Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hall of Fame Weekend

Except for some very unwanted trips to the hospital, I haven't been anywhere overnight for a couple of years. I decided the time had come, and although a trip just 200 miles from home isn't exactly an exotic adventure, I really wanted to attend the Oklahoma Route Association's 25th Birthday Party, being held in conjunction with our Hall of Fame inductions and a dinner meeting of the Board of Directors.  So, off I went for two days to Clinton, OK with Ron M., who is an angel for accompanying me, hauling around my wheelchair, and acting as Chief Navigator as I drove down Route 66.

I snapped a few photos at a few spots along the way, but those will come later.  First, I must comment that the Hall of Fame induction, held at the fabulous Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, was wonderful.  President Brad Nickson gave a short speech that reminded us of the 25 years we've been together celebrating Route 66.  He introduced those in attendance who were charter members, those who were past presidents, and those on the current board.

Every other  year, two persons are inducted into the Hall of Fame, one alive and one deceased.  The deceased honoree  this year was J. M. Davis of the famous J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum in Claremore.  Although he passed away many  years ago, his influence on Claremore and on Route 66 remains.  He once owned the hotel in Claremore that opened its doors to Route 66 travelers long before Route 66 travel was popular.  He also had the world's largest gun collection which resides now in his museum along with other of his collected artifacts -- historical memorabilia of all types.  (See my blog post of 7/14/14 for more). Accepting the award for Mr. Davis was Mr. Wayne McCombs, Executive Director of the museum.  Here he is signing autographs.
My dear friend Marian Clark was the living inductee this year, and she is uniquely deserving of the honor.  She has spent countless volunteer hours on Route 66 projects over the years and has written or co-written four  Route 66 cookbooks.  She is a charter member of the Association as well.   When she mentioned me in her acceptance speech it brought tears to my eyes.  I've done so little compared to the work she's done to promote the Mother Road.  Here she is being introduced by Brad.
After the awards were given, Ron M. and I took a quick tour of the museum.  I hadn't been there in several years and during those years some major changes have been made.  It is an impressive museum and should be a "must see" for all Route 66 travelers.

We stayed at the brand new La Quinta hotel, which was lovely except for a few small problems.  I ended up sleeping in a chair all night since, in what seems to be the newest fashion, the mattress on the bed was so thick and so high that I couldn't get on it!  Being short legged and lame, I'm past the years when I could have taken a running leap and scaled the heights, but I can't do that any more.  I must say, however, that there was a perfectly comfortable chair in the room and I slept just fine in it.  I just wonder if I should get some money back for non-use of the bed??   Apparently the long-legged Ron M. did just fine with it in his room, as I'm sure most guests do.  Sigh....

On the way to and from Clinton, we stayed on old Route 66 most of the time.  That we got lost a couple of times is proof of how long it's been since I've traversed those roads in Western Oklahoma.  We did stop for a few snapshots, however.
The famous Lucille's Roadhouse in Hydro, probably one of the most photographed sites on Route 66.  I know I have dozens of the shots myself, yet still couldn't resist just one more.
Jerry McClanahan's gallery and studio in Chandler, OK.  It has a new, fancy paint job since I visited it last!
The Glancy Motel in Clinton always fascinates me.  The design, including the sign, has remained untouched and is still a great representation of "googie" architecture on Route 66, and yet the motel itself seems to have fallen into just enough disrepair to make it seem a little scary.  I truthfully can't tell if it's still open or completely abandoned.
We are always looking for nice "Welcome to..." signs, and Davenport, OK has one of the nicest.  Davenport also has a number of sturdy old buildings still standing.  Here's one that's been adorned with a mural.

On a wonderfully quiet stretch along old Route 66 near Bridgeport, OK lies the "pony  bridge" over the Canadian River.   Today, its 38 arches (19 on each side) crossed a nearly dry riverbed.  The drought in western Oklahoma certainly became a reality to me when I saw the condition of the river.  
A good deal of what we drove on today was paved long ago with Portland cement which included curbs, as we motored up and down gentle hills to the to "click, click, click" sound of tires rolling over expansion joints.  It's music to the ears of Route 66 lovers.

Finally, one of my favorite vistas on all of Route 66... a lone ancient windmill still propelled by wind despite that the farm it once served is long gone.   In Western Oklahoma, where many of the rural views are dominated by the sight of enormous wind farms that go on for miles and miles. it's just nice to see it done the old-fashioned way -- not as efficient, not as high tech,  but clearly far more beautiful and peaceful.  

