scheduled to make it to Memphis last night, I chose the interstate at 7:15 am. I wanted to get to Graceland. Today marks the start of Week 7. 39,521 on the odometer. That means 11,485 miles in the rearview mirror.
Sikeston has a Lambert’s Café, but it was early, and I wanted to get to Graceland.
I was surprised when I was welcomed to Arkansas. I never planned to be on the interstate, so I didn’t look at the map to see that I would be passing through Arkansas a second time. I stopped at the Arkansas Visitors’ Center to pick up a bag of brochures. I knew Dean, Troy, and Steve would be pleased to know that I cared enough to do so.
When I crossed the Mississippi River at 10 am, I was in Tennessee – state #13. I exited when I saw a sign for a Visitors Center, but there was no Visitors Center to be found. I pulled over and read in one of our guidebooks that there was a Visitors Center on Beale Street, so I stopped and walked around a bit, but the Visitors Center was nowhere to be found. I met a street hustler who gave me “Memphis” as his name – probably Ferrell’s cousin. I finally gave up on getting any visitor’s help because I wanted to get to Graceland. I figured out how to get there on a Memphis map obtained back in Arkansas.
Another rough drive. The part of Memphis I found myself in was a pretty scary place – lots of unhappy-looking folks standing on street corners and driving around in groups. I was hopelessly lost again, bit I finally spotted an interstate sign, and I finally found Graceland.
I took the Platinum Tour at Graceland. $25.25. That’s an audio headset guided tour of Graceland, a ticket to the Elvis Presley Car Museum, the Sincerely Elvis Museum, and the Lisa Marie Airplane exhibit. Brenda was our tour bus driver.
Graceland was nicer than I expected it to be, and the headset tour was excellent. There is a tremendous amount to see. Elvis is buried there. He wasn’t initially; Vernon had his body exhumed and moved to Graceland. There are gold records everywhere. Elvis had pretty bad taste in home décor, but I kept reminding myself that it was the 70’s when everyone seemed to have bad taste. But Elvis had really bad interior décor taste, but what an incredible personality and talent. I got some good photos.
The auto museum was enjoyable. Elvis had a lot of cool cars. I especially enjoyed the Pink Cadillac he gave his mother and the big assortment of golf carts and go-karts. Elvis liked to dream up games he and his friends could play a Graceland using the carts.
The Sincerely Elvis Museum had more personal items in it. The plane was a quick walk-through. Not a lot to see – just a small jet with big couches and a bed in back.
I should have interviewed some real die-hard Elvis fans, but the opportunity never presented itself.
After three hours at Graceland, I headed for Sun Studio. That’s where Elvis first recorded. I very quickly got lost and decided Memphis probably has the worst lack of effective signage of any city we’ve been in yet.
I ultimately found Sun Studio. I had to borrow an electrical outlet as I failed to charge my camera when I fell asleep unexpectedly last night. The camera ran out of juice, and I wanted to take a lot more photos. I skipped one tour while the camera charged, and I caught the tour an hour later. I met Rhees, an Australian, and had a nice chat with him. I had a real live Cherry Coke from the Sun Soda Fountain, and it was really good – fond memories of after-school Cherry Cokes at a soda fountain near the Lakeshore Junior High School in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Adrian was the guide for the tour. There isn’t much to see at Sun Studio. It’s a one room studio with a small office and a small control room, but some additional space next door has been turned into a little museum with very interesting displays. While there wasn’t much to see, the information Adrian related and the musical excerpts that she played provided en enjoyable hour. Sun Studio was the place where a lot of big stars first recorded – Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. I stood where Elvis stood and held a microphone that he used.
Back to Beale Street for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I wanted to get a Barbequed Bologna Sandwich at the Blues City Café. I guess that’s only on their lunch menu, so I had ribs instead. Outstanding! I met a lot of people there. Chef Myron Johnson chatted with me and took my card; and then I met three of the cooks – Danny, Chris, and Kenny; Don the waiter; and customers Ron, Andrew, and a fiber optic cable rep whose name I failed to write down. Chef Myron told me he had a killer dessert, so despite the huge order of ribs and fries, I had the Apple Dumpling Dessert. It was tremendous. Served hot in a skillet with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. One of the best “pies” on the trip for sure.
I waddled out of the Blues City Café and walked up and down Beale Street on a mission to find Elvis impersonators. I never found one – big disappointment. But I met a lot of nice folks. Mandy and Amber at Alfred’s. Andre, Cory, John, and Eric at Pat O’Brien’s. And when Max at Pat O’Brien’s learned I was writing a book, he dressed in the Pat O’Brien’s hurricane costume in hopes his photo will make the book.
When I resigned myself to the fact that August 16 is THE time to see Elvis impersonators (Elvis Week – the date Elvis died), I began shopping for a club with karaoke. I figured there had to be a lot of tourists in town at all times who see Graceland and hear all the great music in town, and feel they have a beautiful voice, too.
I landed at Wet Willie’s where I had an absolute ball listening to people sing. I met Bill, Andrea, Stephen, Kristen, Darryl, Trease, Syreeta, Jimmy, Kenny, Rich, and a number of others who I was with but did not know by name. I was surprised with how good the karaokeyers were. There were only a few bad ones, and there were a lot of participants.
I’m not a good singer at all. I’ve got a decent voice in one key, but no range at all, so about all I can sing are songs that are in a monotone of sorts. Seated next to me were Kristen and Darryl. Kristen asked me if I was going to sing, and I assured her there was no way. The next thing I knew she was turning my name in to sing “What’s Forever For,” a great Michael Martin Murphey country song that I love, but a song that requires a true singer. The audience prodded me to get on stage, and there I was singing “What’s Forever For.” I made Kristen come up to sing along with me, but I never heard her. I’m sure I wasn’t any good, but a few couples did get up to dance, so I chose to take that as a compliment. When the song was over, we got a big round of applause, but I noticed that folks tended to clap louder for the less-than-stellar performances.
One lady loved singing so much. She was having a ball – kept getting up to sing. She was really bad, but the audience always applauded loudly, and I’m sure insider her head, she sounded great to herself. There were two who were worse – a guy in a flaming T-shirt who was just horrible, and a young man who unexplainedly sang “I Am Woman.”
When you sit and watch and listen to people for a few hours and they watch and listen to you, there becomes a kind of bond. It was really nice to see. I was afraid people would hoot and holler at those of us who weren’t any good. I hated to leave at midnight, but I needed my beauty rest before driving to Nashville tomorrow.
Kenny Wayne, the owner of the karaoke company, told me I really needed to go to the Cottage Restaurant for Fudge Pie. He even gave me a card for a free pie. (Must have been my singing.) So, I planned to hit the Cottage Restaurant when they opened at 10:30 before going to Nashville.
Despite the concerns for my safety at several times during the day, I thoroughly enjoyed the good stuff in Memphis – Graceland, Sun Studio, Blues City Café, Beale Street, Karaoke Night at Wet Willie’s, and all the nice people I met.
The lesson for the day is that life’s full of trade-offs. Wherever we live, we’ve got to be happy and accept a little bad with all the good.
Ward, Doug, and I talked for a while this morning. Ward is married to Judy (Judy was the first of the four Gray children and Bozzie Jane was the last). He is an especially neat guy, and it has been a pleasure to be around him at family get-togethers over the past 32 years. Doug was Papa’s business partner, and a sharper man you will never meet. Doug is a Pearl Harbor survivor, and he and Ruth make us look like pikers in the travel department.
I backtracked just a little ways as I needed to see the Route 66 State Park near Eureka. It is actually in what was once the town of Times Beach – wiped out by Radon as I recall. I saw the park, and I spotted the six flags over the Six Flags amusement park, but I didn’t see several of the other sights on my list (and some really good ones), but I needed some time in St. Louis before heading south to Memphis, so I pushed on.
I grabbed a couple of donuts at Casey’s General Store (convenience store at a gas station). Expectations were non-existent. Was I ever surprised. The donuts were great, especially the Carrot Cake Donut with cream cheese icing.
As I drove on Route 66 through Crestwood, I knew this was an area where Bozzie Jane lived as a child. There’s not much “old stuff” left to see, but I took photos of what I did see. I was very excited to see Ted Drewes Frozen Custard.
Ted Drewes is a phenomenon – an institution in the St. Louis area. I was surprised by the relatively large crowd standing in line out front at 11 am when I arrived. I understand the crowds are so big on the weekends that they have to barricade one lane of the road and have police to handle the crowds. I had a Caramel Concrete, and it was great. A “Concrete” is a milk shake so thick that the straw is useless; they hand it to you the cup upside down to emphasize how thick it is. The custard business was started by Ted Drewes, Sr. in 1930, and the “Route 66” location was added in 1941. Ted, Jr. took over the business after his father died, and he has expanded it, though he has rejected all franchising offers as he feels it would lead to mediocrity.
