Amarillo to Santa Rosa

Day 9 – Thursday

 Amarillo to Santa Rosa

 So today we say goodbye Texas and hello New Mexico!

Lots of snow overnight – at least 6 inches, but the highway is clear enough – the snow-ploughs have done a great job! Route 66, though, isn’t great, so the plan is to stay on the highways all the way, except for call in points, to be on the safe side, and to keep us moving.

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A quick flash into Amarillo downtown first. Many places are shut because of the weather, but to be honest there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot to see there.

Potter County Library, Amarillo

Potter County Library, Amarillo

I struggled with 8oz!

I struggled with 8oz!

Tempting offer on the way out of Amarillo?

Tempting offer on the way out of Amarillo?

Potter County Courthouse

Potter County Courthouse

We had a second stop at Cadillac ranch to experience it is deep snow but dry, and then onward to our first stop, the half-way point of Route 66 at Adrian. Yee hah!

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The next stop is our final stop in Texas – the deserted town of Glenrio. Not so long ago, it housed a small community, but gradually, when the new highways were built, towns like this fell by the wayside as travelers sailed past. This community now has a population of only 5, but the deserted buildings are now preserved as part of Route 66 history.

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Show me the way...

Show me the way…

Over the border next, and we are in New Mexico!

The skies suddenly seem blue and the landscape morphs into more rugged and dramatic views, with very few signs of life between towns. Magical!

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Our one stop today  in New Mexico is in the charming town of Tukumkari. This is the home of the famous Blue Swallow Hotel, and there are lots of other Route 66 inspired buildings and murals which give the town real character.

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Next stop tomorrow is either Albuquerque or Santa Fe. Whichever we decide, we must be in Albuquerque by 11am Saturday for our Breaking Bad tour! Beyond excited!!

Show me the way to Amarillo!

Day 8 – Wednesday

Oklahoma City to Amarillo

Long drive today – 240-something miles, and that’s the straight I-40 route, not the twisty 66. We check the forecast and get a bit of a shock – a severe weather warning for Amarillo, snow is on its way! After a couple of days of warm weather, the coats are back on! After the obligatory bop/ march to Peter Kay/ Tony Christie to get us in the mood, we head off!

The drive from Oklahoma to Amarillo is half in the state of Oklahoma and half in Texas. The Oklahoma stretch takes in a few Route 66 towns – including El Reno, Weatherford and Clinton. In Texas, the main stops are Shamrock, McLean Jericho and Groom.

In the end we keep it brief, and only drop by El Reno, Clinton, Shamrock and Groom, as we want to get to Amarillo in daylight, and before snowfall. To be honest, none of these towns are must sees, but it is probably as much to do with the grim grey skies as anything else. We really took the beautiful blue skies for granted over the past week.

El Reno

El Reno

Route 66 Museum, Clinton

Route 66 Museum, Clinton

Museum

Museum

Shamrock

Shamrock

U-drop in, Shamrock

U-drop in, Shamrock

U-Drop Inn

U-Drop Inn

180 ft, illuminated Cross of Our Lord, Groom

180 ft, illuminated Cross of Our Lord, Groom

Leaning water tower, Groom. Built as a gimmick to promote a now-vanished truck stop

Leaning water tower, Groom. Built as a gimmick to promote a now-vanished truck stop

Another motive for getting to Amarillo earlier is the Cadillac ranch – the art installation just outside Amarillo, which is probably the most famous sight there, and on our ‘definitely must do’ list. By the time we near Amarillo, the best of the day is over and the snow has started to fall. We decide that rather than waiting till the morning to visit the ranch (8 inches of snow is forecast) we should press on and try to find it, even though we don’t exactly know where it is. We needn’t have worried though, as it is just visible from the main highway. And what a sight – even in the snow! We throw caution to the wind, and head out on foot to reach it, completely underestimating the clay mud which gathers on our feet (suede boots were not a good idea!).

However, we did it, and have some great pictures to prove it!

