Oklahoma! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain…
If you’ve done any research on Route 66, you’ll know that this route was envisioned by Cyrus Avery back in the 1920’s. Mr. Avery was from Oklahoma, so even though a straight line from Chicago to Santa Monica would have omitted OK entirely, he made sure that the route passed through the heart of his home state. Let’s be glad he did – there is so much to see!
This was a cute, little ice cream shop shortly inside the state line from KS. I loved how they advertised that they had “The one and only Route 66 cookies sold anywhere!” It’s true – I did not see those cookies being sold anywhere else! Stop in and buy a couple cookies with your ice cream!
There was also a very cool gift shop where I bought my “Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide”. This proved to be invaluable for the rest of my trip.
In my quest to see the biggest, tallest, etc, of course I veered away from the route to see the Totem Pole Park with it’s biggest totem pole in the world! It’s a few miles off the route, but easy to find and well worth the side trip.
There are a dozen or so different totem poles of varying sizes around this park setting. Inside the big totem is a sign with a few details:
Take some time to notice the details of the various faces around the pole – including that the pole rests on a turtle’s back.
The park is supported through donations and purchases at the gift shop. The gift shop also holds a collection of violins made by the same artist, Ed Galloway, and is well worth perusing.
Moving on, I was keeping my eye out for the famed “blue whale”. Swimming is not permitted any more, but the whale just makes you smile!
Big city! The plan was to drive through as quickly as possible, as is my habit. Still, things to see!
Drilling is a huge deal through OK. The Golden Driller is one of the most photographed icons in the city.
He’s really magnificent! He’s 76′ tall and there are a number of “fun facts” posted on signs around him.
I carefully followed the Route through Tulsa, gritting my teeth and trying to see the sights around me while still following the signs.
I almost missed this amazing statue! It’s titled “East Meets West”. I didn’t get my own photo, so this photo is borrowed from here.
I did manage to snap a shot of this big pop bottle. No idea what it’s there for, but it’s fun!
Outside Tulsa you are heading to the far edge of the Ozarks. Missouri and Oklahoma to this point have been very lush and green. OK remains green and pretty, but the weather was warming up significantly. Keep in mind that this is May, 2016. It’s mid-Spring, so for me, temps in the 80’s are getting pretty warm (remember that I left Denver in a snow storm!). We’re now transitioning to the desert climates.
I stayed at the Skyliner Motel – clean and comfortable ($63.51). When I pulled in, I had traveled the better part of 200 miles – a very long day for traveling the Route. No exploring the town for me! I went out to find supper. The Rock Cafe is considered a focal point for Stroud. Everything they serve is made from scratch and the food is delicious! I understand they’ve been featured on more than one tv food show. After eating way too much, I went back to my room and collapsed into a happy food coma.
I stopped in at the Route 66 Interpretive Center. $5 entry fee per person. I think it’s worth it. They’ll give you a tour of the facility, which used to be an armory that fell into disrepair when it was vacated. Once restored, a series of displays with short videos was set up telling about the history of Route 66. The very large back room is available for weddings and other gatherings.
Right on the route in Arcadia is a big, circular barn built in 1898. I didn’t stop to explore, but now wish I did – I understand it holds a gift shop and photographs of unusual barns around the world. This is a classic case of a time that I should have ignored the clock and just pulled over. Outside Arcadia I did stop at Pops – a fairly new diner/soda fountain with a giant soda bottle out front.
I bet you’re thinking that I didn’t stop to see anything in this big city. Okay. Guilty. This is the first major city where I just hopped on the interstate and drove through. I picked up the Route on the other side.
Of the various museums I visited on the Route, one of the best, in my opinion, was in Clinton. Here you’ll find the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. $5 entry fee for a self guided tour. The museum is designed to tell you the history of Route 66 from concept till it’s end after WWII and how the Route affected the entire culture of America. I took my time and read every single wall plaque! I loved it!
At this point I realized that I was now visiting more museums and was seeing fewer of the “biggest, tallest” stuff. This was just fine – I was learning and seeing lots of neat stuff!
I stayed the night at the Flamingo Inn – which I chose solely for its name but turned out to absolutely love! The innkeepers, originally from India, have raised their family in the US. They take great care of the Inn, which is also where they live. The wife invited me in to their living area and showed me some furniture that they’d brought from India – a beautifully hand carved, wooden-framed bench swing. And she proudly showed me pictures of her kids who were now grown. These are Americans! People coming here to set up a business (or refurbish an icon), raise their family, make a living that they can pass on to future generations. I’m not sure what prompted her to invite me into her home that way, but I am so grateful she did! I highly recommend staying at the Flamingo Inn ($53.46).
Across the parking lot is Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant. I was rather tired and pleased to be able to sit down and order from a menu. It seems that every Mexican restaurant has the same tacos, burritos, etc, so I asked my server to recommend something that was unique, a specialty of the chef. I don’t recall what it was called – chunks of meat and vegetables swimming in the best green chile I’d ever had! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I’d eaten half the dish before it occurred to me to take a photo of it (sorry Bill!). But I did take a photo of the amazing hand-carved furniture. This was ordered from a folk artist in Mexico.
The chairs and table were all unique, colorful and beautiful! And don’t be surprised at crosses on the wall – we’ve been traveling through the Bible Belt till now. Public places were commonly decorated with Bible verses and religious memorabilia.
Before you leave Elk City – and Oklahoma – you have to visit the National Route 66 Museum. $4 if you have AAA, has a nice Route 66 exhibit. But the real draw of the place is that it is set up like an old west town, filled with “store fronts” and life sized displays. Give yourself plenty of time to wander around the entire grounds.
Texas is next! Hold on to your hats for a whirlwind ride!
I am searching for the other side of the next hill where I am certain I will find new recipes, new sights and new fabric.