Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rock Creek Bridge Is Back!

Since I was unable to attend yesterday's reopening ceremony for the Rock Creek Bridge, on an old alignment of Route 66 in Sapulpa, OK, Ron M. and I took a ride out there today to check it out and take some photos.  The bridge had been closed for some time for repairs, but I remember driving over it many times when I first moved to Oklahoma.  It's all spiffed up now, and some changes have been made which will, one hopes, make it last for many years to come.
A steel structure has been erected at either end of the bridge to prevent tall (read large) vehicles from using it.  The 7'2" height will definitely prevent semis and buses from crossing.  As Ron Warnick commented in his "Route 66 News" blog, it's a shame that tour buses won't be allowed to cross, but it will certainly be better for the life of the bridge in the long run.
As this plaque indicates. the bridge was originally built to serve the Ozark Trail, but became part of Route 66 in 1926.  It remained the main alignment of Highway 66 until 1952, which is a good, long life for an alignment.
The roadbed across the bridge was brick, and most of it still remains.
The remains of the long-abandoned Tee Pee Drive-In are visible from the end of the bridge.  Several  years ago there was a project afoot to restore the drive-in, but it fell through when the owner of the property dropped out of sight.
The familiar sight of one of Roamin' Rich Dinkela's shields painted on the roadbed was nice to see at the bridge.  It's great to know, in this era of "tear 'em down, don't save 'em", that at least one bridge was lovingly restored for the use of generations of Route 66 travelers to come.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Gary Turner

Rarely did a day go by at Afton Station when visitors wouldn't tell us about their experiences with Gary Turner.  Gary's little Sinclair service station sat at the side of the road in Paris Springs, MO, very much off the beaten path and yet on an old alignment of Route 66.  Since in many cases Gary's place was the last stop people made prior to getting to Afton Station, their visit to Gary's place was fresh in their minds.  And rarely -- no, never, in fact -- did anyone have anything to say about Gary except that he was a wonderful, hospitable, knowledgeable, caring, fun-loving ambassador for Route 66.

And Gary sure loved people!

A visit with Gary consisted of a sit-down while he "explained" the Route, showed photos from some of the books he'd accumulated about Route 66, showed off his memorabilia, offered a free root beer (and sometimes a free t-shirt, too), signed his autograph, and carefully told people the best places to stop as they continued down the Mother Road.   A visit with Gary frequently lasted a couple of hours, and rarely less than an hour.  (For this reason, sometimes people were late getting to Afton Station, but Gary, you're forgiven!)

Fortunately, Afton Station was one of the places that Gary recommended highly, and I'm quite sure that a good percentage of our visitors were led to Afton by Gary's words.  Since we both had our own businesses to run, we didn't see that much of each other.  I only came face to face with him three times, I think, and talked to him on the phone fewer than a dozen times.  Even so, I considered him a friend.
  In October of 2011, he visited Afton Station along with Bob Swengrosh on their trip across the eastern portion of Route 66.  Bob (right) says the trip was the best Route 66 experience of his life, and I'm pretty sure the adventure was one of Gary's best, too.
Gary particularly enjoyed talking to foreign visitors, and often they would arrive in Afton decked out in Gary's t-shirts, like this foursome from France.  Gary didn't know a stranger.  People became "friends for life" immediately, and that's how he signed his autograph in each and every one of their guidebooks.

Gary passed away on Thursday, and his passing is a major loss to Route 66 and to the people who travel it.  Facebook is full of condolence messages from all over the world.  Although it's hard to be sad about the passing of someone who has had such a full life, the death of this Route 66 ambassador will create a void that will be very difficult to fill.  Read more about Gary and his Gay Parita Station at

Rest In Peace, Gary.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Maybe Not The Best Idea

    "Its a beautiful sunny day.   Temperatures in the low to mid 60s.   Gentle breeze.  Perfect day for a road trip!  C'mon family, pile into the car.  We're going to visit this place I've heard about on Route 66 in Afton, OK that has a nice collection of vintage automobiles and lots of  Route 66 memorabilia!!"

That conversation was what I imagined would take place in many homes this morning, which is why I decided to open the Station even though we're officially closed in January.  I publicized in several places that we were going to have a "bonus day" today.   Sounded like a good idea at the time.  Well, apparently it wasn't.  And although we had a great day at the Station with Betty, Robin, Joe Meeks, Ron M., Michael Scruggs, and Justin, we had no actual visitors!   That's right... none!  Ok, I gestured for one guy on a motorcycle to turn off his bike and come in, which he did, for about 60 seconds, after which he said he'd come back when he had more time another day.   My plan to have a day full of travelers in mid January was clearly a bust, but those things happen.