I met Dan in the parking lot when he asked about the sign on my car. I really enjoyed talking to him. He told me a lot about Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. He also anticipated my patented question and told me I should go see City Museum as he feels it is the most unique thing to see in St. Louis.
I said goodbye to Dan and drove straight to the City Museum. Incredible place! The City Museum was built entirely from recycled, salvaged, and found materials. It’s spectacular to see, and there are a tremendous number of activities for kids. Caves, slides, arts and crafts areas, aquarium, tree house, circus, historical artifacts, skatepark, and more. It’s hard to describe, but it is highly cool. The City Museum is closed on Monday, but a nice cleaning lady let me in. I finally found my way to the office where I met Elizabeth. She gave me a media kit and a private tour. The place is the brainchild of owner Bob Cassily. The building used to house a shoe factory, and there’s still a shoelace machine inside, but the City Museum is essentially a three-story monument to unbridled creativity. I’ll write a lot more about it in the book; it is a really unique place and a joy to see. Be sure to check out my photos, and see www.citymuseum.org.
Downtown St. Louis provided a few photos. I tried to get back on Route 66 downtown, but the directions were very hard to follow, and I quickly became lost. The area I was driving through became rough, and I hoped it would get nicer fast, but it got rougher and rougher. I started to turn around at one point, but I was afraid to. I really started to panic when I saw boarded-up buildings with messages to and from crackheads. Where is Vincent Passarelli when you really need him. I finally saw a sign to an interstate, and I was extremely relieved.
As I gassed up nearby, I met Laurie. She didn’t want her photo taken; I don’t believe she had any makeup on – might have been a stripper or something (just a sense). Ferrell also declined to have his photo taken; I suspect he was wanted by the police. I probably should have driven a little further before getting gas, but I wanted to stop to check the map to figure out where I was and where I needed to go.
Route 66 was officially behind me as I found the highway heading south out of town. I tried the two-lane for a while, my stomach really started hurting, so I switched back to the interstate. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing St. Genevieve, a town founded in 1735 that has preserved many of its old buildings. Unfortunately, my stomach was hurting so badly that I only snapped a couple of photos and never really got out of the car. We had packed Pepto Bismol, Rolaids, and Pepcid, but I could only find the Pepcid, and that’s only good ahead of time. I stopped at a gas station and began consuming a pack of Rolaids.
Memphis was the ultimate destination for the day, but I decided to call it a day in Cape Girardeau. Barbara Jane’s parents met and fell in love at a soda fountain in Cape Girardeau, so I really wanted to get a photo of the place. I searched, but as best I can tell, the building is long gone. I met several people in Cape Girardeau, including Reede, a man from Iowa who saw the sign on the car. I took photos of the Missouri Wall of Fame and hometown hero, Rush Limbaugh. I also drove by and took a photo of his childhood home.
I crossed the Mississippi River and made Illinois the twelfth state on the trip. My stomach was feeling a little better about 8 pm so I grabbed an excellent barbeque sandwich at Dexter Bar-B-Que. I’ve never had a barbeque sandwich with cole slaw on the sandwich, and it was really good. Carrie was my server.
I put my head down for a short nap at 8:30 and opened my eyes at 2:30. I rolled over again at 6 am.
I’m not sure what I learned today. When you aren’t feeling well, get some rest. When you get tired, stop. When you find yourself in a rough part of town, lock your doors, drive faster, and don’t look back. Remember to call and cancel your guaranteed hotel reservations before 6 pm when you aren’t going to make it. And always, always ask folks what’s the most unique sight to see in their town, because you will most often be rewarded with what you would have never found.
This Mother’s Day, I visited Doolittle and Sleeper, traveled to Cuba, enjoyed Bourbon, drove the Devil’s Elbow, and ended the day with family and friends in the St. Louis area. I was also “busted” for drugs today.
Happy Mother’s Day. I spent Mother’s Day on the Mother Road. My last full day of Route 66, as I get off the Route in St. Louis.
I backtracked on Route 66 from Springfield to Joplin, then took the interstate back to Springfield where I rejoined Route 66.
Downtown Springfield offered the Shrine Mosque – a great old building, the Landers Theatre, and some great old signs. The Gailey Drugs sign photo is one of my favorites as I don’t believe I have ever before captured such a blue sky with a camera.
The farmland west of Springfield is pretty and mighty green. Nice hills. Halltown had some nice old buildings as did Phelps and Avilla.
In Carthage, I kept seeing a variety of really cool pole-mounted signs advertising various businesses that were apparently put up by something called Foxfire Farms. I have subsequently done some Internet research to learn that I missed a great detour to a place called Red Oak II.
Here’s the story I found through a search engine:
“Sometime around 1974, world-famous folk artist Lowell Davis, the “Grandfather of Rural art”, and wife Charlotte, bought a corn patch just outside of historic Carthage, Missouri, and close to the famous “Mother “Road”, Route 66. With childhood memories of the original Red Oak, Missouri, where Lowell had once lived as a child, he came home to find it a ghost town. So Lowell and Charlotte purchased the last remaining buildings at Red Oak, and moved them to their new home. Their corn patch became “Red Oak II, Missoura”. See not only Lowell’s depiction of what rural Missouri life looked like in an era past, but take a gander at the remaining section of a pre-Civil War mansion, a rare, two-story log cabin with spiral staircase, the “Missoura Kid”, the Dalton Gang house, the “Mother-in-Law” house, the “Womanizer” and much more.”
I missed it, but when you drive down Route 66 in Carthage, Missouri, turn north at the big convertible pickup truck in the sky, and go two miles to Red Oak II. I take it that Lowell Davis creates folk art signs under the “Foxfire Farms” name. Here are some photos of what I missed seeing — http://www.ozarkdigitworks.us/2pictures/2scenery/7redoakii/redoakii/indexredoakii.html.
Carthage has the fabulous Jasper County Courthouse, second most beautiful we’ve seen (Marfa, Texas is best). It is really something to see. There’s a Civil War Museum. And the great old Boots Motel. My new Joplin friend Lois told me he worked at the Boots Drive-In when he was a boy (45 years or so ago I reckon), and he told me to be sure to look across the street from where the motel is, and I would see where the drive-in used to be. I did, and I took a photo for Lois, Jordan, and Wynoka.
I got a kick out of the “loaded car” at Bulger Motor Co. in Carterville – an old car loaded with all kinds of junk.
Webb City has several things to see. The city has a praying hands statue, but it’s not in the same league as the one at Oral Roberts University. It’s a zinc mining town, and they have a nice sculpture of a zinc miner.
There are a lot of Burma Shave-like religious signs in this part of the country – apparently a very religious area.
I was back in Springfield by noon. I decided sometime back to skip Branson since Bozzie Jane was no longer with me. The traffic is horrendous on the weekends to and from Branson. But when I realized Lambert’s Café (best meal we’ve had in Foley, Alabama) was just a few miles south, I steered the car in that direction. Unfortunately there was a 2½ hour wait this Mother’s Day, so I got back to Route 66 and drove on.
Many towns came and went with little or nothing special to see. A city hall with a big Route 66 sign, an exotic animal park, barns advertising Meramec Caverns. Nothing big, but a nice, peaceful drive on a Sunday.
Lebanon has the classic old Munger Moss Motel, but it was distressing to see it is now part of Red Carpet Inns. Their tacky little Red Carpet Inn sign has been added to the great old Munger Moss neon sign.
I got lost and went to the town of Sleeper by mistake, but I enjoyed adding that name to the list of town’s visited. I got some good photos in Hazelgreen, and I photographed a couple of good mailboxes for the first time in quite a few days.
I tried a few spots for lunch, but there was always a wait due to Mother’s Day. I finally settled for Sonic in St. Robert, Missouri. It’s always good. Jamie was my car-hop.
Fort Leonard Wood was next. I drove to the entrance for a photo. Fort Leonard Wood is considered to be the premiere training facility for the US Army. I was there for Army basic training the extremely hot summer of 1970, and there were few fond memories. Barbara’s parents did bring her up from Dallas for a brief visit on the base one Sunday afternoon. Her parents are so sweet; they went to the only local theatre and watched the only available movie four times – “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.” Bozzie and I sat out under a tree in the sweltering heat and high humidity and kissed and hugged and sweated. It was clearly the highlight of my time at Fort Leonard Wood – that and the day I got to leave there.
East of Fort Leonard Wood is the Devil’s Elbow section of Route 66. It is supposed to be one of the more treacherous areas on Route 66. It didn’t seem very treacherous to me, but I later learned that I wasn’t on the original Route 66. This is one of the disadvantages of not having a navigator; it is so hard to try to travel Route 66 alone as you really need someone studying the available information so you can find the right roads and the good places to see. Missouri’s Route 66 signage may be the worst. There are almost always signs, but they are always AFTER the turns. I learned that if you turn and don’t see a Route 66 sign within an eighth of a mile, you probably took the wrong turn.
