Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010 !!!

I was planning to do a "BEST/WORST of 2009" here today and I even got it all written, but then I decided that every one of my readers would probably have a different list, so who am I to impose mine on them? So I wimped out and just want to wish everyone an incredibly prosperous, healthy, and joyous 2010.

I'll be back this weekend with some photos of tomorrow's goings-on. Be safe on the roads tonight.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Out and About

I finally got out today and was able to do plenty of driving, thus alleviating my housebound nuttiness and getting a few errands run. I even drove all the way to Bixby with no problems, as the main roads are now clear. As I write, however, there's more snow falling. It won't be much, but even one flake is more than we need right now. I hope that by the weekend I'll be able to spend at least one day at Afton Station.Here's one of my Christmas presents from Betty. It's an old, but perfectly well-kept and just like new, scarf from the old Buffalo Ranch. She said they used to sell them in the Western Store as souvenirs for tourists. She also gave me Buffalo Ranch t-shirt which was, despite it's age, unworn and in perfect condition. She really knows how to make me happy! The scarf will be displayed in one of the showcases at Afton Station. I love Buffalo Ranch memorabilia.

Monday, December 28, 2009

From the past

While rummaging through some old books and notebooks, I came across a blank book that someone gave me several years ago and in which I started writing and drawing daily. It didn't last long. I only have about 10 pages of writings and/or drawings, with hundreds of pages left to use in the future. Basically, it's a lot of doodles. I love to doodle!

I remember exactly where I was when I created the page above. At the time, I was still living up in Grove, which is close to Afton Station. I hadn't moved to Tulsa yet, but I was driving from Afton to Tulsa once or twice a week to shop or to see friends. On this particular day (Oct. 4, 2003), I stopped at the Blue Whale in Catoosa because for some reason I was inspired to write at that very minute. In retrospect I must have already been in love with the state of Oklahoma, judging by the fancy treatment I gave the word. The rest of it simply describes my thoughts during the drive. Not much has changed in that respect.

Why am I posting this? Well, for one thing, I'm kind of bored with staying indoors waiting for the ice on the roads to melt and don't have much else to talk about. But really I've posted it here because I surprised myself by the recollection that I loved the Tulsa-Afton ride on Route 66 even before Afton Station was really up and running. Back then, I was just going in the other direction.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Roadie without a road

This has got to be a new record for this roadie, and frankly, she is going insane! Except for my 1-mile drive to dialysis and back yesterday, I haven't been out of the house for more than 72 hours. Generally, my restlessness begins after around 72 minutes without a steering wheel in my hands. I've made the decision to stay in one more day, although the roads are clearing and I'm sure I'd be ok out there. But now, this staying home thing has become a challenge. I'm learning how to use my time wisely. Hmm... well, maybe not TOO wisely. So far, I've rearranged the freezer, updated my address book, watched part of the movie "Knocked Up" (pretty good!), watched a little more Julia Child, and did my weekly load of laundry.

But then, I heard my Route 66 postcard albums calling, and that brought any really constructive work to a complete halt. I was just browsing through some of the albums I haven't looked at for a while, and here are a few things I found.

Here's a postcard of a motor court on Route 66 east of downtown Tulsa in the '50s. Individual cabins, big pool, very inviting place. It was called the Tulsa Mo-tel, and it had a wonderfully space age sign.
Here's the site now -- an abandoned used car lot. Sorry to bum you out, but it certainly did so for me.Photo from Google Images Street View

Here's another motel that was also on Route 66 in Tulsa in the 50s. Note the murals, which the back of the card describe as depicting the history of Tulsa. In it's place now is the Bama Pie manufacturing plant where they make the pies for McDonald's and other food establishments. Oh, well....

I'm fortunate enough to own an original copy of Rittenhouse's "A Guide Book To Highway 66", which is considered to be the first guidebook to the Mother Road. . . Copyright 1946, price: $1.00. It's in pretty good shape, too. The entry for Afton simply says: "A similar [to Narcissa] small community is AFTON. . . (population 1,261, alt. 290', Baker's Cafe, Northeast garage, and Eagle Service Station garage; Acme Court.)" The Eagle Service Station is now my Afton Station, so felt good to see it recognized in Rittenhouse, especially since there were about 8 service stations in Afton at that time.

