Back home in Asheville and Flat Rock... hope you enjoyed the ride along with us. If you have a moment or two more to spare, enjoy the photo galleries. Love y'all and see you on the open road!
Location: St Louis, MO, USA
After a somewhat late start in Springfield, we headed off on the last stretch of the Mother Road for us to the Missouri/Illinois line and St Louis. We followed the road to a tee with lots of backtracking due to missed hard to spot twists and turns but a ton of fun.
It was all about the drive this day and staying true to our ideal to stay on the original route. Most of the places that had travelers flocking up and down this stretch in days of old are long since gone and forgotten. With nary a photo op besides what must once have been.
The only roadside attraction we hit was The World's Largest gift shop, which could have been re-named the World's Largest Depository of Needless things. But following the exact path of the road with many locations still surviving, was worth it as we wound our way into St Louis.
The real adventure today was St Louis, as we finished our jaunt on the Mother Road with a night of well deserved debauchery in the big city. We stayed at an old european style hotel downtown and hit up two classic blues clubs where the magic was happening on stage. Arriving back at the hotel late into the evening, we serenaded the staff with a late night piano duo where instead of being annoyed they gave us a standing ovation and then late night ramblings before drifting off to sleep and dreams of what once was and what could be.
This was a great adventure with the highlight being the camraderie and the back drop a perfect way to draw out the possible. Thanks to Radi and Darcel for handing us the keys and allowing for one hell of a ride.
Location: Springfield, MO, USA
After a great visit with old friends, the two of us followed Route 66 through the heart of Tulsa, stopping for a quick detour for vegetarian food at the Gypsy Cafe downtown along with a stop at the Center of the Universe where you stand on an unassuming spot and scream and for no fathomable reason your voice echoes right back at you.
Back out into the countryside, we saw the famous blue whale swimming hole in Sapulpa, which has been closed for a long time, but the smiling whale still sits in the middle conjuring images of the way things must have been.
Then a quick layover at a winery in Vinotia, OK (our 5th sighting of one, though this was the first that was actually open) and onto the most interesting stretch of the original Route 66, a twelve mile run called the sidewalk highway because you actually drive on what looks like a sidewalk in the middle of the road. How it has escaped paving thus far is unfathomable to me, but it has and was way worth the experience.
Then small town after small town as we wound our way to Southwest Missouri through places like Bourbon and Lebanon and Miami (pronounced Me-am-uh) which had a spectacular old theater in the center of town where people like Will Rogers who hailed from the area used to play and finally into Commerce (the home of Yankee legend Mickey Mantle) before entering the 12.5 mile stretch of Route 66 that passes through Kansas.
If we had blinked we would have missed Kansas. The old town of Baxter Springs that used to be hailed for waters with curative properties was long closed. The rainbow bridge, which sounds impressive, was about the only thing that made an impression, maybe because we drove across it backwards, not that it mattered we did not see a soul in Kansas and then through Galena which used to be a huge mining center, before passing on into Missouri.
Southern Missouri was definitely worth it and absolutely gorgeous as you rise up out of the great plains into the Ozarks. We passed through Joplin and eventually into Carthage where we stopped to bowl at a classic old bowling alley in the middle of town before barreling through to Springfield, where we found a centrally located hotel downtown and had a night on the town, which actually consisted of a great meal and yummy Belgian beers and amazing conversations at the Mud Room which was wonderful.
Then off to sleep and onto the last day of adventure on the Mother Road... Springfield to St Louis.
Location: Tulsa, OK, USA
Oklahoma far surpassed all expectations of the two of us and was probably the best stretch of the Mother Road that we traveled. Not only was much of it intact, but the spirit of the road, unlike in Texas and Missouri, seemed to remain strong, even though the road itself was decommissioned in 1987.
We traveled through small town after small town on the same path that Okies took out of Oklahoma on their way to California in search of respite from the dust bowl and great depression in with dreams of a better life.
The people of this region seem to have a strong spirit and hold on to their old ways. Even crossing through Oklahoma City, it seemed as though it was trapped in time.
In terms of roadside attractions, they were few and far between but the original road and the architecture trapped in time were more than enough to fulfill our needs. A couple of highlights on the road between Sayre and Tulsa were the round barn which was an amazing feat for the time and still amazing, in Arcadia, OK and the town of Chandler, which of course we felt like we owned.
The feel and character of the road lived on and filled us up, making the journey not the destination what it was, wonderful.
We arrived in Tulsa and spent the night with old Fritz family friends, Steve and Sheryl and their sons Sean and Grant. Good food, good beer (they bought the normal kind at the liquor store), talking late into the night and a dip in the pool in the wee hours before retiring to a pleasant nights sleep.
