“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters, in the end”. So good, only wish I had thought of it first.
This is the post excerpt.
This is the post excerpt.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters, in the end”. So good, only wish I had thought of it first.
I have been fortunate enough to visit many of our country’s major monuments, and I rate the Gateway Arch at St. Louis as my hands-down favorite. I have been there several times, the first as a wide-eyed youth in 1968, not too long after the structure had been completed. It is visually captivating, and its 630 feet of height and breadth awe inspiring. I’m equally impressed with the skill and daring it took to dream, design, and build this monument dedicated to an ideal. When the design by Saarinen (a Finnish immigrant, by the way) was chosen over the hundreds of others submitted, the board of approving architects were unanimous in their agreement that it probably couldn’t be built. The thirty minute documentary showing that it was, in fact, doable is one of the most significant parts of the visit to the very popular site. This being the first visit by the kids was special in its own way, especially sharing their reactions to the ride to the top and the stunning views available there. The mechanics involved in the “trolley system” taking passengers to the top totally mesmerized Colin and monopolized the conversation for most of the .visit. 😉 As a person who has helped in various types of construction in my life, the skills and guts employed by the crews turning this design of art into reality have my utmost admiration, and more than a little jealousy. Mr. Saarinen didn’t live to see his dream completed, a victim of disease at the young age of 51.
From the premier location of the Arch along the Father of Waters, we traveled along its flood-stage banks down river. Our destination was another man-made marvel of an earlier age, The Chain of Rocks Bridge across the Mississippi carried Route 66 traffic across its more-than-a-mile length for over 50 years, until the size and speed of modern traffic made it obsolete, and thus dangerous. Its main claim to fame was the built-in 22 degree curve near the center of its span crossing the river. The engineering necessity putting the curve there was the need to have that support piling sunk all the way to limestone bedrock. One of our most oft used sayings is “Timing is Everything”. That was certainly the case here as we discovered the much looked forward to bike ride across this structure was not going to be, due to some construction on the approach roads.
The bottom of the poster below has a fairly good picture of the bridge from above.
We consoled ourselves with a visit to the longest running restaurant along the entire Mother Road, the Ariston. We had assumed it would be on of the “workaday” type establishments that we had become accustomed to; Ah Contrare!! We were met literally at the door by a tie-wearing hostess and escorted to a white tablecloth covered table. Yes, we did feel a bit out of place with the better-dressed-than-us crowd, but our waitress made us feel very welcome. As with a few of the other eating establishments along this Way, the restaurant had acknowledged its existence was inextricably tied to Route 66, and had moved at least once to stay tied to the road. Operating continuously since 1924, it has claimed the title of longest running restaurant for the entire Route 66.
I was surprised at the intensity of my reaction to viewing the quickly appearing flat and fertile fields of Illinois as we left the River Valley. It felt very much like Home calling.
Thanks for coming along. It’s been a great trip so far.
My “regulars” will recall the “VW Bug Ranch” as the only thing remotely alive in Conway, TX. But here in Conway, MO, the Conway Bears proudly display their name (I was hoping for a mascot as well!) on the city water tower. In other words, this Conway town is alive and well! We recall that if you stop on the I44 State Rest Stops, they include a map engraved in the marble floors that includes “Conway”.
We found our preferred “local” cafe/eatery at the edge of town for a good lunch and inquired if anyone knew just which Conway was responsible for getting the town named for them. Blank looks all around, so that mystery remains a mystery.
The hills are the predominant feature of all the Route 66 roads in this part of the state. I have confirmed my early postulation of “Conways First Law of Bicycling”: i.e. “Any downhill road that crosses a body of water that is flowing will be more than offset by an equal or longer uphill at an even greater slope”. Not a complaint, just a (firm) observation.