John’s Modern Cabins was clearly on my personal radar screen, however. I was dumped back on the interstate west of where it was supposed to be, so I was very pleased when I saw what appeared to be the ruins of the cabins just off the road on what appeared to be an access road on the north side of the interstate. I took the exit for Sugartree, crossed the interstate, and turned left onto the deserted dead end stretch of abandoned Route 66 that led down to the old cabins. The road was a mess – giant potholes, and I was dodging them as best I could when I looked in my rear view mirror to see the flashing lights of a police car. That’s always a terrible sight!
I pulled over and rolled down my window. I absolutely positively knew I wasn’t speeding. With the exception of the race from Pietown to Quemado when I was out of gas on Easter Sunday, I don’t believe I have exceeded the speed limit “allowance” of a few miles an hour over since Vincent Passarelli paid a visit to us on Day 3. When the officer walked up, I asked if there was a problem. He said, “You bet there is. You didn’t use a turn signal back there when you turned left, and you’ve been swerving from one lane to the other. I thought you might be drunk or something.” I replied that I was absolutely sober – hadn’t had a drink since one Dos Equis in Terlingua on Day 18, and am about as careful a driver as you will ever find, and I always use my turn signals – every time I turn and every time I change lanes, so I was absolutely confident that I did signal. The officer responded: Well, I have a partner with me, and he didn’t see the signal either.” He went on to say: “Of course, there might have been glare from the sun….” I thought this was strange. I don’t ever recall having a policeman say he might have been wrong about something! I had long since given him my driver’s license. I then told him that as to the swerving, this is a deserted road with giant potholes, and I was just trying to avoid ruining my car as I go down the road just a little ways to take photos of the old abandoned cabins. He asked what I was doing, and I explained that I was writing a book and taking photos of sights along Route 66, and John’s Modern Cabins was one of the landmarks that I really wanted to photograph. I handed him a card with the story about the trip on the back.
He leaned in the window and looked inside the car. The inside of the car is a mess as Bozzie is in Dallas, and I was just throwing all of the acquired brochures and maps and things in the floorboard of the passenger side of the car. My black tote bags were in the back seat, and the car was generally full of stuff, as the only empty space was where Bozzie’s black bags used to be in the trunk. I am, of course, wearing my green purple, and white beads, as well as my new gold beads – always impressive to officers of the law. He said: “Now sometimes we have problems with people with drugs. Would you mind if we search your car for drugs?” I started to open the car door, and said: “Absolutely no problem. Search away. I hope you won’t mind if I take a few photos while you search!” At that point, he said: “It won’t be necessary to search your car. I just wanted to see what you’d say. You can go on now.” I thanked him. He hollered out to his partner: “This fellow is just a photographer – headed down to take some photos of the old cabins.” But I persisted on the photo, so Officer Carmello got out of the car and posed with Officer Ray, and I got a nice photo with their lights still flashing.
Busted for drugs in Sugartree, Missouri! I actually enjoyed it. It absolutely spiced up a ho-hum day.
I took photos of John’s Modern Cabins – built by John Dausch in 1951 and closed in the 60’ after I-44 took all the traffic off Route 66. Dausch lived there until he died in 1971. The cabins are in bad shape. I hope someone salvages and restores them so they aren’t lost the way so many things have been.
As I dodged the potholes and headed back across the interstate to get on Route 66 on the other side of the highway, I all of a sudden realized what had happened earlier. I had forgotten about seeing a little sign on the side of the interstate before I exited for Sugartree. The sign said “Spot Check 1 Mile Ahead.” I didn’t know what that was all about, but I all of a sudden realized that old Ray and Carmello put that sign out there before the exit. Then they hide in the bushes and trump up some reason to pull over any car that exits in this middle of nowhere place…figuring the odds are pretty good that those getting off have drugs to hide or toss or just plan to drive on a backroad to avoid the Spot Checkpoint. Sneaky stuff. When I saw Ray and Carmello tucked back behind some bushes, I just waved. I followed the road to a dead end in Arlington, and then I retraced my path and passed by them again. They had a U-Haul truck with drug-sniffing dogs out giving it a good once over. Don’t you know they thought they hit the motherlode when a gray-haired gray-bearded guy wearing beads driving a white Porsche convertible got off “to avoid the Spot Check” and drove down the dead end road! I laughed for miles.
I saw some llamas in Doolittle and a great big mailbox featuring a train and a tire with “Do Not Disturb — We’re TIREd” painted on the side.
Uncle Ward had dinner reservations for 7 pm, so I didn’t spend much time anywhere else in Missouri. I saw the Totem Pole Trading Post in Rolla, the Stonehenge Replica at the University of Missouri at Rolla, and the outside of the Autos of Yesteryear Museum. I got lost heading to St. James, and I am positive that our Route 66 map was wrong about where to drive in this area. I saw the vineyards in the grape-growing region of Rosati, and I stopped at the Rosati Winery long enough to meet Marvin Ripplemayer and buy one of the Grape Pies I had seen advertised on little signs along the highway. I asked Marvin if he was the owner, and he responded: “Me, my wife, and the bank.” They’ve all owned it for better than 25 years.
Being in Cuba was a treat. Cuba, Missouri. I took a number of photos there, but I need to contact the folks at the bank there and advise them they need to trim their shrub out front as you can no longer read the word Bank. They’re losing a lot of free publicity from Route 66’ers like me who want a photo of the People’s Bank of Cuba.
Bourbon was next. Sleeper, Doolittle, Cuba, and Bourbon all in one day. Great day for town names.
The area around St. Cloud, Missouri is certainly one of the prettiest areas along all of Route 66 – pretty hills and tree-lined roads.
Stanton is a tourist area because Meramec Caverns is just outside of town. Meramec Caverns invented the bumper sticker. As regular readers know, Bozzie Jane and I do not do caverns, so I took the obligatory entrance sign picture and rolled on. I also got photos of the Toy Museum and Jesse James Museum as well as a few other tourist traps.
At this point, I was late for dinner, so I hopped on the interstate and cranked it up to the speed limit.
Uncle-in-law Ward, nieces Kelly and Kricky, cousins Taylor, Kylie, and Carson, nephew-in-law Vern, and old friends Ruth and Doug Huggins were at the Wild Horse Grill in Chesterfield, Missouri. We had a delicious meal, a brief but enjoyable chance to visit, and then the guys went over to Ward’s house where we ate the Grape Pie. Not the best pie we’ve ever had, but clearly unusual and enjoyable. Vern took the leftovers home to warm up with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Mother’s Day was far from the most exciting day of the trip, though the Drug Bust made it a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing what’s left of John’s Modern Cabins and some of the other sights along the way, but I kept thinking about what I would have seen 50 years ago. In the town of Avilla, I saw a great old building with a big lot next door filled with a pile of old weathered wood rubble. The Route 66 CD usually gets played at some point each day when we’ve driven Route 66. One of the better songs is titled “Get Your Kicks on What’s Left of Route 66.” One of the lyrics is “Where history has been rubbed out.”
Today was a four-state day. I started in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and before the day was done, I had been to Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri.
George Robertson, another fraternity pledge brother, met me at the Fairfield Inn at 8:45 am. He brought me a delicious Toll House Pie that he picked up special from Clicks Steakhouse in Pawnee, Oklahoma. We spent a little time together, and George gave me directions to several of the sights to see in Tulsa. Marquis, the desk clerk, chimed in when we asked him what was the most unique sight to see in Tulsa. He informed me that there is a much smaller version of the World Trade Center in Tulsa – designed by the same architects who did the World Trade Center in New York. Exactly the kind of unique sight I was looking for!
At Oral Roberts University, I saw the world’s largest praying hands. This is an incredible work of art that is much more impressive in person than it is in photographs. The hands are massive, and the detail is incredible. I also saw the Prayer Tower.
George suggested that I then take Riverside Drive into downtown Tulsa. It was a nice drive. He also indicated I should be on the lookout for giant penguins. There are apparently giant penguins all over town. I’m not sure what the deal is – may be a Stanley Marsh 3 type thing, but I was tickled when I spotted one at the First Christian Church. Just a big, well-dressed penguin statue.
I found the mini World trade Center, the Williams Towers, in downtown Tulsa. I also found the old art deco bridge that used to carry Route 66 traffic.
In Catoosa, I was so pleased to see the famous Blue Whale. This is a giant whale with a slide in its side. The Blue Whale was originally built in 1977 as an anniversary gift, and it then became a swimming park. It closed in 1988 but was recently fully refurbished, and it was in great condition.
Claremore is the hometown of Will Rogers. I went through the Will Rogers Museum, and it was outstanding. It is in what was his primary home, and it’s filled with information and artifacts that cover his career, interests, hobbies, politics, airplanes, radio, movies, and more. There’s a beautiful theatre in one wing, and Bob Hope narrates a Will Rogers story. Will Rogers is buried right there on the grounds.
