Sunday, September 30, 2012
Although I have no other photos for the day, I did have a good number of visitors. They came from Toronto Canada, Cambridge MN, Independence KS, Zurich Switzerland, Mountain View MO, Alva OK, Golden Valley MN, Cosenza Italy, and Grove, OK.
I had a long conversation with Sandy Reynolds, the owner of the soon-to-open Barbecue and Beer place down the road. I think she and her husband really have their act together, and if things go as planned, I do believe they have a recipe for success. I'm so hopeful that this is true. Our hope is that some of the big tour groups will find it a good place to stop for lunch. There will be a pool table, a huge flat screen TV, and good food and drink in an extremely casual atmosphere.
Robin starts back to work tomorrow, so we'll be open. I'll be back on Tuesday.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Robin and Phil are back from their 3-week vacation in California and on Route 66. It's so good to have them back! They look tan and rested, although I did catch Robin with her eyes closed in this photo. Sorry, Robin! And of course that's the new, svelt Ron M. in the background. The family has reassembled.
It was quite a nice day at Afton Station today. We had 19 guests, and they came from York PA, San Rafael CA, Dallas TX, London England, Galway Ireland, and Grove, Monkey Island, Ketchum, and Vinita, OK
We almost closed too soon and missed these two adorable cousins from the U.K. -- one from Galway, Ireland and the other from London. Such nice smiles, so interested in everything, and with such positive thoughts about their Route 66 holiday. They're having a great time. If we'd left just a few minutes earlier, we would have missed a pleasant visit with them.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Books Started: 20+
Books Finished: 0
I guess if I ever finish what I start so that I would be able to submit to a publisher, I'd know if my writing is marketable. When people ask why I never bring anything to completion, my answer is that some day, if I'm ever bedridden or incarcerated, I'll have time to finish something. Until then, I feel the need to live my real life rather than write about a fictional one.
So, what have I (partially) written in my life? As a kid, I wrote mysteries, ripping off Nancy Drew big time. I also wrote countless stories about owning a fictional motel in a fictional part of the country and the fictional people who visited it. These were the days when my teachers would tell me I was one of the best young writers they'd ever seen, and then would suggest that perhaps it would be advantageous if I wrote about things I knew, rather than things I wish I knew. But what does a kid know? I was a dreamer, not a realist.
Next, in my young adulthood, I wrote about the countryside because that's where I wanted to be. After a few short years of farming, raising sheep, chickens, and a multitude of crops, I felt I was qualified to place my characters in rural settings. Just as I firmly established myself (in my own mind) as a hippie naturalist and poet, I suddenly found myself living in the big city, raising a child and all that goes along with it, and being busy every minute -- far to busy to think about writing.
After I moved to Oklahoma, and long before the author of Fifty Shades of Grey made her millions, I wrote -- and nearly finished -- a long and horrifically pornographic novel which, to this day, I feel was far better than E.L. James' big moneymaker. Alas, for a number of reasons, it was necessary for me to throw the entire manuscript into a fire a few years ago.
So now, I just write this blog. They say that if you're meant to write, you'll find the time. Maybe all this time I've been meant to be a blogger. I always find the time, no matter what. I love doing it, and people actually read it, which is more than I can say for all the other phases of my writing life. I continue to feel good about recording the goings-on of Route 66, and unless I do get hauled off to prison any time soon, this is where you will continue to find me.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Marly tried to tell me that I had a bad day on Tuesday because his magnetic personality draws in more visitors than I do. Today proved him wrong! I had a very good day at Afton Station, and he was nowhere around. So there, Mr. Marly! :-)
Visitors today came from an array of states: Cassville MO, Upper Marlboro MD, Carrollton TX, Atlanta GA, Portage IN, Conshohocken PA, St. Louis MO, Ashville NC, Grove OK. We also had three separate couples from England, from Yorkshire, Weymouth, and Essex.
This couple from Upper Marlboro, MD seemed excited about their trip, but they weren't traveling specifically on Route 66. In fact, the wife was taking this vacation to add to her list of "states visited". I believe she said she's been in 37 states and won't stop until she hits 50! Since I once had that same goal (and achieved it about 10 years ago), I was excited that she was pursuing it and having fun doing so. Husband didn't seem quite as enthusiastic, but he enjoyed looking at the cars and the station.
Another interesting visitor was a fellow from Grove who grew up in the Afton-Vinita area about 70 years ago and had many extremely interesting stories to tell. All in all, it was a great day and the time passed so quickly that at the end of the day I realized I'd never put out the flags!
