Sunday, November 30, 2008

What to do when there's nothing to do

It snowed today! It wasn't a heavy snow, and it certainly didn't stick to the ground at all, yet it kept visitors away from Afton Station in droves! :-) Thank goodness, both of the Rons and Betty were there to keep me company, and we had a lot of laughs. I think the absence of travelers must make one giddy, because a few times we were all laughing hysterically at almost nothing. I did have one -- yes JUST ONE -- guest, a guy from just down the road who needed an excuse to get out of his mother-in-law's house for a little while after a long Thanksgiving weekend visit. He stayed for a while and looked at the cars. He then showed us pictures of the Barracuda he's restoring for his son who is a drag racer.

So, what DO you do when there's nothing to do? For one thing, we dressed Tripper for Christmas in a few things we found around the Station.

For another, Ron Jones brought his nicely restored and very patriotic 1956 Chevy for all of us to enjoy.
We made a fresh batch of popcorn.

Ron McCoy wandered around and took some interesting photos. Here's one that's the reflection off of the front door.
Then, when we were really desperate for entertainment, I volunteered to tear a phone book in half with my bare hands. Ummmm..... I didn't quite make it, but I think that those who were there to witness it would agree that I gave it a good try -- that is, if they were actually able to see me through their tears of laughter. I guess I used to be a lot younger and stronger (and maybe drunker) back in the old days when I could accomplish that feat.So, it was just another day of mixed boredom and hilarity at Afton Station. More to come in the future, you lucky readers! LOL!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Why did the chicken cross the road?

On the way to Afton this morning, I encountered a flock of chickens crossing the road 5 miles west of Vinita. That, of course, brings up the age-old question of WHY? Sorry, but I have no answer for that, despite the fact that they were so close to me as I slowed down to avoid a disaster that I could have grabbed one and had a chicken dinner tonight. I should have asked them why they were crossing, but I allowed the opportunity to pass me by. Oh well.....probably just to get to the other side.
On my drive this morning, I was moved by the desolation of the landscape. It's a landscape I know so well, and yet winter has bathed everything in a different quality of light. The fields are bronze, seemingly have gone from green to brown overnight. The cows don't seem to mind that their food is now a different color. Nor, on this morning, do they appear to mind the gray skies and the cold drizzle that's falling on their backs. They just continue to graze. I did mind, however, because I was having a premonition of a day, a week, maybe several months without visitors to Afton Station.

Today I took the Hours of Operation sign off the door and replaced it with one which reads "Winter Hours: Sat. and Sun. 10 - 3, Others by Appointment or Chance". It's sad but inevitable. The crowd at Afton Station will surely be slim pickins between now and March, I'm afraid.

I did have five visitors today, a family from Springfield, MO who took to the road today after watching "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" last night on the Food Channel. Their destination was Clanton's Cafe in Vinita, which was featured on the show, but they also made a few stops along the way. I was glad Afton Station was one of them. Betty came in and stayed for an hour or so, but otherwise it was pretty lonely at the Station today. Winter also means that I don't sell much, therefore I don't have any ordering to do, and without a steady stream of guests the place doesn't get dirty (and besides I was too lazy today to clean anyway), so in anticipation of the slow day, I took my Christmas cards and started to address them.

There weren't even very many cars on the road today. Here in Oklahoma, everyone is gearing up for the big state football rivalry between OU and OSU this evening. I'm neither a football fan nor a lifelong Okie, so I'm not interested in that. Others are using the weekend to shop, shop, shop. I wouldn't be caught dead in a store this weekend! So, I guess it was, despite the loneliness, a good day to be at Afton Station.

The sky on the way home this evening.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The morning after (A.K.A. Black Friday)

Thanksgiving dinner at my house was, if I do say so myself, pretty durn great! I'm not necessarily talking about the food, which was just fine but very traditional and certainly not one of my more imaginative offerings. It was the company that made it fun, a nice diverse group of folks, some of whom had never met before but also many longtime friends. And the weather was warm enough that, after demolishing the turkey, dressing, oyster casserole, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberry/raspberry sauce and pecan tarts, we were able to sit out on the porch until it started to get dark.