Just down the hill from Will’s place is the Hammett House, a place that came highly recommended for pies. I ordered lunch, and then caught the eye and ear of Bill Biard, the owner. The next thing I knew I was getting a cook’s tour of the Hammett House Pie Kitchen. It’s a big, big operation. They were preparing for Mother’s Day, and they had several hundred individual Strawberry Pies ready as well as 30 or 40 other pies of various types. Bill’s favorite was the unusual Lemon Pecan, and I enjoyed it. Amber, my waitress, told me to get the Coconut Cream (their best seller), but I figured I owed it to Bill to eat his favorite after the tour and all. I also met Ashley and Jessica, two sisters who work there. There were a lot of cute kids working there, and it was a very busy place. Bill gave me a bag of their Mashed Potato Rolls to take with me and eat on the road. Absolutely delicious!
I saw the old Will Rogers Hotel in downtown Claremore. Claremore is another very patriotic town with lots of flags flying.
Foyil is the hometown of Andy Payne. Andy Payne won the Bunion Derby in 1928. He ran cross country – New York to LA – 3,422 miles in just a little over two months. An amazing accomplishment. Foyil is also the home of Totem Pole Park. Similar to Coral Castle and Tinkertown, Totem Pole Park represents the life’s work of one man – Ed Galloway. Ed was a self-taught artist and craftsman. He retired from his job with a children’s home in 1937, and he worked 7-days-a-week for the next 25 years to build Totem Pole Park. The world’s largest totem pole is there – 90-feet tall, 18-feet in diameter with a circumference of 57-feet at the base. Ed worked on it from 1937 until 1948. He also made fiddles; there was a building full of beautiful fiddles that Ed handcrafted.
Thunder and lightning were on both sides of the road as I drove through Chelsea, White Oak, and Vinita. In Afton, everyone was out on their porch watching the really nasty looking clouds to the north. I don’t know how I did it, but I again missed the rain.
My plan for Arkansas was to detour off Route 66 at Afton to head over to the border, touch my foot down in Arkansas, and take a picture of the Welcome to Arkansas sign and an Arkansas license plate. I saw some funky stuff in Grove, Oklahoma – a Cinderella’s Carriage at the Cheapo Depo and a trailer loaded with small lighthouses. I never dreamed there was a big market for small lighthouses to go in people’s yards or on their boat docks. Like the Human Dildo in New Orleans and the Snake Charmer in Hollywood, Residential Lighthouse Maker just isn’t an occupation that you think about.
I reached Arkansas about 4 pm, and I stepped over the line, took a picture of the Welcome to Arkansas sign, and even managed to get a license plate photo at the corner where I took the Welcome sign photo. But then I felt bad about slighting Arkansas. Arkansas probably gets the short end of the stick a lot of the time, so I decided to drive into the nearest town of Maysville and look around and take some photos.
I stopped at the Maysville Handy Stop to get a Coke from the machine out front. I ran into a nice couple from Bentonville; Charles is a veterinarian, and Kelly is a hotel manager. We talked for a while, and they drove off. When I turned to put my money in the Coke machine, I saw three men looking in my direction from a bench just inside the Handy Stop, so I decided to go in and say hello. I walked out two hours later. It was a fascinating time with three hard-working Arkansas chicken farmers. Actually, I was told to make that two chicken farmers and one RANCHER. Troy and Steve are chicken farmers. Dean is a RANCHER.
Dean’s wife of 49 years died last year. He decided to ask a woman out on a date just recently. There was a woman back in town who he once danced one dance with back in high school, and she had been recently widowed. He called her and asked her out. She accepted but then called a day or two later to cancel. Her daughter didn’t want her to go because “you’ll get stuck out there on that nasty old chicken farm for the rest of your life.” Dean has a couple of cows, so he has now decided his love life will be improved if he considers himself to be a RANCHER.
I will write much more later about my conversation with Dean, Troy, and Steve. The life of a chicken farmer is a tough life, and these men work incredibly hard to make ends meet. I thought it was very telling when they talked about how much better a lot of their friends have it when they get old and get put into a state old folks home. They told me that rural America is dying. I sure hate to see that happening. There’s just something out of whack when farmers have to work so hard to earn so very little.
When I asked Dean, Troy, and Steve if I could take their picture, they were eager. I asked them to sit closer together, but I couldn’t get them quite as close as I’d have liked, so I snapped the best shot I could get after I twice tried to get them just a little closer. Some folks came in while I was “posing” the guys, and they were asked “hey, what’s going on.” I believe it was Troy who responded: “We’re gonna be on the INternet!” I wish I had it recorded. There’s no way to write it the way it sounded. My sense was that they were excited about being special – something almost all of us like.
The little forks in the road continue to amaze me. If I had followed my original plan, I would have never seen the Handy Stop in Maysville. If I hadn’t pulled up the second Charles and Kelly came out with their Cokes in the old-fashioned bottles and hadn’t spent a few minutes speaking with them, I’d have never noticed Dean, Troy, and Steve, and I’d have dropped my quarters in the Coke machine and headed back to Oklahoma. That’s the optimistic view of things that I choose to have.
I didn’t see a lot for the rest of the day. In Miami, I did see the beautiful Coleman Theatre, a great old Speed-A-Way gas station, and an old motel or two. In Commerce, the hometown of Mickey mantle, I saw a sign heralding the Future Home of the Mickey Mantle Museum as well as a little Route 66 landmark, the Rock Shop. I enjoyed the city limits sign in Quapaw — proud of Miss Indian 1999.
Kansas became state number 12 about 7:30. I was going to sample the pie at Murphey’s Restaurant, but it was closed. I took a few photos in Galena and Riverton, and then I was in Missouri. Route 66 covers just 17 miles in Kansas.
I was on the side of the road in Joplin, Missouri when a pickup truck pulled up behind me. I couldn’t see inside. I cautiously approached the driver’s side, and I was relieved to see Lois, Jordan, and Wynoka rather than someone who looked like Harley’s cousin. Lois stopped when he saw I was taking a Route 66 photo just to give me ideas on places to go and sights to see along Route 66 in Missouri. Little Jordan was just as cute and sweet as could be, and she seemed so honored when I have her one of my business cards as well. What nice people!
I drove off to see if I could still get in the Joplin museum that Lois told me about. It took me a little while to find it, and a pickup truck pulled in behind me. Lois and Jordan dropped Wynoka off at the Wal-Mart, and they were just coming to see if I found it okay. We talked a while more. Jordan had this big smile on her face and seemed to really be enjoying all this boring talk about the Boots Motel in Carthage and other spots along the way. I asked Jordan if she had ever seen a man wearing beads before. She replied, “No, I haven’t.” I asked her what she thought when she saw me. She said” “I thought your beads were pretty and that you looked very nice wearing them.” What a doll.
I was mighty sleepy when I finally pulled into the hotel in Springfield about 10:30. I’d have to backtrack some more tomorrow.
Lesson for the day: Arkansas is just as important as California, Texas, or New York. There are wonderful people to meet and get to know anywhere you go, and you will probably learn more from three chicken farmers in Arkansas than you will from three attorneys in Manhattan.
I left the Marriott Courtyard in Oklahoma City bright and early as I have to backtrack. It was dark for way too many towns and things I want to see for the last 100 miles or so.
A lady named J.D. asked about my beads in the elevator – the “Mardi Gras question.” She declined to let me take her photo, but I gave her my card, and she called on the cell phone later to invite me to come to the hospital to get a Mother’s Day photo of her with her mother. Unfortunately, I was well down the road by the time I got the voice mail message.
I drove west on Route 66 out of Oklahoma City. I saw a great steel bridge in Bethany, but there was no place to get over to take a photo. Bethany showed great patriotism with two flags on every light pole.
I was reminded of a travel tip last night. Be careful when using the hair dryer outlet in a hotel for charging your camera or cell phone as the reset button often needs to be hit.
Yukon is the hometown of Garth Brooks and the home of the Yukon Flour Mills. I reached the 10,000 mile mark between Yukon and El Reno. I stopped for a 10,000 mile photo – found an abandoned white house with a red roof.
The Deluxe Inn in El Reno used to be the Big 8 Motel and was featured in the movie “Rainman.” Someone bought it, changed the name, and went out of business. Dumb and dumber. I stopped at the very nice Heroes Plaza in El Reno – nice war memorial. I also stopped to see Jobe’s Charcoalburgers – a classic 60’s-era drive-in restaurant with those wonderful remote ordering stations like they had at the Char King in Lubbock and at similar drive-ins all across the country.
After road construction forced me to drive quite a ways in the wrong direction, I noted that every Route 66 state should have each and every Route 66 exit so marked. I believe Texas was the only state that seemed to do this.
