Saturday, January 31, 2009

On the trail of the dead chickens

The road to Afton this morning was littered with the carcasses of dead chickens. Since we're fairly close to "chicken country" up there in Afton, it's not unusual to occasionally see a chicken carcass that's fallen off a truck on the way to market. It's never pretty. But today there were a lot of them! Ron M. was with me, and he felt that since the chicken processing plants in nearby Arkansas and Missouri were heavily hit by the recent ice storm and many chickens lost their lives as a result, these must have come from an overloaded truckful, heading to a somewhat premature market. Just a guess, but probably a better explanation than mine -- that the chickens were jumping overboard in order to escape the slaughterhouse. :-) At any rate, if we'd stopped to collect them, we could have had QUITE the Superbowl chicken wing feast tomorrow.

Although the weather was beautiful, the day at Afton Station started out slowly. (The temp. was a hair under 70 degrees, which is a far cry from the ice and frigid weather of the beginning of the week!). One guy wandered in early. He had just purchased a '50 Studebaker and was looking for advice from someone with restoration knowledge. He came on the wrong day, since neither Ron nor I had a clue. I gave him David's phone number and email address and, after he admired all the cars for a while, he went away happy. We just happen to have a '50 Stude, but it wasn't in the showroom today.

There was another big lull until about 2 p.m. when we heard the welcome rumble of motorcycles, and in rolled 5 guys, all from different towns in Oklahoma, out for a ride to enjoy the balmy weather. They came in for a while and really enjoyed the cars. They even bought some stuff! So, today wasn't a lost cause after all.

This week, I placed some large orders for merchandise in preparation for the "spring rush". I'd be very happy if the spring rush turned into the late winter rush, but I can't let one warm day get my hopes up. There's still a lot of winter left, I'm afraid.

I'll be open again tomorrow, although with all the Superbowl hoopla, I doubt I'll have very many visitors. If that's the case, I might leave early. I'd like to be home to see the interview with Barack Obama at 4 p.m. but it's doubtful I'll make it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How I spent my '50s summer vacation

Yesterday's entries drew a pretty large response via comments and other emails, so since I'm not going anywhere for the next few hours, I've decided to continue the '50s theme. I don't want this to turn into a postcard blog, but during these winter days when Afton Station isn't open much, we might as well have some fun, right? So, let's begin with the Pocono Mountain Inn in Cresco, PA.... where, according to the sign over the bandstand, "Nothin' Beats Fun!". These vacationers certainly appear to be having fun rockin' out to neat-o '50s tunes, don'cha think?
On the other hand, if you were vacationing in the Catskill Mountains you could, according to the back of the postcard, "learn to paint in actually 1 hour!". And I know that's the teacher because he's the one with the beret! That must be where people learned to paint all those clowns which are now found in flea markets trash cans everywhere.

Should you prefer to have spent your Fabulous '50s vacation in St. Petersburg FL, you might have rented one of these amazing efficiencies at the Holiday Row Motel. I'm just a little curious, however, about those two ladies and the inflatable swan.....

This architecture is truly awesome and made me wonder if by good fortune it may have been preserved, so I did a little research. Of course not! Here's the new replacement at 17000 Gulf Boulevard, the Redington Beach Resort. Damn!
Meanwhile, if you chose to remain at home, you might have been interested in remodeling the kitchen. As inscribed on the back of the card, "Ted" at the Sears, Roebuck, & Co. in Moline, IL wanted to show you "beauty-bonded Formica" and modern birch cabinets. Way cool kitchen, if you ask me.

I have so many more of these windows into the past that I could go on for weeks and weeks. But I think it's time to get back to Route 66 matters, so I promise no more of this for a while (unless you beg -- LOL!). Besides, I have a long day of errands to run.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Decorating Disasters or Gorgeous Nostalgia?

