Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flow Gently, Sweet Afton

It's not quite the gentle country stream of Robert Burns' poem, but it's ours. Yes, it's our very own ditch, right there on the property of Afton Station. It goes to prove that occasionally you get what you ask for. Our complaints about a broken underground pipe have been addressed, and this is how far the town crew got yesterday. In future days, we'll see what they find as they proceed to tear up the town in pursuit of the elusive leak. Meanwhile, anyone for some mud wrestling?

It was getting dangerously close to being another day determined to depress me. Rainy, cold, gloomy, and no visitors. At least Ron M. was with me today, so we could be bored together. David was also present, working on the new showroom. (The heat and air conditioning are in and working!) However, not a single traveler came to our door all morning. And then, just as we were contemplating an early closing, in walked these folks to cheer us up. They are a father and daughter, one from Hutchinson, KS and one from Austin, TX who were on their way to Madison, WI to join the protesters who have been so stalwartly objecting for the past month or so to the unfair treatment being given to unionized public employees in that state. Ron and I thought it was lovely that dad and daughter were traveling together to join a cause for which they feel strongly. And since I happen to know someone in Madison who is at the forefront of the demonstrations, I gave them his name and told them to seek him out.

Yesterday, Tattoo held down the fort at Afton Station and visited with 9 guests, who came from California, Maryland, Michigan, and North Carolina. Some were friends and strong Route 66 supporters and I do wish I could have been there to visit with them.

The sides are up on the new building across the street. Things are happening in Afton, Oklahoma!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Bi-Polar Day

It seems that about once a year I have a day at Afton Station when I'm alone and it's cold and dreary and I have a lack of guests. I sit here, shivering because the heat just isn't adequate to overcome my chilled-to-the-bone condition, and I pretend I'm a martyr to some lofty cause. Of course, I know this is entirely unhealthy, and the other 364 days of the year I avoid self-pity like the plague, but every now and then a girl has to wallow in self-indulgent misery to make up for the bliss she feels the rest of the year. Today is my bleak day. My once shiny floor (thanks to Robin) is now covered in mud tracked in by Sunday's film crew. Someone has upended a box of about 300 postcards and they are now all out of state order. When the film crew pulled the quilt off the wall, the tiny paint chip they took with it looks like major damage in my unsettled brain of today. In reality, it's barely noticeable. I refiled the postcards and put a semi-angry note on the box, telling folks to put them back where they belong in the future.
I read a couple of catalogs to keep from falling asleep, then figured out last month's sales tax. That was easy since I sold almost nothing in February. I ate three Girl Scout cookies (the lemon filled kind) and an apple, but I'd have preferred some Greek yogurt, an orange, or a grilled cheese sandwich, all items that are strictly forbidden on my kidney diet. That put me in an even more rotten mood. I need to stop writing this now, lest you think I'm an ogre. I'm not. I'm just having a bad day. Now for the good parts. . .


Things looked up in the afternoon, after I'd already written the above. For one thing, Betty W. came for a visit. It's been a few weeks since her last visit, so it was great to see her. Also, the rain through which I drove going to Afton this morning has let up, and there seems to be some hope for the weather.

I did have a few visitors today, 7 altogether. A very nice couple from Bloomington, IL was there when I arrived this morning, even though I was 45 minutes early. They couldn't have been more interested in Route 66 and what we have here. Later in the day, just as I was closing up, four folks from Washburn, MO stopped by on their way to a short Route 66 tour. Also, a gentleman from Afton stopped briefly mid-morning.

