Today was a day to sleep in…we were up by 0700 (which is sleeping in for me)…the fortunate news this morning is that there were no earthquakes…and the hostage situation has been resolved so it is safe to be outside.
We decided to have our breakfast at the “best” breakfast spot on Route 66. http://www.kixon66.com/
Kix on 66 is your typical diner on Route 66. Julie decided to try the Springfield Mexican Scramble; which is Chorizo, scrambled eggs and cheese, served with hash browns and a flour tortilla. I had the Vega Green Chile omelet which is an omelet with chopped green chili and house made sausage, topped with green sauce and melted cheddar cheese. The food is fantastic but very inexpensive. The atmosphere of the diner is kitschy just like you would expect on Route 66. There is also a gift shop that has all of your Route 66 souvenirs that you may need. We passed on the souvenirs as we figured we would be coming across many more gift shops on this trip.
We strolled back across Main Street/Route 66, and checked out of the Roadrunner Lodge. http://www.roadrunnerlodge.com/ Loaded up the car and headed west. Of course, that meant driving the length of Main Street in Tucumcari. This allowed us to see all of the art deco style hotels and signage in the town as well as a couple of famous landmarks and sculptures. Our first stop, Santa Fe, on the oldest alignment of Route 66, dating back to 1926. This was a 175 mile detour off of I40 to get up to Santa Fe. It was beautiful countryside with lots of mountains and very little traffic.
We arrived in Santa Fe around lunchtime. Little did we know…it was a weekend that the “square” was closed and there was a festival going on. The festival was packed…and by packed, I mean you can’t move packed. We parked in one of the public parking lots and started meandering the streets of Santa Fe. By streets, I mean roadways as narrow as an alley in most towns.
The first order of business was to find someplace to get a cold drink…in other words…a cold beer. 🙂 We strolled through the streets looking for a “place” that looked like it might have good food and cold beer. After a trek through town we happened upon Atrisco Café and Bar. This seemed like the place to be, the place was packed….we were seated at the back of the bar overlooking a balcony over the street. It was nice to sit in the open air after all of the time in the car. We ordered a couple of beers; a La Cumbre Elevated IPA for me and a Santa Fe Pale Ale for Julie. The La Cumbre Elevated IPA really brought it. Talk about hops…this beer has it. I love hops, always have and hopefully always will. This was a mix of flavors, grapefruit, resiny, grassy…in other words delicious. The Santa Fe Pale Ale was also very good. Julie isn’t a hophead like I am but I am slowly converting her. It’s a process. When I started dating her about 19 years ago, she thought that Amstel light was good beer. Thank God she got over that pretty quickly or this relationship would’ve never made it. I can put up with a lot of things, but “liking” bad beer isn’t one of those things.
Lunch consisted of chicken enchiladas for me and pork burrito for Julie. The food was delicious and fairly priced. Portions were not too large. We enjoyed lunch and the sights and sounds around us then moved on.
We strolled through all of the booths at the market looking at the local wares that were being sold including a huge; I mean HUGE pink flamingo made from scrap metal. This thing was about 7 feet tall and painted bright pink. If money was not problem, I would’ve purchased this thing on the spot and had it delivered to my Dad. He hates pink flamingos!!! I have enjoyed many years of messing with him in regards to his aversion of pink flamingos. One time I purchased several pink flamingo lawn sprinklers that had flapping wings when the water was turned on…stuck them in the yard and turned the sprinkler on so that they would see them when they turned the corner after an 8 hour drive home from Chicago. Another time, I purchases as much pink flamingo “stuff” as I could find and placed it all over the house. This turned into a competition between me and my parents…every year for many years I received a pink flamingo Christmas ornament. That has faded for now but someday I hope to revive it with something like the giant flamingo that I saw in Santa Fe.
A couple of hours later we decided to move on to Flagstaff where we would be spending the next couple of days…on the way to Flagstaff we were going by a couple of places that I really wanted to stop at but with the daylight waning, I felt that it was best to backtrack and go to these places the following day…the trip to Flagstaff was fairly uneventful…other than driving into the blinding sunset on the freeway headed directly west…now that was a fun time…I honestly thought that my retinas were fried by the time we got to the hotel in Flagstaff…another motel that we didn’t have a reservation for…an old 1960’s Howard Johnson…for about $69 per night…and the best part…there was a restaurant attached to the motel that ranks in the top 10 restaurants in Flagstaff on Trip Advisor. Time for dinner and then turn in for another night…
Ughhhhh…How can it be time to get up and get moving?? I feel like I have been in a car for almost 16 hours and 900 miles…oh that’s right; that’s exactly what I did yesterday.
