I honestly wondered as we set out on this journey if Route 66 would live up to her expectations. I had my suspicions that it would, but of course I enjoy history, research, and exploration: all of the key ingredients for a mother road traveler. If an antique suspension bridge does not do anything for your curiosity, then go to Disney Land. It takes a deep appreciation for things of the past to find true enjoyment in a trip like this. We set out of Springfield heading for Oklahoma City today. Alignments of the old route took us through Joplin, passing small towns on to Carthage, home of the restored Route 66 Drive-In movie theater. It operates on a seasonal schedule, but the knowledge that it is in good hands and doing well gives me enough satisfaction for now. Perhaps well catch them on the next trip. We drove on to Joplin and parted ways with Craig and Dottie Bridegam. Something interesting happened when we left Joplin though. By the time we reached Galena, we took the sci-fi exit and turned in to the twilight zone. Entire towns appeared to be uninhabited with that "time capsule effect", but were actually very
Route 66 Drive-In
A restored treasure in Carthage, MO
alive. This sort of feel continued through Kansas as I began to recognize scenes from the Disney Pixar movie "Cars". We turned onto the main drag through Baxter Springs (Radiator Springs ring a bell?) and immediately saw "Tow Mater" in front of the "4 Women on the Route 66" shop. It was the actual truck that inspired "Tow Maters" character for the movie. Directly across the street stands a run-down, brick building showing faded remnants of advertisements bleeding through from the past century, much like the wall welcoming travelers to Radiator Springs in the same movie. The Pixar corporation actually drove Route 66 for research and ideas to inspire the movie with the help of Michael Wallis, a Route 66 scholar and author, as well as the voice of "Doc Hudson" in the movie. What you see in that film is a conglomeration of icons and landmarks taken from the entire span of Route 66, from Illinois to California. Once we finally left Radiator... I mean Baxter Springs, we headed towards Riverton, home of the infamous Eisler Brothers Store. Inside we found Route 66 trinkets, old soda machines with that rich syrupy mixture, and the best turkey sandwich Ive ever
Will Rogers Memorial
Really? Whos idea was this?
had. Eisler Brothers represents small town USA the way it was before mega and super had to be used in the title to make something marketable. Leaving Riverton, we headed towards that Oklahoma borderline. Once in Oklahoma, we pulled onto a 1920s alignment of 66 that is one lane, and absurdly rough. No matter, we drove on and appreciated the simplistic nature in which the road was originally constructed. In the 20s, people were still in disbelief that the automobile would ever catch on. Even if it did, most people would be traveling west with no reason to head back east. One way for very few automobiles equaled less cost for construction. It was as simple as that, or so they thought. After the 20s alignment dead-ended we continued on to Claremore, home of Will Rogers and the Will Rogers Museum/Memorial. It was a beautiful tribute, but Misti and I could not help but notice a creepy window at the top of the museum with a mural of Will Roger looking out. We ran to the car as quickly as possible and headed for Catoosa, home of the "Blue Whale". The "Blue Whale" is just that, a blue whale made
of concrete sitting out in a pond that a local land owner Hugh Davis constructed for his wife as an anniversary present. Since the whale was designed with slides, and a place to dive off into the water, Davis opened it up for Route 66 traffic and locals and through the years it became a real icon for the road. By 1988, it fell into disrepair as the Daviss were unable to manage the attraction, but recently it has been restored to its original nature. Next to the "Blue Whale" is the dilapidated "Animal Reptile Kingdom" which is a run-down ark type structure. I hope they never mingled the reptiles with the swimmers. Our second-to-last stop was Arcadia to see the Round Barn which sits right off of 66. What else can you say? I mean its a stinkin round barn. There was so much to take in, but the coolest attraction was waiting just around the corner. Catch the next blog update to find what is was.
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