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amarillo amarillo 2

The snow is now coming down heavily and there is a chance we may be stuck tomorrow – some say the highway may close completely, never mind Route 66. A quick trip to the mall to buy some wellies, dinner at an amazing thai/ sushi pace, and back to the hotel to watch the snow fall…. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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A day in Oklahoma City

Day 7 – Tuesday 

Oklahoma

Today was one of the best of the trip so far! We made the right decision to spend 2 nights here, so we had the rare luxury of a full day to explore!

First stop – the Oklahoma National Stockyards. I read about this in the book 1000 things to do before you die, and it is truly unmissable. It is the world largest stocker/feeder market, and on Mondays and Tuesday’s they trade, and you can go watch! What a privilege?

Entrance to Stockyard City!

Entrance to Stockyard City!

Entering the main livestock area

Entering the main livestock area

The stockyard area is in what can only be described as a town within a town, totally western, celebrating all things cowboy (and girl)! It is also where we went to dinner last night at the Cattlemen’s.

The auction room is reached via a series of connecting raised platforms, which allow you full view of the hundreds of pens of livestock beneath. Today it was mainly cows.

The main auction building

The main auction building

Reached by a series of platforms

Reached by a series of platforms

Pens below

Pens below

Herding the cows

Herding the cows

Entrance to the auction

Entrance to the auction

The action room itself was small, compared to the size of building it was housed in. Seated in amphitheatre style seating, traders and farmers bid on the animals below, in a pit in front of a raised auctioneer platform. An auction hand presses a button, and a hatch lifts to the left of the auctioneer, allowing for a cow to come through and pass between the auctioneer and the audience, helped along by two auction-hands, with flagged sticks to keep them moving to and fro. Then out through another hatch on the right. The auction-hands are in the pit with the animals, but have a lectern style shield that they can hide behind, particularly when the bulls come out.

The auction room

The auction room

The auction podium

The auction podium

Auction

Auction

The noise and smell is unique. The auctioneer talks so fast it sounds like he is gargling and the smell is a mix of chewing tobacco, cows and smoke. There is probably about 60 people in the room.

We find out later that today is a quieter day – only around 800 animals to sell, but yesterday was a record day – 13,800 animals were sold, and trading went on from 8am in the morning until 3am this morning!

Loved the auction!

Loved the auction!

We have a wonder around some amazing shops – particularly loved Langston’s which it the cowboy emporium magnifique!

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The afternoon is all about downtown, predominantly Bricktown and the memorial.

Bricktown is the historic district downtown, with many original brick-built buildings, mainly holding restaurants and bars. What strikes us is just how quiet the city centre is generally. It is 1.30pm on a Tuesday lunchtime, but the streets are deserted, despite there being huge office blocks all over. Very little traffic too. Perhaps there is an underground world that we don’t know about, but it feels very odd compared to London!

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The Oklahoma memorial is very well done. Beautifully simple and symbolic. Each chair represents one of the 168 killed when Timothy McVeigh detonated his car bomb on April 19th 1995 – the biggest ever home grown terrorist attack in the states.. The size of chairs represents adults and children. The trees mark the outline of the building, and the third one in shows where the car was parked. The arches at each end are etched with a time – 9.01 and 9.03. The bomb went off at 9.02, and that moment of time is held between the arches. The water is the location of the original road – and represents the eternal flow of life. Its hard not to feel incredibly moved and emotional.

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Oklahoma has been a delight and a highlight. One for everyone to add to their bucket lists?!

Dinner in Oklahoma City

Day 6 – Monday

Dinner on our first night in Oklahoma had to be at the Cattlemen’s Restaurant – the consummate Western steakhouse, and the state’s busiest restaurant, apparently! Tom looked after us, and showed us around, proudly sharing where the president, George Bush, once sat.

Cattlemen's special brew

Cattlemen’s special brew

Surf and turf!

Surf and turf!

The lovely Tom

The lovely Tom

The presidential seat!

The presidential seat!

Inside restaurant

Inside restaurant

The famous restaurant!

The famous restaurant!