Finally, the crew from the Town of Afton arrived with their front loader and other equipment and started digging up the spot where the underground pipe has been leaking for years. Could it be that they actually might fix it this time? Even our Mayor Harrison was there observing the work!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Oklahoma Experience

I bought these two books by Don Wagner on a whim the other day as I was browsing at Tulsa's wonderful independent Steve's bookstore, and I'm glad I did! Both books consist of primarily photographs, but they contain some accurate expanded captions as well. (I especially love the Oklahoma volume because there's a nearly full page photo of Afton Station in it!) They could be used as guidebooks in the same way that some folks use David Wickline's wonderful Images volumes, but other than a couple of maps, mainly of the larger cities, there are no other specific directions for getting from place to place. But, as picture books go, these two are quite nice. The books can be obtained here: Category ::

I received an envelope of photos from Jerry "McJerry" McClanahan taken when he, Jim Ross, and Shellee Graham were at Afton Station scouting photo ops for a book they're writing. As would be expected from such a creative soul as McJerry, all the photos are taken from interesting angles and with great sensitivity. Here's just one. Thanks, Jerry.
This afternoon I'm recuperating from yesterday's intense day of hosting the film crew at the Station. But I'll be back there tomorrow, and I hope to have more excitement to report.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lots of Brits, one Korean, and NO down time today!

Hmm. . . .[scratching head]. . . was it just two days ago that I was complaining about boring days somewhat devoid of Afton Station visitors? Well, I take it all back! Big time! Today was crazy busy! I arrived at Afton Station at 7:30, as was the plan. I was to meet with a British film crew who was coming to film a commercial at the Station, and Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones arrived around the same time, as he was to be the star of the commercial. I don't think we were ready for the huge crew that arrived shortly thereafter. There were 19 people, six very large rented SUVs, and TONS of equipment! Within minutes, the crew was basically dismantling the Station and reforming it to meet the needs of their shooting plan. They moved things around, hung a quilt on the wall, changed the bulbs in our lighting, unpacked sound equipment, positioned some monitors, a boom mike, big lights, etc., etc. After about an hour, they were ready to film Tattoo, and when they finished with him, it was my turn. They had to stop shooting when I dissolved into laughter at being asked if I liked truckers. I just thought that was a rather random question, don't you? Anyway, they were at Afton Station for over three hours of pure chaos, but to be honest, it was rather fun. There were lovely, polite, caring people on the crew and a very competent director. I hope that some day we get to see this 30-second commercial! By the way, the production company was called Hungry Man Productions out of London.

Setting up

Some crew members milling around

The sound man

Hanging background

Getting Tattoo primped for his close-up... ha ha!

Of course, there were other visitors as well. Altogether we met with 29 people today. There were travelers from Mesa AZ, Katy TX, Newark NJ, Tulsa, Grove, and Sand Springs OK, and a most delightful and interesting fellow from Seoul, Korea! Ku Lee is pedaling his bicycle across the country, from San Francisco to Boston. . . and then back to San Francisco via Canada. He anticipates about 100 days in each direction, and today he was riding in cold, damp weather. What a charming man! While he was there, my friend Mary Graham from Tulsa (Ron M.'s neighbor and friend) dropped in on her way home from a Kansas vacation. Ku stayed for about an hour, showed us the photos he's taken thus far on his cross-country odyssey, and Mary provided him with lunch, since she just happened to have yogurt and banana bread in her car. (I'm such a bad hostess that I didn't have anything at the Station for the poor guy to eat). Then he was off again, heading for Springfield, MO, his next stop.

Ku showing us his photos

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Drizzled all day. . . and COLD, too! March has reared its ugly head again. It's spring, but it's not spring. As a result of the truly unpleasant day, we only had 4 visitors today. That's one more guest than workers, since Ron M. and Tattoo Man were both with me at Afton Station today. Our guests came from Sallisaw and Muskogee, OK. The little 7-year-old girl from Muskogee was adorable, with missing teeth and all. However, I failed to take her picture. It was that kind of day. So, there will be no photos today, and precious little text, either.

Tomorrow, I'll have some news about a couple of great Route 66 books I purchased yesterday. There will also be news about a British film company that's coming to Afton Station tomorrow morning. So, things should be much more interesting then, and the weather improved too, I hope.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

One bright spot. . .

. . . in a very dull day was a visit from these two lovely ladies.