You've heard me write about the mining district of Ottawa County (Picher, Cardin, Miami) several times in the past. I thought this was an interesting postcard which is captioned, "Birdseye View of Miami, Oklahoma Showing Mines in Distance". If anyone can see the mines in the distance, please let me know. That little puff of smoke, perhaps? I love old postcards that are ridiculously useless. This is one of them.
Here's one that actually shows the mining district. Note the pile of lead filings on the left. It's still there. :-(
(My other ramblings about the mining district can be found by doing a search of "Picher" on my blog.)

I guess that's all for today. I hope to get to Afton one day this week, hopefully Tuesday, to check on things and perhaps catch some folks traveling home from Christmas family visits.

Friday, December 25, 2009

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

Yes, Christmas was kind of lonely, but thanks to several occurrences, not as bad as I'd anticipated. I cancelled my Open House because some people had already called in their regrets, and I didn't want to endanger the others who were willing to try to slip and slide to get here. In the morning, my daughter and son-in-law called and, for the second year in a row, we opened gifts on speaker phone. We will meet after the new year in person so we can celebrate Christmas together then, but for now, we get a kick out of opening while on the phone. This year, they gave me something I've been wanting for about 10 years (as my friends know, because I'm always whining about it) -- a Kitchen Aid mixer! And it's in the color of my kitchen!Ron M. suggested I try Craig's List to find someone to plow out my driveway, since I have to get out at 5 a.m. tomorrow to go to dialysis. There was only one listing, and they turned out to be two great guys (father and son-in-law) who had both lost their union construction jobs earlier in the year and now were freelancing, doing just about anything. They were amazing workers -- really put the muscle to the shovels, and now I'm ice-free on the driveway, and they cleaned off my car, too. I paid them and gave them the 2 pounds of shrimp I had bought for the party. I think we were all happy.

I wrote all of that yesterday. It's Saturday now, I'm home from dialysis after a slippery drive. I wish the sun would come out and melt some of this ice on the roads. Since it's Saturday, there weren't many cars out there, but there was one maniac that passed me in a pickup truck going about 50 in a regularly 35 MPH area. Today, he should have been going about 25. I got over the big hump of snow in the street at the bottom of my driveway, and they cruised right up the hill without a problem, thanks to those two shovelers who saved my butt yesterday. I plan to stay home for the rest of the day.

Sarah and Matt gave me a 3-CD box set of old Julia Child TV shows. This is the perfect way to spend Christmas alone. They're great. I'm learning -- or maybe relearning -- things I once learned from Julia many years ago but had forgotten. Pommes Duchesse, here I come!!!

Christmas Morn

From my front porch this morning

I said I wouldn't be writing today, Christmas morning, but here I am. Plans change. Snow falls. And keeps falling. But that was last night. All plans cancelled. "Stay indoors. Do not drive unless you absolutely have to." To all who were wishing for a white Christmas, I hope you're happy. The gathering I was supposed to attend was cancelled. Tulsa received 5 1/2 inches of snow, and Oklahoma City got 14", an all-time record. I stayed home alone, watched "A Christmas Story", one of my favorite movies, and went to bed early. Lonely? Yes.

This morning, snow is everywhere, but I just saw the sunrise. Sun! Yes! I don't see much chance of all this drifted snow clearing enough from the roads by afternoon to allow anyone to come to my Open House. I've already had almost all cancellations, but there are a few I haven't heard from so I'm still in party mode. If nobody shows up, I'll have enough food to feed twenty for a month. I'm not optimistic.

Route 66ers in Oklahoma -- this is one day when I DON'T recommend you take a road trip. Road conditions are very, very poor.

I probably sound a bit grinchier than I really feel. When I settle down, take a deep breath, and remember all those who have no homes, who are having Christmas dinner at a shelter, who are friendless, who are lonely in nursing homes, who have lost a loved one recently, I'm nothing but extremely blessed. The sun is emerging and reflecting off the buildings of the Tulsa I love so much. In essence, all's well with the world.
I'll be back with some photos later, and with a further report on this unusual Christmas Day.
Later: Here's my table, without food. Will anyone show up? Who will use all those 24 paper plates and all those teriyaki stabbers? LOL!
The fridge is loaded. Beer and wine cooled. What more could one want?