 

Tulsa to Oklahoma

Day 6 – Monday

Heading away from Tulsa, we decided to drive all the way to Oklahoma on the oldest Route 66 roads, reaching Sapulpa first – a quiet, deserted type of high street, but with various retro advertisements to mark the Route 66 heyday…..

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Onwards to Rock Creek bridge….

Rock Creek Bridge

Rock Creek Bridge

From here to Bristow…there are supposedly more miles of brick streets here than anywhere other city in Oklahoma. And that’s about it.

Bristow

Bristow

Stroud next, famous for the Rock Cafe

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And the last town before OK is Arcadia, home of the legendary round barn, and Pops, a ‘space-age gas station’!

Round Barn

Round Barn

Mr Sam, round barn aficionado. Utterly charming

Mr Sam, round barn aficionado. Utterly charming

Pops

Pops

Bottle of Pops

Bottle of Pops

Other key points of note today were the weather…an amazing peak of 22 degrees! We didn’t think we would need the air con on this trip. And other unique sights…here are my top 3:

Senior Moments. The newspaper for Baby Boomers!

Senior Moments. The newspaper for Baby Boomers!

Every home needs one. Here's where you buy

Every home needs one. Here’s where you buy

How to inspire your customers

How to inspire your customers

Tulsa

Day 5 – Monday

Where the last blog left off was actually driving towards  Tulsa. I thought after a few hours cool down it wouldn’t seem so bad. But nope, it was bad. You see, the bright sparks in Tulsa seem to think it’s perfectly ok to have no cats eyes, road markings on slip roads, roadside lighting, clear signage or even tarmac on slip roads,. These are deemed unnecessary so it’s like driving blind at 60 mph. Also, we had absolutely no idea as to how big Tulsa is. It sounds so small and innocent but no, it is a vast sprawling metropolis of 10, 8 and 6 lane highways, going on for dozens of miles. Our screen grab map to the hotel stood no chance. When we finally reached it, we were bushed, and determined not to venture anywhere far for dinner. So, Ruby Tuesday’s at the end of the street it was, which was in the end was ok, and then we crashed at our actually very nice hotel. We thought we might explore Tulsa the next morning, but to be honest we just couldn’t face it.

Lesson is:

Never ever drive to Tulsa, in Tulsa or around Tulsa, in the dark, unless you’re from there or you have death wish. Got it?

So, deep breaths, no pictures, let’s move on!

p.s. apologies to anyone who is from Tusla, I’m sure it’s lovely if you live there!!

Springfield Missouri to Tulsa, Oklahoma

Day 5 – Sunday

Three states in a day – Missouri – Kansas – Oklahoma

Lazy start from our best western rail haven. To be honest, it wasn’t the best pick. On the plus side it had free wifi, free breakfast, lots of cute retro touches and the history of stays from both Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. And it was only £42. But that didn’t distract from the fact that the rooms were cold, the bathroom tiny and I didn’t get a great nights sleep. You get what you pay for I guess, so we’re paying a bit more from now in.

Route 66 Best Western

Route 66 Best Western

Where Elvis stayed

Where Elvis stayed

Hotel at night

Hotel at night

Route 66 Best Western

Route 66 Best Western Rail Heaven

First stop was Andy’s, for frozen custard. Not to be beaten by Ted Drewes being closed yesterday, we happened upon Andy’s when entering Springfield last night. Ok, so here’s the deal. Frozen custard is made like custard from cream and eggs, and the guy in our hotel said that this makes it healthier than ice cream. Well, I have to say, I couldn’t taste the difference and it certainly didn’t taste healthy. But whatever. So you can buy it as a cone (chocolate and vanilla only, no toppings allowed, as a sundae (any flavour, any topping) or as a concrete. The concrete sounded intriguing and exotic, so that’s what we had. Basically, it’s the frozen custard with the toppings mixed all the way through rather than on the top, in a cup with a spoon. It’s all in the marketing!

Andy's concrete with peanut butter cups please!

Andy’s concrete with peanut butter cups please!

Frozen Custard Heaven!

Frozen Custard Heaven!

Eatandys.com

It’s fair to say that Springfield is in the heart of the Bible Belt. Apt for our Sunday visit, and we saw plenty of churches. Particularly liked the one bang next door to the sinners and saints salon!