A few small towns up the road from Conway is Marshfield, MO. A nice little town whose main claim to fame is its being the birthplace of Edwin Hubble. To commemorate that little bit of fate, the town has erected a one quarter scale model of the famed Hubble Telescope. The kids needed a little primer in recent history to appreciate the value of this amazing technological and engineering accomplishment. A quick “aside” here; Cathy has been reading an excellent resource book to the kids entitled: “101 Facts About Catholic Church History”. A Belgian priest named Fr. Lematre advanced the theory of a “primeval atom”, stating that the cosmos originated from an initial burst of light and has grown outward in a constant state of expansion ever since”. And he stated that in 1927! Hubbell referenced the good Friar’s work in much of his own writing.
And now from the expanding cosmos to the proliferation of watercraft! I’m a pretty good judge of acreage, and I estimated that this is an 80 acre field (that’s 80 football fields to the rest of you) that was covered wheel hub to wheel hub with brand new pleasure boats, all made by just one manufacturer. Can there be that many customers that are in the market to buy a new boat this year??? I was agog, and I don’t agog very often.
We don’t stray from the Route very often, but when we do it’s for a good reason. We have occasionally been in this part of the country on family reunions and other vacation related trips, and on each of them Cathy has remarked that she would like to go to Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Other than some really spectacular Ozark scenery, its main attraction are these ruins from the first decade of the 20th century. As with so many very wealthy Americans in this pre-income tax era, Mr. Fred Snyder of Kansas City had literally more money than he could spend. His visits to Europe convinced him that he needed a “home” like the royalty had there. He hired a Scottish architect to draw up plans for a “castle”, bought up more than a thousand acres of land in the Ozark mountains, and set about building his dream. Scottish quarrymen and stonemasons were also brought from abroad to do the work and train the American laborers. A quarry was hewn out of the hills about two miles away from the site of the house high on a promontory cliff and the quarried stone was hauled to the site on a light rail pulled by mules.
All this great effort and expense, but the finger of fate was poised against the family. Less than a year into the project, My. Snyder was killed in, of all things, a car wreck, and this in 1906! The project languished for a decade until his sons were able to continue. When the roaring 20’s turned into the depression 30’s, the scope of the plans contracted with them.
That statement may seem to be contradicted by these photos, but much more was planned than was actually built. There was an elaborate water pressure system that brought water up from a spring 250 feet below and stored it in a tower to provide constant water for the house and outer buildings.
World War 2 derailed the completion as workers went off to fight or work. And then, as if to punctuate the star-crossed nature of the entire endeavor, the manor house burned to the ground in 1947. We were all glad that we had taken the side trip to visit, but the sad events of it all left us with a case of melancholy.
A perfect antidote to melancholy is the quality reading/studying time with Izzy. She has been composing a story for one of her “Home School” classes and she has a superb tutor in Gramma Cathy.
Hoping there’s enough wifi power to get this out to the ethernet tonight! I’m still a .day or two behind, but I don’t want to press my luck.
Thanks for coming along.
It’s always preferable to start with “The Good”. And that was an easy choice for today. This completely isolated section of a very old stretch of Route 66 only runs for about a mile along a “bottoms” area of the Spring River. The very same river that sees the shadow of the Rainbow Bridge featured in yesterday’s blog. A very rare event that the kiddos can join me on even a small part of the ride, but today was that rare occasion. All the hallmarks of the early road are here: Narrow, rough, winding, picturesque. Izzy has been doing more riding on this (ad)venture than she has for years at home. Her helmet remains where she left it in Arizona. Colin would be happy to ride “for a while”, but none of this all day nonsense. 🙂
It’s St. Patrick’s Day! So it’s not surprising that we get a “double-dose” of Good today. The visually astute will note not only his “old Corps” utility cover (cap, for the Army and Navy types), but the Sergeant Chevrons still proudly displayed front and center. My USMC jersey got his immediate attention and the obligatory “Semper Fi, Marine!” The Ol’ Sarge runs a very nice gift shop and period-correct display yard and cordially greets all comers. That “old section” of the Mother Road shown in photo one continues on sporadically, and his shop is on one of those original sections. By the time we stopped by today, we became his 102nd visitor. Lots of folks out traveling on the Mother of Roads on this beautiful Sunday. We enjoyed an on-board lunch while parked in the road frontage of this friendly fellow Marine.