Speaking of yesterday; where did that day go? We started in NE Ohio and we are now in SW Missouri…and what is that God awful shaking and noise in our hotel? An earthquake, a 5.8 magnitude quake to be exact. I can’t believe that we experienced an earthquake in Joplin, Missouri! Of course, we had no idea what it was. We don’t have earthquakes on a frequent basis in Ohio.
Apparently Julie thought that I was doing jumping jacks in the hotel room while she was getting her shower. If I was doing jumping jacks, the people below us would be complaining about the noise…as it was, nobody realized what was going on…seriously, the thought of me doing jumping jacks makes me nauseated.
I reassured her repeatedly that I wasn’t doing anything but watching the news. The earthquake occurred in Pawnee, Oklahoma; about 150 miles from Joplin; but was felt as far away as South Dakota and Southern Texas. I was certainly hoping that this wasn’t an omen of things to come on our trip across Route 66. Ok, Ok, enough about the earthquake…
We are…on the road again…(isn’t that a song?). Day 2 is just beginning…our first destination for the day is Kansas…the only portion of the Route that we drove in its entirety…of course, the length of Route 66 in Kansas is only a bit over eleven miles so that isn’t really saying much.
Our first stop for the day was Galena, Kansas. Galena is a quaint little town just across the Missouri border. The first thing that we come across on the route on day 2 is a small gas station…that has Cars characters on the parking lot around the gas station…I have to be honest, I haven’t seen any of the Cars movies so I am pretty much in the dark as to what the heck I am looking at…however, our friends John and Angie have a 6 year old. I’m sure that Ian will be able to help us out with the characters.
Time to move on from Galena…remember, you are just seeing some of the things that we saw at each stop. This blog would be 100’s of pages long if I talked about or showed you pics of everything that we saw along the way.
Our next stop is Commerce, Oklahoma. Apparently Commerce is the home of Mickey Mantle, the Commerce Comet is one of his nicknames. Mickey played his entire career with the New York Yankees. Mantle was arguably the greatest offensive threat of any center fielder in baseball history. Mickey was names after Mickey Cochrane, a Hall of Fame catcher. Obviously, his father was a big baseball fan. Mickey never believed that he was going to live a long healthy life so it was well known that he spent quite a bit of time drinking…Mantle’s entire family including his wife and son both went to rehab for alcohol addiction and urged Mickey to do the same. Shortly after Mickey completed treatment, his son Billy, died of cardiac problems brought on by years of substance abuse. Mantle received a liver transplant at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, on June 8, 1995. His liver was severely damaged by alcohol-induced cirrhosis, as well as hepatitis C. Prior to the operation, doctors also discovered he had inoperable liver cancer known as an undifferentiated hepatocellular carcinoma, further necessitating a transplant.In July, he had recovered enough to deliver a press conference at Baylor, and noted that many fans had looked to him as a role model. “This is a role model: Don’t be like me”, a frail Mantle said. He also established the Mickey Mantle Foundation to raise awareness for organ donations. Soon, he was back in the hospital, where it was found that his cancer was rapidly spreading throughout his body.
Oklahoma has a lot of Route 66 but it is mostly overlaid by interstate so we would be spending the next couple of hours on Interstates 44 and 40. Our next stop was going to be a little “ghost town” called Texola on the border of Texas and Oklahoma.
Texola seemed like a good place to stop for lunch…little did we realize that driving across Oklahoma is almost as boring as driving across Indiana and Illinois…with the exception of the “Largest McDonalds” in the world that straddles I44, there really wasn’t much to see. We drove and drove…1PM arrived, still not to Texola, 2PM arrived and we were still not to Texola but I refused to stop anywhere but Texola…low and behold we finally made it…around 230PM. It was a bit late for lunch but this is where we were stopping…as I reminded Julie, we still had a lot of traveling to do because we were hoping to make it to Tucumcari, NM as our stop for the night on day 2.