Since I'm trapped in the house by the ice storm for one more day (I hope only ONE more!), I decided to get busy and clean my office. That lasted for about five minutes. There's gotta be something more interesting to do. Yes! I'll browse through some of my postcard albums again! I'm such a lazy bum.

The first album I extracted from the shelf is my Fifties Interiors collection, which consists mainly of old postcards of motel rooms from the 50s and very early 60s, a time I call the "Age of Orange and Turquoise". Whether you consider them actual decorating disasters or simply examples of the changes in decorating styles in the past 50+ years, these images are pretty jolting to the old eyeballs. Have a look.

The Holiday Mountain Lodge in Rock Hill, NY certainly embraced the turquoise/orange mania.
What were the decorators at the Penn Harris Hotel in Harrisburg, PA thinking when they matched the draperies with the wall covering?
When, for obvious reasons, they were fired from the Penn Harris Hotel, they migrated to Coral Gables, FL and decorated the Atlantic Court Motel.Danish Modern ruled the day at the Beacon Motor Hotel in Ontario, Canada. Bad taste knows no national boundaries.
The decorators of the Hyatt House in Inglewood, CA went for stark and bland. Perhaps a better choice, in the long run.
But, my choice for Decorating Disaster of the '50s is this.... the "waiting room" at the Princess Hotel in downtown Toronto, Canada. It's a women-only hotel, so men were sentenced to sit in this "reception area for gentlemen friends". I wonder how many of the guys stuck it out in that lovely spot.

Granted, I was a kid in those days, but I don't recall everyone having appalling taste back then. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have hundreds of postcards of '50s interiors that are just as bad or worse than these. (And frankly, I'd love to have a room decorated like any one of these today... wouldn't you?) Have fun!

PS - I think the freezing rain has stopped coming down for now. Let's hope.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Afton of Old

The ice storm hasn't arrived here yet, and the weather pundits are backing off just a little on their dire predictions, but I still figure I'll be home for the next day or two. Although the likelihood of power failures or tree damage is lessening, we will probably still have bad driving conditions. So, this seems like a good time to go through some of my postcard collection and put it in order. I have many old Afton postcards, so I thought I'd post a few so everyone can see what my little town looked like in it's heyday.

Both of these images are dated 1916. The roads were still dirt at that time. The first picture shows 1st Street, which is old Route 66 and is where Afton Station is located. As best I can figure, this picture would have been taken looking east, and the place where Afton Station now stands would be on the right and pretty far up the street. The second picture shows a large gathering (a celebration or a parade, perhaps?) in front of Livingston's Department Store and Culley Mercantile Co. on Main Street, which crosses 1st St. The Little Store Millinery can also be seen. None of those enterprises survived. The people in the picture are dressed in their Sunday best, and it appears to be summer.
Now, here's one of my favorites. It shows Larue Olson and his buffalo, Pat ("The World's Only Trained Buffalo"), in front of Buffalo Ranch where they put on daily shows. I now own the billboard in the picture, and it's one of my prized possessions. It's a two-sided sign, and I loaned one side to the Route 66 Harley Museum in Tulsa. The other side hangs in Afton Station.

The trained buffalo eventually killed Larue, which probably didn't come as a shock to many people, since Olson always said you could train a buffalo but never tame it. My dear friend Betty Wheatley ran Dairy Ranch at Buffalo Ranch for 40+ years, and is a wealth of information and great stories about the tourist stop, one of the most famous on Route 66.

I have a lot more postcards that I could show here, but I'll save them for other icy days in the future.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tinker Tom and Leroy

On the way to Afton, I was finally able to stop along the side of the road to take a picture of the buildings that once were the Country Court Motel. I know Beth had asked about them after I posted a photo of their well-preserved sign, and others might have been curious as well. As you can see, they are well beyond repair. I doubt they'll be around long. The sign survived far longer than the actual motel.