Depending on the severity of the need, this could represent either “The Bad”, or “The Ugly”. Suffice to say that for today at least, it was just “The Bad”. 🙂 The trees grow fairly close to the right of way of this old road, so options are available to the needy.
As for “The Ugly”, perhaps only regular, frequent road bikers will get this. The area TO THE RIGHT of the “rumble strips” is “my portion”. On this stretch of a very heavily traveled (both big trucks and cars) portion of the road (12 to 15 miles), this was my fare. That free zone varied from 6 inches as in this photo, to maybe 12 inches for short stretches. Riding to the LEFT of the white line will get you honked off the road, and scares the hell out of me anyway. Believe me when I say it takes some constant concentration to navigate this little strip of asphalt. Escape mode is to the right on to the gravel. Hitting the rumble strips will put you out of control almost immediately. Ugly.
An addendum (un-pictured) occurred today as well. Leaving Joplin, there was a portion of road where the storm drain covers were diabolical bicycle traps. The cover’s openings were half inch wide rails 2 inches apart, unconnected for the length of the drain and running PARALLEL TO THE DIRECTION OF TRAVEL. The first one I encountered my front wheel dropped straight down and had I been going any slower would have stuck fast in the gap. As it was, I nearly pitched off head over heals. After checking for a bent rim, I vowed to swerve away from the rest of the drains, of which there were many. VERY UGLY.
We are now using Map Booklet Number TWO! Having started with Map Booklet Number Six, that seems like we’re really making progress. It will guide us from Joplin to St. Louis. The terrain has definitely changed, and tomorrow will see us threading through the Ozarks. That sounds like “hills” to me!
Though sunny all day, the thermometer never got north of 55 degrees, and the steady northeast breeze was definitely on the cool side. And, yes, Northeast does mean Headwind. Notice I didn’t add that to the “Bad”or the “Ugly” categories. Some restraint in evidence there.
Glad to have you all along. I look forward to your comments, and try to get an answer back to them when I can. Wifi runs that part of our lives.
Erin go Braugh! (Ireland Forever!)
I suppose I could just leave these pictures up and call it good, but I would start losing some credibility. The fact would remain in tact, I DID in fact “ride across Kansas” from the Oklahoma border and crossed into Missouri, where we remain tonight. It was a very short sojourn across the Sunflower State, a little less than 15 miles of the fabled road, and the most pleasant day of riding for weeks!
A most graceful and long-lived icon of the entire Mother Road, known from end to end of the highway as “The Rainbow Bridge”, located just north of Baxter Springs, KS. And, unlike many of the Route 66 bridge ancestors, this one is still used on a limited basis. A perfectly beautiful day to ride my trusty bike across it and over the Spring River, about midway between Oklahoma and Missouri.
Even after years of disuse, this Conoco Station in nearly deserted Commerce, OK retains an aura of respectability, and perhaps, hopefulness, that someday things will go back to “the way they used to be”. I’m sad and disappointed that a photo I took of the competing Phillips 66 Station just kitty-cornered across the 66 Highway from this one did not show up on my camera at the end of the day. That “Station”, has survived, but now its only product/service is the creation of “The Only Route 66 Hiway Marker Shaped Cookies” available on the Route!
This morning’s highlight required us to return to this small city that has fully embraced its Route 66 dependence and love affair, Miami, OK. And PLEASE!! Pronounce the name Oklahoma “correctly”, as Mi Am MAH!
The Crowning Jewel of Miami, The Coleman Theater, built in 1929 by a most generous lead and zinc magnate, Charles Coleman. A man whose income was measured in millions of dollars PER MONTH in the first decade of the 20th century, could afford the best of everything. This theater has NEVER closed in its nearly 90 years of existence. It has, not surprisingly, had periods of neglect and disrepair, but today is NOT one of those times. Considering that the first board of directors of “The Coleman” included Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, you could assume correctly that the place has “good bones”. The eleven hundred plus seats in this magnificent place are frequently ALL filled by eager viewers from the entire nation.
