Thursday, March 31, 2011
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
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Some crew members milling around
The sound man
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
Thursday, March 24, 2011
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
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.
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.
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
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! http://bestroadtripever.com/route66 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
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
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
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
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
Saturday, March 12, 2011
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
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
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
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 http://tinyurl.com/4qxxtst .
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
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.
Friday, March 4, 2011
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.