Susan Roberts and Bonica Brown were scheduled to meet with me this afternoon about a grant they have obtained to assist small towns like Afton improve their economic viability. I took Ron M. with me because he helps me with matters of public relations and such. Susan and Bonica were going to meet with Mayor Harrison of Afton after their meeting with me, to discuss revamping the Chamber of Commerce and getting the City of Afton online in the form of a website. I had plenty to say to them, as I've felt the ache of being mostly ignored by the town during the entire 10 years I've been there. I do love Afton and would love to see some progress made in bringing it back to life, so I was eager to speak to these folks. They agreed with us that the most important way to bring back said vitality would be to emphasize the obvious, that Afton sits on Route 66. So far, other that Afton Station, there has been no emphasis on the Mother Road, despite the fact that Afton Station has brought about 6,000 visitors a year into the town, and others in town could potentially benefit financially from those visitors if they tried. The next step is a joint meeting with the mayor, me, and any other interested citizens. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Other than Susan and Bonica, we had exactly ZERO visitors today. We read all the available periodicals, and I did three crossword puzzles. Betty Baumann came for a while in the morning and it was nice to see her after several week's absence. She will be bringing in a brand new batch of her beautiful handmade items soon, so our shelves will be full of wonderful Route 66 items.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Slow day, quick rant

This vintage photo was found on an Ebay site which is selling an old Route 66 sign. From the look of things, it was taken not far from Afton, somewhere where Oklahoma Routes 60 and 66 ran together, as they still do. What a great shot!!!!!!!!!!!
Although I visited with 15 people at Afton Station today, it was still rather slow. That's because twelve of the folks all came in together in the morning -- two families, four adults and eight children. They were from Wichita, KS and on Spring Break. The kids were cute and impeccably polite and well-behaved. Two of the little girls were very interested in the old school desk and asked to sit at it. But of course! Photo op!Other kids loved the stickers, and they ended up buying quite a few. They also made pressed pennies for all.
Three people from Emporia, KS came in shortly thereafter, and that was all for the day. That left lots of time for me to stew over a few matters, which I'll burden you with below. When Marly arrived at 2 p.m. and warned me of some bad weather coming, I left early and headed for home. The wind was so strong it kept trying to blow my little Subaru off the road, and yet by the time I arrived in Tulsa, the wind had died and the sun was out. Go figure!

A) Long before I tied myself down with Afton Station and dialysis treatments, an idea was forming in my mind and taking hold rapidly and with fervor. I was going to travel Route 66 and ferret out all undiscovered gems of the road, and then write a guidebook that featured just those people and places. It would either spread more widely the word "icon" as it relates to the Mother Road or do away with it altogether. This was even before I lived on '66 or had a business on it. Just from my travels on Route 66 and reading books and magazines about it, I was clearly feeling that the "icon" designation had been overused in three ways: to describe a long-running business, to describe a colorful person, and to describe an eye-catching neon sign.

My philosophy has always been that there are hundreds -- no, thousands -- of people and places along Route 66 that are undiscovered or unheralded, so they don't fit into one of those "iconic" categories. There are businesses that are owned by diehard, super-committed Route 66 activists that are failing because travelers aren't aware of them and they will continue to fail until they are unearthed and spotlighted. If you feel that "icon" is a title that must be earned, I agree with you. So, let's give others a chance to earn it. The Top 20 persons, places, and things on Route 66 have definitely earned their accolades. All well and good. I adore these people and things, too. But folks, there are others that need to be given the chance to shine, so let's give them that chance by finding them, visiting them, and telling others about them. Visit places you don't find in the guidebooks now and then. I'll bet you'd be surprised and delighted by what you find.

B) Speed is the enemy of Route 66. It kills people -- we know that -- but it also kills much more than that. On a personal level I'm sure Afton Station is overlooked by many travelers as they race through town at 50 mph (in a 35 mph speed zone). They travel without guidebooks (their first mistake) and a little town like Afton can seem like no more than a wide place in the road if you're whizzing past looking straight ahead. I often joke that nothing short of a roadblock, or throwing myself in the path of a speeding vehicle, will get some people to stop. On the other hand, those who proceed slowly, with or without guidance, are far more likely to to notice our nicely restored and architecturally interesting building and others all up and down Route 66.