Thursday, December 24, 2009


For me, Christmas is all about nostalgia. Some is sweet, some is bittersweet. I shed more tears around the holiday season than any other time of the year, but most of those tears are simply shed in remembrance of things past. My childhood Christmases were nothing short of magical. My parents were really into it in a big way and they made it extraordinarily fun for me, their spoiled child. There were many gifts, but I really don't remember those . Instead, my Christmas memories are made up of little vignettes, as short and sparkling as the tinsel on the tree. One of the most memorable is the large, life-sized cardboard cutout of the Coca Cola Santa which we had somehow acquired and which sat in our living room at the foot of the stairs every Christmas. Ironically, I had never tasted a Coke in my life at that point. My parents were adamantly opposed to the drinking of any carbonated beverages, and I've still barely sampled any to this day. But in our home the unpacking of Coke Santa was the signal that the holidays had begun. I wish I knew where he was now. A few years ago I managed to buy a smaller, one-foot tall replica, but it's just not quite the same.

Since I won't be writing tomorrow, this is my chance to wish every one of my loyal blog readers the kind of celebration this year that affords them many years of sweet nostalgia in the future. No matter how you celebrate or what you celebrate, just remember that kindness, charity, and love are the key to this season. And, since most of my readers are passionate about Route 66, they need not be reminded that PRESERVATION -- of plants, animals, structures, and people -- is the key to happiness for future generations. As our dear, departed Bob Waldmire always reminded us, "Small is beautiful, old is beautiful, slow is beautiful, safe is beautiful."


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beautiful post office visit. . . really!

I doubt it happens very often that a person goes to the post office a couple of days before Christmas and has anything but a long, tense wait among impatient people which results in a less-than-pleasant experience. I, on the other hand, experienced something during my trip to the Afton post office today that was not only pleasant, but moving and beautiful.

I had a package to send to my son-in-law. It was late because it was mailed to me from Canada (or I guess that's the reason, since I ordered it about a month ago). There's nothing like using a post office in a "almost"ghost town to cut down on waiting time. In fact, I was the only one there when I walked in. The postmaster was helping me change packing boxes, since I accidentally put the gift in an Express box rather than Priority box, when a couple walked in. By their look and speech patterns, it was easy to tell that both the man and the woman were mentally challenged and had physical problems as well. They approached the postmaster and the man said, sheepishly, "May I borrow $20?". The postmaster instantly pulled a $20 bill out of his wallet and handed it to the man. "You realize", he said, "that 'borrow' means you must repay me." Then he broke out in a big smile and added, "But in this case, this money is a Christmas present to you, and I do not want it back. Merry Christmas!"

At this point, I broke out in tears. I tend to get awfully mushy at such times. I'm glad nobody else was in there to see my mushy side! The man shook the postmaster's hand and said "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" The woman kissed the postmaster, right over the counter. It was so beautiful! After the people left, the postmaster told me that there were many places he could have spent that $20, but he knew those folks and knew that they were very poor and often unable to pay for even the basics of life. My only regret that I wasn't more on the ball, or I would have added another $20 to the gift. It just happened so fast. That postmaster is an angel!

Meanwhile, we had a lovely 90 minutes at cold Afton Station today. I drove to Afton, and Ron M. came up with me, to meet with both Betty and Tattoo Man. Tattoo Man had a nice article published about him in American Road Magazine this month. I receive my copies of the magazine early since I'm a retail vendor, so Tattoo hadn't seen it yet. I wanted to give him a couple of issues so he didn't have to wait until his arrived. Also, Betty and I needed to exchange Christmas gifts, since we won't see one another again until after Christmas.

Here's a picture of Betty and her date. Oh, by the way, it was the fruit kind. Ron brought them to her, and they're from the Shield's in Indio, California. Betty says that dates from a tree are really the only kind she's interested in these days.
While Betty and I were exchanging gifts, Ron dressed Tripper for Christmas.

There were no visitors while we were there, so we drove back to Tulsa. The clouds are getting thicker by the minute, which I'm afraid presages some precipitation in the next couple of days. Snow on Christmas in Tulsa? It's a possibility!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Environmental Confessions

When I think of Christmas, I think of this house. It's where I spent my most memorable Christmases as a small child (1950-1960). Our Christmas tree would be in that big picture window, and my dad would outline the whole house in lights, those big bulbs we used to use. There were yellow electric candles in the windows, and my bedroom (upstairs left) would be bathed in a yellow glow each night as I fell asleep. Nice memories. (This photo was taken from Google Street View, which is why it's so messed up.)
I was driving around aimlessly today at around 5 a.m., which is what goofy people like me tend to do. Actually, it wasn't entirely aimless. I was heading for Braum's to get some sour cream for the key lime cheesecake I'm making today for Joe who takes care of me during my dialysis treatments. He was born and raised in S. Florida and constantly and avidly craves anything with key lime as an ingredient. After purchasing the sour cream, I stopped for breakfast at my usual place, then drove home. Upon reaching home, I realize that I didn't have enough sugar, so I hopped back in the car and drove back to Braum's to replenish that staple. By then it was almost 6:30 a.m., which is the middle of the day for an earlybird like me, even though it was still pitch dark. It was then that I started thinking about my lifestyle and how I could improve it.