It was a fine weekend.  And, kudos to Robin, who handled a very large group of Afton Station travelers on Saturday all by herself.   She said she really enjoyed it.  I guess it was a practically perfect weekend for all of us. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wine Corks, A Train Spotter, and the Usual Happenings at the Station

I love days like this.  They are interesting.  I get to meet a lot of fascinating people with interests far enough from mine to intrigue me.   Today Ron M. and I  had 17 visitors who came from Whistler British Columbia, Queensland Australia,  Denver Colorado, Miami OK, Fayetteville AR, Howard's Grove WI, Norman OK, Puerto Allegro Brazil, and Mooresville, IN.

These friends were doing Route 66 together, and a very diverse group they were.  They came from  (left to right) Great Britain, India, Canada, and Latvia!  All had been friends for many years.
The gentleman from England has several interesting and rare Packards.   We established that we were both invited to display our cars at the 100th Anniversary of Packard in the late 90s.   Here's the photo he showed me of his Packard woody.
From Fayetteville, Arkansas came this train spotter.   He stopped in to see the museum, then asked if he could come back to Afton Station throughout the day to use the bathroom, etc. as he planned to make his temporary headquarters down at  the railroad tracks so he could photograph and video each train that came through Afton.  It's his hobby, along with his large model train layout.  He said he does this all the time in different small towns.  Now, that's a true hobbyist!
Route 66 friend Dean Kennedy from Indiana stopped by on his way to a Cuba, MO festival.  He  has a brand new enterprise, selling these clever wooden Route 66 wine corks.  I bought some to sell at the Station and I am counting on them selling very well.  They are laser etched wood with the Route 66 shield and one of the Route 66 states on each.   Stop by and check them out.  It was nice to chat with Dean for a while.
Although the Station will be open as usual this weekend and under the expert care of Robin and Sue, Ron M. and I will be attending the 25th Anniversary of the OK Route 66 Association celebration in Clinton, OK.  We are looking forward  to the short weekend getaway.  In my case, I haven't been away from home for   a few years.  The highlight will be when our dear friend Marian Clark is inducted into the OK Route 66 Hall of Fame.  Way to go, Marian!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Feast or Famine?

That 's a rather harsh term for our weekend at Afton Station.  "Feast" seems like somewhat of an unkind way to describe the incredible crowds that electrified the Station with their presence on Saturday.   And "famine", although accurately describing the paucity of visitors, disregards that each and every one of them was most welcome.  Nevertheless, the fact remains -- we had over 110 visitors on Saturday and 7 on Sunday.   Sometimes it just happens that way, and it certainly makes working at Afton Station a challenge!

Our 7 visitors came from Langley OK, Rogers AR, Lees Summit MO, Quebec Canada, and Minneapolis, MN.
Our Minnesota visitors took a number of photos with the cars, including the '34 that has been residing in the work room since returning from parade duty last weekend in Grove.  It will soon be moved into it's proper place of  honor in one of the showrooms.
 This lady from Rogers, AR did some penny pinching and -- much to my joy -- spent a lot of time through our vintage postcards and emerged thinking that she might just become a postcard collector herself!  As  a postcard collector myself, I'm always happy to convert a civilian to the hobby.  She asked for information about nearby postcard shows and sales, and even chose a few subjects she might decide to collect.
 The gentleman from Quebec came in alone while his family waited in the motor home outside feeling a bit under the weather.  He, his wife, and their two young children are taking a full year off to travel around the USA (starting with Route 66) and then South America.  They are home schooling their children during the year and he is maintaining his business via online communication and phone.  Very exciting!  We wish them well on such an ambitious undertaking.

We have a problem here at Afton Station, and what a happy problem it is!  We have run out of space for wall-signing!  Never did we imagine that so many folks would sign the walls of our work room, but now it's getting a bit out of hand, with people standing on chairs to sign close to the ceiling and covering the electric box and door jambs with writing, too.  The problem is that we have some nice vintage signs in that room and we'd like to make sure no one signs those!   So, we've decided to move all the signs and other memorabilia into one of the showrooms and give over the entire work room to autographs.  Some have suggested we just paint over some of the signatures to make room for more, but I just can't accept that solution.  I want to keep them all.   So, hopefully by next week we will have freed up enough wall space for another year or so to collect the wonderful names of the wonderful visitors who have passed through our building.