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Brutal is just about the right word for today at Afton Station -- brutally boring! After Marly's great day yesterday, with 32 visitors from Australia, British Columbia, Norway, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and a number of closer locations, we had a grand total of 7 visitors today -- and two of them were just looking for directions! When I texted Marly to tell him what was happening (or not happening), he replied that it may have been his magnetic personality that drew all the folks in yesterday. Yeah, right, Marly! :-)
This was our lowest day since the spring, and I don't think I'm going to like days like this when more and more of them begin to occur as we move toward winter. Both Ron M. and Tattoo Man were with me all day. We spent our time reading, nodding off, talking, reading, nodding off, more talking... and complaining about where all the travelers might be on this pretty Tuesday.
We did have a lovely visit from a couple from Waterford, Wisconsin, accompanied by their amazingly well trained dog, Gracie. Gracie wouldn't even consider taking a treat from my fingers until her master put her through some commands that demonstrated her puppy politeness. Loved this dog!
Other than the people looking for map guidance, our only visitors were two truckers from Nashville, Tennessee, and a gentleman from Padua, Italy who seemed to be in a hurry to get where he was going. That's never very satisfying, although he was a nice guy and we wished he could have stayed longer.
There was a pretty cloud formation just as the sun was coming up this morning, and here it is. Now I'm going to go and sulk and hope that this day was just a fluke, and that more busy days are coming in the next month or two.
Monday, September 24, 2012
With a little bit of free time on my hands today, I was cruising Google Images and came across this photo! If I've ever seen it before, I certainly can't remember it. It was apparently taken in the '50s, when what we now call Afton Station was known as Eagle Service, after it had become a Standard station. I'm excited about this find!
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Every day at Afton Station brings something new and interesting. Today was no exception. I guess I ought to explain the title of this post first, before I go on to other matters.
The following photo shows a couple of Route 66 travelers, a grandpa from Roanoke, Virginia and his granddaughter from Homer, Alaska. They're traveling Route 66 together, which in itself I think is just wonderful. In the course of conversation I asked the young lady how she ended up living in Alaska. As it turns out, she was born there and has lived there most of her life. The surprise came when I pried into her life a little further and asked what she does for a living. She's a commercial salmon fisherman! Yes, this sweet, delicate lady goes out on boats for weeks at a time, hauling in the wild Alaskan salmon! Furthermore, she is getting married next month (on the fishing boat) to another fisherman! I just love this story -- and I feel certain that I won't be seeing too many female Alaskan salmon fisherpersons at Afton Station in the future. She said that women in that job are extremely rare.
When I pulled into the Station about 40 minutes prior to opening this morning, Tattoo Man's car was in the driveway. He had been to Springfield, IL for their annual Route 66 Festival and decided not to stay, so he drove down as far as Afton and was waiting for me to open so we could visit a while before he headed back to his hometown of Bartlesville. What a surprise to see him there so early!
Marly will be at the Station all day tomorrow, so if you're in the neighborhood, pop in for a visit.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Although the centerpiece of this Saturday at Afton Station was a visit from a group of Harley riders, we had an equal number of truly interesting visitors not on bikes today. The day was just perfect for a ride on a motorcycle, but it was also great for drivers of cars, walkers, runners, or lazy folks like me who just sat behind the desk and greeted some of the above. Ron M. came with me again today, and Betty was there for a while, too.
The Harley group was from Route 66 Harley-Davidson in Tulsa, out for a day in the country. Here's the whole group. . .
The next couple was from Prescott, Arizona and are doing a Route 66 trip which happened to be one of many trips over the years which the husband has carefully catalogued in several amazingly well-organized scrapbooks -- photos interspersed with old postcards of tons of places along the route. I sat with him and looked at every single photo with great interest.
The third couple came from Munich, Germany -- a young and eager twosome. They got a lot of tips on traveling Route 66 from the others. They also taught me that there's a word for "tourist trap" in Germany -- touristenfalle! As I've said before, I love when strangers become friends during visits to Afton Station, and this morning was such an occasion. Here are all of them. On the outside are the two young Germans, the guy in the cowboy hat and the lady in red are the artists, and the lady in green and the man seated next to me showing me his scrapbook are the Arizonans.
