Sunday, April 26, 2015

Silent Sunday

Today couldn't have been more different from yesterday.  All morning, you could hear a pin drop at Afton Station.  Ron M. and I used the quiet time to catch up on reading, and Ron M. also did some rearranging of merchandise, etc.  (Thanks, Ron!)

It was nearly noon when our first visitors arrived, a young, quiet couple from Thum, Switzerland.  Although they spoke French, German, and  a bit of English they seemed reluctant to use any of them and preferred to roam around looking at the merchandise and admiring the cars.  That was fine with us.  We chatted with them just enough to realize that they're perfectly happy and satisfied with their trip to the U.S. and Route 66.
We put on a Road Crew CD to break the silence, and proceeded to wonder where everyone had gone.  Weather wise, it wasn't a perfect day like yesterday, but it was still perfectly adequate for traveling.

Later, a gentleman from Monkey Island, OK stopped by.  Monkey Island is a mere 15 miles from Afton, but it's amazing how many residents there have never visited the Station.  This fellow was one of those, and he really enjoyed finally coming in to see what he'd missed before.

Our only other visitors were three folks from Bridgewater, New Jersey. Their sons are participating in a national fishing competition down on Grand Lake and they were checking out the nearby countryside in their spare time.  I was rather surprised (and delighted!) to know that national fishing competitions for teenagers actually exist and that a big one is right here at our lake.  Apparently this one attracted teen fishermen from all over the United States.   Cool!

The afternoon was wrapped in more silence, and although we would have wished for more visitors, we also appreciated a time of rest and relaxation.   As the season progresses, there won't be very many days like this in our future!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

It's All About the People

You hear that a lot on Route 66.  "It's all about the people".  I'll bet some folks don't believe it as they start out on their Route 66 adventure expecting to see interesting, deteriorating buildings, an occasional diner or old motel, a bit of old brick roadbed.   It doesn't take long, however, for them to realize the truth of the Mother Road. . . it really IS all about the people!   What people?   The folks who live along the road.  The folks who work along the road.  The travelers themselves.

That hasn't changed since Michael Wallis emphasized the importance of people several decades ago in his book "Route 66:The Mother Road", the volume which arguable started the resurgence of interest in Route 66 travel.  He described, in his usual colorful way, some of the people who could be met and befriended along the road.  Some of those people are still around.  Many aren't.  There is a new generation of people holding down the friendly reputation of the Road now, all of whom crave the fun of meeting new travelers and helping to educate them on what an incredibly wondrous piece of pavement they have chosen to explore.

I like to think I'm one of the newer generation of Route 66 people.  I was a Route 66 traveler until about 14 years ago when I became one of those business owners along the route who loves what she does because she just plain loves people!   Today the activity at my little museum in Afton, Oklahoma, was a perfect example of what turns me on about my business owner status.

I won't use many words tonight to describe any of the 25 visitors to Afton Station today, except to say they were a very interesting and energizing bunch. Some new friends, some old friends.  The perfect mix.   For example:
. . . the at least yearly visit from one of the sweetest people of Route 66, Jane Dippel of St. Louis.  She's been around from the start, and her visit always leaves me with a big smile on my face.  (Sorry, Jane, for the awful photo.  I caught you in a bad pose, but those who know  you know how beautiful you really are.)
K. C. Keefer and Nancy Barlow, who dropped in for a chat on one of the final legs of their trip home to Denver.  They spend countless hours interviewing and filming the people of 66.  Their traveling companion Spencer Perro wouldn't hold still for a proper photo but was a polite pup as usual.
The honeymooners du jour were this couple from Great Britain.  She is from Ireland, but when they get home from Route 66 they will make their home in England.    They have been married less than a week.  Feel the love!
This couple from Dayton,Ohio is familiar with the wonderful Packard museum in that city, thus enjoyed seeing our smaller but nice collection.
The first perfectly gorgeous day brought out a good number of bikers.  These Belgian riders were certainly having a great time.  They come from the town of Boom!
These folks are from Den Haag, Netherlands.  He spent some time in New York City in the past, so he spoke perfect English.   They are finishing up one of the segments of 66 which they have missed on previous visits.
From Holt's Summit, MO came this gentleman.  And that's not all. . .