(Click on these photos to enlarge them so you can get a better idea of how things look now.)
Tomorrow is Canadian Thanksgiving, and we want to wish all  our neighbors to the north a great  holiday.  In celebration, check out this Manitoba license plate left for us by a friendly Canadian, Dave Werstiuk, who visited recently.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Wish Me Luck

It was a HUGE day at Afton Station today.  I got home 2 hours late, and I implore my old, broken down computer to hang in there and not give me any trouble this evening because I'd like to tell you all about this amazing day on Route 66 without a balky machine getting in my way.

Would you believe. . . we had well over 100 visitors today!  I officially counted 111, but Ron M. reminded me that they were coming in the door so fast that I probably missed a handful.   The breakdown goes something like this:

** At least 25 bikers here for the H.O.G. state rally in Claremore.  With nasty (cold and rainy) weather today, we considered that a pretty good  number, especially since we had visits from 24 more of them yesterday and there's one more day to go (with better weather, we're told).

**  24 members of Jim Conkle's "Just You" tour, a bus tour of Route 66 for singles from the British Isles.

**  14 folks on Craig Parish's tour of Route 66 -- folks driving their own vehicles and making their own decisions where to stop but getting guidance from Parish, who is a veteran Route 66 traveler.

The rest of the 111 (or so) was made up on folks traveling on their own.  They came from Neosho MO, San Antonio TX, Woodstock IL, Frankfort KY, Springfield MO, Traverse City MI, Hot Springs AR, Versailles KY, Tulsa OK, Mol Belgium, Chandler OK, LaPeer MI, and Achuca Victoria Australia.

Here are some photos. . .
Wet bikers begin to arrive from the H.O.G. Rally.   It was pouring so hard in the morning that the planned cruises had to be either cancelled altogether or delayed a few hours.  Here are a handful who chose to defy the dampness and make their way to Afton Station.
Once inside, they dried off, perused some of our books, and shopped.  We are truly grateful for these intrepid Road Warriors, considering that some parts of our region had record rainfall levels in the past 24 hours.
Here's our dear friend and tour director Jim Conkle (right) with some of his group members in the background.
This cxouple had a Packard connection.  His father worked at the old Packard plant in Detroit!  He and his wife are from Travers City, Michigan.
This is Craig Parish, leader of the National Route 66 Motor Tour.   He led over 100 tourists on this trip.
One member of his tour collects old Cushman scooters.  This '64 model is the one he drove on this Route 66  trip.  As I recall, he said he had about two dozen vintage Cushmans!
You may recognize this couple.  They stopped at Afton Station on Sept, 25 and I mentioned on this blog how impressed I was with their advance planning for their trip and the choices they'd made about where they wanted to stay, etc.  Well, on their return trip east to their home in Woodstock, IL they decided to stop again because we'd really hit it off on our first meeting.  I'm so glad they did!   She is an absolute sweetheart, the kind of person I wish lived closer because I know we could become good friends.  I can only hope that they find their way back to Oklahoma soon.
More independent travelers near the end of the day were this happy couple from Achuca in Victoria, Australia.  I was glad we  had some time to talk while the crowds were dispersing, because you know my motto -- A day without Aussies is a day without sunshine!

More of this insanity tomorrow, I hope.  But first, thanks to Ron M., Betty, and Tattoo Man for lending a hand today.  I couldn't have done it alone.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Resting Up

I guess I could say that today was a perfect day at Afton Station to rest up and gather strength for the big weekend to come.  It was a slow day and I would like it to have been busier, but it was pretty relaxing to get some chores done that needed doing and still have some time to goof off.  Since we're having three big groups come to visit on Saturday, I spent a lot of time this afternoon making a big two-sided sign welcoming them.  I'm a little frantic about some long overdue merchandise orders that I'm going to need for the weekend. They just have to come in either tomorrow or Saturday or I will scream and stomp around like a crazy woman.  To add to my nervousness about Saturday is the prediction of a 90% chance of strong storms for most of that day.  That could be detrimental to a very large H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) regional meet which is scheduled to visit Afton Station.  Riding a motorcycle in pouring rain just isn't fun!