Church on outskirts of St Louis

Church on outskirts of St Louis

Fab next door signe

Fab next door sign

Otherwise, Springfield is a little run down. Some lovely retro buildings down town, but equally as many boarded up. We also had probably our best value meal so far here at Houlihans. Two courses including a 4oz fillet steak and two sides for $15.95 each. And happy hour started at 9pm (fabulous) with house wine and draft beer for only $3. Half decent place too!

Pride of place in Springfield is the new 'London Calling' pit stop in a double decker bus, offering British comfort food, aka gourmet pasties. Come to think of it, Gregg's would do very well here!

Pride of place in Springfield is the new ‘London Calling’ pit stop in a double decker bus, offering British comfort food, aka gourmet pasties. Come to think of it, Gregg’s would do very well here!

Driving West, our last stop in Missouri was Carthage which again is a town that has past its heyday. Of note was the county courthouse, and some stunning homes listed on the national register of historic places, built late nineteenth century, which seem almost incongruous in an otherwise down at heel town.

Carthage

Carthage

Carthage

Carthage

Carthage

Carthage

The rest of Missouri is punctuated with more churches and religious calls to action on mail boxes, billboards and just random stakes by the side of the road, such as

Random street sermom

Random street sermom

  • God is angry with the wicked
  • Lord Jesus keep us clean and pure

Kansas
This post will be short and sweet as Route 66 only crosses Kansas for 13 miles, so what can I say?

It’s similar to Missouri in many ways, another poorer area, and more religion. But other than that the only point of interest we saw was the pretty Rainbow Curve Bridge. Constructed in1929 over Brush Creek, and is the only remaining Marsh Arch Bridge on Route 66.

Kansas road sign

Kansas road sign

Destination, Kansas

Destination, Kansas

Historic bridge

Historic bridge

Rainbow Curve Bridge

Rainbow Curve Bridge

From Kansas into Oklahoma, we put our foot down to Tulsa, for our first overnight in OK!

St Louis

Day 4 – Saturday

St. Louis

Perhaps the most famous landmark in St Louis is the Gateway Arch, which is known as the gateway to the West and commemorates the place where travellers started their exploration and settlement in the west, just on the banks of the Mississippi River.

The Gateway Arch is the single largest stainless steel structure in the World

The Gateway Arch is the single largest stainless steel structure in the World

The Gateway Arch will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on October 28th 2015 - exactly 50 years since the final piece was put into place

The Gateway Arch will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on October 28th 2015 – exactly 50 years since the final piece was put into place

The Gateway Arch stands 630 feet tall, 63 stories, 192 meters or 7,560 inches tall

The Gateway Arch stands 630 feet tall, 63 stories, 192 meters or 7,560 inches tall

The viewing platform at the top of the Arch, reached by a bizarre train capsule thingy

The viewing platform at the top of the Arch, reached by a bizarre train capsule thingy

The Mississippi River

The Mississippi River

City View including the old courthouse, in the centre

City View including the old courthouse, in the centre

View of our hotel from the top

View of our hotel from the top

Night view of Arch from hotel room

Night view of Arch from hotel room

Arch Selfie

Arch Selfie

The Gateway Arch was designed to represent the shape of the necklace that early travellers wore around their necks. The designer recognised that all the best monuments were simple and symmetrical, eg obelisks, domes, pantheons etc, but wanted to come up with a new shape. Only when designed did he also see the symbolism of the archway through which travellers started their journey west.

It was estimated that 13 people would lose their lives whilst building the arch, not in fact, no one did.

Courthouse

Courthouse

Dred and Harriet Scott filed suit for their freedom at this courthouse in 1846. Their case reached the United States Supreme Court and was decided in 1857. The court ruled that the Scotts and all African Americans were not citizens of the United States. Opposition to the decision was one of the causes of the civil war and led to the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the constitution. The Scotts’ struggle for freedom stands as a defining moment in the history of the civil rights movement.