It was a nice drive to Calumet and on to Geary – very green, peaceful farmland. I took a few photos in and around Geary. When I reached Hydro, I knew I was looking for Lucille’s, one of the best known Route 66 landmarks. Lucille Hamons operated Lucille’s from 1941 until the 1990’s. She was a very special lady, and she was called “the Mother of the Mother Road.” There was a Burma Shave sign in her honor leading up to the service station building, as well as a memorial to her along the fence next to the interstate. A faded sign in the window indicates Lucille’s will be auctioned off on ebay in August.
Harley and Annabelle made a point for me to go to Weatherford, Oklahoma to see Nettie’s. They said it was a lingerie and Harley Davidson wear store. Weatherford is also the home of astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, and an air and space museum there bears his name. Southwest Oklahoma State University is also in Weatherford. I drove down Route 66 and didn’t see Nettie’s when I reached the downtown area. I made a second pass and still didn’t see it. I parked the car, and as I walked down the street, I spotted it. It wasn’t exactly what I had pictured.
Inside, I met Nettie and her mother, Juanita, two ladies blessed to look a whole lot younger than they apparently are. And sweet as can be. I told them Harley and Annabelle had sent me, and we sat down in their “home away from home” in the back room and just talked and talked.
Nettie got her college degree. She went to work for a company for 10 years, but she always wanted to be her own boss. It was also their dream for mother and daughter to work together. Juanita was a mental health counselor, and neither of them had the money to start a business, but Nettie had a plan. She typed up her business plan, and took it to three banks in Weatherford. Three banks in Weatherford turned her down. They all wanted collateral, but she had none. She was single and had never even owned a home. Her car was paid for, and she had accumulated a lot of “expensive” sweaters. Refusing to give up, she went to see their hometown banker in Clinton Oklahoma. The banker gave her the loan just based upon knowing her and accepted her inventory as collateral on the loan. She paid the bank off in full over five years, and she’s been operating for eight years now.
She chose Weatherford because it’s a college town. She initially had ladies clothes directed at the college market and a few gifts, but she has added a number of interesting product lines over the years. Here’s the progression:
Ladies wear directed at the college market.
A few gift items.
Sexy lingerie for bridal shower gifts. Nettie notes there is no Victoria’s Secret in a small town like Weatherford, and she immediately began selling a ton of lingerie and still does.
Harley Davidson clothing. She saw some at a market and thought she could sell some of it, and now she carries every licensed Harley product she can get, and she does “REALLY well” with all of it.
Baby clothes came next. She figures her college customers buy some clothes, get engaged and buy sexy lingerie, and then have babies and need baby clothes. She reports the baby clothes sell like hotcakes.
Microdermabrasion was then added. I guess after a few babies, her customers are looking for younger skin.
The most recent addition is wheelchairs and walkers. Time marches on, I guess.
Needless to say, such a diverse product line would never work in larger towns. Nettie says “people ask how I can have this kind of stuff all mixed together, and I respond that there just are no other shops in town with any of what we sell, so it works.”
Nettie invited me to return to Canute that evening to go to a bar called Friends where Pinky and the Snakeshakers would be performing for a special party. I would have absolutely loved to see a group called Pinky and the Snakeshakers, but I have to be in Tulsa tomorrow morning to have breakfast with an old friend, so I’ll have to miss it. I’m sure my Kos friends will all be there.
It’s amazing what you can put together and be successful doing in America – especially in a small town.
Clinton is an interesting town. I enjoyed seeing Mad Dog Fireworks – a fireworks stand that just happens to be located right next to a big Army tank. Clinton has a number of interesting old motels, including the Trade Winds Inn. Elvis slept there, or so the sign says.
The big attraction in Clinton is the Oklahoma Route 66 museum. Harley and Annabelle told me to be sure to see it, and to stick my head in and say hi to Pat Smith, the director. I did just that, and I also met the two absolutely wonderful ladies who work there, Goldie and Lee, as well as two funny guests, Skip and Yvonne. We had a great time talking and laughing. Then I put a headset on and toured the museum. It is GREAT! The museum has wonderful displays and tells the whole story of Route 66. The museum is really well done – much better than the so-called National Route 66 Museum just down the road in Elk City, Oklahoma. Pat gave me a media kit and a museum mug. I bought a deck of Route 66 playing cards so Boz and I can use them the next time we crush Brittany and “Ace” in a Spade-A-Rama.
I asked the ladies where to eat, and they said “Jiggs Smoke House.” They warned me the servings are huge and not to order the kitchen sink.
I found Jiggs on the western outskirts of town. I walked in with five guys who just returned from a round of golf – Cory, Lance, Jake, Jeff, and Rick. Rick was a veteran of Jiggs Smoke House, and he advised me to order the Pig Sickle Sandwich – not the regular Pig Sickle Sandwich, but the Triple Pig Sickle Sandwich. I told him the ladies at the Route 66 museum warned me that the servings were huge and not to order the “kitchen sink.” Rick and Lynn, the owner, laughed and told me the “Kitchen Sink” is one of their truly massive specialties. They also have an even bigger sandwich called the Wooly Booger. I ordered the Triple Pig Sickle. The sandwich was truly unique and outstanding. I was too busy eating, telling stories, and listening to stories to investigate what all was inside the giant bowling ball-like bun, but it was the extremely tender rib meat off the bone, with cheese, and barbecue sauce. The only way to eat it was with a fork, and man was it good. The golfers were great fun, and Cory grew up in Snyder, Texas where he went to school with the daughter of Rick Hall, a fraternity brother of mine who died of skin cancer a few years ago.
I asked Rick what was the most unique thing about Clinton, and he proudly reported that their 4A football team has an absolutely incredible winning record over a zillion years. I drove back into town to take a picture of the stadium, but the picture apparently did not turn out. Sorry, Rick, but I was there and saw the very impressive high school stadium.
Backtracking complete, I hopped on the interstate to get back to where I started the day – Oklahoma City. It took me an hour and a half to cover the ground that I had spent 6½ hours traveling earlier today.
In Oklahoma City, I saw the National Memorial at the site of the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. It is an extremely moving and well-conceived memorial. There are big walls with the times 9:01 and 9:03 engraved on them — one wall represents the time one minute before the blast and the other represents one minute after. There is one small section of wall – all that remains from the building. A beautiful reflecting pool is in the center of the property bounded by the two big walls. In a field to the south are chairs –, one chair for each of the victims. There is a message spray painted on the wall of a neighboring building by the task force charged with solving the crime, an area for children, and sections of the fence where people have left tens of thousands of remembrances for the victims. You can’t see it without getting tears in your eyes! It is definitely something everyone should see.
I left the Memorial about 6:30 pm, so here I was a full daytime behind schedule. I would have added a day right there, but I had to be in Tulsa to see George Robertson tomorrow morning, and then I had to be in St. Louis for dinner with family on Mother’s day night, so I just had to do the best I could do.
I made it to Arcadia in time to see the wonderful round barn built in 1898. I took a few other photos of old service stations and the like.
I have been very surprised to see how green Oklahoma is. There are a lot of trees and rolling hills. Though I lived most of my life in Texas, I never spent any real time in Oklahoma, and I always had it pictured much like West Texas – flat, barren, and dusty. With apologies to all the Lucky Me’s and Stanley Marsh 3, Oklahoma is much prettier.
I managed to get a few photos in Chandler and a couple of barns with billboards painted on them advertising Meramec Caverns. I’m sure I missed a few enjoyable sights in this part of Oklahoma because night caught me.
When I reached Stroud, I was on the lookout for the Rock Café – another Route 66 landmark. I walked in, and four people gathered at the counter looked up. Tiffany immediately asked me whether I had gotten her beads out of her car. I assured her I had gotten my beads from the Floating Neutrinos, and I sat down like a local and we all talked for the next hour and a half. First, there were Amy, Joan, Tiffany, and Bryan. Bryan left and Ron joined us. Then Casey and Zach came in. I ordered the peach cobbler, and it was truly exceptional – definitely one of the best “pies” on the trip so far. Tiffany disappeared after a few minutes, and when I saw her again, she was handing me a string of her beads – bright shiny gold beads. How sweet was that!
I heard a lot of stories about Stroud, especially the tornado that all but wiped out the town a few years ago. Later that night, I learned that terrible tornados hit nearby — shortly after I drove on.
My amazing weather luck continues as it never rained on me. 39 days and counting.
The most interesting story at the Rock Café came from Ron. Ron met Joan when she was a waitress at a drive-in restaurant down the road a ways. He spotted her and decided she was the one for him. He asked her to get married, and he says she said “not No but Hell No.” He stayed after her and let her know the proposal was open. He headed back to Houston where he lived. She was in Stroud, Oklahoma. She called him one day out of the blue and said she was ready. Ron drove straight to Stroud, put her in the car, and drove straight back to Houston. She learned her parents thought someone had killed her, so she called home to let them know she was okay. Ron and Joan got a marriage license and carried it around for the longest time. People asked them when they were going to get married, and they said they were going to get around to it. They were at a garage sale one day and learned there was a minister there. They asked him to marry them, and he did – right there in the garage in front of the garage sale customers.