Ron M. was with me today and Betty came and stayed for an hour or two.  The weather was perfect, and those who took advantage of it came from Joplin MO, DesMoines IA, Afton OK, Clarksville TN, and Florence, Italy.
The visit from this couple, from the beautiful city of Florence, Italy, was quite enjoyable.  He is a runner, and he spotted the vintage printed program in our showcase for the 1929 "Bunion Derby", the transcontinental footrace held to celebrate and publicize the opening of Route 66.  We let him thumb through the fragile program and told them how to get to the statue of Andy Payne down the road in Foyil.  Andy was the winner of the grueling race, quite an amazing feat since he was just a young man from an Oklahoma farm racing against some of the finest professional runners in the entire world.  Our visitor from Italy was very interested in hearing all about the race.

The couple from DesMoines, Iowa consisted of  a retired veterinarian and a volunteer in an animal shelter so I gave them a few of the doggie bandanas for their own pups.  She asked me for the contact information about the nice lady who made the bandanas so she  may communicate  with her and perhaps order more.

Stay tuned for my weekend reports.  They should be interesting!  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Excellent, Eclectic, Energetic

Another great day, and another one that has drained me of most of my energy.   There were lots of Route 66 travelers out enjoying a perfect day (not too hot, not too cold) and those who visited Afton Station seemed particularly energetic today.  We had 29 visitors, and they came from Essex IA, Shenandoah IA, Claremore OK, Miami OK, Long Island NY, Lansing MI, Orlando FL, Wyandotte OK, Stockholm Sweden, Wells England, and Stillwater OK.
This cute couple from Summerset (Wells) England was SO excited about their trip.  He has been planning for years for this very special event.  Although it's not his first time in the U.S., previous visits have entailed working at a summer camp in Pennsylvania where he played the part of a cowboy.  He demonstrated his "cowboy accent", which was... well....not THAT bad!  Now he's looking forward to meeting some real cowboys and even doing a little horseback riding.
This family group from Essex and Shenandoah, Iowa included Little Al, the fourth puppy to receive one of our special doggie bandanas.   
Two couples from Stockholm, Sweden were especially enthralled by the vintage cars.  They do some car collecting in their own country.
This dad, a wounded warrior back from Afghanistan, now has time to spend with his family.  I know how proud his three sons must be of their dad.  The family is from Wyandotte, OK and was just out for a day to reacquaint themselves with Route 66.

It's been a long time since I have been able to photograph any sunrises, but I got off this mediocre shot early this a.m. while going to pick up Ron M.  It was an odd mixture of clouds and haze just pror to the sun peeking over the horizon.

If the photos look odd today, it's because I accidentally left my camera at home and  used my iPhone 5 instead.  Clearly, I need some practice taking smartphone pictures!   Sorry!  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Primarily Photos

I have lots of photos to show you and not a lot of time for words tonight.  We had a busy and exciting day at Afton Station, and here are some of the goings on.
A visit from a group of friends from Queensland, Australia.
 More Aussies, this time from Adelaide
A fine looking new Corvette driven by a couple from Frankfort, Kentucky
Boys from Miami, Oklahoma playing with the penny pincher
Biker couple from Topeka, Kansas
Tattoo Man and Roz stopped in briefly with their dog, Bella.  Bella became the third recipient of our doggie bandanas.
This takes a little more explanation.  A mother and her daughter from London, England launching out on a Route 66 trip asked a favor of me.  Their husband/father who had been dreaming of a Route 66 trip for years and years passed away just before the family was to launch out on his dream adventure. One of his final wishes was that something that belonged to him be left somewhere on Route 66.  He asked that it be left where the family felt he would be comfortable and enjoy his eternal visit.  I was honored that they asked me to be custodian of his handkerchief.   I will indeed take good care of it and I'm sure I'll think often of the gentleman I never met..

Our other visitors (40 in all) came from Christchurch New Zealand, Choctaw OK, Starlight IN, Avilla MO, Seneca MO, and Inola, OK.
Last weekend our '34 Packard 12 was asked to transport the Grand Marshall of the Grove Pelican Festival parade.   Here he is, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Bill John Baker, getting a ride down the parade route in the rumble seat!  

I'm out of steam now.  There will be much more tomorrow, I'm sure, including some news about groups who visited last week on days that I wasn't present.  Robin had quite a crowd control job on Friday!