Sunday, May 31, 2009

First Annual Afton Station Strawberry Shortcake Festival

Once again, there was nothing boring about today at Afton Station. It was quite busy, with 35 visitors coming from Salina and Owasso OK, Columbus OH, Kansas City MO, Betholta IL, Dallas TX, Hutchinson KS, Elizabethtown KY, Fort Smith AR and Essen, Germany, among others.

An early-arriving anticipated guest was Mike Wallace (not to be mistaken for Michael Wallis, the author) who was making his second visit to Afton Station on his Route 66 trip. He had stopped by on his way out west (from Ohio) but since I wasn't there, he came back on his way east. Mike is riding a Harley and has had a super time along the way. He's got to be the most prolific photographer since David Wickline! He brought in his laptop and I started looking at his pictures. After nearly an hour it was time for him to leave and I hadn't made it past Illinois! Great pictures of everything! I encouraged him to make a slide show and post it, so I hope he does. I liked Mike -- a very interesting guy.

Later, my friends Brad and LaSandra from Tulsa and Marilyn and Doug from Chandler (OK) arrived and stayed for the rest of the day. With that, it became party time! They're such fun people, so there were plenty of laughs. They arrived with bundles of hot-off-the-presses 2009 editions of the OK Route 66 Trip Guide, so I'm the first to have them to distribute. I broke out the strawberry/blueberry shortcake and whipped cream and we all indulged. No, I rarely (ok, never) have goodies like that at the Station, but since I forgot to serve it for dessert last night (old age, y'know) I brought it along today and there was enough for all. Betty and Ron M. were there to add to the fun. And all this was happening with travelers coming in the door every few minutes. Not sure what they may have thought about the whole thing, but nobody complained about the chaos, least of all ME! Oh, also David and Marly were there scrubbing down David's 44-foot long motorhome in the driveway, so that added to the general craziness.

Have I told you lately how much I love what I do?? This was such a great day!

Now I must confess that I've already broken the promise to myself to take an interesting photo of something on Route 66 every day. Instead I'll post one I took a few days ago and didn't really feel it was good enough to put up here -- that is, not until today when I realized I didn't have anything else. :-) It's the Blue Whale in Catoosa, taken from the car because it was raining too hard to get out. It's not the most favorable angle on the ol' boy, but it was the best I could do with what I had.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

(Another) Day at Afton Station

This would have been a MUCH better photo of the sun rising behind the Oasis Motel sign (on Tulsa Route 66) if a police car hadn't pulled up behind me when I was stopped in the passing lane, at which time I decided it would be easier to just move along than to explain what I was doing at 6 in the morning. Oh well.
This was a day of "fits and starts", as my grandma used to say. I arrived at Afton Station at 8:15 a.m. and two motorcycles were right behind me. From then on, it was a matter of short periods of inactivity interspersed with bunches of travelers showing up at once. I think that in the end, the final count was 27. They came from Oologah, Grove, Stillwater, Blue Jacket, and Guthrie OK, Coffeyville and Wichita KS, Florence AL, Fayetteville AR, Branson MO, and Camarillo CA. Marly worked on the 2CV all day (it's nearly done), Tattoo Man came and stayed for a while, as did Betty. If it appears I'm hurrying, I am. I just got home after racing here on the Interstate, and Ron's due here for dinner (and to help hook up my new printer and webcam!) shortly.

My picture of the day is Afton itself. This is Main St. looking north from the railroad tracks. I took it because it's to be paired with one of my old postcards of same, which I'll post later. The difference is mind-boggling.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quality over quantity

A day like today at Afton Station proves that greeting big numbers of visitors isn't necessarily as exciting as having quality time with just a few interesting visitors. Today, for example, we had only 7 guests, and yet the day flew by and Ron M. and I were never bored. We combatted the morning slowness by getting out my laptop computer and the flash drive that holds the photos for the slide show and working with them a bit. After that, we played with my new badge maker and experimented with it for a while. By that time, the first visitors arrived, a most interesting couple from Huntington Beach, CA who thoroughly tour one state each year. Lucky for us, this year it's Oklahoma, and they're taking several weeks to explore every nook and cranny. They think OK is the 25th state that's enjoyed their scrutiny. It sounds like a fun way to travel.