This morning, when I had to get up at the crack of dawn for dialysis (actually, well before the crack of dawn), I was most thankful for those who helped me clean up last night. The kitchen was put back together just like new before the final guest left. Usually I don't ask for help and don't want it, but last night I just didn't feel I had the stamina to clean up that mess and still get to bed early, so when one guy wanted to stay a while "just to talk", I put him to work. He didn't know what he was getting himself into!

This morning, on the way to the hospital, I swung by a few of the big box stores just to check out the crowds. At 5 a.m., the Sears parking lot was jam-packed, and the line stretched from the door all the way to the road. Target and Office Depot both had long lines, too. Frankly, Black Friday is the LAST day I'd ever consider going shopping. No way -- no crowds for me!

I'm very excited about getting back to Afton Station tomorrow. On Wednesday, I finally formalized my winter hours by posting them on the Route 66 Yahoo Group, which is the clearing house for everything that happens regarding Route 66. I've decided to remain open on weekends (both Sat. and Sun.), but close on weekdays unless called in advance. If I can't stand not being there more often, I can always go up there at the spur of the moment.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Over the river....

.... and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go....

Well, not quite. But, this morning, I found myself singing:

Over the river
And through the fields
To ex-husband's house I go....

As you know, my ex is nice enough to fry a turkey for me every year at Thanksgiving. It was absolutely worth the drive (2 hours each way to where he lives) to pick it up this morning. It was a nice day for a drive on Route 66, which is 4/5th of the trip, and there was relatively no trafic. I stopped at the new Buffalo Ranch truck stop when I saw that the bison herd was up near the fence where they were very visible. I noticed a new baby bison in the herd, not close enough to photograph well, but I caught a picture anyway.

I stopped briefly at Afton Station to check the answering machine and see if anyone had left notes at the door. None of either. I can't believe I haven't been there since last weekend! Everything seemed fine and apparently untouched, meaning that nobody else opened up in my absence.

David was just about to remove my turkey from the fryer when I pulled in the driveway. He sets up the fryer outside in his driveway on a big piece of plastic. He's doing 7 turkeys this year, one for me, one for his family, and five to give to charities (or perhaps I should count myself among the charities?). While I was at his house, we called our daughter in Chicago who was home from work today and also busily cooking for tomorrow. She's going to her in-laws for the day, but will take most of the food (everything except the turkey).

I drove home, and as soon as I got here I carved the turkey and sealed it in pouches which will go in the oven tomorrow. I truly believe in doing everything in advance so that I have plenty of time to visit with my guests. And I do mean EVERYTHING! Tomorrow will be mainly warming the stuff I've made in the last few days. If that sounds evil, never fear. I always get compliments on what I serve, so apparently it works. I'm the queen of make-ahead! This year's turkey is the best ever -- juicy and flavorful, with lots and lots of meat. I picked the bones enough while carving it that I think I won't need any more food today. :-)

I doubt I'll blog tomorrow. I love to watch the Macy's Parade in the morning, and the guests will arrive around 1 p.m. HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Well, at least the table is set.....

.... now back to the kitchen for more cooking.

Further reports as Thanksgiving preparations progress.

And, since I have to drive up to Afton to pick up my turkey tomorrow morning, maybe I'll actually have some Afton news, too!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Comfort Zone

Nothing earthshaking here today. I ran errands and did some cooking. However, I did have a realization about myself which I think is a little bit interesting. It's nothing I didn't already know, but it just crystallized in my brain as I was driving down the street this morning. My primary comfort zone is behind the wheel of my car! I am NOT as comfortable in the passenger seat. I am NOT as comfortable on my cozy couch at home. I am NOT even as comfortable in my desk chair in my office, despite spending a ton of time there. I'm NOT even as comfortable in my own bed at night.