Casey and Zach are young high school age boys. I told them I thought life in a small town was mighty good. They said the problem with small towns is that there’s not much to do. That seems to be the national anthem of teenagers in small towns we’ve visited.
I walked into the Rock Café with nothing but my beads and my camera. Five or ten minutes later, it was like I knew everyone in the place, and I was talking with all of them. That just wouldn’t happen in a big city. I hope Casey and Zach will appreciate that some day. If they stay in Stroud, they probably will.
Leroy gave me good directions to the Tulsa Fairfield Inn, and I pulled in about 9:45. The days are too long. I’ve got to correct this for the second half of the trip by traveling without hotel reservations so there isn’t always a deadline – a place we have to be each night.
There were two distinct messages today. It’s amazing what you can put together and be successful doing in America – especially in a small town. And we must do everything possible to minimize the chances of terrorism in our great country.
Bozzie Jane’s father has had what is being described as a mini-stroke, so I am taking her to the Lubbock International Airport for a flight to Dallas so she can be with him and help out. Her mom (Mimi) just had knee replacement surgery, so they can really use a helping hand right now.
Berlinda had a wonderful breakfast – by far the best we’ve had. Special thanks to Alice, a friend of Berlinda’s, who heard we were coming and provided delicious homemade muffins. Tons of food, and there was no charge! We had a great time, but we always feel sad when we say goodbye to Steve and Berlinda.
Neesha helped Boz with her luggage. A neck problem from an accident on an airplane a year or so ago makes it impossible for Boz to carry much weight at all.
I didn’t want to say anything to Bozzie Jane, but I couldn’t hear out of my right ear this morning. It started bothering me yesterday, but it was completely closed today. I knew I couldn’t go on until I saw a doctor. I thought it would be easy. I should have known better.
My first stop was at the first doctor’s office I came to near the local hospital. The receptionist sent me to Dr. Thomas F. Neal, her Ear, Nose & Throat doctor. Five nice ladies (Kitty, Tami, Stephanie, Debra, and Dana) said their doctors were all booked up. They sent me to a doctor on the next street over — Dr. John R. Marchbanks. The two nice ladies there (Debbie and Kay) advised me that Dr. Marchbanks was in surgery all day. They sent me to another doctor in the same building, but the receptionist for Dr. Medhabadi brushed me off and didn’t even give me the time of day. Her name will not appear in the book, and I will not be sending her any beads. Back to the two nicest ladies (Debbie and Kay); they suggested that I just go to a walk-in medical clinic, and they gave me directions.
At Covenant Family Healthcare Center, Jeanie and Blanca assisted me out front. I filled out all the forms and waited in the lobby. So, eleven medical office ladies, five doctors, and several hours later, I got to see Dr. Poonjab Swooomaharooroomadan (I may not have that name just right). Dr. Swooomaharooroomadan didn’t say much, but she took a big, long, cold silver thing and thrust it deep inside my right ear canal. She kept poking and scraping and prodding for the longest time. She finally emerged with something she seemed proud of. I couldn’t understand her thick accent, but she may have called it a dirt clod embedded in the ear drum. Whatever it was, it was gone, and it’s like a whole new world when you can hear again. I asked Dr. Swooomaharooroomadan if I could take her picture, but she refused. She was no fun at all. Dr. Steve Miller will win Best Doctor and Best Name for a Doctor in our Best & Worst Competition.
I visited the Buddy Holly statue and Buddy Holly Museum before I left town. The statue is very nice – surrounded by the Lubbock Walk of Fame. Lubbock and West Texas have had a number of big musical stars. In addition to Buddy Holly, there were plaques for Waylon Jennings, Mac Davis, Jimmy Dean, Sonny Curtis, Tanya Tucker, Joe Ely (who attended Monterey High School in Lubbock at the same time I did), Roy Orbison, Bob Wills, Gatlin Brothers, Buddy Knox, Butch Hancock, Delbert McClinton, the Fireballs, and others. I just pray they never add the name of the lead singer for the Dixie Chicks who I am embarrassed to say is from Lubbock. (It was great seeing their peers joke about them and boo them on the recent Country Music Awards!)
The Buddy Holly Center is very nice with a great sign out front with the world’s largest pair of black horn-rimmed eyeglasses. I stopped at the Wind Power Conversion Center on the outskirts of town for a photo of a large clump of windmills. I met Mickey at a gas pump at a non-Texaco station, and I rolled on through Idalou, Lorenzo, and Ralls. Ralls is the “home of the Fighting Jackrabbits, so I tried to find a fighting jackrabbit for a photo, but I came up empty. I passed through Cone, and then I stopped in Floydada, self-proclaimed Pumpkin Capital of the USA, for a little lunch. I started to eat at P.J.’s Fantastico Burritos, but the Dixie Dog caught me eye right next door. It was a small walk-up drive-thru kitchen in a box. The Dixie Dog advertised “a meal on a stick.” I ordered two Dixie Dogs (corny dogs) and a large Coke. It was $2.39. The sweet lady who helped me was Glenda Kemp, the owner. There was a sign in the window that said “Close 2 – 4:30 until business gets better.” Mrs. Kemp said it would be 10 to 11 minutes. 10 to 11 minutes later, folks were waving at me from inside the Dixie Dog. It wasn’t fast food; they cooked those Dixie Dogs to order, and they were piping hot, fresh, and delicious. There was a free Strawberry Dum Dum in the bottom of my bag. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I don’t like strawberries; it was the though that counts. I hope business gets better. The next time you’re in Floydada, do yourself a favor, and eat at Dixie Dog.
South Plains and Silverton before I reached Palo Duro Canyon. I spoke to Bozzie Jane and was so pleased to hear that her Dad (Papa) was doing okay – not great, but was walking with the use of a walker and was very alert.
Just outside Silverton, I saw a sign for Strange Farms. I U-turned for a photo. I assume it is a farm owned by some people called Strange, but with Stanley Marsh 3 nearby in Amarillo, you never know.
I got a few glimpses of the Palo Duro Canyon. It’s not the Grand Canyon or Big Bend, but it is a surprising sight to see in flat West Texas. I stopped for a photo at Lake MacKenzie, and I thought I was going to blow off the cliff; I don’t know that I’ve ever been out in a wind as strong. I met Donna and Tom from Illinois at one roadside picnic area. They just happened to be driving down this highway and had no idea that Palo Duro Canyon even existed, so they were quite pleasantly surprised by the scenery.
On Route 66 again about 3:30. I knew my plans for the day were shot as I had way too much ground to cover in Texas and Oklahoma, and the travel agent booked us for the night in Oklahoma City – much further than I had intended to go in the first place. Nothing to do but press on.
The world’s largest cross is a most impressive sight in Groom, Texas. I also saw the Leaning Water Tower of Texas there and the remnants of the 66 Courts Motel and service station. Groom also has a mural. Bless their hearts, it’s about the worst mural I’ve ever seen, but you gotta admire their spirit.
In Alanreed, I saw the historic First Baptist Church with a big sign on the side saying “Truckers Welcome.” I also saw the beautifully restored 66 Super Service Station.
McLean had a number of photo opps – old buildings, the Devil’s Rope (barbed wire) Museum, old service stations, an old theatre, and more.
When I hit Shamrock, I was blown away by the fabulously restored Conoco Tower Station and the U Drop Inn Café. I drove into town to see the green fire hydrants and to kiss the Blarney Stone and rub my beads on it so I can have eternal good luck.
I reached Oklahoma just before 5 pm. Texola is the borderline ghost town. Not much left there. Texola’s slogan is a proud one just the same: “No place like Texola.” I got a photo of the long-closed Longhorn Trading post, a restaurant opened in the 30’s. I could just barely make out the word “Longhorn” on the faded façade.
Erick, Oklahoma was just seven miles down Route 66 – one of those towns that you’ll miss if you blink. I kept my eyes wide open as I knew this was Roger Miller’s hometown, and I wanted to see and photograph something Roger Miller-related. When the speed limit increased, I realized that I had failed. I started to drive on, but then I thought there HAS to be something with Roger Miller’s name on it somewhere in Erick, so a U-turn gave me a second chance. I saw an old truck with a flag painted on the side, but no Roger Miller. Then I came to the only intersection in the town, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a big flag painted on the side of a building. It wasn’t a particularly good painting, but it was an old building and a big flag, so I turned left, hopped out of the car with the engine running, walked out into the vacant lot, and snapped a photo.