Location: Sayre, OK, USA
Well as my good friend Michael Wallis (or so it seems after reading aloud from his book The Mother Road throughout the journey) said of Texas, "Route 66 through Texas is reminiscent of an innocent garden snake hacked to pieces by a fearful backyard gardener's hoe." The route wound back and forth across I-40 with very few original stretched left, meaning that we followed one service road after another until it came to a dead end which meant crossing back over I-40 to pick up the service road on the other side.
Though this may sound hellish to some, we were determined to follow the old road from Tucumcari to St Louis and though we probably doubled the mileage across the Texas panhandle from 180 if we stayed on I-40 to somewhere in the vicinity of 350 miles, it was worth it.
Starting out from Tucumcari at around 11ish. We wound through the last 20 mile stretch of New Mexico including the ghost town of Glenrio (not Delrio as mentioned yesterday) which now only consists of less than a 2 mile stretch of the original road and two long lost buildings. We also got a nice stretch of about 15 miles of dirt road that was the original Route 66 before entering Texas and entering a state of near madness as noted above.
Though the Mother Road was hacked up there still were a couple of major highlights, specifically the Cadillac Ranch and a side trip to the Palo Dura Canyon near Amarillo. The Cadillac Ranch was created outside of Amarillo by an eccentric Texas billionaire by burying 10 cadillacs trunk first into the ground, seemingly symbolic of the madness of modern society or maybe the death of Route 66. People flock there from miles around to view the oddity and are encouraged to tag the cars with spray paint (although there is no sign saying so). Of course thanks to a tip from Sarah T, we picked up a can of black spray paint and left marks of our own (check out the Tucumcari and Cadillac Ranch photo galleries to see for yourself).
After visiting the ranch we drove through the relatively unimpressive town of Amarillo which was once a booming oil town and now is mostly strip malls. After our first of many bad mexican meals, we headed 20 miles to the South to the town of Canyon, Texas to visit the Palo Dura Canyons, the second largest canyons in the US behind only the Grand Canyon. We took an hour and a half joint into the countryside to witness the spectacle and stretch our legs. Well worth the trip, absolutely gorgeous (photos on the way).
Back in the car and back to the Mother Road for the remainder of the journey through Texas, the last 30 miles, and more specifically Shamrock had an eerie, almost spooky quality to them which pushed us on into Oklahoma which we arrived just after dark and about 20 miles in on a non-highway attached stretch of road we entered the town of Sayre, where the Route 66 bar (in which we heard Queen's Fat Bottom Girls played twice on the jukebox in less than an hour), a few cans of OK 3.2 beer (same weird beer laws as Utah), and a glorious nights sleep at the Western Motel beckoned.
Location: Tucumcari, New Mexico, USA
Well we made it and so today our journey begins on Route 66. Yesterday is gone and included a full days drive from Pagosa Springs, Colorado through amazing vistas in the Rockies along Rte 160 including the stunning Silver Thread region to a town that seemed like everyone would be wearing lederhosen (Wahlsenburg) but they weren't and south through Trinidad, a historic coal town that has seen better days though we found the classic old saloon, Blackjacks, that was still holding onto that image of the old west boom town days. From there on into New Mexico and across the Tierra de Llanos scenic byway in which the highlight was guessing how many cars we would see on the 90-mile stretch between Abbott and Logan (Scot was spot on at 23). Then over to Tucumcari to start on Route 66.
We spent the night in the famous Blue Swallow Motel complete with neon swallows over every room, carports, and rocking chairs in front of every room where everyone stayed up late into the night swapping stories and tossing back a few cheap beers.
As today is our first day on the Mother Road, the possibilities are endless. Most of the day will probably be spent in Texas and could include the old ghost town of Delrio on the border, the Cadillac Ranch and/or canyons we found out about yesterday at an organic food joint in the middle of nowhere Colorado that are 10 miles south of Amarillo and are supposedly the second largest in the country behind the Grand Canyon. We shall see and we'll let the Mother Road and our intuition guide us.
Scot arrived safe after an uneventful flight and was greeted by a ride from Albuquerque to Santa Fe by the proud and wonderful lungs of Lucien (age 1.5 months) and mama Radi. Spent a sweet night and morning helping Chandler finish packing the pods and entertaining Lucien (if you can call it entertaining). We headed out on the open rode after picking up a couple of gigantic red chile rizras. Took the scenic route north to Pagosa Springs for a night of soaking in some natural sulphur hot springs and mild debauchery. After a crappy lunch in Pagosa we headed up into the mountains and are cutting down through New Mexico to pick up Route 66 near the NM/TX border. No pictures today as the battery is about to die.
Location: Asheville, NC and Santa Fe, NM, USA
Scot is brewing his final batch for beer tonight and packing for his trip. He flies out tomorrow from Asheville to Atlanta to Albuquerque to meet up with Chandler and spend the night hanging with Radi and Lucien.
Chandler is furiously packing so that he can head out on the open road free and clear on Friday.
Look for updates soon...