Shortly thereafter, an absolutely fascinating woman from Anchorage, AK arrived in her camper trailer pulling a car. Kathy Jo has been on the road alone for over 2 1/2 months, having begun in Anchorage and touring Canada and the West before hitching up with Route 66 in California. She's quite a remarkable lady, retired from the military and then the postal service and now a jewelry maker and glass artist. In the whole time she's been on the road, she's only stayed in a motel two nights. Ron quizzed her about driving in Alaska, since he wants to do so on a future vacation. Kathy Jo wants to get a job as a long haul trucker when she completes this trip (she already has her license) and would even consider becoming an ice road trucker. Yikes! She gave us gifts (chocolate eggs and a jar of her own Alaska smoked salmon!) before she went on her way.
Kathy Jo

Next came Eric Jones, a fellow from Tulsa who's a part of the Route 66 community, and since he reads this blog and is one of my Facebook Friends I've communicated with him for quite a while but never met him in person. He arrived on his gorgeous red Gull Wing trike and was able to stay for quite a while before heading up to Miami for lunch. Eric was on the Run for the Relay last year, a group of bikers who went from Chicago to L.A. but were not able to stop at Afton Station. He's going with them again this year and as of now, I think they'll be stopping at the Station this time.


A trucker from Ft. Smith, AR came in to see if we wanted to buy his 1953 Hudson Super Jet. Although I'm not sure we're interested in that, once he got here he decided to take a look at the cars and was very impressed. Anyone need a Hudson in great condition? Let me know.

Our final visitors were a couple from Northumberland in the U.K. They, too, are doing the total Route 66 trip The husband won my heart when he mistook my Chrysler 300 (parked in the driveway) for a Bentley!! The reason I bought the 300 is because Bentleys are my favorite car and they really DO resemble them, but I never thought it could fool an Englishman! Made my day!

Finally, here's the picture of the day. It's the old abandoned grain warehouse (and maybe mill) in White Oak. The name on the building is the only way one can tell they're in White Oak. There's not a lot left there.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Little Tin Barn -- Big Concrete Gorilla

I've been working on the Afton Before & After slide show for a few hours and need a break. So, here are a couple more photos I took yesterday on the way to Afton Station. They're not good pictures, but they fulfill my promise of adding something different from along Route 66 to the blog each day.

Between Chelsea and Vinita there's a place called the Little Tin Barn. An exact description eludes me, but I guess it could best be described as a large roadside lot filled with "stuff", mostly old and new yard art. There's some pretty neat stuff there, and it's all for sale. I recommend a visit by anyone passing that way. Later, I'll try to get a shot of the whole thing, but for now, here is the entrance gate. I do love those tin cowboy cutouts!

Near Foyil, there's a little privately-owned convenience store called Kong's Korners. This rather bedraggled and weathered gorilla stands out front. He's about 6 feet tall, and I have no idea why the place is named what it is. Just another of the mysteries of Route 66.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An After-Holiday Lull

It's become apparent to me that I can't sleep past 4 a.m. no matter how hard I try or how late I go to bed. I've reverted back to old habits, although even in my best years I never made it past 6. So now I have a lot of time on my hands in the morning. On Afton days, my schedule tends to be like this:
Shower, hair, etc. - 1 hour
Email, Facebook, etc. - 1 hour
Drive to Afton - 2 hours
Stop somewhere for breakfast and newspaper reading - 3/4 hours

That still leaves over an hour, either to open Afton Station early or mess around on the way, explore side roads, snap pictures, etc. I predict you'll be seeing increasing numbers of sunrise photos in the future. Here's today's:
I've decided I'm going to start taking at least one photo each day as I drive to and from Afton. I'll be trying to find new, interesting subjects or just catch new angles on old subjects. Since it's only an 80-mile drive, I guess eventually I'll run out of subjects, but that will take a while. I'm not a great photographer and I don't have a super camera, but I think I know interesting things when I see them. We shall see. For those of us who love Route 66, every newly-discovered nook and cranny is worth sharing.

This is an old horse-drawn milk wagon I found today tucked away next to what appears to be a closed western wear store in Claremore.
I thought about saying that the slightly quiet day at Afton Station today was welcome after the busy weekend, but in reality I much prefer the wildly busy days. Nevertheless, today was relatively calm, with a total of only 14 visitors, not counting visits by "regulars" Betty, Marly, David, and Mike Pendleton (who stopped in twice!). My visitors came from Joplin MO, Minneapolis MN, Owensboro, Waverly, and Henderson KY, and Manford OK. Two groups were motorcyclists. The early arrivals were Harley riders from Minneapolis who were on their way to Tulsa to meet Michael Wallis for lunch. They had ridden with him on one of the early Harley tours he led. Michael told them to be sure to stop in at Afton Station. Thanks, Michael! The Kentucky guys were also on big Hogs. The Manford OK folks were accompanied by a very cute dog named Wally.