It was another good day at Afton Station, with a total of 9 visitors on a gloomy, cloudy day. My first visitors were two 80+ year old friends from Missouri. Leroy is a retired school teacher and his friend Tom is blind. Since he was my first blind visitor to Afton Station, I was fascinated by his ability to "feel" a car's year and model. Amazing! I made a squashed penny for him and he was wonderfully thrilled to feel the pattern with his fingers. These two guys were intelligent, funny, and had some great stories to tell. They now hold a very high place on my Favorite Visitors list. Leroy, the sighted gentleman, has lived within a mile of Route 66 all his life and knows it like the back of his hand. He does a lot of solo travel with a tape recorder and has been all across Route 66 and to Alaska, camping by the side of the road most of the time. Every Sunday he and "Tinker" Tom take to the road and look for new and different places to explore. You could tell they were the best of friends. Tom and Leroy stayed for hours, alternating between sitting and talking and going to the car showroom for another dose of vintage beauty. I am now madly in love with two 80-year-old men! Visitors like these make it all SO worthwhile!

Two guys with a big Haulmark trailer stopped by on their way to pick up a car. They own a custom restoration shop near Oklahoma City. Judging by their immaculate truck and trailer and their matching company uniforms, I'm guessing their resto business is a class act.

A family of five from Drexel, MO stopped on the way to visit family in Afton. The three little kids insisted on smashing some pennies. It's fun to see kids get a big kick out of that machine because, when you come right down to it, there's not much at the Station to appeal to kids. I need to think of some more kid-friendly attractions.

In December of '07 we had a devastating ice storm that completely paralyzed Tulsa and surrounding areas, permanently changing the landscape due to the vast number of fallen trees and leaving much of the city with no power for up to 10 days. I was lucky to never lose power, but I did have one "interesting" incident. I had just put the car in the garage (not an attached garage) to keep it from having trees fall on it. I was just getting out of the car when a very large tree fell across the garage door, trapping me in the garage. Fortunately, I had my cell phone, but I had no phone numbers programmed into it and the only number I had memorized was Ron's, all the way across town. I called him and he called my next door neighbor, who rounded up enough neighborhood men to come and trim and move the tree away from the door enough so that I could squeeze my way out. Kind of scary!

Why am I telling this story today? Because tomorrow we're expecting another bad ice storm, and I'm nervous. I can survive just fine, even without electricity, but I MUST get to my dialysis treatments, and my driveway is steep and pretty unnavigable (and unwalkable) with a coat of ice on it. So, I hope the weather prognosticators are wrong, wrong, WRONG this time!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Today broke records for winter visitors at Afton Station! Eleven people braved the COLD day to come for a visit, and I was thrilled. Marly came as soon as I got there and stayed all day. I had expected such a dull day that I took some crossword puzzles, a book, the newspaper, and a few cleaning products in anticipation of the need to fill some time alone. That didn't happen. I didn't even have time to eat lunch. A truck driver and his young grandson were the first ones in the door, deciding to come in and have a look at the cars on their way from Eastern OK to their home in Paris, TX. (Remember that movie?) They were hauling a load of plastic pellets in one of the biggest and shiniest tanker trucks I've ever seen. Truckers are always happy to know they can park their big rigs just about anywhere in Afton without getting into trouble.

Three folks from Miami came in shortly thereafter. Two of the guys are model train enthusiasts, and one of them has a G-gauge train in his front yard! He invited me to drive up and see it some day, and I believe I will. I love model trains.

A family of six from Webb City, MO stopped by on a sunny day drive. By the time they arrived, the Station had warmed up pretty well, but the car showroom area was still extremely chilly since I'm trying to save money by not turning up the heat in there when there are no visitors. Little did I know we'd have plenty of people wanting to see the cars today. The dad of this brood had owned a couple of Packards in the past and was mourning the fact that he'd sold them a few years ago.
We also had three cars stop in front of the Station, stare in the window, and then leave. That's always so disappointing. Didn't they like what they saw? Did we look like we were closed? (No, all of our OPEN flags were out, the lights on, and we waved them in.) Did we scare them off? We'll never know, I guess.
The following picture is from this morning's Tulsa World. For those of you who are following my Tar Creek/Picher site -- here are some kids playing on a bridge over the contaminated area! This is getting more and more sad and ridiculous. Today's article, which goes a little more in depth about the problem and interviews some of the parents who have agreed to move their kids back to the site, can be seen at: It's all just unbelievable.