Dred and Harriet Scott

Dred and Harriet Scott

St. Louis Cardinals baseball team were all in our hotel today doing their ‘winter warm up’. It is an annual event for fans. Memorabilia stands, silent auctions, children’s activities and presentations all feature, but the real draw is the opportunity to meet the players and collect autographs. Tickets are sold player by player and lines form across the vast hall. All monies raised go to local charities. What great idea?!

St Louis Cardinals players

St Louis Cardinals players

Presentations

Presentations

Mark met his hero player too.

Mark is on the left

Mark is on the left

This one’s for you Helen. The home of Anheuser Busch on the edge of town. Didn’t have time for the factory tour but we promised to make a toast with a bottle of bud light tonight!

Anheuser Busch

Anheuser Busch

We spent ages crawling out of St. Louis the slow way to experience the heady draw of Ted Drewes Frozen Custard "concretes"! We eventually arrived only to find it was shut until Valentine's Day :-(

We spent ages crawling out of St. Louis the slow way to experience the heady draw of Ted Drewes Frozen Custard “concretes”! We eventually arrived only to find it was shut until Valentine’s Day 😦

Great sign though!

Great sign though!

And seeking out custard meant an unexpected visit to Yorkshire Village just next door!

And seeking out custard meant an unexpected visit to Yorkshire Village just next door!

Our last stop of the day was at Fanning to see the World’s largest rocking chair, very amusing. It doesn’t rock.

Fanning Rocking Chair

Fanning Rocking Chair

...outside the Fanning 66 Outpost

…outside the Fanning 66 Outpost

And so on to Springfield Missouri for our overnight at one of the original Route 66 motels!

The Mother Road at dusk

The Mother Road at dusk

Pontiac to St Louis

Day 3, Friday

Outside Pontaic, we first hit Bloomington, with its great Museum of History, and more importantly the World’s only beer nut factory.

Bloomington, Illinois

Bloomington, Illinois

McClean County Museum of History

McClean County Museum of History

Loved this numberplate

Loved this numberplate

World's only beer nut factory, Bloomington, Illinois

World’s only beer nut factory, Bloomington, Illinois

Let's cuddle up, Abe

Let’s cuddle up, Abe

Onwards to Atlanta, a remote outpost with more lovely houses with picket fences and porches. Eerily quiet, nothing much open. But we did meet the giant Paul Bunyan holding his hotdog!

Paul Bunyan and his hotdog

Paul Bunyan and his hotdog

From there to Lincoln, the only town having the distinction of having been named for Abraham Lincoln, before he became president. On the the list of the top 10 attractions along route 66 is apparently a telephone booth on the roof of the Lincoln City Hall, but sadly we didn’t see it.

Lincoln City Hall

Lincoln City Hall

Lincoln pointing the way with his profile

Lincoln pointing the way with his profile

Lincoln cinema, where the premiere of the 2014 film Lincoln was shown

Lincoln cinema, where the premiere of the 2014 film Lincoln was shown

Onward to Springfield Illinois (one of 38 Springfields in USA, but not the one where the Simpsons some from). We had about 2 hours here, but really a day would have been much better.

Springfield is best known as the home of Abraham Lincoln. We didn’t arrive until 4pm, and many of the attractions were already shutting. We arrived at Lincoln’s former home just after the last tour had finished, which was just bad planning on our part. We started to take some photos of the outside, and planned to head to the museum and cemetery to take a couple more when Matt stopped us and asked if we wanted to join him as he checked the house over prior to lock up. So, we had our very own amazing private tour of this amazing home!

From his Kentucky birthplace, through Indiana, this new politician reached Springfield at the age of 28

From his Kentucky birthplace, through Indiana, this new politician reached Springfield at the age of 28

Lincoln lived in Springfield until February 1861 when he moved to Washington DC. He never returned to Springfield alive, but was buried there

Lincoln lived in Springfield until February 1861 when he moved to Washington DC. He never returned to Springfield alive, but was buried there

Lincoln was the 16th president of the USA

Lincoln was the 16th president of the USA

Matt, the lock keeper

Matt, the lock keeper

From here, we drove on.over the border into Missouri, and straight into St Louis!