The original “Mighty Wurlitzer” organ again graces the wings of the stage. It had “disappeared” for several decades, before being sleuthed out by a dedicated and determined member of the group of volunteers. It took several years of “negotiating” to coax this irreplaceable piece back into the hands of the those whose wanted it to complete the theater. It would make for a good novel to follow this entire subject to its present conclusion.
Where Izzy visualizes SHE would be relative to this Theater situation.
Where Colin visualizes HE would be relative to this theater. The tour guide even allowed Colin to flip a few switches. This “soundboard” reminded us all of the scene from The Wizard of Oz where the “Mighty Oz” was exposed as the shyster he was. One bit of minutia was the discovery of the original painted backdrop, now valued at a million dollars for insurance purposes.
There will at some point be a “Special Edition” to cover our visit to Claremore, the Museum dedicated to the life and times of Will Rogers.
It was a glorious day out here on the Mother Road. So glad to have you all along.
In the 1920s, when the section of the Mother Road was beginning to be paved through this part of Oklahoma, there was a clear dichotomy between “East” and “West”. This part of the country was dominated by dirt roads and horse-drawn vehicles, and the laying of a concrete ribbon of road to stretch clear across the country was the most blatant of notices that the vehicles of the future would be moving under their own power. This very dramatic (and perfectly rendered down to the last detail!) bronze sculpture made to one and a quarter scale to heighten the effect even more, portrays that contentious “meeting”.
Tulsa was the perfect place for this battle of technologies to develop. The Oil Boom reverberating through the newly minted State made a town bursting at its own seams from the start of its existence. And there was “money to burn” to make it all first class. Many of Oklahoma’s “leading families” called this town “Home”. The architecture and infrastructure reflected a confidence that the future would always be bright here.
The fuel that powered the Boom came readily out of the ground, and derricks like this were more numerous than trees. When one well would Strike Oil, others would pop up like mushrooms. Fortunes were made and lost in a matter of weeks and months.
The Railroads kept all things moving, while the Mother Road was still going through her “growing pains”. They were the “monsters of the Prairies”, and where they went, cities followed. Tulsa was the crossroads of four of the major rail lines of the era.
Just as an aside, this form of transportation is totally alive and well. Our Adventure Cycling Bike Route 66 seems to never be far from the major rail lines, and that is reinforced nightly when the train whistles echo through our campgrounds. They are the behemoths of freight movement, very often including multiple engines front, and rear of miles long collection of railcars. While traversing the mountains, they even added an engine (or two!) in the center of the train. On the days that my route ran directly along the tracks, it was a child-like thrill to coax a horn whistle out of an obliging engineer. 🙂
Lest you think Tulsa ignores the needs and wants of its younger citizens, consider the extravaganza of a “play place” that covers a city block area; its called “Gathering Place”, recently built on donated land and is superlative in so many ways that it won’t be adequately described here. Suffice to say that Izzy and Colin recreationed at full throttle with HUNDREDS other kids, for close to two hours without covering all the different structures and venues that were available FOR FREE FOR ALL. A wonderful bike trail and a separate hiking trail connect nearly 30 miles of neighborhoods and this park. It would have been fun to be a designer or a builder on any of these projects. Imagination was given top priority.
Note the whimsical “chicken legs” supporting the table Cathy and Tory occupy while enjoying the view of the kids playing and sipping hot chocolate!
Creativity reigns supreme, as slabs of some of the trees that were felled to make room for the park are turned into the back supports of benches located in the “lodge” area. Many of the trees were “repurposed” as playstations by trimming most of the branches off, bark removed, and turning them “upside down” with the trunks uppermost. The kids seemed to love these unusual presentations of a most common part of their lives.
I feel guilty doing any complaining about the weather here after reading of all the flood devastation going on in Nebraska. Knowing the long-term affects these disasters have on farms and farm communities, I am heart-broken at the realization of how this event will negatively impact their lives long into the future.
There has not been as much riding as I would like, but hopefully the winds will lay down and temps inch up to allow all day riding.
Thanks for coming along! More Oklahoma awaits, with Kansas and Missouri warming up in the wings!