I'm picking up Ron M. at the airport tonight after his 2 weeks in Southern California and a cruise to the Mexican Riviera. I hope he has a coat with him, because he's going to have a big shock when he walks out of the airport into our 20-degree air.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A little Afton Station -- A lot of other stuff

I drove to Afton this morning, just to check up on things. I stopped at Clanton's for breakfast and to read the newspaper. Over my veggie omelet I found an interesting article in the Tulsa World which I'll talk about later. Don't let me forget....

Nobody was at Afton Station when I arrived at about 9 a.m., but David and Marly have been working there almost every day, and I was eager to see how many visitors they'd had. In a phone call with David yesterday he said "a few", but I wanted an accurate count. Looks like in the week and a half that I wasn't there, they had about a dozen visitors. Not bad, particularly since it's winter and they tend not to put out the OPEN signs when they're working in the back. The guest book showed visitors from Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. There were also about $60 in sales recorded. Best of all, the place looked clean and well-kept. I stayed for about an hour and then, since nothing was happening, I allowed the old wanderlust to take over and got behind the wheel and cruised!

I backtracked to Vinita (where I'd had breakfast earlier), then took Route 69S toward Adair. In Adair, I took note of a familiar Route 66 sight. But wait! This isn't Route 66 and this definitely isn't Arizona. What are Twin Arrows doing here? A pretty fair imitation of the iconic Twin Arrows in Arizona rose in front of a meat store/Indian store/tourist trap whose advertising also employed the time-honored signs lined up along the road, a la Burma Shave and Stuckey's. I loved it. I loved it for it's tacky tourist ambiance on the exterior. Then I went inside and loved it even more. A line of frozen food cases containing every sort of game and other exotic meats imaginable! A long shelf of interesting Amish jams and jellies! Sorghum! Bee products! Indian blankets! And.... ta da!..... they had BUFFALO TONGUE! Tongue is one of my favorite foods, but I've only had beef tongue and lamb tongue before. Now I own one frozen buffalo tongue, and I can't wait to try it. Maybe next week. The buffalo are raised at the owner's own Windsong Buffalo Ranch nearby.
Here are the "original" Twin Arrows in Arizona. Unfortunately, they're in very bad repair now.
From Adair I drove through Pryor (a larger town, home of Country Fever and Rocklahoma, two of the nation's largest summer outdoor music festivals) and on across the bridge over Lake Hudson to Salina. I'd never been to Salina and frankly had never even heard of it, but I was enchanted at first sight. Salina looks like an old western town -- because it IS, not because some antiquey-minded people decided to make it look that way. It's not prosperous, and there aren't a lot of retail places. The storefronts are either empty or hold farm stores, auto parts stores, and the like. Here's the old hotel, which seems to be a well-kept B&B right now. Since the town is directly on the small lake, I'm sure the B&B does well.
From there, I headed back through Adair and then to Route 28A toward Foyil. I took a little 2-mile detour to check out the Blue Coyote Winery belonging to the daughter of one of my dialysis nurses. I knew it was closed but I wanted to see what it looked like. It's way out in the boonies, but the tasting room looks like a place I'd like to visit this summer when it's open. Since I was on the road anyway, I stopped briefly to snap a picture of Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park. I've been there many times and it's not one of my favorite Route 66 sites (considered so, although it's 4 miles off Route 66), but knowing that some folks who read this blog have never seen it, I felt it my duty to visit again. As usual, I was the only person there.
You can read about Ed Galloway's project here. I have a certain respect for the passion that made the man devote so much of his life to making the world's largest concrete totem pole, but he was also a spectacular woodworker, and I wish there were more examples of that talent at his park. The small concrete building that houses some of his woodcraft projects, particularly a large number of violins, was closed today.