As I turned to go back to the car, I came eyeball-to-eyeball with a man who looked like he had just stepped out of the movie “Deliverance.” He had long frizzy hair, a big gaping hole in his mouth where his front tooth used to be, faded blue overalls, no shirt, and was barefoot. He kind of scared me. He was hollering something about “Welcome to the Redneck Capital of the World” and mediocre music, and I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. He wanted me to come into the old, dark City Meat Market building. There wasn’t another human or car anywhere in sight. I told him I needed to turn off my car, which I did need to do, but I was buying time trying to figure out how I could get out of going into the City Meat Market with a guy who scared the bejeesus out of me a few moments before. He kept talking and waving me over, and I kept stalling. Then out of the meat market came a really sweet-looking lady with long gray hair, and the Deliverance guy calmed it down a notch or two and said, “Welcome to Erick, Oklahoma, redneck capital of the world and the home of legendary singer-songwriter, Roger “King of the Road” Miller. You’re at the Sandhills Curiosity Shop, formerly the City Meat Market, in the oldest brick building in downtown Erick, Oklahoma. My name is Harley, and this is my better-half Annabelle, and we are the Mediocre Music Makers.”
Well, he said the secret word, Roger Miller, and I felt safe once I saw Annabelle. So I grabbed my camera and tape recorder, and into the City Meat Market I went. They showed me to a chair in the middle of the room, and the next thing I knew, Harley and Annabelle had guitars strapped on, and they were playing and singing to an audience of one. Harley is an excellent singer and a phenomenal guitar player. Annabelle plays well and has the sweet voice of an angel. I loved the music and immediately warmed to these Characters.
I spent two hours with Harley and Annabelle in the redneck capital of the world. I could have spent much longer.
In April 1986, Harley was sitting in the City Meat Market. He had no electricity and no water. He had an extension cord running across the alley to his home (he calls it the Redneck Castle, and notes that it is open to the public) to power a 40-watt light bulb that he used to read by. He was sitting there in an old rocking chair when a car pulled up and two women got out. They said they just wanted to get out to stretch their legs. Harley took an immediate shine to the younger of the women, and he said “Honey, you’ve come to the right place.” Annabelle has been there ever since.
Harley spent 22 years on the road as a musician. In 1986, he had just gotten divorced from his fourth wife, and he was there “kind of recuperating.” He notes that Erick, Oklahoma is probably the cheapest place in America to live. He was born there on Route 66. He was just hangin’ out in 1986, and they still do just that today. People come by, and they visit with them and “just try to add a little spice to their lives and ours, too.”
Annabelle had a guitar when she first met Harley, and she asked if he knew anyone in town who could tune it. He tuned it. She asked how much she owed him, and he said “Nothing. Just play a song for me.” She played and sang and Harley backed her up on his guitar. Annabelle couldn’t believe how good Harley was as a guitar player, and her mother set up a guitar lesson for her. She came back the next day for her lesson, and they just talked. Harley told her to go home and pack her bags, and she did. She went back to California, packed up, got on a plane, and Harley picked her up at the Oklahoma City Airport. They’ve been hangin’ out in Erick, Oklahoma ever since.
Harley is an extremely talented guitarist, and Harley and Annabelle are very entertaining together. I asked why they don’t go to a bigger place. I mean, there appeared to be just a few hundred people in Erick, Oklahoma, and hardly any cars ever drive through, and if they do, the chances of them turning off Route 66 to go down past the City Meat Market are slim. Harley replied: “We have so much fun with people right here that we don’t see how it would be worth it to go anywhere else.”
Harley told me they don’t have any money, and they don’t have any health insurance. Until they get sick, they figure they’re sittin’ on top of the world because if they don’t have anyone else to entertain with their mediocre music program, they can just entertain each other, and it doesn’t cost a dime.
I asked Harley and Annabelle what lesson I should learn from them. Harley agreed that you can find love in the funniest of places and replied “Love is always just around the corner.”
Annabelle said “Happiness doesn’t come from all the things outside; it comes from inside.”
Harley and Annabelle make money by entertaining groups. I have no idea how groups find out about them. They serve a Redneck Picnic on their pool table – bologna sandwiches, pickles, chips, and soda pop. Folks come in, make a sandwich, grab a soda pop, and sit down and enjoy their “mediocre music.” There is no charge. They work solely on faith and tips, and they say they’ve never been disappointed.
Before I left, they gave me a bunch of names of people and places I needed to go during the rest of my Route 66 trip in Oklahoma. They invited me to spend the night at the Redneck Castle, but I had to move on, so I bought one of Annabelle’s drawings (excellent artist, too) and two of their homemade tapes, dropped some cash into the tip jar, and said goodbye.
What interesting people and what an enjoyable two hours. I got a picture of the future site of the Roger Miller Museum, a shot of the Roger Miller Boulevard sign, the 100th Meridian Museum, and I was on my way.
The Owl Drug Store in Sayre was closed. They have a great old soda fountain there. The National Route 66 Museum in Elk City was also closed, but I got a few nice photos in Elk City.
There was very little light left as I drove through the little town of Canute. I noticed a big crowd of people at the local snow cone stand as I drove by to take a photo of a couple of old motels. As I drove back toward the interstate, the folks at Ali’s Snow Cone Stand were waving me over. I pulled in where I met Jim Kos, Julie Kos, Jason Kos, Carrie Kos, Allison Kos, Hannah Mallory, Eric Kos, and Darren Bunch. What a delightful group of people! I enjoyed one of Ali’s special snow cones, and we talked and laughed and waved at everyone who drove by (at least a car or two over the next hour). The Kos family moved to Canute (population 670) from a big city in California five years ago; they’d just had enough of the hectic lifestyle in California. They couldn’t be happier, and all say “Canute is the best.”
Darren Bunch just idolizes cars, and he really liked the little white convertible. He finally got up the courage to ask if he could drive my car. I told him the same thing I told the last person on the trip who asked: “It almost never hurts to ask,” and I tossed him the key. When he finally came back, I had been prompted to ask if I could drive his car (a souped up Mustang GT). I had been told that Darren guards that car and has never let anyone drive it. The Kos gang was surprised when Darren said sure. He hopped in with me, and I drove off. He told me I could gun it because the town’s only policeman was off duty. I gave it a little gas, but I told him I was afraid Vincent Passarelli might be watching.
Jim and Julie invited me to spend the night with the 9 Kos’s, but I drove on to Oklahoma City where my guaranteed room was long since paid for. I really liked all the folks I met in Canute! My only regret is that I seem to meet the nicest, most interesting people when Bozzie Jane is not with me.
As I drove into Oklahoma City, Bozzie Jane called to advise me that terrible tornadoes had hit Oklahoma City and buildings had been destroyed. It seemed darker than it should be on the horizon, but I never even saw a drop of rain. It has been 38 days now without rain on the road while we hear it has been pouring rain in Atlanta since we left town.
The lesson for the day is that you don’t have to live in a big city to be happy. In fact, the people I’ve met in small towns seem a lot happier than folks in the bigger cities. As Annabelle said “Happiness doesn’t come from all the things outside; it comes from inside.” We should work more on the inside.
May 8, 2003
37526 7:43 Melinda’s on the front porch, we didn’t even have to pay when we checked out. Breakfast was great. We saw the kids; Daisy’s good. We’re off.
We have to thank Alice for the delicious muffins. Mindy fixed a really nice breakfast with tons of food and we just had a great time.
Neesha helped Barbara with her luggage.
8:10 am I left Bozzie at the airport.
242013 was the address of the first store.
69 degrees in Lubock. 8:20 I’m at the Walk of Fame and the Buddy Holly statue. They’ve got plaques for Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, Mack Davis, Jimmy Dean, Bobby Hees, Walna English, G W Bailey, Barry Corbon, Niki Sullivan, Jerry Allison, Joe B Maldon, Sonny Curtis, Tanya Tucker, Joe Elie, Roy Orboson, Bob Will, the Gatlin Brothers, Snuff Garrett, Maines Brothers Band, Vergil Johnson of the Velvets, Buddy Knocks, Glenn D. Harden, Gary P Nunn, Woody Chamblis, The Hometown Boys, Bob Montgomery, Paul Malosivich, Carey Allen, Don Blocker, Glenna Maxey Goodacre, Dirk West, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Eddie Dixon, Gilbert McClinton, The Fireballs, Brad Maule, and Helen Wagner.
37550 8:36 I’m at the America Wind Power Conversion Center aka Windmill Park.
I’ve tried multiple ear, nose and throat including Dr. Medhabadi.
I met Mickey at the gas station. He’s moved here from Oklahoma and likes it. He says the gust is supposed to be 55 today.
I took a bunch of flags at Gail Genemesser Toyota on the outskirts of Lubock.
Lubock still has its tallest building that leans out into the street from where it was twisted in the tornado of 1971.
Back at the Windmill Garden as I finally get out of town.
Adliu 37612 11:54am
Lorenzo 37621 12:03pm
Ralls, home of the fighting Jackrabbits
City limits of Ralls 37629 12:10pm
I’m turning north on Hwy 207 going to Cone.