Dateline: Tulsa, OK. ; 13 March, 2019. There was no planning about it whatsoever, but the serendipity’s took control and all the pieces clicked into place.
Exactly 50 years ago on this date in Quantico, VA, two studly young men were minted into United States Marine Corps Officers. Second Lieutenant Ken Brust and Second Lieutenant John Conway, that had trained together and achieved this hard-won goal together, would lay claim to each other’s friendship for the succeeding half century. Those same two are sitting in the foreground of this picture, young no longer (the other descriptive adjective is up for debate). No amount of planning could have made it work out this perfectly, for us to be in such a wonderful setting; A marvelous dinner prepared by Ken’s family, a 50th Anniversary Cake prepared for the fast approaching 50th Wedding Anniversary (on 31 May) of Cathy and I, and all fit into the series of perfectly connected “coincidences”. The bad weather, the unrideable roads, the unforeseen delays, all played their part in making this stroke of good fortune fall into place. Thank you, God, for all you do, in your often mischievous ways.
This will be a “stand alone” publication, as it has very little to do with the riding of Bike Route 66. But, to me, it’s very big deal.
Thanks for checking in.
One of the most difficult tasks for us out here is keeping track of the day of the week and day of the month. They truly all blend together. I can pretty much remember the biking legs that I’ve completed, and then try to go from that to where we are now. And the time thing is just bonkers now, as we go from DSMTZ to Arizona Time to CDSTZ and then back again a time or two. Not worth the hassle, since I only ride in daylight anyway. The weather, well that’s a whole nother thing! It’s the Big Kahuna, The Top Dog, The Decision Maker: Ride or Don’t Ride. So, today is Thursday, and the last day on the bike was Monday. That’s a LONG TIME! Muscles get soft and relax, butt calluses soften up, Focus gets unfocused. And it’s all at the whim of this crazy weather. It was so windy Wednesday that it wasn’t even safe to drive Bridget! She was rolling port and starboard like a drunken sailor when exposed to those 50 plus MPH Oklahoma gusts. What to do? Why, seek out all the Route 66 Sights we can find, that’s what!
The Heartland Museum of Route 66 introduced us to Isabel (celebrating her 91st birthday on our visit!) and Nedra, chief volunteer. A very nice roadside museum covering the developing years of Route 66 through Weatherford, OK. The 1931 Model A Coupe was a real jewell, and was owned by a local businessman. The kids saw innumerable items from farm and shop that were totally foreign to them, but easily remembered by me.
Isabel insisted that Izzy, sporting her “Iowa Girl” shirt, get on the stuffed buffalo for an “official” picture.
In the recreated one-room schoolhouse Izzy tries her hand (and feet!) at the pump organ that supplied whatever live music the students would have been exposed to while getting educated here. She was reluctant to believe that Grandma Cathy had actually attended a very similar “one room” schoolhouse for her first three years of schooling.
Driving conditions east from Weatherford towards Oklahoma City. The blurry object barely visible is one of hundreds of generating windmills that fill the skyline along the Route. Slow going, but not as slow as it would have been on my bike. Or as wet.
Seeking shelter in a storm is made easier by having long, true friends who will take you (along with two thirteen year olds!!) in for the night, even if you’re driving a 20 foot long RV that won’t even fit in their driveway. Garnett and Marsha Haubelt did that for us and made us feel like we were the most welcome guests in the world. That’s even with Marsha still wearing a foot boot and preparing for surgery to correct the tendon problem. We all SLEPT IN REAL BEDS for the first time since leaving cousin Jennifer’s in California. I tried to warn our hosts not to treat the kids too well or there might be a chance they would stay there!! “Hubie” even shared some of his prized and precious 22 year old single malt brewed-in-Scotland Scotch. Now THERE’S real friendship. 🙂
The enormously impressive and heart-rending Oklahoma Memorial at the site of the former Murrah Federal Office Building, destroyed by a home-grown terrorist’s bomb on 19 April, 1995. One hundred ninety-six innocent victims lost their lives. Hundreds more were injured. At one end of the reflecting pool is the “9:01” wall, and the other end, the “9:03” wall. The moment of explosion precisely at 9:02, the walls representing life before and after the unforgettable event. The nearby museum walks the visitor through the moments before and the seconds, hours, days and weeks following the explosion. The emphasis throughout all the exposition was the city and state’s ability to recover .and rebuild and still forever remember all that had taken place on that tragic day.