Back to Claremore, then another short detour north on Route 88 to something I recall seeing on another trip a few weeks ago. As long as this was a Twin Arrows day, I wanted to photograph another set of arrows. They're at the Twin Arrows Trailer Park near Oogalah Lake. They're not in great shape, but here they are.
Now, about that newspaper article I mentioned before.... Remember what I told you about Picher, OK and it's problems with lead contamination and tornadoes?, a front page article in the Tulsa World today indicates this bizarre turn of events: As quickly as the remaining residents are being removed from Picher and relocated, their homes are being occupied by other families with children within the age of highest danger from the contamination. And the interesting part (although I guess not unexpected, considering....) is that our government is paying for both! Huh? Just read all about it here:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Yorker Magazine

This post has absolutely nothing to do with Route 66 or Afton Station.

I've read the New Yorker Magazine since I was a kid, and I've subscribed continuously since May of 1968. Since that time, I've saved every cover from every issue. I have also purchased some earlier covers in antique shops, Ebay, etc. I love the magazine dearly. I don't always have time to read every single article, but I never fail to check out all of the cartoons. The process by which the New Yorker selects weekly cartoons is complicated and precise. A panel looks at every cartoon submitted and then the group makes the selections based on a rating system. Nothing is chosen indiscriminately at the New Yorker, not even the cartoons.

Every once in a while, a cartoon makes me laugh out loud. It doesn't happen often. Generally I just smile or chuckle. But this one, from the current issue, cracks me up every time I see it. And since I have absolutely nothing else of consequence to talk about today, I want to share it with you. Does anyone else think it's as funny as I do?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President of the United States

I'm a big nerd. I tend to take photos of my TV screen on important occasions. I spent nearly the entire duration of Desert Storm taking pictures of newspersons with bombs going off behind them. I photographed my TV screen after 9-11. If I'd been old enough to have developed into the perfect nerd by then, I'm sure I would have spent days photographing TV news coverage of the JFK assasination. Today, I took about 30 grainy and blurry photos of President Barack Obama's inauguration. I like this one the best. He's waiting in the hall just before heading out to the balcony. On one hand, he looks like he's trying to surpress a smile. On the other hand, his obvious (and perhaps painful) awareness of the burdens that are about to be unloaded on his shoulders can be seen in his eyes.

I need to get a better TV and spend more time learning how to use my camera before the next national event occurs.

Yes, we did!

Monday, January 19, 2009

My trip report

Sigh..... so much to tell, and yet I don't want to bore anyone because I need all the readers I can get. LOL! But my trip to St. Louis was worth a few words. I'll be as brief as possible. It wasn't a perfect trip, but any time I can be with my family, I'm happy.

So, here goes... Friday morning, drove to Springfield, MO with no problem, but under threatening skies. Because I knew snow was coming, I decided to forego some stops I'd planned to make and just head straight for St. Louis. I did stop twice -- once on my "lucky" bridge in Riverton KS (I'm superstitious and won't pass it without snapping a picture), and then to take a quick picture of 4 Women On The Route, a very cool restored gas station in Galena, KS. The 4 Women was closed, as I knew it would be. 4 Women is where the inspiration for Tow Mater in the "Cars" movie lives. The station was bought and restored by four really neat women from Galena. The threatening skies opened up right after Springfield, and it snowed all the rest of the way. It was too cold for it to stick, but the fine, wispy snow was blinding, and that's NOT fun! The snow continued all the way to St. Louis.

Shortly after checking into the motel, I got a call from my daughter and her family. They were stuck in Pontiac, Illinois, and wouldn't make it to St. Louis that night. They have a new Subaru, and the gas cap door was frozen shut so they couldn't get gas. They had to wait until morning when the dealership opened. I was SO disappointed! (Turns out that it's apparently a common problem with Subaru Foresters, which isn't good if you live in frigid Chicago. The dealer told them that a recall is expected.)