Justin, our 7th grade helper, came in and, among other hijinks, kept us entertained by modeling hats from our hat collection.   I took a great group photo too, but it turned out all fuzzy. It just wasn't my day.
So we closed a little early and Ron M., Joe, and I took a ride.  We ended up at Lake Yonkipin in Catoosa.  A lovely compound surrounds the small lake mere yards off Route 66, and it's necessary to drive through this "tin tunnel" to get there, which was very cool.
The gate was closed so we couldn't go in (I told you it wasn't my day), but we did manage to take these two photos of it.   Quite lovely.  I'd like to see it in the summer.
 And that was my day at Afton Station, lots of fun and yet a bit disappointing.  It takes all kinds, I guess.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bonus Day

In celebration of the fact that Saturday is supposed to be a lovely, warm(ish) day in Oklahoma, Afton Station will be open for business that day.  We are officially closed in January, but I can't resist driving up there because I miss it so much, and I can't help but think that there might be some travelers out looking for places to visit.  So, if you're feeling the same winter restlessness that I am, drive on over to Afton and we'll have a nice visit.  9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

We Do Deco

I was browsing through former blog posts and realized that January seems to be my time to do a lot of aimless roaming.  It makes me wonder about the definition of what we call a "roadie".  In order to be a roadie, must one stick to long jaunts on old country roads, or are those of us who just want to be behind the wheel of a car at all times no matter where it's going, eligible for the title, too?   I don't care where I go, as long as I'm in my car.  This morning I set out at 6 a.m. to grab some breakfast and came home after 11 a.m..  Where did those 5 hours go?  I didn't venture beyond 20 miles past  the city limits of Tulsa, but I didn't really drive around in circles either.  My car is my cocoon, and even on a cold, blustery day like today it is cozy, warm, and comfortable.  Although I'd generally prefer to have company, I don't mind traveling alone either.  Today, I was alone..

Tulsa is such an interesting city, always full of surprises.  Today I tried to stay away from downtown, since tonight's Garth Brooks concerts (two in one night) are already causing snarls around the arena where our hometown boy Garth will be performing.  I had no worries about wasting gas since Tulsa  has the lowest gas prices in the country. Its nice not to worry about that for a while, although I know it will change before long.
   Tulsa is known as the Art Deco Capital of the USA, and there are plenty of signs of that all over the city.  I decided to check out a few this morning.  I suspect I've posted photos of most of the following buildings at some point in the 6 years I've been doing the blog, but I tried to get some different angles this time.  My camera was acting up, but here are the results of my morning wandering.
From 11th St. (Route 66) far in the distance, you can barely see the spire of the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, built in 1929 and designed by local architects.  It is considered one of the most important Art Deco examples in the world.
In 1938, the Warehouse Market building was built, also in the deco style.  It was quite an elegant facade for a grocery warehouse, and it still stands, broken up into several stores now.

Here you can see both art deco steeples at once.  They are less than a mile from each other.  And then, if you turn in the other direction, you see something very unusual -- a recently built Home Depot store also incorporating the Deco style.   Since it was built so close to the iconic Warehouse Market Building, Home Depot agreed to add some touches from the same era.  I find that rather amazing, and I'm sure there's a good story to accompany that development, but I don't know what it is.
Across the street from the Warehouse Market Building is a small deco gem that is now a dry cleaner. . .   
. . . and from the same vantage point, deco skyscrapers in downtown Tulsa can be seen in the distance.
This is just scratching the surface of the multitude of beautiful architectural examples in our town.  

Today, the New York Times declared that Tulsa is the 47th best city for travelers in the WORLD!  This is great news on many levels, but our Art Deco heritage surely affords one interesting feature for travelers.   That and Route 66.... two perfect reasons to stop in this great Oklahoma city!

ADDENDUM:   Susan Yates tells me that Tulsa was among only 13 of those "best places to visit" that are in the USA and included Yellowstone National Park, Lower Manhattan, and Orlando.  Now, that's really saying something!!!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015


It occurred to me that I haven't posted a sunrise picture for a while, so here you go.  This was taken in Woodward Park, Tulsa (10 blocks off Route 66) through a dirty windshield.  I like to call it "Sunrise Through a Dirty Windshield".  I believe in full disclosure. . .

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Intriguing Photos

In October, a very  talented photographer named Joe Young visited Afton Station and took a number of pictures.  I asked if he'd allow me to use them at some time, and he agreed and sent them last week.  I love them because they are artistically rendered images of some of the antique cars which Joe shot from close up.  I'm sure you will agree that Joe, who is from Springfield, MO, has a wonderful eye for seeing shapes, curves and details that aren't always evident in a quick, cursory glance at our collection.

So here, for your visual pleasure, are some of the images.  (I suggest you click to enlarge them to see more detail.)