This part of Route 66 was just outside of Texola. Texola was a bit disappointing. It was supposed to be a ghost town with an active bar and some abandoned buildings. The hope was to stop at the bar and have a cold beer prior to exploring the ruins of the ghost town. The bar was closed so it just ended up being a picnic with some water and a bit of exploring of the few buildings that were still standing…one of which was a regional jail during the Indian era in Oklahoma…and there were more “Cars” here…by now, I am wondering how in the hell did all of the “Cars” character cars got placed along the route…remember, we saw the first ones in Galena, Kansas earlier that morning and we were now on the Oklahoma/Texas border.
And, like the sign says, there is not other place like this. 🙂
We are finally back in the car and are heading west again…we drive across the panhandle of Texas with our next stop not far away…the Cadillac Ranch just outside of Amarillo.
Standing along Route 66 west of Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch was invented and built by a group of art-hippies imported from San Francisco. They called themselves The Ant Farm, and their silent partner was Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh 3. He wanted a piece of public art that would baffle the locals, and the hippies came up with a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin. Ten Caddies were driven into one of Stanley Marsh 3’s fields, then half-buried, nose-down, in the dirt (supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza). They faced west in a line, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, their tail fins held high for all to see on the empty Texas panhandle.
That was in 1974. People would stop along the highway, walk out to view the cars — then deface them or rip off pieces as souvenirs. Stanley Marsh 3 and The Ant Farm were tolerant of this public deconstruction of their art — although it doomed the tail fins — and eventually came to encourage it. Decades have passed. The Cadillacs have now been in the ground as art longer than they were on the road as cars. They are stripped to their battered frames, splattered in day-glo paint splooge, barely recognizable as automobiles. Yet Cadillac Ranch is more popular than ever. It’s become a ritual site for those who travel The Mother Road. The smell of spray paint hits you from a hundred yards away; the sound of voices chattering in French, German, and UK English makes this one of the most polyglot places between the UN and Las Vegas.
As we exited our car to cross the field of sorghum that surrounded the cars the smell of spray paint was everywhere…and the cars in the field were absolutely dripping with it.
Back in the car and heading west…what is that awful smell????I’m from Ohio so I am quite familiar with the smell of manure but this is the worst that I have ever smelled in my life…along the road is a cattle processing area with thousands and thousands of cattle and all of the smells that go with it…I picked the speed up to get as far away as I could from this place….I was really hoping that the wind was not coming from the east of the next hour of the trip was going to be all but unbearable from the cattle smell…luckily, the wind was not a west wind and we had smooth sailing and clear air after about 10 minutes.
I need to remind everyone, we did almost 900 miles on day 1, this was day 2 and we were quickly approaching the midpoint of Route 66. We would be stopping there for a few quick pics and an ice cream at the MidPoint Café…well that’s what we thought we would do…the MidPoint Cafe’ was closed so we just got some pictures.
It’s ok that the MidPoint Café http://route66midpointcafe.com/ was closed…we needed to make some time if we were going to get to Tucumcari, New Mexico and find a room…remember, no reservations for us…we arrive at a destination and start looking for a room…the main thing is that the room is clean and there are no bedbugs…http://bedbugregistry.com/ is our friend. Adrian, Texas where the MidPoint Café is located is only about 60 miles from Tucumcari…an easy drive after the amount of time that we have spent on the road. (just found out that the MidPoint Café is for sale)
After about 50 minutes we arrive on the outskirts of Tucumcari, NM. It is exactly what I would expect in a tourist town along Route 66…many hotels that have neon signs advertising the best rooms, best rates, etc. We also saw a few that appeared deserted and were for sale…man, I wish I had some money to invest in a business like this. I can imagine all of the interesting people that you would meet on a daily basis as they make the trek across the Mother Road.
We stopped at a little place called the Roadrunner Lodge.
I highly recommend that you stay at the Roadrunner Lodge if you are ever out that way. The rooms were immaculate, the rates were acceptable and the staff was very attentive…they even gave us a quarter for the first 15 minutes on the magic fingers bed in our room…did I forget to mention, all of the rooms are decorated with décor from the 1960’s? It is a fun place to stay. You won’t regret it at all.