Since I was alone in St. Louis, I decided to drive down to Route 66 State Park and check it out. I've been there many times before, but it wasn't far from the hotel, and I didn't want to get into potential snow visibility problems, although it had mostly stopped by then. Route 66 State Park is the former Times Beach, the fascinating history of which you can read here: This picture doesn't look like much, but it's one of the mounds where, I've been told, the contaminated soil that was the downfall of Times Beach is buried. I also took a quick picture of the former Steiny's Inn, a Route 66 landmark restaurant which is now the Route 66 State Park Museum.

I grabbed a salad and went back to the motel for the night. Sarah, Matt, and Cody arrived around noon on Saturday. Two items on our agenda were to visit the Arch and Ted Drewes Frozen Custard (another Route 66 landmark AND home of the yummiest ice cream on the Route). On the way to the Arch, we stopped at Broadway Oyster House, where Sarah and I were able to partake of our favorite food -- oysters on the half shell. We also shared a bucket of steamed crawfish. The guys ate more ordinary fare.

By the time we got to the Arch, there was a 2 1/2 hour wait in line to get in and we just didn't have that much time (Sarah and family went on Sunday morning after I'd already left for home). From there, we drove to Ted Drewes, and it was closed for the month. Actually, we knew that, but just had to make sure because we knew little Cody would love it. No luck there. Touring St. Louis was becoming a big bust.

Back to the motel, for a swim. Unfortunately, a very large and impolitely unruly family was dominating the swimming scene to the point where it just wasn't much fun. So, we went back to our rooms and dressed for dinner.

Ah, dinner! Off we went to the Hill (the Italian neighborhood in St. Louis) for a most incredible and sumptuous dinner at Gian-Tony's. We chose it after I had taken a poll of several friends from St. Louis asking their favorites, and Gian-Tony's showed up on everyone's list. I highly recommend it.... food, ambience, service all excellent.

Yesterday (Sunday) morning, we did our little belated Christmas thing. We put on our Christmas tree headgear (LOL!) and opened stocking gifts right there in the hotel room. Fun, fun, fun!! (I made all those stockings.)After breakfast, we regretfully parted company. Sarah, Matt, and Cody headed for the Arch before driving back to Chicago. I had a clear, easy, sunny drive back to Tulsa. I stopped to take a few pictures in Cuba, a town which has taken wonderful advantage of it's Route 66 heritage. Now known as the Mural City, there are historic murals painted everywhere. Here's a pic of my favorite. Remember, this masterpiece is just paint on a flat, blank wall. Awesome.
I also stopped for what might be the last time I get to see the Wagon Wheel Motel. The owners are gone now, and who knows what will become of this legendary place.

Finally, I stopped at the World's Largest Rocking Chair in the tiny town of Fanning, MO. This is fairly new, so it's the first time I've seen the 42'4" tourist attraction. The chair is almost larger than the town -- quite impressive if you like large stuff, which I do. From there, it was a straight shot home on the evil interstate. The End.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunset Over Computer

I just got back from St. Louis and will have a lot to blog about the trip, but not tonight. It's going to take me the rest of this evening to catch up with email and read other blogs. However, I just snapped this sunset picture from my desk chair, and wanted to share it and comment that there's a lot to be said for having one's desk in front of a window. :-)

Much more tomorrow.....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

St. Louis bound

I'm leaving early tomorrow morning for a few days in St. Louis. I'm meeting my daughter and her husband and stepson for a belated Christmas visit. We're meeting roughly halfway between our homes. They live right on the lake in Chicago where the winds are fierce, so I'm sure they'll be happy to get out of that icebox for a while. I can use a little vacation, but mostly I'm just excited about seeing them. Their little boy is 8 years old, so we'll be doing kid-related stuff on Saturday, then have dinner on The Hill Saturday night. (If anyone from St. Louis reads this and can tell me the best Italian place on the Hill these days, please let me know!) A big disappointment is that Ted Drewes isn't open in January, so their son won't get to sample a Concrete for the first time.