C) Destruction -- Don't build a new building if you can restore an old one instead. Just don't. Don't tear down an old building until you're sure it is beyond repair. There are so many out there that need saving.

Ok, I'm done. Sorry 'bout that. It's what goes through my mind when I have too much time on my hands.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Spring!

Yes, the above blob is the Supermoon, as memorialized by my little Canon point-and-shoot. It was too cloudy to see it last night (ok, I confess I was already in bed before dark) so I snapped this picture of it early this morning. Exciting, isn't it?

Ron M. and I were anticipating a big day at Afton Station today. It was over 80 degrees by afternoon, with quite a strong breeze, an absolutely perfect day so we were able to sit outside for a while. The morning, however, was quite disappointing. After David arrived with four people who wanted to see the vintage Packards, we had a very long dry spell. The four guys with David were from Scranton, AR and Grove and Tulsa, OK. When they left we twiddled our thumbs for a few hours. Must be time to take goofy pictures! Here's a new snake that has recently invaded our Snake Box. So far, he seems fairly docile, but beware when opening that lid!When you take a picture of your lunch, particularly when it's as sparse and nondescript as this one, it's a clear sign that you're bored. Carrots and grapes on a paper plate! Sorry, Ron M.! I usually treat my volunteers better that, especially considering that YOU provided the carrots and grapes! Oh well, they go well with the purple and orange paper plate. :-)


The afternoon was far busier and most interesting. We had a couple of visitors from Nevada, MO and men from Tulsa and Jenks, OK. And then came our most interesting visitors of the day.

Kelly Ludwig, a young woman from Kansas City, has developed a Route 66 app for the iPhone! She and her friend from Lee's Summit, MO were traveling back home from a trip top Tahlequah, OK and found themselves on a short stretch of Route 66, so they stopped in to Afton Station to meet us. The app, entitled "Road Trip 66", costs $3.99, and it sure seems worth the money. We installed it on my iPhone on the way home from Afton (rather, Ron installed it while I drove) and it looks good! I haven't had a chance to spend any quality time with it, but the small demonstration Kelly gave us at the Station was enough for me to be impressed. Ron Warnick reviewed it in February here: “Road Trip 66? iPhone app released « Route 66 News. Kelly told us that it now incorporates the National Historic Route 66 Federation's recently released the "2011 Dining and Lodging Guide" as well. Here's Kelly, taking some more shots.

The anticipated visit from the men from Rogers, Arkansas never materialized, but it was a fine day on Route 66 anyway. . . as usual!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Neither rain nor cold . . .

. . . could keep Route 66 visitors away from Afton Station today. They weren't exactly breaking down the door as a result of the good local publicity we received this week, but we did have 18 visitors, most of them from around Oklahoma. This large family, the final visitors of the day, are from Sperry, OK.

Others came from Tulsa, Grove, and Talihina OK, and Rogers, AR. Several were families out for a day of roaming during the final weekend of Spring Break. However, the gentleman from Rogers, Arkansas came in to do a little pre-scouting for a group of "car guys" who will be coming for a visit tomorrow. I like knowing we'll have a group stopping in tomorrow. And the couple from Tulsa was also scouting for a group of elder citizens from a church which would like to visit on April 7. So, the schedule for the spring/summer is beginning to fill out nicely.

Ron was with me today, and our trip home was slower than usual due to driving rain during the middle 30 miles. Now that I'm home, the clouds are parting, which is great for two reasons. For one thing, Tulsa is playing host this weekend to about 100,000 visitors who are here for the NCAA basketball tournament and I'd like to see them have a good time in good weather in our fantastic city. Secondly, tonight there will be an unusually large and bright full moon which they're tellling us will be interesting to view.

Here's just a progress shot of the new building across the street. They were puting plywood sheathing on the roof today.