The area where the evergreen trees are growing over the “symbolic” marker chairs of all the victims on the sidehill where the actual building stood. The childsize chairs representing the 19 children who died in the daycare there are particularly poignant, especially after seeing their individual pictures inside the museum.
A much more bucolic setting a few miles down the Mother Road at Arcadia, OK. A wonderfully built and restored Round Barn is a Highly Recommended stop. It was originally constructed in 1879 by a German Immigrant farmer using timbers harvested and sawed on his farm.
The roof had totally collapsed and was rebuilt by a local carpenter, again using locally sourced trees. They even went to the extent of having a custom made circular saw blade made so the saw marks would match the ones in the rest of the barn. The lumber was soaked in the nearby creek for several weeks to allow them to be inserted into the forms and jigs to create the correct shape for the dome roof. There were 33,000 wooden cedar shingles used to recover the roof.
A concession demanded by the reconstruction carpenter was that the upper floor be made available for dances and musical venues. The acoustics are excellent, and the ambience unbeatable!
This geometrically mesmerizing cantilever construction, along with the 25 feet tall “pop bottle” drew us off the road. Winds were at their maximum at about this time and I wondered how the structure would handle these gusts had it been facing into the wind instead of away from it. The whole place is known as “Pops”, and boasts the biggest variety and quantity of “pop” in the USA.
Since all four walls looked like this, I wasn’t going to try to contradict their claim!
Weather forecasts have not improved much, so we don’t know yet what tomorrow holds. Tulsa awaits.
Thanks for staying with us!
For those of us born early enough to experience the musical and the movie, it has an almost magical name. As a nine year old in 1955, we had no TV, and movies were a very rare treat. But I do remember getting to go to this everybody’s-talking-about-it-movie. I’m sure it must have been on a “buck night” (whole family for a dollar at the Drive In) or some such enticement or else it wouldn’t have happened.
This marque shows the “big story” for today in Oklahoma. I put on all the clothes I have in the biking wardrobe that would allow me to actually pedal the bike and headed on down the road. None too early, mind you, hoping there would be SOME warm-up. Didn’t happen. My hands were cold. My feet were cold. Torso hot! So, body should be average.
Elk City, OK, was a real “surprise town”. It’s not celebrated in any of the songs or lore of Route 66, but as a one-time center of Oklahoma’s “Oil Patch”, it retains a great deal of vigor and fortitude for building a future along with celebrating its storied past. This gigantic ” oil well drilling rig” sits right at the edge of town to remind all of that history which flooded the this part of the state with new-found riches in that liquid gold that could be pumped from the ground.
As a life-long farmer and cattle feeder, I felt a real kinship with this nice-looking bronze of two ranchers “sealing a deal” with a handshake. Eyeball to eyeball, and sittin’ a horseback is the closest thing to a meticulously written legal contract that exists. The “fine print” doesn’t exist. “I will if I agreed to.”
Advertised as “The world’s Largest Route 66 Road Sign”, and I’m in no position to argue with it. It is without doubt the largest that I’ve seen. The museum is very well done, and not a roadside grab at your billfold for buying even more souvenirs and knickknacks.
The days when the Model A Coupe’s were the “King of the Road” are long gone, but it was their ability to take anyone on this long-distance journey is what created the lore of the Mother Road. This 1928 version of the first year of production of these classic machines looked right at home with the Oil Patch back drop.
Any museum that incorporates some interaction with the youngsters is going to get high marks from Gramma and Grampa. To Colin’s delight, this old fire engine even allowed bell ringing and steering! It predates the Model A days, and it mounted on a Model T chassis and reportedly was still used in the 1940s!