I haven't been to St. Louis for quite a few years. I've actually been IN St. Louis a lot, but it's always just passing through on my way from Tulsa to somewhere else. I do look forward to tomorrow's drive there, since I'll be making some of it on Route 66 and hope to stop (time permitting) to see a few friends along the way.

Tonight, I have to do an evening dialysis session so that I can have the three-day dialysis-free weekend. That will be nice, too.

I'll be back on Monday. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chetopa, Kansas

Yes, I took another road trip today. The small town of Chetopa, Kansas is just over the OK/KS border. It's touted to be the Catfish and Pecan Capital.... but they don't say the capital of what. The world? Doubtful. Kansas? Possibly. However, besides the large sign as one enters the town, I saw no sign of either catfish or pecans. I saw two restaurants, one a diner and one Mexican, both closed. I can get all the pecans I want around here, but I was getting my tastebuds ready for a catfish sandwich. That didn't happen. Chetopa has seen better days, I think, but there were a few interesting buildings. The most interesting is this old mill. The ghost signs on the front, now barely readable, indicate it was Henson's Mill, but I also saw the words "Diner" and "Corn Chops" as well. Corn chops? A local delicacy, perhaps? The mill was closed too, but the building was quite lovely.
On the way home from Chetopa, I went through Welch, OK again. I wanted to find two houses I'd been told about by both Betty and Marly. I never found the house Betty told me about in which Johnny Cash was a visitor and wrote some of his songs there. I did, however, find the big horse farm that used to belong to Roy Clark. (Yes, that's all one house!) I don't think Roy Clark still lives there now, since he now has a house just down the street from my ex-husband.

All the roads around that area are lined with huge and quite beautiful cattle ranches. And in the midst of it all, I found SHEEP! There are very few sheep in Oklahoma, and I miss them. I think I told you that we had a small flock of sheep on the farm we lived on shortly after we were married. Well, seeing a little field of sheep today made me jam on the brakes and snap this picture.

My travels were slowed down a bit for a little while when I got behind a house being transported down the road. It reminded me of a similar incident when I was just a little girl (probably under 8 years old), traveling with my parents in Florida, when we lost almost a full day by getting behind a house of similar size being towed on a truck. Although today's house eventually moved to the side and let several cars pass, in the Florida incident there was nowhere for it to pull over, so we were stuck for hours. It became a family joke for years thereafter.

I stopped briefly in Afton on my way home. Marly was busy working on the Citroen 2CV, and Luis was there mopping floors. Marly told me he had two visitors yesterday when he was working there. Very good!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


My uncontrollable wanderlust has such a tight grip on me that it tried to pull the steering wheel out of my hands today. Maybe it was just the full moon. Case in point: I love Afton Station and I'm fulfilling a dream by owning it. Everyone knows that. But so many days -- today being the worst of them -- the need to just keep driving is overpowering. Although as I write this (to transpose to the computer later), I just arrived at the Station and I'm still not sure I'm going to stay. The road is calling so loudly that it hurts my ears. What's wrong with me?

Just getting here this morning wasn't a straight shot on Route 66. I left home before sunrise so I could photograph what was supposed to be the largest full moon of the year. (It wasn't all that large -- at least not here). By the time the sun was peeking up, that mysterious magnetic force pulled me off onto a side road, heading toward Lake Oologah, although I didn't know that at the time. It was SO beautiful that I just kept going... and going... and going! I was the Energizer Bunny, and I couldn't be stopped. About 25 miles down the road, I came to my senses and turned around so as not to be late to Afton. Now, I'm here, but the Energizer Bunny is still running around in my head, saying Go, Go, GO! Later, I'll let you know if I succumbed to that wascally wabbit.