I'm afraid I'm not particularly environmentally friendly. For one thing, I use more gas than just about anyone in this hemisphere. My 3-year-old car has 130,000 miles on it, and I can't blame all of those miles on my long trips to and from Afton. A good number of those gas-guzzling miles are put on by me doing the aforementioned aimless driving around. It's as if wasting gasoline was a hobby for me! I was actually elated that I had an excuse to get back in the car and drive some more when I realized I was out of sugar. That's not the only place I'm wasteful, either. For instance, the TV in my bedroom stays on 24/7 (muted) because it's so old and clunky that if it gets turned off, it takes about 90 minutes for the picture to return. I keep certain lights on overnight outside of my house, for my own safety. And of course the computer is abuzz for many, many hours of the day.

In other areas, I'm a bit less of an environmental disaster. I keep the heat low in my house. At Afton Station I sometimes freeze to death rather than turn up the heat (those huge rooms take tons of BTUs to bring up to temperature). I only do one load of wash a week and hang-dry much of it. I take quick showers rather than long baths, thus saving a lot of water (besides, I think baths are just plain gross!). I get my car washed at a carwash where the water is recycled rather than doing it myself at home. I refill my water bottles with tap water rather than buying bottled water. I take my own tote bags to the grocery store (when I remember to do so).

I think my New Year's resolution this year will be to become more environmentally friendly. I'll do it in every area except the gas-guzzling issue, because for my own sanity I'm sure I'll still do a lot of driving.

The cheesecake is done and it's only 10:45 a.m. I've checked off everything else on my list. Hmm... what to do now? I think I'll take a ride!

I did a little aimless driving, and snapped these two pictures. This is Rossi Bros., a window company on 11th St. (Route 66) in Tulsa. I've always felt they did a great job of restoring the old gas station and using it as the headquarters for their business. It's a lovely building.
It was another quiet Sunday morning in downtown Tulsa. Barely a car on the road on this winter Sunday morning. I guess everybody else is in church rather than out wasting gasoline. :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My "Blue" Heaven

Believe me, the trim on my house is NOT blue! I took this photo this morning as I was backing out of the driveway. It was still dark, there were no blue lights shining on the house, I wasn't using a flash, and I wasn't taking it out of a window, so I have no idea why the white woodwork turned out to be blue. Anyway, what you see is the extent of my Christmas decor for this year.

I chose not to go to Afton Station today, so if there's anyone reading this who showed up there and didn't find me, I do apologize. I have way too much to do here at home this weekend. I've been futzing around the house today, getting things ready for Christmas, getting gifts and food ready to take to a party tomorrow evening, and thinking a lot about Bob Waldmire the whole time. There have been some beautiful tributes to him this week, and some impressive articles in equally impressive newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. There was also a feature about him on CNN News. Everyone, including me, claims to have been his friend. And everyone is right. Bob truly WAS a friend to everyone he ever met. There are some great "Bob stories" at

I don't believe I've posted this photo here before (probably because it's such a hideous picture of me) but it's been going around the net a bit lately, so I might as well own up to it. This was taken at the 2008 Route 66 Festival in Litchfield, IL. Bob and I were discussing the fact that he was all out of the chili seasoning he makes and which my daughter loves so much. He rummaged through his entire VW bus to try to find one last jar of it, but to no avail. He was going to make another batch, he said, but that never happened.
Thank goodness, after Monday the days will start to get longer again. I really don't like these winter days of less and less time between sunrise and sunset. I'm thankful, however, that I live in Oklahoma and not in the path of that big snowstorm that buried the East Coast last night. It's gray, dingy, and cool here, but dry and not unpleasant.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Short Route 66 Tour

