Thursday, August 21, 2014

From 'Round the World

For the first time in the history of Afton Station, every single visitor today was from a foreign country!  They came from Torino Italy, Preston England, Zurich Switzerland, Madrid Spain, France, and two couples from Canada, one from Toronto and one from Ottawa.

The three fellows from France who will be playing in tomorrow night's concert came in to set up their equipment.  Everyone is invited for the free concert which even comes with a free dinner!  This is all compliments of David and his wife Sylvie, whose brother is one of the musicians.  Come one, come all!  It will begin around 6 p.m. and I'm sure the band members would appreciate a nice big audience.

Betty, Marlene, and Robin all helped out at various times today as we greeted 17 visitors.

This couple from Torino, Italy were clearly having a great time on their Route 66 holiday.
Likewise this couple from Toronto, Canada.   Despite temperatures above 100 today, all of our visitors remained upbeat and enthusiastic.  I think a few breaths of our air conditioned atmosphere pleased all of them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August: Osage County

One of my favorite things to do is to introduce a newcomer to Oklahoma.  It is especially fun when the recipient of my tour guiding is as enthusiastic and personable as my daughter Sarah's new friend John Amundsen, who came home with her this week.  The title of this post isn't quite accurate, since on Monday we toured Tulsa and Route 66, and it wasn't until yesterday that we ventured into Osage County so I could show him Woolaroc, Bartlesville, Pawhuska, and my favorite place on earth, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.

During our tour of Tulsa, John got to see Riverpark, the Golden Driller, Cain's Ballroom, Oneok Field, the BOK arena, the Center of the Universe, and countless other important Tulsa sights.  John is a train buff, so a trip to the Route 66 park om Southwest Blvd., where he could photograph the engine and other train cars there, followed by lunch at Ollie's Station (also on Route 66 and full of model trains, many of them on the move) was the highlight of his day.  Also on Route 66, we cruised by the East Meets West statue at the Cyrus Avery Bridge and Plaza.

There was a trip th the Blue Whale of Catoosa also, of course.

Yesterday, we departed Tulsa and Route 66 in order to tour Osage County.   On our way through Bartlesville, we stopped for photo ops at Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower, FLW's only skyscraper, and Frank Phillips' home (the Phillips Petroleum magnate).   Moving on to the small town of Pawhuska, which is the gateway to the Tallgrass Prairie, we stopped for lunch at Sonic, John's first introduction to the iconic Oklahoma drive-in.

And then, the Tallgrass Prairie, the star of the outing!   Sarah and I were every bit as thrilled as John was, since we've never seen such a large herd of bison visible from the road.   In a total herd of 2,700 at the Preserve, I'm pretty sure we saw at least a thousand all at once!  There were bison as far as the eye could see, and unfortunately it wasn't possible to photograph the entire herd in one shot, but we gave it a good try.  I'm an old  hand and frequent visitor to the Tallgrass, yet I've never seen such a spectacle, and it surely cemented my feelings that it is my favorite place on Earth.
This photo doesn't even show a 10th of the herd we observed!  
 You can see a few of the thousand bison in the background of this wonderful photo taken by John.  On the Prairie, there are occasional oil wells, but for the most part there is nothing man-made for miles in any direction.
On the way home we stopped at Woolaroc, the Frank Phillips estate and grounds outside of Bartlesville. There, we saw some of the collection of animals that roam the grounds, and Sarah and John visited the museum, where they saw this statue of Phillips himself.

  That concluded the best day of touring I've ever had, and I hope my passengers agree.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


It's been quite a day, and several factors lead me to make this a short post, with more to follow tomorrow.
My daugher Sarah and her friend John are visiting from Chicago.  All my attention is directed to them and I'm so, so, so pleased to have them here.  Afton Station was a bit crazy today, with an unexpected tour group of 13 Russian citizens (and one dog) dropping in rather early in the morning.   Many photos were taken today, but the best were taken by Sarah and John and, as they are spending the evening at Sarah's dad's house, they haven't yet sent me the great photos they took, but when they do, I'll post them tomorrow.  I took a few shots, but none as good as theirs.  To add to all that, my computer is acting up, being very slow, and apparently attempting to make me completely crazy.