David cut the lawn yesterday, so once again you can see the Station without having to peer through foot-high weeds. Yippee! Betty brought me another bunch of sweet-smelling roses. I left for home 45 minutes late due to last-minute visitors. But now I'm home and determined to kick back for a while before bed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Motels/Memorial Day

It's not much, I know, considering the importance of the day we set aside to honor those who have given their lives over the years, but my custom is to drive to a large cemetery in Tulsa (Floral Haven), where thousands and thousands of American flags fly for the entire weekend. One can drive the entire cemetery on paths lined with 2000 flags which have been donated by families of veterans and put in place by the Boy Scouts. After dialysis this morning, I made my pilgrimage to Floral Haven and was moved greatly, as usual. There were scads of people there, a long line of cars winding through in a solemn parade.

It pains me greatly that I can't be at Afton Station today, because I'm sure it'll be a busy day there. I think David and Marly will be there finishing up the Citroen 2CV, so I trust they'll take time off to greet anyone who comes to the door. Sometimes they get so involved in their work that they entirely miss visitors. Ringing the doorbell will usually get their attention, however.

I have a huge obsession with motels. It stems from my youthful desire to be a motel owner, and all through my childhood I fantasized about having that coveted desk clerk job, my dream come true. In my older years, I've finally figured out that owning a small motel can be backbreaking work, especially if one can't afford a cleaning crew. Also, since I go to bed very early at night, staying up to check in late-arriving guests no longer holds any appeal for me. Nevertheless, the romance of motel ownership still wafts around my brain whenever I pass a little roadside place. I wrote this esssay for my website ( several years ago, and it will explain my obsession.

First, a confession. Back in the '50s, when other little girls were playing with dolls or teasing the daylights out of little boys, I was sitting at a small drawing board my father set up for me in our basement “rec room”, designing motels! When other kids dreamed of being firemen or housewives or veterinarians, I dreamed of nothing more than being a motel owner. Not many people knew about my smoldering desire, although occasionally my parents would show incredulous visitors the elaborate schematic drawings of tourist courts and motor inns I was cranking out on a daily basis.

How did this aberration occur to such an otherwise seemingly-normal grade school kid? I think it has to do with my intense love of the open road, a love which began at age four when my mom and dad took me on my first “road trip”. Being an only child, I never had to share anything with anyone, and that included the big back seat of our 1951 yellow and black Plymouth. That domain was mine alone, and from that vantage point I got my first taste of what it was like to be in a “different” place, to watch an unfamiliar world go by, and to help with grown-up selections such as a place for lunch or a motel for the night. I can truthfully say that even as a small child, I never experienced a single minute of boredom while cruising down an open road in an automobile. It is where I belong, and it continues to be where I am at my happiest.

On every road trip my family took, one of my favorite moments of the day was when my mother would suggest to my father that it was time to find a motel for the night. Each year, we would go to Florida twice, once in the spring and once in the fall (my parents took me out of school for these trips, and teachers never objected as long as I reported on my vacation in a somewhat scholarly way when I returned), and each summer we would take at least one “big” road trip (usually out west) and some smaller ones (often to Canada). My dad loved road trips as much as I did, and I suspect my mother did as well, although I can’t recall her enthusiasm matching that of my dad’s and mine.

Anyway, around 4:30 in the afternoon, my mother would suggest we begin the process of finding lodging for the night. Since we were an early rising family, we might well have already logged 10 hours in the car by that time. We liked to stop early for several reasons: for one, the earlier we stopped, the fewer NO VACANCY signs we were liable to encounter. Second, early stopping meant more time in a refreshing motel pool (complete with swirly slide, if I was lucky) before dinner. Finally, stopping early meant I could finally go to the bathroom, something I was always reluctant to do in gasoline station facilities.

Mom would get out the trusty AAA Motel Guide and we would scout out the next couple of towns through which the AAA Triptik had routed us. For some reason I never pursued, my mother hated Duncan Hines. The AAA Motel Guide and Quality Courts guide were her bibles, but if a motel sign indicated that the premises was recommended by Duncan Hines, she would shudder as visibly as if the sign read, “Yes, we have rats!” I never understood her prejudice, and never will, as my mother passed away before I thought to ask her.