My friend Lauren from Richmond, KY came to town today and I took her for a little Route 66 tour. We stuck pretty close to Tulsa, and I showed her downtown, the River Parks, Greenwood, and Red Fork. We stopped for lunch at Ollie's Station then headed west on Route 66 to Sapulpa, where we did a quick tour of Frankoma Pottery. We then headed for Kellyville and I showed her the old bridge there. It was a good day with a very nice new friend. I think with just a couple more visits I can turn her into a true Route 66 fan.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

R.I.P. Bob Waldmire

This was taken the first time I met the great Bob Waldmire, back in 1997. We were driving through Hackberry, Arizona on a Route 66 trip in our 1957 Packard Clipper. He greeted us, offered us food, and treated us like we were long lost friends. There's very little I can say about Bob that others haven't already said, and since he passed away this morning, I'm sure there will be much more said about this unique man in the near future. He was an artist, an environmentalist, a conservationist, an adventurer, a historian, a Route 66 icon, and a friend to everyone he met. He will be missed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My family

Let us begin with something that has nothing whatsoever to do with Route 66 or Afton Station. I don't care. These are my "kids" and these are their Christmas card pictures. Daughter Sarah, son-in-law Matt, and Matt's son Cody. Gotta show off the family every now and then.
Christmas errands took precedence over Afton Station today. I remained in Tulsa and visited the cheese store, the wine store, the ham store, and then came home and finished boxing things for mailing. Deck the halls!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Workin' on the Christmas spirit

Here I am, determined to get into the Christma spirit. I'm not quite there yet. Maybe I need to hear more Christmas music. When I made my annual donation to the Food Bank the other day, the lady gave me three CDs of holiday music, but I forgot to take them to Afton Station today. I still have everything to wrap and get mailed within the next couple of days. Then I can settle back and drink in the true spirit of the season.
This is the first time I've seen a photo of me in my reading glasses. I kind of like it because they hide some of my face. :-)

Meanwhile, it was very quiet (again) at Afton Station. I was so glad that Ron M. came with me today. We had an early visit from a family of four from Wann, Oklahoma, and no other visitors. Well, there was one guy who spent time looking in the window, but couldn't come in because he had to get back to "the little woman" waiting in the car. Betty Wheatley came in briefly but had to rush home to tend to a sick dog. I do hope the little critter is ok!

Betty Baumann, the lady who makes all the beautiful hand-crafted Route 66 things I'm selling at the Station now came in and hung out for a while. I like her. Besides being a wonderful crafter, she's fun to talk to. She set up another small rack of her products and rearranged the other rack.
Betty B. rearranging her wares.

Ron and I left an hour early since visits from more travelers seemed unlikely.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What's the buzz?

Fellow Route 66 enthusiast Richard Moeur was flying (commercial airliner) over northeastern Oklahoma last week and decided to try to snap a picture of Afton from the air. The result is here and, considering the altitude, I was pretty impressed. It certainly shows how small Afton really is. The surrounding countryside is all farmland. Thanks, Richard. This is very cool.

Last night I was fortunate enough to be invited to dine at "Trula", the restaurant in the newly-restored historic Mayo Hotel in downtown Tulsa. Besides enjoying a mighty fine piece of sea bass, I got to see the beautiful lobby and grand staircase. A couple of things surprised me, though. First, it was serene. I missed any signs of hustle and bustle. Since the registration desk is off to the side, almost in a separate room, there's not much reason to come through the lobby, I guess. What a shame. While waiting for the folks I was meeting there, I sat alone in this massive, high-ceilinged space. Occasionally, I'd see people walking on the upper balconies, but even that was rare. The people-watching sucked. I was reminded of how years ago I could spend countless hours just watching humanity pass by in the lobbies of the Waldorf or the Plaza in NYC. The restaurant was very busy, and we were told that it was the first night since reopening that they were fully reserved. All the employees I met couldn't have been nicer -- the maitre'd, our waiter, the valet parking guy, and the guy at the front desk of whom I inquired how to get to the restaurant. The Mayo is indeed a beautiful space, and a not-to-be-missed attraction on one's Route 66 trip through Tulsa.


I couldn't decide whether to come to Afton Station today or not. There's freezing drizzle predicted, and some friends from Texas are in town and would have liked for me to have brunch with them today. But then, I found myself on Route 66 headed northeast, and then I found myself in Afton! I know Tattoo Man is due here soon so I really wouldn't have had to come, but I couldn't stay away. I'm not expecting many visitors, and I'm freezing my butt off. So, let's see what the day brings. . . .