Here's what I do have for today. . .
On our way to Afton early this morning, we stopped at the Blue Whale in Catoosa so that John could see it for the first time.  Here's one photo... better ones yet to come.
In lieu of actual photos of the Russian visitors themselves, here's a picture of their brochure.  Love the VW bus!   They were a nice group of folks, traveling from west to east, and and although only the tour director spoke English, they were for the most part able to communicate their joy  at being on the Mother Road.
Three folks from Abilene, TX arrived in this beautifully restored '49 Mercury which hasn't been hot rodded, the fate of most other Mercs from that era.
Here's a couple from  Indianapolis, IN who arrived in a large, new motor home.  They're also driving the entire Route 66.  But since L.A and Chicago are not particularly motor home friendly, they are towing a car, so once they find a place to park the motor home, they can explore the bigger cities in the car.   Wise decision.

There were also visitors from Crystal River, Florida and Miami and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Different Sort of Day

                                 Early sunrise in Tulsa.  Follow the sunrise and you'll be in Afton.

This is the first day I've been alone at Afton Station for ages.   Since I still can't walk worth a darn, Robin opened up for me and will close when I leave this afternoon.  Ron M. is out of town, and I haven't had many guests yet this morning -- kind of like the old days, and I'm not sure I like it.  I've managed to get a lot done, however -- cleaned up my desk, made 25 new magnets, tossed out a lot of unneeded mess.  I'm a little wistful because so many of my Route 66 friends are in Kingman, AZ at the annual Route 66 Festival.  This year, it was just too far for me to go with dialysis to be scheduled and my ongoing mobility problem.  I know everyone is having a wonderful time.  We always do.

But. . .the super good news is that daughter Sarah and her new friend John are arriving here on Saturday! More than anything in my life, I look forward to Sarah's visits.  They'll be here for about a week.  Yippee!

I haven't reported on the state of Afton lately, and the news isn't particularly good.  Buildings continue to rot and fall down.  The grain co-op is being torn down.  A couple of businesses have closed.  Good news is that the new BBQ place seems to be doing well.   The "Welcome to Afton" signs promised a couple of months ago still haven't been erected.  If only Afton could see what some other small towns have done to take advantage of Route 66 and run with it.  Very frustrating!
The morning has been slow, with only 8 visitors so far.  This is very different from the past two days when Robin and Sue were working and they had visitors from 9 foreign countries and 12 states.
Our first guests were this family of 6 from Teaneck, New Jersey doing Oklahoma Route 66 on their way to Texas.  Another couple from Branson, MO was just passing through and came in to see the cars.  A couple of motorcycles passed slowly but didn't come in.  Finally, a bike did stop, a gentleman from Miami, OK who has been here before and wanted a second look at the antique cars.  He had lots of stories to tell.   A few people stopped in for reasons unrelated to Route 66 -- asking for directions, bringing a poster advertising a local theatrical performance, etc.

Toward the end of the day, this lovely couple -- he from France, she from Geneva, Switzerland, came in on their three week Route 66 vacation.
Finally, a grandma and grandpa from Mexico, MO, with grandson in tow, came in because the little one likes old cars.  This morning they'd been to visit TowMater in Galena, KS and he was ready for more.  On their way out, they stopped to take a photo at the pumps, and I snapped this out the window as I sat at my desk.

In all, it was a very different day, but ended up being quite satisfying.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dog Day Afternoon

Afton Station, Afton Oklahoma.   A hot humid day on Route 66.  Definitely a dog day, in more ways than one.  Today, for the first time, we hosted two completely unrelated dogs who visited at the same time.   For one thing, it proves that the sign on our door welcoming dogs is being read.  On a hot day like this, we ask folks not to leave their pups in the car.  They deserve some air conditioning, too.

Angus came with his parents, from Nicholson, Pennsylvania.
From Wyandot, Oklahoma came the doxie, Penny.
The reason that the photos do not show the dogs together  (and neither one at very close range) is that there was a little bit of interdog growling taking place, which indicated that the two ought to be kept apart to avoid a canine rumble.

Our human visitors numbered 21.  Besides the folks from Wyandot, OK and Nicholson, PA mentioned above, there were travelers from Warrensburg MO, Columbia MD,  Waynesville MO, Watertown MN, Brest France, Reggio Amelia Italy, and Tulsa and Grove, OK.
These two guys were trying to make it to Santa Rosa, New Mexico by this evening.  If they spend as much time at other stops as they did with us, they'll get there maybe by sunrise tomorrow morning!   They were on hot Harleys, however, so a little pedal to the metal and they just might get a few hours of sleep tonight.
 More good-looking men, this time from Reggio Amelia, Italy.   The fellow on the left spoke for the group and had very good English.  They're heading west and enjoying the sights and sounds.