We also had visitors from N. Mankato MN, Jenks OK (bikers), Kosciusko MS, West Chester OH, Roland OK, and Fayetteville AR.   Tattoo Man stopped for a while too, but left around noon to attend a tattoo convention in Tulsa.  Just goes to show what a sunny, balmy day will do

Thursday, April 23, 2015

From the Land Down Under

One of our favorite happenings at Afton Station is the arrival of one of Dale Butel's tour groups from Australia.   I sometimes tease Dale about what substances he must be putting in his patron's food in order to end up with such a  happy, carefree group every single time. Today's Aussie visitors, although a smaller group than Dale usually conducts, was just as personable as those who have visited us in the past.  
 Dale taking a little rest, with Betty's sister Marleen in the background.

Unfortunately, poor Dale has to turn around and fly back to Australia tomorrow as his wife suffered a knee injury in a soccer game and requires surgery right away.  His group of 24 tourists will be well taken care of by Dale's associate.  Dale himself will return to the U.S. in July with another group.  Meanwhile, today's travelers were enjoying the museum and especially taking advantage of our nice selection of souvenirs, books, maps, t-shirts, etc.

Helping me with crowd control were Betty, Sue, and Betty's sister Marleen.  We did have a few other guests, too.   A couple from Toulouse, France, a lady from Grove, OK, and two women fromWales, United Kingdom rounded out the day.
Here, the woman from Grove exchanges pleasantries with our French visitor.

I'm home earlier than usual today, and well rested thanks to the help from Sue and Betty.  I'll be ready to greet you this weekend if you happen to be roaming the Mother Road in our little corner of Oklahoma.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Visit from Dentists

Somehow, a visit FROM a dentist is far less forboding than a visit TO a dentist.  For those of us at Afton Station, not one but two dentists came through our doors early this morning and the experience couldn't have been more pleasant.   Father, from Stayton, Oregon and son from Sublimity Oregon were in the area visiting relatives and decided to do a bit of exploring, particularly to the town of Cardin, OK where the dad grew up.  You might remember that Cardin was one of two towns that became Superfund sites about 20 years ago due to contamination of air, water, and soil from former lead and zinc mines.  Both towns were abandoned in the past few years and there is nothing left to see there.  Our visiting dentists wanted to bear witness to this tragedy with their own eyes and were going to do so as soon as they left Afton.
Meanwhile, they took a look at our vintage cars, then we had a very nice conversation with them which revealed that dad (right) is 89 years old and still practicing dentistry.   He was cool and sharp and I would have had no qualms about him working on my teeth.  (When asked if there was a fee to see our car collection,  Ron M. suggested he could pay by performing a much needed implant.   Thank goodness no dentistry was practiced at Afton Station today and the guys got in for free, just like everyone else.)
A beautiful young couple from El Vendrella, Spain was next to arrive.  With four weeks to spend in the United States, they planned to take it slow and easy and miss nothing.  Good idea!
He manned the camera while she signed the wall.  With no spaces left except at the very bottom of the walls, we've had people get in very uncomfortable positions just to leave their autographs.  Foreign visitors are the most enthusiastic about signing the walls, and I feel sure we  have signatures from dozens and dozens of countries.  Here are a few.
We also had visitors from Chetopa KS, Bartlesville OK, Lakeside CA, Springfield MO, and Pittsburg KS.  So far, I think bikers are still a little unsure of our ever changing weather, because we've had very few folks on motorcycles visit.  Today, just two people from Springfield ventured out on their bikes.

Looks like another storm is on the way.  The wind is picking up and the TV meteorologists are suggesting the possibility of moderately severe storms later.  A good night to be home, warm and dry.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Small Moments

If you've read this blog for a while, you might come away with the idea that I am ultimately turned on by days when Afton Station is filled to the ceiling with crowds of merry tourists.  Well yes, I do like that very much.  However, there are also days when little happenings make me just as happy.  Today was such a day.

Ron M. and Joe Meeks were with me today, a dark, rainy --let's face it-- ugly day on Route 66 in Afton.  We weren't expecting much in the way of visitors, so for most of the morning we sat around and hoped we wouldn't be entirely ignored all day.  A couple of cars slowed down out front, snapped  photos, and moved on.  This didn't help my disposition whatsoever.