I’m in Cone and I took a picture of the Washataw Feed Store Antique Store in Cone.
I just crossed the White River 37646 12:29pm
After being in totally flat land, all of a sudden I’m in kind of drop-off canyon.
Floydada, the pumpkin capital of the USA. 37652 12:35pm
I’m at P.J.’s super fantastico burritos where they have various and sundry people out front.
I’m having lunch at The Dixie Dog in Floydada. They have meals on a stick. I’m getting corny dogs. 2 of them and a Coke for $2.39. I met Glenda Kemp, the owner. They have a sign on the window and they close 2-4:30 until business gets better.
It wasn’t fast food but she sure was a sweet lady when I gave her my order and my change. She told me it would be about 10 or 11 minutes. They threw in a free strawberry dum dum in the bag. The Dixie dogs were piping hot and the batter was really good. Dixie Dogs gets high ratings.
I’ve reached South Plains, Texas 37672 1:13 This is the access point to the state park.
I’m taking a picture of a flag near a barn on the outskirts of the town of South Plains, Texas.
I’ve reached Silverton 37690 1:30pm I miss Bozzie. She just called in to say her dad was doing okay and walking with a walker. It sounded like he might be a little better than she thought it might be.
I just brushed the outskirts of Silverton before turning north here on Hwy 86 and 207.
Just outside of Silverton I took a sign that says “strange farms.” I’m not sure if it’s farms owned by some people named Strange or if it’s a strange deal because we’re getting near Amarillo.
37695 Hwy 207 breaks off from 86 and goes north.
37701 1:42 I’ve just reached the top of the hill after going through barely flat ranch land and boom out on the horizon is the Palledairy? Canyon
I just passed Tool Creek 37702 1:48
37703 1:49 Lake Mackenzie
The skies are blue but heavy clouds. The winds are blowing and I’ve never felt it quite so hard. There’s no signs of a storm or anything.
Lake Mackenzie is also the Mackenzie reservoir it seems.
Well there’s a very small little spot at Palledairy Canyon that you see on this road that’s not worth a side trip for anybody because it’s not particular pretty.
37720 2:05 We have more Palledairy Canyon; it’s prettier here with a big wide expanse. The canyon is pretty nice, other than right by the road.
37721 2:06 I’m pulling off at a picnic area that might have a good view.
I met Donna and Tom at the Hamlin Drive Picnic Rounds. They’re from Illinois; they came across this and were pleasantly surprised. It’s much prettier here.
I’m going over The Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. 37724 2:14pm
Claude, Texas 37744 2:30pm
Route 66 37752 2:37pm just east of Amarillo
37765 2:49pm I’m exiting at Groom; I see the giant cross.
I’m back on Route 66 here. I’m taking a picture of the 66 courts in Groom.
I got a picture of the leaning water tower just east of Groom. It says “Britten USA”
37784 3:20 There’s a Route 66 rest stop/picnic area. I didn’t pull of but I saw the sign after I had already passed.
37787 3:23 I’m getting off at exit 132 Johnson Ranch Road.
I took a picture of the First Baptist Church. There was a big sign that says “truckers welcome.” I took pictures of the 66 super service.
McLean 37797 3:40pm Population of 849
I took a lot of pictures in McLean ending with the Phillips 66.
I arrived in Lela 37815 4:17pm
I took a picture of one tiny building or house in Lela.
Shamrock, population 2029, 37822 on the odometer and 4:24 pm
I took pictures of the Conoco Tower and the You Drop In Café; they’re doing work on it.
I got the blarney stone in Shamrock. The city does a nice job with their green fire hydrants and the town has a lot of wonderful old buildings but they don’t look very good. Nothing has been “restored” other than the gas station and You Drop In Café.
It’s 90 degrees at 4:44 as I exit Shamrock. It’s the warmest its been in a long time.
I’m in Texola. 37838 4:54pm This is a borderline ghost town.
Oklahoma 37840 4:57pm
Texola has a slogan: “no place like Texola.”
I took a picture of what’s left of the Longhorn; you can barely see the word on the face of it.
There’s a few people living in Texola but not much going on. It’s not a complete ghost town, but it might fit the definition of the word.
It’s up to 93 degrees in Texola.
Erick 37847 5:09 This is the hometown of Roger Miller.
I got a little truck with a flag on it and The West Winds Motel.
“What are y’alls names again?”
“I tell you what. This is the Sand Hills Curiosity Shop formerly the city meat market. It’s also the oldest brick building in downtown Erick. My name is Harley and this is my wife, Annabella and we are the mediocre music makers. She is the much better half. This is also the hometown of legendary singer/songwriter Roger Miller—Mr. King of the Road himself.” “ Right here in the ‘redneck capital of the world’ when they come here to the Sandhills Curiosity Shop me and my wife happen to be the Mediocre Music Makers. And while they’re in here eating these redneck sandwiches which consist of bologna, turkey, ham and cheese, chips, bread they get there sandwiches fixed, get these chairs, and we come over here and do our mediocre music program for them. Then they go outside on the street and take pictures of us and them. They come back in and we run things down with the grand finale of the “Redneck National Anthem” and Bobby Troots’ “Route 66.” Then they go on down to the road to the next fantastic stop, whether it be east or west. There is one fantastic stop after another when you’re going through mid-America.”
“I think after you leave here, you’re disappointed at the next stop…So April of 1986 was when you started? How did you guys get together and why here?”
“Well I’ll tell you how we got together. I was here by myself initially and I came over here from my redneck castle. I had an extension cord running about 300 feet across the alley, and I had a 40 watt light bulb that I read by. I had no electricity, no water, no nothing. I was sitting in an old rocking chair here reading away one day and a car pulled up outside with a couple of women in it. They came in and I got up out of that rocking chair and I said ‘ladies, can I help you?’ and this one here says ‘we just wanted to get off the freeway and stretch our legs.’ I said ‘honey, you came to the right place.’”
“22 years on the road as a musician?”
“Yeah, I had just finished my rendezvous with my 4th wife, and so I was here recuperating. Also this is the cheapest place in the world to live. Actually I was born here.”
“When Annabelle came in were you selling stuff or were you just hanging out?”
“I was just hanging out. That’s what we’ve basically done the whole time. We just hang out, people come by, we visit with them and try to have a good time. We try to add a little spice to their life and ours too. Each one of our visitors is a memorable visit which we always remember and cherish. Just like you’re in here today, we won’t forget you. We also want to say ‘Hi Barbara, we’re sorry you didn’t come in. We’re sitting here waiting for you to come in with Big Wild Bill here and we’re going to be meeting you on down the line. We hope everybody turns out good and feeling okay. I know you’ve got to be one heck of a woman to put up with Wild Bill.’”
“So you had your guitar when you met him?”
“Yes, but it needed to be tuned and I couldn’t tune it. He tuned it and then he said to play him a song.”
“So, you got your guitar tuned, Harley ran back to the redneck castle to get his, he backed you up and you couldn’t believe how good he was while he couldn’t believe how good you were. Then, you set up a guitar lesson for 3 or 4 days later. Y’all talked and at the guitar lesson you said to her why don’t you pack your bag.”
“Naw, I think I told her to. I just told her to go pack her bags and that’s what she did. I picked her up in Oklahoma City at the airport and we’ve been here ever since doing this.”
“When we bumped into each other you’d only been here for 15 minutes. If I hadn’t seen that flag, I wouldn’t have stopped. If you hadn’t made a face at me, I wouldn’t have come over. One of the things that I’ve talked about is fate and the forks in the road. It’s just incredible. My afternoon would have probably been just as boring as anything could be, taking a few pictures of Route 66 landmarks. Instead, I get to come here and meet you guys. If I had not had to go to a doctor and get my ear cleaned out today in Lubock, I would’ve been 100 miles down the road.”
“Go to Neddy’s in Wetherford, Oklahoma…Introduce yourself and tell her what kind of project you’re on then tell her the Medicore Music Makers sent you. I have her information if you would like. She would be on cloud 9 if you stopped by. She’s bright and more of a business type person than we are. She’s got the ladies’ lingerie and Harley apparel shop. She’s right off Route 66. She just a young girl about 30, but she’s trying to make it as an entrepreneur; she’s attractive, knows how to sit and talk to somebody. If you’re going to Oklahoma City how would you like to meet the guy who does the postmark art? It would be an honor for us if you even went to see Ken; he’s great. His name is Ken Turmel.”
Two people have come to tell me my headlights are on. In Atlanta, Georgia you could have a million people walk by and nobody would ever tell you.
“On down the road in Apton, Oklahoma we have a friend named Laurel Cane and she has a vast collection of postcards in an old DX gas station. …this place has just been refurbished. It’s not like our building. We do have the original meat tape there with some old instruments in there.”