Robin worked at the Station yesterday, and she played host to 8 visitors, from Mayback TX, Chevy Chase MD, Baxter Springs KS, and Edmond and Dewey OK.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A little local publicity

Two local newspapers printed a great article about Afton Station today, the work of the reporter/photographer Michael Christian who visited us two weeks ago and spent a lot of time talking to us and taking photos. Although it's a long article, for once there are no glaring errors. And, we got a full page of photos, too! It pays to be in a small town. I doubt this would have made it into the New York Times. :-) I received a big envelope from one of last summer's visitors, Richard Dinkela from St. Peters, MO. You may recall that he was having folks sign his car as he traversed Route 66. He sent me a beautiful photographic collage which includes a picture of my Burma Shave sign and one of me signing the hood of his car. When I have more time, I will post some excerpts from his letter, which is the writing of a truly committed Route 66 fan. I'm impressed.

It's Spring Break around here, but very few people seem to want to spend it at Afton Station. It's cloudy but unseasonably warm today with a fierce wind. I even got to have the door open for a while. Only 6 visitors came calling today. A lady from Vinita, OK stopped by briefly. Three teachers from Norman, Lawton, and Wilson OK came in to schedule a June bus tour from the Oklahoma Alliance of Geographic Educators. Late in the day, two local Aftonites wandered in for a few minutes. And that was my day, but maybe this weekend we'll have a surge of local visitors prompted by the newspaper publicity. I hope, I hope. . .

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Ides of March in Afton

Sunrise on the Ides of March

I'm glad I went to Afton today. It's beginning to feel like spring, despite an unseasonable chill in the air. There weren't a lot of visitors, but the 12 who did walk in the door were certainly interesting!

First came a local pastor soliciting funds to start an abstinence group for local girls. I declined. I'm not really sure that teaching abstinence to teen agers is worth anyone's time and breath, and I'd prefer to see it offered for both boys and girls. It takes two to tango, you know.

David arrived next with his 10-month-old, 100 lb. "puppy" named Mac. We chatted for an hour or two, which was nice since we rarely get to do that. David then went down to the Town Hall to speak to Mayor Harrison about getting the broken water pipe in our parking lot fixed. It's been making a muddy mess of our property for several years, despite many requests for the town to fix it. This time, the mayor said that the town ditch digger was broken and they're not sure when it will be fixed. Translation: It will be done "when they get around to it". Hidden Meaning: Never.

A very lovely and knowledgable couple from London, Ontario Canada arrived next. They collect and restore Brass Era vehicles (first decade of 20th century) and were headed for a car parts swap meet in Chickasha, OK.

When I lived in Grove, I frequently visited the local emu ranch and got to know the owner, Linda, quite well. But since I moved to Tulsa, I've not seen her. Today she came to Afton Station and brought her family with her -- daughter and son-in-law from Seattle, WA and daughter and son-in-law from Stillwater OK with their three little girls. It was nice to see her again, even though she told me she's thinking of closing down the ranch. It was such a nice place, and the shop was full of cool stuff such as emu meat, emu lotions and potions, and other gifts.

My final visitor was undoubtedly the most interesting. He was Tasuku, a young man from Japan who has been living in Milwaukee, WI for the past two years, having been sent there on business. When I asked what part of Japan he came from, I was holding my breath hoping his home town wasn't affected by the tsunami. Unfortunately, it was. His eyes welled up as he told me that his family and "most" of his friends are ok, but several friends are missing. His home town was about 50 miles from the hardest hit area but, he said, is mostly in ruins. When he finishes his Route 66 trip in California, he'll be flying home to Japan for good. I wished him a good trip, but I'm sure his thoughts of home will overshadow any real fun he had expected to have on this previously planned ride on the Mother Road. My thoughts will be with you, Tasuku.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Instead of the DVD. . .

There is a wonderful DVD of Afton, made quite a few years ago, and Betty W. has given me a copy. The first third of it is a tour of town given by Tom Bassett, the father of our friend, the current Tommy Bassett. I believe the video was made in the '70s or '80s but I could be off by several years. It features a number of buildings which are now gone or altered.