Betty visited for a while today, and Robin, just back from a three day trip to Kansas City, also came by.  Videographer PJ and his wife stopped to say hello.  Another fine day on Route 66.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Maters, Taters, and Folks

Ron M. and I  have adopted the custom of stopping at the lovely-but-tiny farmer's market on Route 66 in Chelsea on our way to Afton Station every Saturday.  I thought it was time to show you a photo and tell  you what tasty and reasonably priced produce they have there.   In the past, we've bought corn, beans, blackberries, and other goodies.  Today it was just tomatoes for Ron and potatoes for me.

Once we got to Afton, the fun began almost immedialtey.  It was another day filled with interesting folks from everywhere.   They came from Joplin MO, Mt. Dora FL, Dallas TX, Topeka KS, Riverton, KS Kansas City MO, Milwaukee WI, Invercargill New Zealand, Venlo Netherlands, and Miami, Grove, and Oklahoma City, OK
Ron Hart, of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce, and his wife Barbara stopped in on their way to this year's International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, AZ.  Oh, I sure wish I could be there this year!
At about the same time, Chief Crazy Legs, AKA "Crazy Legs" Dean Walker, also stopped on his way to Kingman.  Never a dull moment when Crazy Legs is around!  Today was no exception.
 This couple from Kansas City, MO became engaged yesterday and were taking a little engagement trip on their Harleys.   They were a sweet couple who exuded love for each other.
She was so proud of her one-day-old ring!
From Invercargill, New Zealand ( as far south as you can get in NZ, they said) came this couple,  in the midst of their Route 66 excursion.
Also from overseas came this couple from Venlo, Netherlands.  They were completing a portion of Route 66 they had not driven previously, but started out their trip with an extensive visit to the American south, to include the cities of  Nashville,  San Antonio, and New Orleans, among others.
Finally, these geocachers from Dallas, TX have done their geocaching all over the world.   I think it's pretty cool to travel and play a game all at the same time.  They said it's a great way to see places they never would have seen any other way (Route 66 being one such).   Yes, they did find our cache and went on their way.

Did I mention that we had a torrential rainstorm, complete with thunder and lightning this morning?   It was quite dramatic, but in no time at all it had passed by and the day became sunny and much cooler.  Just about a perfect day for travel.  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Although sometimes it feels like it. . .

. . . all the Route 66 fun doesn't happen at Afton Station.   Last evening, for example, Ron M. and I had a delightful evening out with Rick Zimmer, a Route 66 friend who was passing through Tulsa on a trip from his home in Portland, OR to Chicago, then all the way to the Festival in Kingman AZ via the Mother Road.  He was staying at the beautiful Campbell Hotel on 11th St., we ate at the restaurant there, then took him on a brief car tour of Tulsa.  Fun!
Today, the fun continued at Afton Station, with 26 visitors .  They came from Madrid Spain, Paris France, Manchester England, Bedford TX, Burlington NC, Muncie IN, Salina KS, Hudson WI, and Drumright, OK.

Here's the three generation family from Paris, France. Check out the little guy, who has completely embraced the spirit of the American west.   We don't usually condone the wearing of sidearms in the  Station, but we made an exception for this tiny gun-totin' French cowboy!
This gentleman from Madrid, Spain was traveling alone and taking copious photos.  Many of those photos were of the cars in our museum.  He showed us his copy of a Route 66 guidebook written in Spanish, and Afton and the Station took up an entire page!
Two attractive English ladies from Manchester were our last guests of the day, and what a way to end the day.  Friendly and having fun, they really lit up the room.
Here's a family from Burlington, NC.  It's nice to see so many families with younger kids traveling Route 66  this year.  May the trend continue!
And the first shall be last.  This couple from Bedford, TX dropped in early this morning  on their way up to Detroit to visit a number of automotive museums, their favorite kind of vacation.   Needless today,  they enjoyed a good, long time in our showrooms.

As happens so often around here, the day began with thunderstorms and ended with beautiful sunshire, heat and humidity.  But hey, this is Oklahoma.... and we'll take it any way we can get it.   See  you this weekend!