After much leafing through pages and reading descriptions, we’d choose one or two motels that sounded up to our high Richards family standards. When we finally found the motels themselves, we would cruise through the parking lot just taking in the general ambiance. To this day, I only know that some of the motels felt “right” and others felt “wrong”, but I can’t pinpoint the characteristics that made them so. Since it was still quite early in the evening, we could be as choosy as we wanted to be.
Once we found a motor court that felt right to all of us, we would stop at the office and Dad would go in to negotiate the room. Back in those days, everyone always inspected the room before making a final commitment, so usually Dad and the motel owner would emerge from the office and Mom and I would follow as we were shown to our potential quarters. Once again, our acceptance or rejection of a premises was based on “feel”, although I’m sure that such attributes as cleanliness, spaciousness, proximity to a decent place to eat, and that ever-desired swimming pool were the criterion on which that “feel” was based.

There’s not much I can say about a motel room that everyone in America doesn’t already know. Just saying the word “motel” conjures a certain smell, a distinct quality of light, the hum of an air conditioner, a well-made but probably lumpy bed, a glass wrapped in paper, water that never tasted like “home”, a rubber mat with suction cups for the shower floor, a light bulb that didn’t produce quite enough light, a paucity of clothes hangers, and a friendly desk clerk (usually the owner back then) who was quick to suggest that the best breakfasts in town were to be found in the little cafe which, coincidentally, happened to be connected to that very motel.

Basically, I maintain that motels haven’t changed much since the '40s and '50s. Yes, the big chains have taken over and caused many mom-and-pop operations to die. Of those which remain, over half are operated by foreign-born rather than native-born Americans. Yes, more motels must be accessed by inside corridors now, rather than affording the convenience of pulling one’s car right up to the door. Yes, there are some “new” amenities like in-room coffee pots and hair dryers. Yes, glasses made of glass have been replaced with plastic cups. Yes, king size beds are now an option. And yes, for some diabolical reason, the practice of putting the sink on the outside of the bathroom is becoming pervasive. But..... the basic motel room is intact. A bed (or two)... a nightstand with lamp and phone on top and Gideon Bible in the drawer, a long, low dresser on which is found a tattered folder containing an inadequate supply of motel stationery, another lamp, an ice bucket, and a TV. A table and two chairs. A closet or hanging bar with a couple of permanently affixed hangers. A bathroom with all the necessary amenities, including a bathmat neatly folded over the side of the tub, a woefully tiny sliver of soap wrapped in paper, several clean white towels that don’t quite wrap around as fully as those you have at home. It’s all there....... always was, always will be.

As a child, and more so even now, I feel completely at home in a motel room. Perhaps it’s the sterile atmosphere that speaks of no agenda other than my own. We never know the person who slept in the bed before us, nor the one to follow us. We are suspended in time and space. We have no worries about cleaning the place or decorating it or even making the bed. We can simply exist there, then shed the room like a cocoon in the morning. To me, that is an incredibly free feeling. I’ve always been rather rootless anyway, and the feeling of floating from one spot to another from day to day is very appealing to me. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind being on the opposite side of the registration desk, either. I’d love to be the owner who is fortunate enough to meet a succession of new people every day, who hears new stories each day, who makes new friends, albeit very temporary ones, every single day.

During my childhood career as a motel designer, I created fanciful arrangements of rooms and driveways and parking spaces and landscaping, and once in a while I’d even violate the sacred “interior layout” of a motel room and rearrange the furniture! I would Scotch tape six or nine sheets of typing paper together to make a blueprint-size working surface, and all my lines were drawn with a ruler. I would be careful not to violate certain long-held motel strictures -- one parking space per room only, paths that led to the pool from all sides of the motel, an office in a centrally located place, decorative trees and shrubbery everywhere. But after that, my imagination went crazy. I would create motels in the shape of snakes and stars and initials. The impracticality of construction was meaningless to a kid my age. The neon signs I designed for outside my motels were other-worldly, gaudy, even more so than the ones in front of real motels in those days. My motels had owners (usually they were Laurel Richards and a husband of choice), maids (all named things like Lulu and Frieda) and guests who signed a guest register (Mr. and Mrs. John Wilson, children Karen and Billy, driving a 1952 white Ford Fairlane) and all the detail were carefully recorded. If a roadside archaeologist unearthed those documents today, he would surely think he’d found a real motel guest book, along with rather crudely-drawn architect’s renderings of the motel in question. I was a details person, in miniature. And I had a dream.