Betty W. has been trying and trying to get the DVD made into a format which is compatible with Blogger, and Ron M. has been working on the problem, too. It's a very long DVD, for one thing, so it can't just be thrown up on YouTube or even Vimeo. So, until this problem is solved such that I can link it up here on my blog, I've been doing something I haven't done since the Gulf War (the first Gulf War!) -- that is, taking photos of my screen while pausing the video. Besides this being a very nerdy thing to do, the quality of the photos is awful because I can't figure out how to turn off the flash on my camera, other than to just put my finger over it. I guess that makes me a rare dual personality -- a nerd who has little or no technical sense. :-)

Nevertheless, I am going to post some of the photos here.
The old bank building on the corner of 1st and Main. It no longer exists, and the bank built in it's place is just a featureless box. Can you see the MOTEL sign at the center of the picture? The description from the DVD indicates that the motel was no longer there when the video was taken, however the sign was. The sign no longer exists, and I have no idea of the name of the motel which was in that location.Although this looks a bit like Afton Station, it is not. This is the old Phillips station which is several blocks down the road. It still exists, but is unrecognizable since it has been covered over with metal sheathing. What a shame, because its spade-shaped office is, from what I'm told, extremely rare.

This is the building that was recently torn down to make way for the new one they're building now. According to the video, it was once a grocery store and also "the town basketball court". Not only is the building gone now, but so is that nice row of trees. The Palmer Hotel still stands directly across from Afton Station, but in this photo it appears there are no broken windows. I don't believe it was occupied at the time of the filming, however.

Some day, I hope to be able to show you the video. Along with the tour of town at the beginning, some of the "old timers" from Afton are interviewed. It's quite wonderful!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I can't believe that Ron M. and I drove up to Afton today for virtually nothing. My goodness, things are S-L-O-W up there! On this particularly damp, dark, and dreary day we had a grand total of two visitors (local men who had been there in the past) before we decided to leave early and go home. All this after getting up an hour early this morning too, thanks to Daylight Savings Time.

The highlight of the day was that we had bologna sandwiches for lunch, and here's a picture to prove it. (Well, I needed a picture of something !) I promise things will start heating up soon, but this sure wasn't the weekend for it. Just don't give up on us!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Boom Town

Is our little ghost town of Afton turning into a boom town? Nah, not really. But we are witnessing our first new construction for many many years (other than our own quonset huts). The new building is going up across the street, and there was even a real live crane in town to lift the roof trusses. We have heard that the building will house a plumber's office, a hairdresser, and a bakery! We're waiting until we hear "official" news, however. In Afton, there is much heresay and many rumors, and things change like the wind. Meanwhile, we enjoyed watching the construction today.

Actually, there wasn't much to do BUT watch the construction. A mere seven folks came to visit, and they came from Van Buren AR, Kansas City MO, and Afton and Tulsa, OK. Some of them had been there before but none were on long trips. The gentleman from Afton came in to tell me that he has lived in town all his life and can attest to the fact that at one time Afton Station housed a small Studebaker dealership. Since I'd never heard this before from any of the myriad folks who have come in to say they remember various stages of the Station's history, I was at first skeptical. But the man swears it's true. This is quite exciting, since we do have a couple of Studebakers in our collection.

Ron M. was with me today, and Phil and Robin stopped in and stayed for a while. Last night, Robin came in and polished our floors to a beautiful shine! They really needed it, and haven't looked so good for a very long time. Many thanks, Robin!

I was facing the wrong direction this morning when the sun came up, so I took this rear view mirror photo. Can't waste a nice sunrise!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Crocodile, Just Spacemen

Ron M. and I drove to Afton this morning, and Tattoo Man met us there. The plan was to meet our friend Bob "Crocodile" Lyle and his roadie buddy from Eagleriders Motorcycle Tours, who were passing through on a Route 66 trip. Unfortunately, we found out early in the day that Croc was significantly behind schedule and wouldn't make it to Afton until after we'd left for the day. Drat! We were really looking forward to their visit, and hoped that the Eagle Rider gentleman would tour our place and agree to choose it as a stop on their tours this summer.