After checking in we ventured to Del’s Restaurant for dinner…finally time for a couple of craft beers with dinner…well, no it isn’t. The closest thing that they have to craft beer is Sam Adams so that’s what I had. The food was fantastic and the service was very good. You have to stop in the gift shop at the front of the restaurant…you never know what you might pick up there. http://www.delsrestaurant.com/
After dinner, we decided to take a walk along the main street which was Route 66 to check out the neon signs for all of the businesses along the road…unfortunately, the sleepy little town of Tucumcari had a hostage situation going on just a couple of blocks from our hotel so we went back to the hotel and relaxed before turning in for the night and trying out the “magic fingers” bed in the room…it’s funny; as a kid I always thought that the “vibrating” beds in the hotels were really cool…this time, I found it sort of annoying…boy do I hope that I’m not getting old… Day two has ended. We have traveled over 1400 miles in two days…it’s time to turn in…tomorrow will be another day on the road.
Almost a year ago, I made mention to my wonderful wife Julie, that I wanted to make a “trip” across the country. We’ve talked about this type of adventure in the past but always said it would be a good trip to take when we are “old”. Mind you, I’m on the downhill slide to 55 and Julie is 52 years old. I don’t feel that either of us acts as though we’re in the midst of middle age.
What is middle age???? To me, middle age is nothing more than a chronology of your life. Most people view it as a mile marker that you reach during your lifetime…I personally view it as a bunch of bunk. I have a lot of living left to do and really don’t care what my chronological age is.
Back to my wonderful wife. Why is she a wonderful wife??? Because she humors me in my endeavors; whether it be purchasing a “drone” so that I can take aerial photos (did that),
building a bar from scratch with no written plans…all of the details of the bar residing in my head (did that) or planning a trip somewhere in the United States of America.
After some discussion we decided to start the planning process for this trip. First off, we needed a destination…funny thing here; our destination was Dover, Ohio…you know, Home!!! The question was which way were we going to go? North, South, East or West? We decided upon Southwest…driving across Route 66 to California. We also decided that we were not going to be the “purist” Route 66 travelers. We were going to pick up the “Mother Road” in St. Louis, not in Chicago, where the Route starts. We have been on portions of the Route in Chicago and didn’t want to add a minimum of 8 hours to the trip driving to Chicago from Dover. We also aren’t staying strictly to Route 66 since much of it is impassable with a car and some of it is no longer in existence.
Ok, so now we have a plan…when do we want to go? We needed decent weather. We didn’t want to encounter snow on this journey and we didn’t want it as hot as Hades in the Mojave. September 2016 sounded good. This left us about 10 months to plan for the trip.
Time passed…Christmas 2016 rolled around and surprise of surprises, Julie purchased me books and maps for the trip that would help us with the planning process. Books that described things to see on Route 66, places to eat along Route 66 and places to stay on Route 66.
Time to throw that first monkey wrench into the plan. I explained to Julie that we wouldn’t be making reservations anywhere along the Route. We would drive until we feel we have seen enough or until the hypnotism of the road takes its toll and its time to stop instead of pushing too hard and causing an accident. The look of horror on her face told me what she thought of this plan. Let me say this about Julie, she is spontaneous but she likes to plan…I know…that doesn’t make sense, but if you know my wife you would understand…her idea of spontaneity tends to be of the type where she wakes up, says lets go to Columbus for the night…gets on the PC and makes reservations for the weekend. Not having reservations and a set destination is pretty much a foreign concept to her.
Of course, there’s also the “scourge” of bedbugs in hotels across the country and the last thing that we wanted to do was suffer from the bites of these little bastards or bring them home to our house in Ohio…(I need to say, this is more my concern than Julies) so I checked into a website called bedbugregistry.com. That way we could check to see if there are any reports of bedbugs at the hotel that we decide to stop at…if there are reports of bedbugs, then we move on to the next hotel.
Months go by, we periodically “plan” on things that we want to see along the route…we change those plans…we decide on other things to see…we figure out very quickly that we will not be able to do all that we want to do in a two week time frame…time to start paring down the list of “must-see” items… 🙁 Unfortunately, two weeks off is the most that either of us can swing as we work as managers in our respected fields…Nursing for Julie and Safety for me…
The departure date finally arrives…it’s 5AM on September 2nd, 2016 and we’re in the driveway, the car is loaded with our luggage, the drone, (you just never know if you will need it) and a couple of sleeping bags in the event that we can’t find a hotel to sleep in…(that made for an interesting discussion with Julie). We also have a cooler with lunch meat…as a cost savings measure we decided that we wouldn’t purchase lunch on the road but would instead stop and eat in rest areas, picnic areas, etc…
We pose for the obligatory selfie with my newly purchased “selfie stick” so that we can post our time of departure on our respective Social Media platforms…FB, Twitter, etc…(if you purchase a selfie stick, make sure that you purchase one with a Bluetooth connection and a button that is not attached to the stick), and we are off!