It’s many years later now, and I’ve never owned a motel. But, I still stay in them! And I’m blessed with a daughter and friends who share my enthusiasm for the “old road”, who join me in boycotting corporate-owned entities when possible, and who tolerate, and even encourage, my constant desire to be in a car, driving down an old road, waiting for the first hint of dusk to fall so that the evening motel selection procedure can begin.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Model As and Terrapins

Apparently the word goes out to all Oklahoma terrapins that when Memorial Day weekend rolls around it's time to start crossing the road. I don't know why, but I suspect it has something to do with terrapin sex. At any rate, today's drive to Afton, rather than being highlighted by herds of longhorns, was instead an exercise in zig-zagging and fast course correction in order to avoid creating roadside turtle soup. I managed to avoid every one of them (dozens!) but I also saw plenty who had met their ultimate demise on the Mother Road. Dead terrapins seem to attract flocks of crows looking for a meal, so that approaching the squashed ones often caused a great cloud of flapping wings and the birds scurried out of the way.

Frankly, I don't know a terrapin from a turtle, but Ron M. tells me that the ones around here are terrapins. I guess I should stop now and hit Wikipedia. I'll be right back.....
Well, my research was inconclusive and confusing. Looks like "terrapins" are only found in brackish water, and since we're nowhere near the sea, that doesn't sound right. I need to do a little more digging, but in the meantime, maybe you can figure it out at: Any turtle/terrapin experts out there?

I was greeted at the door of the Station this morning at 9 a.m. by three motorcyclists, and it never stopped all day. Coincidentally, I had the same number of visitors today (72) as I had yesterday! I'm so tired of talking! Can you say "raspy throat"? The main event of the day was the visit by 21 Model A Fords from the Wichita "A" Club. They entered town in a beautiful long parade. Unfortunately, they didn't line up in our driveway like most car clubs do, but instead strung out all over the place making photography a little difficult. They would have looked great in a bunch. Marly was there to answer questions about restoration, and Tattoo Man and I handled the Route 66 questions. Car people are definitely friendly people. This group once again proved that theory.

Marly justifying the innards of the Citroen 2CV to Ford guys.
There were 42 people in the Model A group. Other guests today came from Oklahoma City, Locust Grove, Pryor, Tulsa, Nowata, Langley, and Afton OK, Anaheim and Los Angeles CA, Portage IN, High Point MO, Lancaster PA, Chicago IL, Wichita KS, and Brussels, Belgium. We also had a visit from Rufus, a beautiful dog belonging to a guys from Los Angeles. He's traveling the whole Route, and seemed to be a pretty great traveling companion. It was pretty furious madness all day, but with the help of Marly and Tattoo, we did just fine.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Just another cattle drive on Route 66...

It's often said that life on the Mother Road is rarely dull. Today was one of those days that proves the point in a big way. To begin with, there was the longhorn cattle drive down Route 66 this morning. I kid you not. Beginning in Bushyhead, a full-blown herd of 66 longhorn steers were being driven down the right-of-way toward the Claremore Rodeo grounds, and of course you know there was no way I was going to miss that. Ron M. was with me, and we caught up with the cattle at about the halfway point of their trip. I venture to say there were more drovers than there were cattle, but I guess that's necessary when you're herding steers down a public highway. Also, it lost a little of that Wild West feeling since the drive was being protected by a half dozen state police cars and a truck that bore the legend "Cattle Drive In Progress" bringing up the rear. Nevertheless, it was quite a sight! Unfortunately, the state cops were hell-bent on not letting us stop or even slow down for photos so, while I drove, Ron hung the camera out the window and took these on the fly. I think he did a great job.

The whole 12-mile event was done in tribute to Rogers Co. citizen Clem McSpadden (great-nephew of Will Rogers) who died recently, and who had been the mover and shaker behind the rodeo scene in this part of the world. Bet you didn't know that today was officially Clem McSpadden Day, did you? :-)

But that was just the tip of the iceberg of my less-than-boring day. We had a whopping SEVENTY-THREE visitors at Afton Station! It was on wild day, with scarcely a minute for breathing or having lunch or just kicking back. The biggest surprise was the annual visit from the Tulsa Harley Club, which roared into the Station forty strong. They come every year, but never let me know ahead of time. It really doesn't matter, though. I love having them and they're great guests. They stayed for about 20 or 30 minutes, bought a lot of water and pop (it was a hot day) and checked out the cars and the Route 66 stuff.

