Our campsite in Amarillo. We liked it a lot, actually.
Today was a longish drive (280+ miles) from Amarillo to Oklahoma City. We decided not to try and leave super early, given the time change yesterday, so we did some laundry, rode bikes, played on the playground and left just before 10. We did not eat breakfast, other than a small snack, preferring not to cook in the heat. We thought that we would grab a bite at a restaurant right away.
Turns out that our Route 66 path did not have a restaurant any time soon.. What the route did have is a few interesting diversions. At one point, they built an airport on top of the old route, so we had to go miles out of the way to pick the old road back up again.
The road in this area is mostly original cement highway, this time with short curbs on either side. The highway is very skinny. Our trailer tires ride on the line to the left and against the curb to the right. We spent a lot of time driving right down the middle of the road! (Note, our trailer is pretty skinny... 8ft or so wide from wheel to wheel).
Giant Steel cross (look online for Groom Cross for better pics)
a great example of the road being bisected by I-40. Coming down from a hill, you saw the cement road, then a paved road that took you to the left around an overpass, then, on the OTHER side of I-40, the cement road picking up again and heading off straight. In this area with a lot of hills and rivers, Route 66 did some wandering to find optimal crossings. I-40 just blasted straight on through. Therefore, we did this type of I-40 crossing frequently (sometimes every other mile). Unfortunately, we missed the picture of the crossing I described above, and couldn't find another one that showed the same example.
The first restaurant we came by was about 45 minutes later in the town of Groom. Before we found the restaurant, we passed a GIANT steel cross (something like 130 feet tall) near I-40. (we got a summary of the story from the restuarant owner later). Apparently, it is a must-stop for the religious natured, but we moved on. The restuarant was named the Grill. We judge whether a restaurant is worth going to by whether it looks like locals attend. We saw a number of pickup trucks in the
Great old Route 66 eatery. Best breakfast I have had in a while (and I said that in front of Anne who had cooked the morning before)
parking lot.. so that was our place.
The food was excellent, service was great.. and the actual facility was clean, well-kept, but seemed classic. We asked for details, and the owner came out and spoke with us for a while. It turns out this diner was an original Route 66 diner, and was called The Golden Spread. It was owned for 47 years by the same woman, Ruby, who was well-liked in the community and raised her own kids while also running the restaurant. Apparently, Ruby, when she retired, refused to step foot in the re-incarnations of the restaurant (one of them a steak joint). When the current owner (who was a neighbor) opened The Grill, she worked closely with Ruby for ideas and inspiration. Ruby came in for coffee and food often after that. Unfortunately, Ruby passed in December, so we didn't have a chance to meet her.
At the east end of Groom (Groom was a pretty happening town, it seems), there is a standard water tower that happens to be tilting. Not sure if was designed that way, but 2 of the feet are now about 5 feet above the ground. They call it the Leaning
Yes, that tower is leaning.
Tower of Texas.
A few miles down the road in McLean, we stopped by a museum dedicated to barbed wire (and a little Route 66). Lots of interesting things, though the most discussion came from a small room dedicated to the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. We found a newspaper document about Ruby (owner of the Golden Spread in Groom).
After McLean, we continued down Route 66 through several towns, across the Oklahoma border (which doesn't have a welcome sign on Route 66), and through to Weatherford. Most of the road in this area is cement. However, the cement, while it has held up pretty well, has done so in approx 4 foot slabs. Each slab has moved slightly, giving the road a roller coaster effect when you are towing a trailer. This results in up-down roller coaster motion for trailer, car, and car passengers. For the passengers, this was mildly annoying. For the trailer, this tossed our plastic cups and dishes all around the cabinet. For the hitch on the trailer attached to the bike rack, this proved fatal.
We stopped for gas in Weatherford, OK and Tony discovered that the bike rack was very loose.
Museum dedicated to barbed wire.... huge room with lots of different styles of wire from all over the world. A lot of other neat stuff here too, including Air Conditioning.
Upon closer inspection, it turns out that we broke 2.5 of the 3 welds that were holding the accessory hitch in place on the trailer. The remaining .5 weld was all that was holding the bikes and rack from being drug on the road behind the trailer, which would probably have resulted in losing the back bumper or worse. We removed the bike rack, re-packed the trailer and car to store the bikes in the back of the van, and left the accursed bike rack next to a dumpster. (All of this done in 97 degree heat at 80% humidity). Tony said that the bike rack had been the only really frustrating part of the whole trip, as he has had to tweak or fix it almost every day, and he was actually glad to be rid of it. Also, the only use that we can forsee for the accessory hitch on the trailer was a bike rack... tony is thinking of just taking it off when we get home (held up with ropes for now).
After the hitch adventure, we proceeded down Route 66. It was starting to get late, so we peeked forward in our trip and
No Route66 exhibit is complete without Burma-shave signs.
chose an interesting route. It turns out Tony really likes old bridges, and we saw that there was a very long bridge on one of the Route 66 options. We got there, saw that there was an access road to the river valley below, and took a hike (it was only 92 at the time) where we got some neat pictures. This access road was a put-in place for off-roaders, and there were a lot of trailers and various types of off-road vehicles there. We were only a bit concerned about weight on the bridge until we saw a fully-loaded semi truck fly over the bridge with no problem.
After the long bridge, and some really rough concrete road (removing the bike rack did NOT improve trailer performance).. we travelled directly to the KOA campground. We did NOT travel 66 through OKC, as our guidebook told us there is not much related to the original road left.
The KOA campground in Choctaw (just east of OKC) is really nice. Lots of trees, secluded, friendly, lots of shade. There are LOTS of crickets and some other bugs that make a ton of noise all day and especially at night.
Newspaper article about Ruby when she closed down the eatery and retired.
It was so loud that it drowned out the sound of air conditioners and even casual conversation. Those bugs should be kicked out for violating quiet hours.
Tomorrow, we are not travelling, but staying in OKC. We'll choose our activity tomorrow morning, but the water park is looking really nice.
Tony's Trailering Tips - The sticker that says "Don't use on a trailer of any type" is probably there for a reason.
Michelle's Musings - When you go on a trip more than 2 days away, bring something from home with you (other than clothes).
Anne's Annecdotes - Each KOA seems to have it's own personality, most obviously expressed in the bathrooms.
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