We hung around most of the day anyway, and I was rewarded by a visit from my old friend Jim Griffin from Florida, who is in the process of moving to Tulsa. He had spent the night with David and was heading to Tulsa to make last arrangements for the purchase of a house not far from me. I'm truly thrilled about this.

There were only two other visitors today, a couple of guys from Bartlesville who saw Tattoo's very recognizable car and came in because one of them had known Tattoo from years ago. Betty W. stopped by, and Marly was there all day working on the new showroom.

These guys, dressed in spaceman-like hazmat suits came to spray the insulation on the inside walls of the new showroom. Good. One step closer to finishing.
The following photo is of a small Statue of Liberty holding American flags. It appeared on the apparently stalled building project across the street. We sincerely hope that it's not considered to be a "topping off" symbol that would indicate that the building is done. It could use some walls and a roof. No tellling what's going on over there.

Saturday should be a good day at Afton Station. It's predicted to be warm, and it's the start of Spring Break for many local school districts.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rest Areas

One tends to think of rest areas as big, bustling palaces of fast food, trinkets from China, and ranks of self-flushing toilets. We also think of rest areas as being on interstates. They are, of course, but it must be remembered that there have always been rest areas of sorts, even on the smaller pre-interstate highways. Some were (or are) just filling stations with restrooms. Some were (or are) simply a wide place in the road with perhaps a picnic table or a small shelter. As a hopeless roadie, I have always been fond of the smaller roadside stops, but they are disappearing as rapidly as $3 gasoline and $40 motel rooms.

My dear friend Pat from Connecticut sent me a link to an NPR item about rest areas. A photographer named Lizzy Oppenheimer has made it her goal to photograph every rest area in America. She is very interested in their various architectures and histories, particularly of those which are abandoned. She started in 2009, and is looking for assistance from anyone who has interesting stories to tell about roadside rests. Check out a few of her photos here: Photographing Every Rest Stop In America : The Picture Show : NPR

I'll be heading back to Afton Station tomorrow, and will return with lots of interesting tales. . .I hope.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


It's easy to tell when I have a very slow day at Afton Station. I become introspective. Today was such a day, so bear with me.

But first, the particulars of the day. . .
On the way to Afton this morning, I decided to drive east via 21st St., which runs parallel to Route 66 (11th St.), but a mile south. My friend Denny Gibson, who tends to plant ideas in my brain, told me of Tulsa's latest BIG thing, which he read about on the internet and which, somehow, I missed here in the local news. The Tam Bao Buddhist Temple is erecting a statue on it's property. The statue represents Quan Am Bodhisattva, the embodiment of compassionate, loving kindness.

Made in Vietnam, it's 57 ft. tall and weighs 400,000 pounds, and the abbot of the temple says it's clearly visible for miles along 21st. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, since I didn't see it until I was very close to the temple, and then I found all the gates closed, so this is as close as I could get. The scaffolding indicates that it's still under construction, so perhaps when it's finished the public will be admitted to the temple grounds. Meanwhile, our Tulsa Golden Driller has a new giant friend! Read more about it at .

Except for an hour visit from Betty W., I was alone at Afton Station today, and I was more antsy and bored than usual. There were 7 visitors, which afforded some bright spots in an otherwise very ordinary (or maybe even quieter than ordinary) day. My visitors came from Duluth MN, Ft. Worth TX, and Vinita and Quapaw, OK. The Duluth folks were embarking on a long Route 66 trip but the others were either locals or just in the area for other reasons.