I won’t bore you with the details of the drive across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Let’s just say that driving across farm country for 9 hours can be a bit boring. Unless of course you have some strange fetish for corn and soybeans…then this drive would be like heaven.
Our first change on the trip was arriving quickly. We were going to stop at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. While perusing the internet on her smartphone we discovered that the park surrounding the Arch is under reconstruction, if you were planning on going up in the Arch you needed to purchase tickets ahead of time instead of arriving and walking to the ticket booth in the park. There were limited numbers available…OK, scratch the Gateway Arch…we will take pictures as we drive by…oh and scratch going to any breweries in St. Louis. We decided to drive to Joplin, Missouri since we wouldn’t be making a stop in St. Louis.
Prior to Joplin we are planning a stop at the Route 66 Park and Museum https://mostateparks.com/park/route-66-state-park just outside St. Louis in Eureka, Missouri. That’s exactly what we did. It’s a cool place to get some history regarding the Mother Road. The Museum has some really cool neon that, at one time or another, was along the Route. They also have the obligatory gift shop (the first of many that we stopped at in 14 days).
OK, so the trip just got real!!! We’re officially at/on Route 66. Needless to say, our energy and adrenaline is high. I reassure Julie that we can make it to Joplin with little trouble…after all, I used to live there back in 1984. I know my way around.
We continue on our way with stops here and there along the route. When we get to Springfield we get off of Interstate 44 to take a large section of the remaining Route 66 into Joplin. The sun is beginning to set but I again reassure my wife that everything is OK…I used to live in the area…I know my way around. We see some really cool stuff including an old gas station,
the old Route 66 Drive-In located in Carthage,
and the giant Praying Hands in Webb City, Missouri.
We’re now moving on to Joplin. Webb City, is just outside of Joplin. We’ve been on the road for hours and hours…approximately 15 hours so far but we are just minutes away from town. Julie gets on her phone, finds an inexpensive hotel on 32nd Street, does the online reservation and we are on our way. I know exactly where I’m going (hahaha now that’s a joke). I haven’t been to this town in 31 years…things may’ve changed a bit but that’s ok. I know that I can make it to the hotel. All I have to do is get to Rangeline Road which is just beyond the airport make a left and go south until I reach 32nd street. What I didn’t take into account was that several years ago there was a devastating tornado that rolled through Joplin. This tornado changed the entire look of the city…I had no idea where I was…time to call on trusty On-Star to send directions to the vehicle. (I recommend a good GPS or a service like On-Star when making this kind of trip.)
Finally after 15 1/2 hours and 861 miles we roll into the parking lot. I need to mention, we still haven’t eaten dinner…and Julie tends to get a bit “hangry”. As luck would have it, there was an Applebee’s right across the street. I was hungry and thirsty…it was a long but exciting day and it was just day one of 14.
As a part of the trip, we decided that we would do two things whenever possible…eat at local restaurants and drink local brews. We were too tired to find a local restaurant and Applebee’s was convenient. We ordered our drinks…beers from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City (as close to local as you will get in Joplin). I had a Tank #7 Farmhouse Ale, beginning with a big surge of fruity aromatics and grapefruit-hoppy notes, the flavor of this complex, straw-colored ale tapers off to a peppery, dry finish. Julie had a Unfiltered Wheat beer. Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with a natural citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance. It is one of Boulevard Brewery’s best selling beers. We drank our beers and ate our meals in utter exhaustion then shuffled to the car for the long drive across the street to the hotel.
Ohhh yea, Rangeline Road that I couldn’t find was just a block from my hotel…I should’ve just continued driving around…I would’ve located it eventually. Honestly though, Joplin has come a long way since I lived in the area. I am happy that they have recovered from the devastating tornado.
We sat in the hotel room and discussed plans for the next day…essentially, heading southwest towards New Mexico then went to bed…anyone that says spending the day driving is not tiring is full of crap…Just Sayin!!!!
Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.
Please use the comment section for any questions that you may have regarding this part of our journey. Please add any comments that you have about our trip. I am always anxious to hear from my readers!