I feel totally at home while driving down a city street, driving down a country road, driving through a neighborhood... driving anywhere. Except for the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago, I'm even ok with interstates these days. I feel more alive when I'm driving and LIFE is passing me on all sides. I often find myself taking the long route to wherever I'm going. In a car, I'm in charge and can go where I want. And since I've been spending 12 hours a week in a dialysis chair at the hospital, I have really learned the meaning of impatience. My technician teases me about how everyone else falls asleep for the entire sessions, and meanwhile I'm wiggling and stretching and moving around (as much as possible when lying in a reclining chair with two arms out of commission). When I'm in that chair, all I can think about are all the places I could be driving. My car acts as a magnet for me. It's no wonder that my gasoline bills are astronomical and my guilt about carbon emissions is astronomical as well. But I won't stop driving. Technically, the dialysis treatments are keeping me alive. But in reality, I'm sure it's my ability to be on the open road that's really doing the trick.

Sorry about this disjointed rambling entry. I'm just thinking out loud.....

Sunday, November 23, 2008


In 2004, I found myself chairman of the Tulsa International Route 66 Festival, a fancy name for the national Route 66 convention held each year in a different locale. The title of Chairman of the Board was fancy too, since I don't deserve a fraction of the credit that should be bestowed upon the hundreds of volunteers that made up the hard-working committee. However, as a relative newcomer to Tulsa, it was a great way to meet folks and get established in the community.

The Festival was a 5-day event, and one aspect of it was a gallery show put on by the University of Tulsa which was made up exclusively of items from my Route 66 postcard and memorabilia collection. I worked with the director of the School of Art, Teresa Valera, an amazing lady whom it was an honor to get to know. We hit it off very quickly because we're both big fans of KITSCH!

In a description of the exhibit which was displayed on a poster at the show, she attempted to explain the meaning of "kitsch". Here is a part of that description:

There is a mix of old and new items in the exhibition, from the original drive-in movie speaker to the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. This suggests that the spirit of Route 66 is still a vital presence in American culture, as it has been through history. During the Depression, hundreds of thousands of farm families, displaced by the Dust Bowl, made their way west across Route 66 to California, following what John Steinbeck called "The Mother Road" in his vivid portrait "The Grapes of Wrath". After World War II, many thousands more aspired for social and economic mobility by leaving the industrial East bound for good jobs in the suburban idyllic landscape of Southern California. Again, they followed Route 66, which came to be the agent of the demographic shift from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt.

The question might arise: Is kitsch art? Well, it depends on your point of view. Just as diners and gas stations lined the road to form an interface between it and the American landscape behind, so Route 66 acts symbolically as a boundary between mainstream society and regional communities. It serves to emphasize the aesthetic, cultural, and ideological differences between a national and regional America. The souvenir seems to harden the boundaries between the seller and the consumer, between the artist and the critic, and between national and regional cultural perspectives. A traveler might think that such a souvenir is a product of popular culture, something kitschy, not a work of fine art, and more importantly, he/she might believe that it could never be both. Many artists, however, including some of our most famous ones -- Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, Alexis Smith, Pepin Osorio, and Haim Steinbach -- take kitsch seriously. Are the objects in this exhibit kitschy? Stand in the middle of Route 66 and look both ways. You decide.

"Indian" kitsch from Buffalo Ranch. Not made by Native Americans, by the way....

Could there be anything kitschier than this toilet ashtray from the 1950s?

The next two pictures are of my exhibit at the University of Tulsa -- June, 2004

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Surreal 66

It's very sunny and very cold today, but thankfully (!) there's no precipitation in any form. I'm beginning to realize that the winter months at Afton Station aren't going to provide much fodder for this blog. I say this because I'm sitting here on this frigid Saturday, shivering and waiting for my first visitors, and also realizing that they may never arrive. The Australians and New Zealanders are all at home enjoying their own summer. For the Europeans, the winter months are not popular for travel to the U.S. And the local folks are all at home making preparations for Thanksgiving. The lower gas prices might help a bit (I paid $1.59/gal. this morning) so I may have the good fortune of greeting a few day-trippers, but I'm not holding my breath.