This gave me plenty of time to muse about an editorial in today's Tulsa World entitled "Above everything, a sense of place" by Paul Greenberg. Despite it being a difficult term to define, I understand it, I think. A Sense of Place. Do I have it? Will I find it? Is it even mine to find? The one thing I know is that I want it. I also know that, of all the places I've lived and visited, I've never felt so grounded, so at one, so almost-all-knowing, so psychologically enriched, so soulfully full, as I feel in the 80 mile stretch between Tulsa and Afton. Greenberg says that, to those who truly have a "sense of place", it is "obdurate, understood, so natural that there is no need to mention it". Well, I'm mentioning it. Does that mean that what I feel for my 80 miles might be less a sense of place and more just obstinate familiarity? I believe I'm on the edge of finding, and claiming, my sense of place.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ice. . . the good kind

Time to unveil the big surprise! Shaved Ice! A local entrepreneur (and a pastor as well) has, with our permission of course, moved his little shaved ice shack onto our property, and we will be helping him out with water and electricity this summer when he opens up. Yes, finally there will be something to eat in Afton! Besides the shaved ice, he will be serving hot dogs, nachos, and frito chili pies. This is going to be disaster for my diet, but a wonderful addition to Afton Station and a treat for the travelers who stop by, many of whom have, in the past, asked where they could get a bite to eat or a drink on a hot summer day. The shack is called "Eagle's" because that's the name of the Afton High School teams. Good thinking, as the local kids will probably be regular customers, too. It should be open for business around April 1. (And I can already taste one of those Pina Colada Shaved Ices!)

Other than that excitement, it was a very quiet day at Afton Station. I think it may have had something to do with the cold weather. Spring has disappeared for a little while, and it was a mere 30 degrees when Ron M. and I arrived this morning. We had only 5 guests, and two of those were of the canine variety! In the morning, a nice lady from Romeoville, IL traveling Route 66 alone stopped in. Four years ago, on her 66th birthday, she and three other 66-year-old friends decided to take a Route 66 trip. However, they had so much fun visiting every site and talking to everyone along the way that, by the end of the week, they had only made it to Oklahoma City. So, the lady who visited today was going to try to make it a little further this time.

Later in the day, a couple from Big Cabin, OK stopped in with their cute dogs, Bill and Li'l Bit. Adorable little pugs, but I can't recall the exact variety. Well behaved doggies, and their people were well behaved, too. :-)
While Ron M. was outside taking photos of the Shaved Ice Shack, one of those trucks hauling a wind turbine blade happened to drive past, so Ron quickly snapped this picture. It really illustrates the enormous size of the blades, and the photo only shows about two thirds of its length!
Inspired, I suspect, by the neat Reflections photo I showed here a few days ago, Ron snapped this picture in the showroom this afternoon. Very nice, Ron!

I took this one in the semi-light this morning in Tulsa. A magnolia tree in bloom is such a hopeful sign of spring just around the corner. . . I hope.
Betty W. stopped by today and stayed for an hour or two. Always great to have Betty around! I'll be in Afton again tomorrow, so come on down, folks. I don't want to sit around all alone!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The "Signs" of Spring

Upon opening my email this morning and cruising through a couple of blogs, I found two mentions of brand new signage on Route 66 in Tulsa of which I wasn't previously aware. So, thank you to Susan Yates and Ron Warnick for cluing me in on these new developments.

On my way to dialysis this morning, I drove past the still-under-restoration Hotel Campbell on 11th St.. On his wonderful blog Route 66 News, Ron has photos of the new neon which he shot last night at dusk. The photos I took this morning were in the pitch dark, so they aren't as nice as Ron's, but I was just happy that the sign was lighted at 5 a.m.! The 1927 building will reopen as one of the few luxury hotels directly on Route 66 in Tulsa.
An email from my new friend Susan Yates told me about the recently erected sign on Southwest Blvd. (Route 66) in the Red Fork neighborhood on the west side of Tulsa. So, of course I had to drive over there right after I left the hospital in hopes of taking some photos. Unfortunately, that was not to be. Massive construction occurring directly in front of the sign (which is across the street from Ollie's Station) involving construction equipment, orange cones, and a gaggle of at least a dozen highway workers taking a break in front of the sign prevented me from stopping. Parking was impossible. So, with her permission, here's Susan's photo of the brick sign introducing travelers to Historic Red Fork.
Tulsa has always been a good Route 66 town, but lately it has been ramping up its recognition of Route 66 more and more, and these two signs are a nice, visible part of that increasing enthusiasm.