The rest of the guests came from Idabell, Broken Bow, Grove, Salina, and Vinita OK, Fayetteville AR, Chanute KS, Plano TX, Laguna Beach CA, Belton MO, Milwaukee WI, Shreveport LA, Poplar Grove IL, and Germany. I believe that greeting visitors from 9 states and one foreign country breaks the one-day record at Afton Station. Everyone is on the road for the Memorial Day weekend, and it certainly isn't hurting us. I love days like this. And tomorrow, the Wichita (KS) Model A Club is arriving. If anyone wants to see about 20 Model As, come to Afton at about noon tomorrow. It should be fun!

Note the new paint job on our roof in one of the above photos. Yes, it's finally done, and back to it's terra cotta look.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I think I was the only one there when they turned on the neon tonight! Here's the Meadow Gold sign at exactly 8:30 when the lights finally came on. Beautiful! I would have stayed until it got totally dark, but I'm tired. :-) Oh, and an added bonus.... I snapped this one on the way to the sign -- two blocks from my house and two blocks from the Meadow Gold sign. The skyline of Tulsa at sunset. How pretty is that!?!

Meadow Gold Sign Dedicated

The restored Meadow Gold sign is finally "official". Although I was about 10 minutes late for the ceremony (dialysis, y'know), I managed to get there for all the significant speeches. Lots of speeches. LOTS of speeches! There was a good crowd, most of whom are people I know, familiar faces from the OK Route 66 Association, Tulsa city government, reps from the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture and the Historical Society. Kaisa Berthuli from the National Parks Service traveled here from Albuquerque to make presentations. I was glad to meet up with a few people I haven't seen for ages, which is always fun.

I took a few pictures and Ron M., who is taller, took a few with my camera since I was in the back row. Ron Warnick of Route 66 News ( was on the front row (actually, on the ground in front) so you might want to check out his pictures later, as I'm sure they'll be much better than mine.

They're going to light the neon tonight, so if I can stay up until dark, which is not always easy for me, I'll drive down there and get the much-anticipated night shots. Meanwhile, here are a couple for now.....

Kaisa Berthuli of the National Parks Service addresses the crowd

I like the skyline of downtown Tulsa slightly visible in this picture.
Brad Nickson just sent me this picture that he took this morning. That's yours truly, looking rotten in red, and Julie Miner, LaSandra Nickson, and Marilyn Emde, all friends from the OK Route 66 Association.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

One of "those" days

I can't really complain about the day at Afton Station, but it was one of those days that exhausted me, although I can't quite pinpoint the reason. It started out gently enough, with this beautiful sunrise. (Can you tell I love to photograph sunrises?)I had another lip smackin' breakfast at Clanton's and got to Afton around 9. David arrived shortly thereafter, both to put finishing touches on the 2CV and to meet with me about some business matters. He brought along our incorporation folder, which contained a set of insurance photos taken when we first bought the Station, before restoration. I'd forgotten what a horror the place was! Check these out. The first picture is of what is now David's work room. The other shows just one of many electrical nightmare areas. I'm surprised the place hadn't burned down long before we bought it.

There are many similar pictures in the packet, but I'll spare you the ugliness. David and Marly worked all day, and the 2CV is really taking shape. The cream colored fenders on the red body are make it incredibly distinctive and pretty. The hood needs to be installed (obviously) and there are a few more touches, but it looks like David will have it finished in time to take it to the Greenwich (CT) Concours d'Elegance in early June. I'll be sure to get a full photo of it before it disappears.

Visitors came in and out all day, 13 in all. They hailed from Paola KS, Northern CA, Chicago IL, Overland Park KS, Kokomo IN, and Ardmore OK, among others. There were a couple of highlights. These three guys from California (near San Diego, I think, but I forgot to make a note of it) are all over 70 years old and members of a traveling softball team! Yeah! They were extremely cool guys taking a partial Route 66 trip and apparently having a ball (no pun intended). They were the kind of people I hate to see walk out the door. They've played softball in the U.S. and several foreign countries. Obviously, they were in great shape, both mentally and physically. Go for it, boys!