[Within a half hour of when I'd planned to close and go home, I got my first and only visitors. I'm glad I didn't close early, because they were a very interesting and interestED couple all the way from S. Dakota.]

In 2006 I published a calendar which I called "Surreal 66". I took 12 of my common photos of scenes I'd shot on Route 66 and Photoshopped them to death to give them somewhat unworldly looks. (It's interesting how Photoshop has evolved into a verb!) The calendar was very well-received, probably as much for it's size as for it's content. The 5x7 format is just perfect for a desk calendar., and the folks who got calendars really appreciated that. If I ever produce another calendar, it will be the same size. With little else to write about today, I thought I'd show you a couple of the photos. This was taken on 11th St. (Route 66) in Tulsa.

This is in front of a homeless mission on Southwest Blvd. (Route 66) in Tulsa.
Palmer Hotel from out the window at Afton Station.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Burger :-)

I've been wanting to try a little 50-year-old Route 66 burger joint in Sapulpa called Happy Burger for some time. Today, I had the chance. While running a few errands in that town with Ron, we decided to stop and check it out. We were pleasantly surprised by the food, the friendliness, and the decor. The owner is apparently a huge Pepsi Cola memorabilia collector, because the place was full of pretty neat stuff, both new and old. The lady at the grill (the owner? Not sure) couldn't have been more friendly and accomodating as we sat at the counter and wrestled with the big, sloppy chili burgers. Yum! They were way too big to just eat like regular burgers, so we attempted eating them with forks, refusing the waitresses offer of a plate and knife, which was probably a mistake. Ron Warnick of Route 66 News recommended the peanut butter milkshakes there, but we didn't see them on the menu.
And while on the subject of restaurants, the other morning when it was still dark, I stopped on 11th St. in Tulsa to take a picture of the neon on one of Tulsa's best Route 66 restaurants, Tally's Cafe. It's not a bad picture, considering I don't have any special lenses for photographing neon. Tally's is another casual, diner-style place with good home cooking.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

When I don't go to Afton....

I finally found the close-up pictures I took a couple of years ago of the little model gas station I have on display at Afton Station. As you can see, up close you can't tell you're looking at a miniature. I'm always amazed by the detail put forth by the artist.

Since this blog is supposed to be about Afton Station, and since I wasn't there tomorrow or today, and won't be there again tomorrow, I thought I'd tell you what I did on this day off. You might want to click to something more interesting, and I wouldn't necessarily blame you, since you came here to hear about running a Route 66 business, not about me running errands. But that's what I did today.

The day didn't start out routinely at all. The wind was blowing mightily and the air was frigid when I walked out to the car at 6 a.m. to get to the grocery store early enough to beat the crowds. Well, that didn't exactly work out. I had a flat tire! Thank God for the Triple A! The very nice guy was here in about 20 minutes and had to remove a lot of Afton Station junk from my trunk (see, there's an Afton Station reference, so I'm on topic) so he could get to the spare, which is just one of those little "donut" tires. That done, I proceeded to the grocery store and purchased over $100 worth of food for Thanksgiving dinner, which I'm hosting for either 7 or 8 people. I didn't have to get a turkey because my ex-husband fries one for me each year. When we broke up, he got the turkey frying apparatus, so it's become his job ever since. LOL! Fried turkey is GREAT!!

On the way home from the grocery store, I stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall tire place (where I'd never been before) and discovered a real gem of a service-oriented business. Apparently they've been in business for over 30 years. The owner was no spring chicken, nor was the guy who repaird my tire, which had a screw in it. He then took off the donut, replaced the good tire, and repacked it in the trunk. This whole operation took about 5 minutes and cost a whopping $4. Thank you, Bill's Tire Service. I'll be back.