A Morning in Pontiac

Day 3, Friday

What a gem of a town! Cute beyond words and full of wonderfully welcoming people, as you step back in time!

Highlights:

  • Route 66 Museum – highlights from Route 66, the 1950’s House, and a floor hosting the Livingstone County War Museum
  • Murals – the town commissioned artists to create fabulous retro wall art
  • The Pontiac Museum – of course!
  • Jerry McClanahan’s RV – he was the original route 66 mapper who lived on the road in his amazing RV, and whose maps we are using right now. Sadly he died in 2012
  • The Hallmark Shop! (see end of post)

The Route 66 Museum,Pontiac

The Route 66 Museum,Pontiac

The lovely Rose from the Route 66 Museum, who made us feel right at home in Pontiac!

The lovely Rose from the Route 66 Museum, who made us feel right at home in Pontiac!

The Route 66 Museum, Pontiac

The Route 66 Museum, Pontiac

The 1950's house - just like visiting Grandma's

The 1950’s house – just like visiting Grandma’s

The 1950's house bedroom

The 1950’s house bedroom

Kitchen complete with ration books and a daybook for the home

Kitchen complete with ration books and a daybook for the home

Radio in the 1960s

Radio in the 1960s

The Livingstone County War Museum

The Livingstone County War Museum

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

We met ex-Korean Veteran Bob, who showed us around

We met ex-Korean Veteran Bob, who showed us around

Just a few of the hundreds of uniforms on display, all with their stories attached. Painstakingly curated by volunteers. Awesome

Just a few of the hundreds of uniforms on display, all with their stories attached. Painstakingly curated by volunteers. Awesome

Chicago Daily Tribune

Chicago Daily Tribune

100's of original newspapers on display

100’s of original newspapers on display

Information centers are all along Route 66, all in this style. Jerry's RV and the magnificent Route 66 mural are behind

Information centers are all along Route 66, all in this style. Jerry’s RV and the magnificent Route 66 mural are behind

Jerry McClanahan's Magnificent RV

Jerry McClanahan’s Magnificent RV

One of Pontiac's fabulous murals

One of Pontiac’s fabulous murals

Pontiac Mural

Pontiac Mural

Place of Sweets!

Place of Sweets!

His Master's Voice

His Master’s Voice

Pontiac Town Hall

Pontiac Town Hall

The street sign that Mark walked into! If you look carefully on all photos from now, you'll notice a red graze over his right eye

The street sign that Mark walked into! If you look carefully on all photos from now, you’ll notice a red graze over his right eye

Mark's first introduction to Abe Lincoln, the most famous Illinois resident

Mark’s first introduction to Abe Lincoln, the most famous Illinois resident

Pleased to meet you sir!

Pleased to meet you sir!

We met the lovely Rose at the Pontiac Museum, who happily modeled her signed jacket from roadster Billy Pierce!

We met the lovely Rose at the Pontiac Museum, who happily modeled her signed jacket from roadster Billy Pierce!

Pontiac Museum Neon Sign

Pontiac Museum Neon Sign

Museum panorama

Museum panorama

1964 Parisienne Safari Wagon

1964 Parisienne Safari Wagon

1929 Oakland Roadster

1929 Oakland Roadster

I would also like to express my apologies to the owner of the Hallmark card shop in Pontiac, where we made a definite impression. Mark picked up a large glass candle by its lid, and it fell to the floor knocking other items off the shelf, and bringing the owner running. Happily nothing was broken other than the peace. We tried to distract her from our carnage by telling her the amusing story about Mark walking into the road sign.

We decided to buy a candle and when I got it to the counter I somehow dropped it too and it smashed all over the counter, bringing the owner this time with a dustpan and brush. We made our apologetic purchases and scarpered. As we reached the car, Mark realised he had lost his camera lens cap, and we had to go back to the Hallmark, and there it was on the floor. We apologised again. The owner said she would pray for us.

It’s fair to say Pontiac left his mark on us, but this was one stop where I think we made our presence felt too!