Shortly before I had to leave, and before David and I had been able to sit down and discuss the business stuff, a lady from Ardmore, OK came in. She was born and raised in Afton in the 40s, and was chock full of stories to tell. Oh, how I wanted to be able to pick her brain for a few hours! In just the 15 minutes we were able to talk, I learned so much. She said she might be able to come back in on Sunday for just a few minutes before heading for home, and I hope she does. I just know she's a wealth of information. However, talking about what Afton was, compared to what it is today, left her in tears. I must admit, I was sniffling right with her as she described the vitality and beauty of the "old" Afton. It's a crying shame what it's become.

Another sad note. Once again, a dog was killed in the road in front of the Station. This time, we didn't see it happen. It wasn't there one minute and then, simply, it was. Marly went out and moved it to the side of the road in the event that the owners wanted to find it. It had no identification. People drive too fast through Afton, and the townspeople allow their dogs to run unleashed all over town. It was inevitable and yet still sad.

On a much happier note, Marly brought a dozen of those INCREDIBLE donuts he gets in Miami. I managed to hold my consumption down to one, but David had three (unheard of, in our married days!) and Marly had the rest.

A visitor yesterday when I wasn't there was Mike Wallace from Ohio, an author and true roadie (but not to be confused with Michael Wallis from Tulsa). I've communicated with Mike previously via email. David said he was a most interesting guy, and I regret missing him.

That's a wrap.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion

Ron M. is a computer genius, but he doesn't like to admit to that. He is, at the very least, a lot more computer savvy than I am. Remember that article about Afton Station in the University of Kentucky magazine I told you about yesterday? He was able to add the PDF file to my website, so now anyone who might enjoy reading it can do so. Just go to Thanks, Ron.

I just spoke to David at Afton Station, and he said there were quite a few visitors there today. He also said that the roof is finally being painted! 'Tis another great day in Paradise!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

People. . . people who need people

I remember how people used to tell me "It's the people that make Route 66 exciting and wondrous". And I'd think to myself that it was just another trite phrase, like "I'm a people person". Yeah, I'd say, but really it's the nostalgia, the architecture, the old diners and motels that interest me the most. Well, all those trite, silly people were RIGHT. I was wrong. So wrong. Having a business on Route 66 has taught me that, and continues to teach me that every day.

I was thinking today about how moved I've been, and how my life has changed, by meeting the PEOPLE of Route 66. There are so many of them, and I'm probably making a big mistake by listing any of them by name here, but I just started jotting down names until I had to stop when my first guests came in. (Disclaimer: If your name isn't here, don't be insulted. There are many more, I assure you.) There's Ron and Ron and Ron and Ron (I know a lot of Rons!) and Betty and Mike and Lulu and Brad and LaSandra and Marilyn and Melba and Jim and Jim and Shellee and Kathy and McJerry and Jeff and Denny and Steve and Croc and Becky and Jacson and Mark and Emily and Pat and Jennifer and David and David and Jane and Blaine and Michael and Suzanne and Carolyn and Linda and Julie and Larry and Peter and Carol and Trevor and Trudy and Frank and Ramona and Dean and Scott ... and Mary Lou, Lucille, and Fran (may all three rest in peace) and Kathryn and Jeanne and Cole and Kara and Joe.... and I could go on and on. These are just a few of the awesome collection of friends I've made from all parts of the world through my Route 66 connections, and there are so many more I've not yet met in person but hope to meet very soon.

Kara and Joe are my newest friends. After they visited Afton Station on Sunday, we went out to dinner together in Tulsa that evening. What an incredibly charming young couple. I had a wonderful time (and a pretty remarkable Cuban Sandwich, too!).

Another wonderous thing happened today, which is probably the catalyst for my rhapsodizing about Route 66 people today. I received a snail mail note from some people who visited Afton Station a few weeks ago. It was a nice thank you note, but the best part was that they had made the stationery, which included a picture of the modern Afton Station on the front, and a pic of the 1948 Station on the back. I was moved by the time and effort they put into this creation, and if they happen to be reading this post.... thank YOU, David and Karen. You rock!

A lengthy and very good article about Afton Station has been published in the University of Kentucky Alumni Magazine. It's online, but only accessible there to U.K. grads. When I get my hard copy in the mail, I'll scan it and put it here. I'm thrilled by the article, particularly the care taken with accuracy . Of course, I'm also quite flattered that the article even exists.