Right after I got home I got a call from a friend, letting me know that another good friend had passed away last night. Terry was a great guy. He had beaten lung cancer 8 years ago -- or so he thought -- but it returned a couple of months ago and after that it went pretty fast. He died after only two days in a hospice, so it was quick. He will be missed. At his request, we are going to plan a gigantic crazy party in his memory shortly after the holidays.

I spent the rest of the morning doing some prep for Thanksgiving. Since I get my turkey delivered all cooked, every year I have to find a way to make gravy. I refuse to use canned or fake gravy, so a month or so prior to Thanksgiving I start roasting turkey parts and rendering the juice and fat. This morning I roasted four thighs, and along with what I've already collected, I think I now have enough to make a decent amount of gravy. And, I also have lots of meat to make turkey salad or turkey soup!

I also made cranberry sauce out of -- would you believe -- last year's cranberries. In October 2007, on a visit back to the East Coast, Ron and I visited a cranberry bog in Massachusetts as the guests of the president of Ocean Spray. I was still pretty crippled from my stint in the hospital last year, but Ron got right out there in the bog and collected many MANY pounds of cranberries . I made tons of cranberry sauce last year and stuck the rest of the berries in the freezer, totally forgetting about them. When I took them out this morning, they were still absolutely perfect, so I made a gigantic pot of sauce. I put raspberries and blackberries in my cranberry sauce for sweetening and an interesting flavor.
Ron using antique cranberry scoop
Harvesting the cranberries after flooding the bog so that they float to the top.

At noon, I went to Ron's house for lunch. His neighbor had given him some sort of rice and dill pickle concoction which she said was a Russian dish, so we ate that. It was.... er... different, but quite edible. On the way home from Ron's house, I stopped at the liquor store and bought the wine for Thanksgiving. My favorite, Blackstone Merlot, was on sale!

So, here I am, finished with errands and doing the favorite part of my day, computering! I won't be going to Afton Station tomorrow either, but I promise not to bore you with another blow-by-blow description of my day. I'll be back in Afton on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The party's over...

... or at least the tourist season's over, I think. Today was extremely quiet at Afton Station. Fortunately, Ron M. accompanied me there today, and Betty came by and stayed for a couple of hours, so it wasn't boring. But, there were only four visitors, and they arrived in pairs.

The first couple was from Boston, on one of the last legs of their west-to-east Route 66 trip. They were in a bit of a hurry to get to Kentucky for Thanksgiving, where they were picking up a car owned by their son who was just deployed to Iraq with the Army. Their haste didn't stop me from recommending a few "must see" Route 66 stops in Kansas and Missouri.

The second couple hailed from France, and didn't speak a single word of English. That made communication rather difficult although, I'm ashamed to say, I took 4 years of French in high school and a couple more semesters in college. It's incredible how much French I've forgotten! I think it has to do with the teaching method that was used in my high school, where we listened to specific phrases over and over again in a "lab" with headphones. In the long run, it was only practical if, in later life, one needed to know how to say sentences such as "By the way, who are you going to invite to the senior prom?" or "Fix my flat tire", both of which I have down pat. LOL! At any rate, the French couple was very nice, and we gestured to one another a lot. I'm always amazed that non-English speakers can make their way across America without too much effort, but then I think back to the times I vacationed in foreign countries without knowing a single word of their language. I guess everything is possible if you can point and gesture effectively. Body language works just fine.

We left for home early when we realized that business had slowed down to a snail's crawl. Since I didn't take any pictures today and my philosophy is "a picture for every entry", here's one of those great ones that Doug Smith took the other day. The subject isn't great, but the photo is high quality, and you get a good view of the mess all around me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Christmas Story

This has nothing to do with Route 66 or Afton Station, but last night, I watched my DVD of "A Christmas Story" for the first time this season. I'm quite sure it won't be the last viewing, however. It's one of my favorite movies. I could watch it repeatedly all year, but I prefer to save it as a treat for the holiday season. It's an outstanding movie, but means even more to me because so many of the exterior scenes are filmed in Cleveland, Ohio where I grew up. The nostalgia I feel when I watch "A Christmas Story" exceeds that which I feel about anything else. Although most of my childhood took place in the early '50s rather than in the late 1940s which are depicted in the film, there's a great deal in the movie that's identical to my youthful Christmas experiences. The scenes of downtown Cleveland decorated for the holidays, the Cleveland Christmas Parade, the visits to Santa at Higbee's Department Store, are all cornerstones of my childhood holiday memories and were recreated perfectly on the screen.