Here's Oologah Lake.


Ok, I lasted until 1:30 p.m. with not a single visitor. So I left. Now I'm home and feeling guilty and irresponsible. But a lot of Route 66 tourist places close completely for the winter, and at least I'm giving it a try. Right? Help! Somebody agree with me!

My trip back to Tulsa took me to Nowata, a small town up north. To get there, one drives through magnificent ranch country..... nothing but cows for miles and miles and miles, and a vista that goes on forever. I passed through the very small town of Alluwe before hooking back to Route 66 in Chelsea. I guess I have that out of my system for a while now.

The much-photographed Country Court sign outside of Chelsea. The motel itself is now just a tangle of vines, weeds, and lumber.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I love Oklahoma! So there!

On my drive to Afton this morning, I stopped at Clanton's in Vinita for one of their enormous veggie omelets (How many eggs do they put in those things, anyway?) and a few moments to read the morning newspaper. The headlines, "Tulsa Housing Ties for No. 6", started a bit of a rant going on in my brain, so before I tell you about the day at Afton, I'll vent...

There's no question that my adopted state has it's flaws. Health care, they say, sucks (although I'm quite pleased with mine). On the other hand, I'm definitely not pleased with the "redness" of Oklahoma politics. We have tornadoes (although we don't have hurricanes, six-foot snowdrifts, or -30 degree temperatures). It's pretty hard to get lamb here. It's impossible to get good bagels.

BUT.... c'mon, we have SO much good stuff! We have just about the friendliest people around. We have great geographical beauty (hills, expansive plains, green places, not-so-green places, red dirt, a mesa or two, incredible lakes and rivers, beautiful cities). We have, if not the cheapest, close to the cheapest gasoline prices in the USA. Our cost of living is one of the lowest in the country. And, according to this morning's headlines, our unemployment is 4.5% compared to 6.5% for the USA overall. My fair city of Tulsa ("Art Deco Capital of the Country"), ranks 6th in the country for strongest housing market in the USA. ( It's a beautiful, serene, traffic-unchallenged place. Real estate prices are low, low, low!

When I moved to Oklahoma 7 years ago, I was afraid I'd never visit a great museum or eat a decent meal again. How wrong was I! Besides having a couple of world class art museums, Tulsa's restaurant choices have been growing ever since I moved here. Yesterday I ate the first real Greek salad I've had in years at a little place called Helen of Troy. Here in Tulsa, at a place called Silver Flame, I've eaten the best filet mignon I've ever had (better than my current Best, eaten years ago at a place in Vermont, and far better than the renowned Morton's filet), and it was accompanied by all the free Lebanese hors d'oeuvres one can eat. My little drive-in Chinese place has some awesome cold rice noodles, and there are 6 sushi places within a quick drive from my house.

So, be careful and don't talk smack about my favorite place in the world.... Oklahoma!

Oh yeah, this was supposed to be about my day at Afton Station, wasn't it? Well, Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones arrived first, but I barely recognized him. He was wearing long sleeves and long pants! I never saw that before. All 70-something tattoos were covered up! He goes to for surgery on Monday, so this is his last visit to Afton for about three weeks.

Marly arrived (with his new beard!) and did a great wax job on my car, despite it being very cold in the garage. He's a trooper! After he finished and Tattoo Man had left, we chatted for a while.

But get this! We had TEN visitors today! Families from Locust Grove, Vinita, and Grove OK came for cold-weather visits. We also had a long visit from an artist and photographer from Miami named Michael Scruggs, who showed us his portfolio of some of his works. Marly and I were thrilled by what we saw. Michael's business is called Scruggs Off The Route, and some of his work can be viewed at Most of his work consists of b&w Route 66 photos colorized using ink, an update of old-fashioned postcard colorization. He gave me some samples of his work, for which I'm very thankful. He'll be back.

Upon my arrival home, I was excited to receive an email from a long-lost friend. It was SO great to hear from you, Nancy!