My visitors today were true roadies. There were 14 in all, not including Betty, who came bearing the most sweet-smelling roses. The whole Station was infused with their wonderful scent, which was a welcome treat in this ordinarily musty old place.Visitors were a couple from North East, MD on their 50th anniversary Route 66 trip, a trucker from Hancock, WI who finally got time to come in after making several passes here in the past, and a guy from Denver, CO on a very cool trike with an equally cool trailer (Picture below... eat your heart out, Tattoo Man!). The gentleman travels continually with no particular destination and buys antiques along the way. Additional visitors included a couple from Marion IN, some friends of Betty's from right down the road, two extremely handsome young men from near London, England (I should have taken their picture, but I was too smitten ), a couple from Shawnee, OK and finally a mother and 4-year-old son from Lakewood, CO. A good, good day in every way.

Oh, I forgot.... while at breakfast in Claremore this morning, a huge gleaming new bus pulled in and across the whole side was "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". As you can imagine, there was much buzz about what it might be or who it might contain. Several very well-dressed people came in and went straight to a back room. Was it a high government official? If so, why a bus? Buzz... buzz... buzz... So, when I left, I drove up close to it, so I could read the writing on the very official-looking shield. Oh well.....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Last things first

As an explanation of why I'm in a big rush again today, I'll start by telling you that our final visitors at Afton Station were guests we've been anticipating for a long time (and whom some of you who read this blog have communicated with in the past), Kara Lincoln and her boyfriend Joe Fisher from Iowa. Kara has been thoroughly researching their trip for a long time and has asked those of us on the Yahoo eGroup a lot of intelligent questions. Ron Jones and I had been very much looking forward to meeting Kara in person. After a lengthy visit, including Kara's pressing some pennies for her collection, lots of picture taking, and a ride for Kara in Tattoo Man's car, they left for Tulsa, I closed up the Station, and raced home because I'm planning to meet Kara and Joe again at the 5 & Diner for dinner tonight. Yippee! They're super folks and I look forward to seeing them, but I have to hurry to get everything done first.

Now, back to the beginning. First of all, because it's not quite dangerous enough to take pictures from a moving car (while driving!), this morning I decided to park on a railroad track to take this picture. :-) Actually, I didn't get out of the car, and I didn't turn off the car, but I was in a railroad mood this morning, so I had to do it.

It was a slow morning at Afton Station. Tattoo Man and I were both there early, and our first guests were a delightful couple from France, with enthusiasm for America and Route 66 the strength of which I haven't seen for a long time. The guy in particular was bubbling over with excitement about their 3-week trip, despite having very little English. It was a joy to see this kind of enthusiasm. Then followed a long period of no visitors, right up until 12:30 when Betty arrived. Shortly thereafter guests started to come in the door, from Joplin MO, Siloam Springs OK, various towns in Texas, and Spavinaw, OK -- 13 visitors in all. It was also a great day for sale of merchandise.

I rushed home in record time, but must admit to using the Interstate. Door-to-door in 1 hour and 25 minutes. Yikes, second dumb thing I've done today!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oops, forgot this....

There was a nice pictorial article in the local paper about the Vintage Rally at Afton Station last month, and the photos are great. You can check it out here:

Scroll to the 4th page.

Abbreviated poker run, but lots of visitors

------The Crew -------

Once again, the weather interfered with activities at Afton Station, but not too much this time. It rained all night, but today turned out to be quite nice, although apparently not nice enough for most of the drivers of the custom cars who had signed up for in Darryl Starbird's poker run. Of the 40-something cars which were entered, only five actually showed up. So, handing out playing cards to the entrants turned out to be the easy part of our day. There were lots of others out on the road, and in total we visited with 30 people today (maybe more... I lost count after a while.) Ron M., Tattoo Man Ron, and David were all there to help out, which was very nice.

Guests hailed from all over the map: Edmonton, Alberta, Topeka KS, Maple Valley WA, Eudora KS, Lee's Summit MO, Billings MO, Branson MO, Springfield MO, Dallas TX, Houston TX, Bella Vista AR, and Vero Beach FL, as well as several local folks. Some were on motorcycles, some in classic cars, some in the family vehicle. That red, white, and blue beauty is Tattoo Man's '56 Chevy. The other car is visiting. David's dog Black Jack made a new friend when some of the local Afton kids came in with their weenie dog!

Since we had several visitors come in just as we were closing, we got a late start coming home. Tomorrow I'll be going back early to meet Kara Dean, a new friend from the Route 66 Yahoo group who will be passing through in the morning. I look forward to meeting this young woman, who has done her homework before taking to the road.