"A Christmas Story" was made in 1983, and I've never missed watching it at least once each season since then. If you haven't seen it, and even if you're much too young to appreciate the nostalgic aspects of it, I still recommend it as one of the most humorous and well-made holiday films ever made. (Can you tell I'm a fan?)
My friend Ron Warnick has an outstanding blog entitled Route 66 News, the "go to" place for the most updated news of everything happening along the Route. Since Ron's wife ran in the marathon yesterday, he was on hand to take some photos from the new Route 66 Cyrus Avery overpass as the runners passed beneath it. Go have a look at Route 66 News. Scroll down 5 or 6 entries. Be sure to note the old Route 66 Cyrus Avery Bridge as seen from above, bracketed by the two newer bridges.

I'll be back with Afton Station news tomorrow. Today, I'm home making lists for what needs to be done in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner next week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

First at the Finish Line at the Route 66 Marathon!

Ok, I was in a car. But even so, I'm sure it's the only time I'll ever be on a marathon course, and certainly the only time I'll be first over the finish line! When David's 1950 Studebaker Starlite was chosen to be the Pace Car for the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon (, he invited me ride shotgun with him. I couldn't resist, so I abandoned Afton Station to Tattoo Man for the day and accepted the invitation. Ron McCoy came along, too. We arrived almost an hour early, and the starting line was already a hive of activity. It's amazing how much prep it takes to put on a big 8,000-runner event.

The chairman of the marathon, Chris Lieberman, greeted us and showed us where to put the car just ahead of the starting line. We met the two motorcycle police officers who would be leading the "parade" and making sure all the intersections on the course were closed to traffic. We also met a really cool police officer who would be riding with us and sending (via his radio) reports to the finish line. Since his "real" job on the force is head of the Gang Division, we plied him with questions about the state of gang activity here in Tulsa. Very interesting indeed!

David is my ex-husband. His new wife, Sylvie, was running a leg in the Relay division of the race. Along with the regular 26.2-mi. marathon, there was also a half-marathon division, a 1/4-marathon division, a wheelchair division, and a children's division (on an entirely different course).

I learned a few things today. For one, being in the Pace Car isn't exactly the best place from which to take photos. Ron took a few out of the rear window, but they didn't really show how cool it was to see those 8,000 people following. I took dozens out of the front windshield, of which two were worth keeping.

I also learned that the Pace Car driver doesn't have as cushy a job as one might think. With no power steering in the Studebaker, making some of the turns was dicey. Also, once we got to the point where the course had switched back and there were runners both with us and running against us in the other lane, it was tricky for David to miss some of the runners who, because they had iPods in their ears and couldn't hear the police sirens or our horn, just veered out in the path of the car. David had a pretty big job of making sure everyone on the course stayed safe as we passed.

As soon as we got there in the morning, they strapped the big timing machine to the top of car. You can see it in one of the pictures below. My huge, important, responsible job (LOL!) was to push the button to start the timing machine at the exact second that the gun went off at the start. I executed the assignment flawlessly. My index finger was really the only part of me that got any exercise for the whole 26.2 miles, but for that I think I deserve a big plate of carb-laden pasta tonight, don't you? :-)

That's David (my ex) chatting with the two police officers who would be with us for the whole course.

Here's David with Chris Lieberman, the Chairman of the Route 66 Marathon.