When Tattoo Man arrived we caught up on what's been going on in the past week or so. Later, our friends Ron Warnick and Emily Priddy arrived, and it's always nice to have them pay a visit. Ron W. had come to interview Tattoo and take some pictures of him for an upcoming article. Emily and I just chatted about important things like the importance of having leg lamps in our lives. :-) While they were there, another couple from Ishpeming, MI stopped by. They're doing a little Route 66 tour through Oklahoma in their RV, and were glad to be in the relative "warmth" of our state rather than home in the cold Michigan winter.
Ron interviews Ron

Do you like steam? I do. I took this picture this morning from the overpass at the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Plaza. The oil refineries were going full steam (literally) this morning.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Catching up

Actually, there's not much to catch up on. I haven't been to Afton since the disastrous "no visitors" weekend, and I've spent my time catching up on Christmas preparations. Yesterday Mar, a fellow member of the Route 66 eGroup who is traveling all of 66 by herself in an RV, visited Afton Station and was greeted and hosted by Tattoo Man. Thanks to Tattoo for providing that hospitality. Today, I'm trying to get together with Mar when she comes through Tulsa. She had indicated that she was interested in talking to women who live on or have businesses on Route 66. That would be me (LOL), so I hope we can find a way to get together.

Here in Oklahoma, we don't have all the snow and storms which seem to be plaguing much of the rest of Route 66, including Illinois, some of Missouri, and the western states. We're just lucky this time, I guess. We do have sub-freezing temperatures, however, and I wore a coat for the first time today.

When I found I could no longer order stickers from my regular supplier, I decided to work on making them myself. That's been such a fun project. I now have stickers available in six different designs, including the Route 66 shield in neon, on black background, and featuring Oklahoma. The sticker paper is quite expensive, but the stickers look very professional, in my opinion. They're available at the Station. I look forward to designing a few more that will be ready by the time I reopen on a regular schedule in February.

Since, as you can see, I'm somewhat desperate for blog material, here are a couple of photos I snapped last week that didn't seem good enough for the blog, but now since I have nothing else, they're starting to look better. Both are taken on Route 66.
This horse barn is within the city limits of Tulsa, surprisingly close to downtown.
Christmas lights at the town gazebo in Catoosa. (I'm not too good at taking pictures of lights at night with my little point-and-shoot.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Number 4

Yep, today was another ZERO day -- the fourth day in the history of Afton Station with no visitors. Well, not really the whole history. During the years when we were restoring the Station and were only open if we happened to be there, and when there wasn't much to see even if someone did drop in, we had many days with no visitors. But this is the 4th one in modern history.

Then again, I did have a couple of visitors, both named Betty. Betty W. stopped by after church and stayed for a while so we could gab. Betty B. came by to show me a few more beautiful things she's made and which she was hoping I'd want to sell. These two ladies made it worthwhile for me to sit in a chilly room on a cold, dark, drizzly day. Even so, I left a little early and I'm glad to be home in my warm house.

Thanks so much to those who have emailed to show appreciation for the video I posted yesterday. Glad you liked it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

For your viewing pleasure. . . (I hope!)

I looked back at my records for the 2 1/2 years I've been keeping records at Afton Station, and this was only the third day in all that time that we were open a full day and had no (ZERO) visitors. I can't say that I blame people. It was cold, in the low 20s this morning, and only warmed up to the low 40s this afternoon. But it was a sunny day and I'm a bit disappointed that no road warriors were out battling the cold.

On the other hand, the time went very quickly because Ron M. and I worked all day, non-stop, to finish the video I've been talking about for months. It's far from perfect, but it was my first effort, and I couldn't have done it without Ron's technical help. Kudos to Betty too, who was able to find some of the "before" photos for me. We just about went nuts trying to insert the right transitions between pictures, and some of them still aren't quite right, but it'll have to do for now.