More of those items that defy any explanation. Tiny little town of Canute proudly displays their Route 66 “Knight in Shining Armor”. No. I don’t know why. The only thing we had in common was that we both looked cold this morning.
A few more cold miles down the road and we come upon another Gem of a Museum find: The General Thomas Stafford Space and Air Museum at Weatherford, OK. We fortuitously found out about it when we checked into the Wonderlust RV Park at the edge of town. (It also had not been mentioned in the library of Route 66 books). This actual airframe of an F-104 was flown many times by the sponsor of this museum, LtGen Thomas Stafford. Gen Stafford was an Astronaut and test pilot for the US Air Force, flying on nine different space missions. The museum is of the most impeccable standards, with many items on loan from the USAirForce Museum and the NASA Museum. Whoever in in charge of governance, presentation, and maintenance are consummate professionals.
I had to include this shot of the A10, Warthog, as it was the plane my bestest Amigo, Ken Brust flew before he retired from the Air Force. All “ground pounders”, such as myself, love the sight of these ugly flybirds as they come in close and stay close to keep the bad guys at bay.
From old fire engines to trainer simulators, interactive displays with the young’uns is a good thing.
Gen Stafford looks a bit like Caesar as he is portrayed here in his Space Flight Suit. I’m just glad this Oklahoman was on our side!
Forecast for the morrow looks wetter, by far, and maybe a little warmer. Not riding in the rain or snow, now you know.
Thanks for coming along. We love it out here, and love it more that you’re here with us.
First it was the clocks conspiring to yank two hours out of what had been a perfectly satisfactory day schedule, then the thermometer joined in the pummeling and gave up all its above freezing digits, apparently to the anemometer, which wound itself UP to multi-digit numbers, and to add insult to injury, changed it’s primary wind direction to straight out of the EAST! And, no, Kenny Brust, I don’t have my USMC cap on while listing justifiable “issues” relative to why I didn’t ride my bike for a single mile today!
Primary mission of the day was to meet up with Jana and Michael Barnet, who drove all the way (four and a half hour drive!!) from Richardson,Tx (Dallas suburb) to grace us with their wonderful company. Jana has ridden many a mile with me on Ragbrai and Oklahoma Freewheel and we had hoped to add a few more miles today along the Mother Road. Our readers will be glad to know that BOTH OF US placed comfort above misery today and elected to TALK AND REMINISCE about past riding adventures, in lieu of adding to them. It was a real treat to have that conversation while consuming some rare Texas Prime Steak at the Mesquite Canyon Steak House in Shamrock, Tx. Thank you So Very Much Jana and Michael. Only down-note was finding out that Jana will not be able to join our Merry Band of the Talleyrand Bike Club on Ragbrai 2019. 😦
While name-dropping towns in Texas, how about the town (well, almost a town) of Conway, TX, exactly on Route 66. This little burg may have had some good days, but it looks like they’re all in its past. The one bright spot was finding their attempt at new fame in erecting their very own “Volkswagon Ranch” to emulate the much more famous “Cadillac Ranch” highlighted in yesterday’s blog. Nice try, little Conway.
The giant grain elevator showing on the horizon now functions only as a grave marker for a failed business since the railroad that once operated to take away the grain stored there is no longer running. Posing nicely is Colin CONWAY McClellen!
Shamrock, TX had some nice surprises in store for us. One of the most iconic structures to be found along The Mother Road is this Tower Conoco Station in the center crossroads of the town. Constructed in the 1930’s, it has been lovingly maintained by the townsfolk since it stopped functioning as a viable business in the 1970s. The art deco style, along with the use of excellent building materials (glazed, colored tile and stucco covered concrete) have allowed it to weather the years in style.
The “U Drop In” cafe is all set up with period-correct decor and looks like it could start serving up 50 cent burgers and 10 cent cokes again any time.
Another of those “travel mysteries”: the parking lot of the just discussed historic Conoco station contains these six “charging stanchions” for charging up your Tesla automobile. SIX of them!! In really rural Texas?? We’ve seen maybe 2 of these cars in a month of driving across country. Like I said, a mystery.