Here's the car at the start, waiting for the race to begin. Can you see the timing device on the top of the car? (If you're not familiar with Studebaker Starlites, that's the back of the car you're looking at, not the front. It's hard to tell.)
There were only two entries in the wheelchair division this year. Here they are at the start. It's hard to see it in this picture, but behind the overhead banner are all the other racers, waiting for their start to come two minutes later. Those shiny things on the right are the warming blankets given to each runner at the end of the race. Did I mention that it was COLD today?

There were some bagpipers along the route. There were also bands and combos in about a half dozen places along the course, music blaring. Although we were only going about 10 miles an hour, I still failed to get any good shots of the bands, the crowds that lined some parts of the course, or anything else.

After the course turned 180 degrees, we started to see the slower people and the half-marathon people coming toward us, which made the ride a little bit more fun. I still don't know who won the marathon, since as soon as we finished the race we drove the car over to the car show portion of the festivity. We didn't stay long, however, because although it was sunny, it was very cold and windy and not very pleasant. It was a small and frankly unimpressive car show, but after all, the attention and glory should go to all those incredible athletes who finished the course, not to a bunch of old cars. All in all, it was a great day and I'm so glad I accepted David's invitation!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just a day

If you're looking for a blogful of excitement today, I urge you to find another blog. Although this was a fine day, I'm having trouble figuring out how to edit my activities to make them blogworthy. Yeah, it was a nice day, but not much to blog about.

I had another outstanding breakfast at Clanton's in Vinita on the way to Afton this morning. It's really not surprising that they're always crowded. I arrived to a frigid Afton Station with a cold wind blowing so hard that I didn't look forward to putting out the "open" signs. It was actually 44 degrees outside, so if you happen to be reading this from Minnesota, North Dakota, or Iceland, quit laughing! Around here, where "the wind comes sweepin' down the plain" (thank you, Rogders and Hammerstein), 44 degrees can be pretty darn nasty. Even so, it took the Station a lot less time to warm up than it took for me to get my first visitor.

The aforementioned first visitor was a truck driver from Arizona. He was a really nice guy who stayed about 90 minutes, probably since I spent a lot of that time plying him with questions. I've always been fascinated by the truck driving profession, and this guy is a driver trainer so he could answer them all. He loves his job, and always tries to take the back roads whenever possible. Although he loses time by stopping at lots of interesting places along the way, he makes it up by using truck stops strictly for sleeping and doesn't hang out in them like many truckers do. He's in the market for a Packard to restore when he retires, which will happen within the next couple of years.

I had another visitor later in the day, a guy pulling a trailer full of Shelby Cobra! He just bought it and asked if he could bring his Shelby club to Afton Station on their cruise in March. Of course he can!

Ron Jones came in the afternoon because he was planning to meet a traveler from California there as she passed through on her Route 66 trip. Since she wasn't going to arrive until 4, I headed for home before meeting her, and I left Ron to close up for me.

David called and asked me to ride with him in the pace car (his Studebaker) for the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa tomorrow. Although it means I can't be at Afton Station, I just couldn't turn down this offer. I'm kind of a parade junkie, and being in the pace car of a marathon is enough like a parade to tempt me totally. The marathon is expecting about 8000 participants and has turned into quite a big event. Afterwards there's a vintage car show, refreshments, music, etc. It will be cold but FUN, I'm sure. I'll have a full report tomorrow. Ron Jones will hold down the fort for me at Afton Station.

I got the car washed on the way home. Since nothing worth photographing happened today, I took this picture in the car wash. Lame, huh? Well, a picture of anything is better than no picture at all, I always say......

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This and that

Since I don't go to Afton Station on Thursdays, I like to devote a piece of my day to exploring some portion of Route 66 in an attempt to discover things I've never seen before. That's not particularly easy any more, since I'm getting intimately familiar with everything on Route 66 for about 80 miles in each direction out of Tulsa. This morning I drove as far as Depew, meaning I went through Sapulpa, Kellyville, and Bristow along the way. I didn't see anything I hadn't seen before, but I found a few things that were of interest.