So now, for your viewing pleasure. . . AFTON -- THEN AND NOW, the somewhat sad tale of a small town bypassed by Route 66. (It looks much better if you view it on Full Screen.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tulsa A to Z

This might appeal to anyone who's planning to visit Tulsa on a Route 66 trip, and it would be particularly interesting to Tulsa residents. A film maker named Jack Frank, who has done several documentary-style films about the city of Tulsa, has just released another one called "Tulsa A to Z". It spotlights various entities, both present and historic, of interest in the city. Because of it's ties to the early oil industry, and because it was once called "The Most Beautiful City in America" due to its oil wealth, Tulsa is an extremely appealing city with a particularly interesting history. Jack Frank is good at finding unique gems in the city and presenting them simply and often with great humor. Route 66 is featured in a number of the segments, the Meadow Gold sign and the Cyrus Avery Bridge to name two. I'm in the movie, too! Yes, for about a half second, Ron M. and I can be seen in the FAR background at the Meadow Gold sign dedication ceremony. Friends Brad Nickson, Michael Wallis, and Dennis Whitacre actually have speaking parts. It's a fun movie, and a short "preview" can be seen at , where it can also be ordered.

More from Afton Station tomorrow!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How I Spent My Winter Vacation

I had another "day off" from Afton Station today and did some fun things. After breakfast this morning, I had some time before the store I wanted to visit was open, so I drove around my own neighborhood. Have I told you how much I adore my neighborhood? It's Tulsa's historic district, just a few blocks from Route 66 and close to downtown, and it consists of amazing huge homes built by the oil barons of the early 20th century, smaller interesting homes built by a variety of well-known architects, and lots of even smaller, circa-1915 craftsman bungalows. My modest house is in the latter category. All the following pictures were taken within a few blocks of my house. This is the "famous" house on my street, once the home of Cyrus Avery, the Father of Route 66
Recently restored craftsman bungalow on my street

This one is my house.

I did my shopping, then called Ron M. to see if he'd like to do a little Route 66 exploring, this time west of Tulsa for a change. I picked him up and we didn't get very far before we stopped at Ollie's Station for lunch. I've mentioned Ollie's before, but had never taken photos of the inside. Here are a few Ron and I snapped. The theme, obviously, is railroading, since it's right beside the railroad tracks. Inside there are lots of model trains, all operating and click-clacking overhead. It's fun, especially for kids, but can get pretty noisy at times. Ollie's is a longstanding member of the OK Route 66 Association. olliesstation / Home Page

After lunch, we got off-track ourselves when, heading for Sapulpa on 66, we decided to take a road that led to the charmingly-named town of Pretty Water. The road went for miles, then turned to gravel and continued for many more miles. We were no longer on Route 66, but we were enjoying seeing something we'd never seen before. The countryside was a mix of farms, dissheveled trailer homes, and newer construction on small horse farms. We ended up somewhere near Keystone Lake, but I'm still not exactly sure where we were. It was so unfamiliar that it honestly felt like a little vacation for me. But all good things must come to an end, and eventually our pretty little road hooked back into a major road that was familiar to Ron, so we took it back to Tulsa. It was a delightful way to spend a day!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quik Trip (and I don't mean the convenience store)

This was the first actual day that I took "off" from my regular Tues., Thurs., Sat., and Sun. Afton Station schedule. I celebrated by. . . driving to Afton Station! LOL! Although I have let it be known that I'll basically only be open on weekends during the winter, I realize it's going to be difficult for me to stick to this schedule since, let's face it, I love driving up there!

So today, I did. I had a good excuse. Yesterday I picked up some foam material that David needed for his motor home, since it was only available in Tulsa. So I took it to him and spent a little time (very little -- I didn't even turn on the heat) at the Station. I did close out the November books, which took mere minutes since we only had 158 visitors for the month. I was, of course, grateful for all of their visits, and even for the average $1.99/person they spent. I didn't get rich in November! :-)

I drove up to Grove to deliver some Afton Station brochures they had requested at the Grand Lake Visitors' Center, but they were closed. :-(

On the way back to Tulsa, I just had to do something Route 66-ish, so I stopped at the Blue Whale in Catoosa. You've all seen photos of the whale himself ad nauseum, so I decided to photograph some of the other buildings on the site, or what's left of them. Some folks don't know that the Blue Whale itself was part of a larger -- but still small -- amusement park, privately owned. It included a replica of Noah's Ark and several other buildings. All that's left of those other edifices are the bones, and plenty of "No Trespassing" signs because of their instability. Here are a few pictures:
What's left of Noah's Ark
No ducks here. Just a warning of a low doorway.
Ticket booth
Someone has done some more recent painting.

I wish I'd been around to see the Blue Whale park in its heyday. There was swimming, a snack bar, and other attractions. Sometimes it hurts to know that I missed out on some of those old-time fun places.