But then, a breath of fresh air that served to brighten our whole day arrived with the unlikely name of Yemisi Onasanys.
This ray of sunshine is a young lady who is traveling  Route 66 all by herself, and today happened to be her birthday!   She is from Essex, England and her trip is fulfilling #2 on her bucket list. (#1 was completed last  year when she went on an African safari all by herself!)   Yemi was the happiest, most enthusiastic visitor we've met in a very long time and we enjoyed every minute of her Afton Station stay, just wishing she could have hung around a bit longer.  
The day did turn a little more energetic in the afternoon when we had a lovely visit from a couple from Sumter, S. Carolina.  Like Yemi, they are following Route 66 all the way to California.   Then, Betty arrived with another of her fabulous pies, this time lemon meringue.  Ah yes, the day kept getting better!   We inhaled the delicious dessert and spent the rest of the afternoon devoid of visitors.  But a day like this wasn't bad at all, and I'm ready for tomorrow to be wonderful in some other interesting way.  I know it will. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Please Don't Thank Me

I received a very sweet note in the mail today, and it got me to thinking.   It was from two sisters -- Heather and Regina -- who visited Afton Station in 2014, thanking me for meeting with them.   First of all, I was thrilled by actually getting a piece of snail mail as opposed to an email, although I do enjoy emails, too.  But mostly it made me think that in no way do I deserve to be thanked for what I do at the Station.  My work there is unquestionably the best, most fun, and most rewarding job I have done in my lifetime.  I should be thanking YOU, the travelers and visitors, for enriching my life this way.  So hold your thanks, and instead thank yourselves for the wonderful ways  you light up my life.

Here's the letter, I copy here with some embarrassment.
Thank  you!  Thank you!  Thank you for being the first Route 66 "friend" and "family" my sister and I met on our first tour of the Mother Road.   We stopped back by in September of 2014 but just missed you and your wonderful smile. Your enthusiasm and love for the people along the Route were not lost on us.  You gave us the spark that has started a tradition for my sister and I that we treasure greatly.  We will be back around Afton Station some day soon and will stop in to say Hi to the woman who starts our journey.
Much love,  Two Sisters on the Route, Heather and Regina, Charlotte, NC
This was another day filled with friendly faces.
 These twin brothers and their wives stopped in on their way across Route 66 to home in California.  The men were most interested in the car collection, and while they gazed at Packards, I had a nice chat with the ladies.   They were from Calabasas and Simi Valley, CA.

Other visitors came from Seattle WA, Edmonton Alberta Canada, St. Louis MO, and Afton.

Betty brought some beautiful Indian Paintbrush flowers, risking chiggers and snakes to get them from the roadside.  This year, she intends to take some with roots and attempt to grow them in her own yard.  We both love the colorful blooms so much!
Yesterday, Sue took this snapshot of a great looking vintage pickup from Florida.  The owners are from St. Louis and will take her across all of Route 66 to California.  You can imagine the appreciative gazes they'll get in that beauty!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Life is Just a Giant Marshmallow

Betty came to Afton bearing gifts again, this time a package of the biggest marshmallows I've ever seen!  They're almost as big as apples!  Now, all I have to do is build a giant campfire and make gargantuan s'mores!  Thanks, Betty.  Ron M. and I got a good laugh about these mammoth sugar coma inducers.  
It was that kind of day today, full of sweet surprises.  There were 21 visitors who came from Jefferson City MO, Frankfurt GERMANY, Yankton SD, Oklahoma City OK, Langley OK, Hutchinson KS, Montreal CANADA, Joplin MO, and Vinita OK.

The gentleman from Jefferson City was eager to talk about the "old days", so we had a fun discussion of drive-in movies, diners, and car cruisin'.  The folks from Hutchinson, Kansas were making their second visit in two months.  In the meantime, they've told all their friends about Afton Station. I like that!  Several others were on long Route 66 trips.

This German couple, in fact, has 4 weeks to complete the Chicago-to-LA path.  They were SO excited about the trip.  We told them about the European Route 66 Festival to be held near Stuttgart, Germany in July of  2016.  They want to let all their friends know about it, too.
An entire family on Harleys roared in in the late afternoon.  They're from Joplin, MO and have a plan for touring the Black Hills and getting to Sturges in  time for Bike Week there this summer.  Clearly, they have many adventures ahead.

Did I ever tell you about the unlikely friendship that is developing in the pen holder on my desk?   It seems that Gandhi and Big Boy are discussing world peace based on Gandhi's philosophy and Big Boy's hamburgers.  (Ok, I'm going crazy.  I'll try to recover and be back tomorrow. . .)