In Sapulpa, I stopped again at Frankoma Pottery (talked about in a previous post and at in order to drop off some Afton Station brochures for their Route 66 lounge and information corner and ask permission to take a few photos of their amazing vintage Frankoma collection. Permission granted, and here are a few shots. This is a mere fraction of the long wall of old Frankoma patterns represented there.

In Depew, I couldn't resist an interesting doorway.
Back in Tulsa, I found myself following a truck that was delivering large concrete "Route 66" planters to various places on 11th Street. They started distributing these a few years ago as a part of the Route 66 preservation initiative here in the city. The planters are really wonderful, because they're a whole lot more difficult to steal than the regular Historic Route 66 street signs, which seem to disappear no matter how well they're fastened to the poles or how high they're hung. Of course I took a picture, but since it was taken out of my windshield while waiting at a red light, it's not the best.

On 11th St. near Peoria Ave., funds from the same initiative are being used to build a.... well, I'm not sure what you'd call it.... a giant pedestal (?) on which will be erected the iconic Meadow Gold Dairy sign that for decades stood at 11th and Lewis Ave. When the owners of the 11th and Lewis property said they were going to destroy the sign, it was fortunate that funds were available (through private donations and other sources) to dismantle it, repair the neon, and re-erect it. Since the sign is beloved by those who have lived in Tulsa for many years, this is a very good thing. Here is the sign as looked at 11th and Lewis.

Here's the future home of the sign.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Route 66!

I left Tulsa early this Veteran's Day morning, intending to stop in a few small towns to photograph their veteran's memorials or monuments. I couldn't find any! I looked in Catoosa, Foyil, Chelsea, and Vinita, to no avail. These are all tiny towns, so a quick drive down Main St. and a couple of side streets pretty much covers them completely. Nothing! Maybe I was just too bleary-eyed at that early hour and missed something.

So, instead I stopped in Foyil to snap a picture of a monument to a different kind of amazing person, Andy Payne. Andy, a young Cherokee farm boy from Foyil, won the 1928 Great Transcontinental Footrace. Against extreme odds (and lots of professional runners) he endured the Route 66 course from L.A. to Chicago, then on to New York City, a total of 3423 miles. And he won! He returned to Foyil and in later life made a name for himself in Oklahoma government. For all I know, he may have been a veteran, too. I'm not sure. His story is one of many personal odysseys accumulated in the 82 years since Route 66 became an official highway. Today is Route 66's 82nd birthday!
I've never seen goats wearing coats before, unless they were wearing them just before being judged at a fair in order to keep their real coats clean. Nevertheless. I passed these guys today -- and it's not even cold outside! Because of their placement and the early hour, this was the best photo I could get without running the risk of being chased out of the yard at gunpoint. (They look like sheep in this picture, but believe me, they're goats. I used to raise sheep.)

News from Afton Station: I got there at 9, and my first chore was to clean up the mess created by David and Marly defrosting the fridge last night. Quite the flood, and not enough towels to clean it up. However, by the time the first guest arrived, all was back in tip-top shape.

The first guest was an Arkansas guy just coming in to look at the cars. But shortly thereafter, four people from Belgium doing a large segment of Route 66 (Amarillo, TX to Springfield, MO) came for a visit. They were a charming bunch, and two of them spoke great English, so we did a lot of chatting. I was very impressed by their enthusiasm for everything I said and everything they saw at the Station. They bought an Images book, the pictorial tour of Route 66 that so many foreign visitors appreciate.

David was there working on a car for most of the morning, and I had a couple of more visitors drop in before I closed early and left at 2 p.m. I have a meeting tonight so I needed to get home and prepare for it.

For years, I emailed with a gentleman named Doug Idlett who was a veteran of WWII and was a prisoner of war for several years in the Phillipines. I met him a couple of times in person too, and was always impressed by his incredible stories, good health, and youthful outlook as he was a bit over 80 years old. I lost track of him recently, but am still trying to find him. Hey Doug.... if you happen to be reading this, hello! You know I have never forgotten you on Veteran's Day, and you can be sure my thoughts are with you today as well.