A Blast From The Past: How many of you readers remember when we paid 34 cents per gallon of gas? Eight or nine times that amount now.
Hoping for more reasonable weather tomorrow to head on down the Road towards Oklahoma, “where the winds comes sweepin’ down the plain”. We’re just hoping it comes sweeping in the right direction.
Thanks for joining in with us.
I clearly remember entering Texas on the Southern Tier ride on the eastern border two years ago and realizing just long it was going to take to cross that huge state on the route we would be following through the middle. This time, on Route 66, it won’t be nearly as long, but just the thought of “crossing Texas” gets your attention.
We all had different reactions to the stormy night of last night. At bedtime, Bridget was tossing and rolling like a ship at sea, but all went to sleep relatively quickly. Izzy has been fighting a persistent cold for the last few days and her sneezing is strong enough to add impetus to the degree of rolling! I am always more attuned to the sounds from outside than any of the family, so I awoke quickly when the forecasted rain started. It soon crescendoed to fortissimo, and startled Colin out of his loft bed. His solution to handling his uneasiness with the situation was to climb down and strike up an animated conversation with Grampa, who was very happy to just “listen to the rhythm of the falling rain”. Izzy woke up just long enough to enquire if it was time for breakfast. Calm Cathy slept through it all. All part of “life on the Mother Road”. Our camp last night was also directly on Route 66, so there was no time lost getting on the road and heading for our planned stop for tonight at Amarillo, about 95 miles on east.
An unexpected delight surprised us near Glenrio, New Mexico. Not a single one of the many Route 66 guidebooks, nor my usually all encompassing Adventure Cycling Map info mentioned Russell’s Cafe on Route 66. For starters, it includes this very high quality classic car collection of more than 20 vehicles, and enough car paraphernalia to satisfy the most particular car lover. And, IT’S FREE! Not even a “suggested donation” bucket. Just go in and wander around to your heart’s content. And if you return in 6 to 8 months, there will be an entirely different collection of cars from the same owner, and the same thing for 12 to 14 months out, at which time the cars shown here will return for oohing and ahhing. It is advertised as a “Cafe”, and the food and decor of the 50’s persist there as well. And the prices were as reasonable as anyplace we have visited on the entire trip. Quite an accomplishment considering the distance supplies need to travel to keep the cuisine fresh and tasteful. The final touch of naming the bathrooms for the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis, and the the women’s, Marilyn, for Star of the Fifties, was over the top! Highly recommended!!
It was a beautiful bike riding day today, and I shed my layers of clothing as the day went on. If there ever was such a thing as a good day to ride a “century”, it would have been today, with the paucity of hills and persistent tail wind. It would have taken an earlier start than what I did to make that happen, and the kids were all excited about having enough time to visit the famed and fabled “Cadillac Ranch”. I have seen many pictures of it over the years, but still didn’t have much of an idea of what it was all about. Well, now I’ve been there, and I STILL don’t have much of an idea of what it’s all about. Not a single person around to make any attempt at control of the visitors, or collect any type of payment.
For specifics, ten old Cadillac cars buried to a similar depth (about one third of their length) at a precise angle, spaced at a precise distance apart from each, over a thousand feet from the boundary of a thousand acre wheat field being simultaneously grazed by several hundred yearling steers and mobbed by 150 to 200 people who let themselves in the gate and meandered across the field to the spectacle. Yeah, that’s about it. Oh, and there are a hundred or so used containers of spray paint thrown willy nilly near the cars for people to pick up and add their personal contribution to the color aura of the cars.
Izzy the Artist adding her touch to the rear deck of this 61 Caddy.
No surprise, Colin was more interested in just how many spray paint cans he could find that still had enough paint in them add another layer of semi-permanent beauty to these modern monoliths.
We’re looking at a “double whammy” from the clock tonight as we just crossed into the Central Time Zone from the Mountain Time Zone and lost an hour, and at 2a.m., Daylight Saving’s Time begins and we’ll “lose” another hour! We’ll have to sleep really fast tonight here in the Amarillo East KOA to stay sharp for tomorrow.
Thanks for coming along!