Afternoon visitors came from Wiltshire England, Claremore OK, Tulsa OK, and Paris France, as well as a guy who wouldn't say where he came from, but had a very nice dog named Spot. And it will all begin again tomorrow morning at my little touristenfalle in Afton, Oklahoma.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
So many good things happened today that I'm virtually bubbling over with happiness. First, I'm overjoyed to announce that Ron M. came with me today and was able to stay all day. He had such a long and serious illness that we didn't know when he'd finally have the energy to spend the whole day at Afton Station. He did very well, and even helped out a lot. It was a busy and kind of crazy day, too, not one for just sitting around. I do believe he's back to being very nearly as good as new!
Second, I had a surprise visit from my friend Bruce Smith from Tulsa. Although we live in the same city, it's been almost two years since we've seen each other. It was so great to see him come through the door with his friend Joey. Joey used to work on the electronic systems on RVs, and while they were there, coincidentally, David arrived and told them of a friend of his who was having electrical problems with his motor home. They called him and in moments he arrived with said motor home. Joey was able to solve the problem while I got almost a full hour (not uninterrupted, however) to catch up with Bruce's life.
Betty came to visit and brought her new puppy, Bella. Bella is still adorable, despite the fact that she chews on everything within reach, including Betty! It's just normal puppy behavior, and after a little while she calmed down.
This wonderful young lady named Randi came in and introduced herself rather soon after we opened. She is a resident of Afton who has taken it upon herself to organize "Afton Days" next summer. Afton Days is a celebration that used to occur in Afton back when the town was a far busier and more heavily populated place, and now some residents have come together on Facebook to discuss the possibility of restoring the event. Randi is a brand new stay-at-home mom who is looking for things to do, so she volunteered for the organizational task. She's visiting everyone in Afton asking for help, and she specifically asked me to help organize a car show on that weekend. I'd be happy to! You know how much we've wanted to do something that would involve the whole town, so this is perfect. When the date is announced, I'll start looking around for local car clubs who might want to participate.
While all of this was going on, we also had 21 visitors. They came from Colorado Springs CO, Kansas City MO, Kerrville TX, Vancouver WA, Gloucester England, Mercer MO, and Vinita and Tulsa OK. The couple from Vancouver, Washington arrived in this very pretty '51 Mercury, which they have already driven all the way across the country and are now on their way back to Washington State. They were pleased to report that they've had absolutely no problems with the car along the way!
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
This photo, one I've never seen before, was posted on the Afton Group yesterday by a longtime Afton citizen. It's the best I've seeen. It appears to be from the early '50s, when the town was a busy and bustling place. There was a traffic light at the corner of 1st and Main, and see the Ritz Theater on the left? I can't stop looking at it and trying to imagine it in its heyday. This isn't Route 66. Route 66 crosses Main St. down at the traffic light. Just thought you might enjoy seeing this. As usual, you can click it to enlarge and see details.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
For the past couple of years, whenever I go to breakfast at a certain place on a specific corner in Tulsa, I've been nearly deafened by the loud and intense chirping of birds. Since they're so constant, I even thought that perhaps the sound was taped and played for a touch of atmosphere. Because until this morning I had always been there in the dark (thanks to my early rising habit, y'know), I was always kind of spooked by the sound. But this morning I arrived just after sunrise, and here's what I saw. And this photo shows far fewer than the number of birds that were actually there! I wasn't dreaming after all. Those wires must be their regular resting place. I wonder why.
Martin and Alison from Bristol, England are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary on Route 66 and made these beautiful decals to commemorate their visit and to distribute to folks along the way. Great idea! It was so nice meeting them and I am proud to be the recipient of one of the stickers.
The folks from Wetumka traveled to Afton today specifically to visit us. They had heard about Afton Station via an article in this week's Old Cars Magazine. In an article by Jim Hinckley, we were named as one of five great auto museums to visit. Since Jim happens to be a friend, I suspect our inclusion on the list was charged with just a bit of prejudice. Nevertheless, national publicity like this sure can't hurt! Thanks, Jim!
Monday, September 17, 2012
This is what I wrote yesterday. Upon reading it again, I really can't figure out why anyone would be particularly interested in it, but since I went to the effort to write down my thoughts, I might as well publish them here.
TRUCKERS, FELONS, and AUSTRALIANS
I hesitate to call what I do at Afton Station a "job", but for lack of a better word, that's the one you get. In my mind, a "job" is where one goes to work and gets "paid". Neither of those words apply here. I don't feel like Afton Station is work, and I certainly don't get paid. And yet, this is the best situation I've ever been in, and I wouldn't change it for anything. Where else would I so readily lose a fistful of money every day and smile about it? Where else would a fly swatter be a constant companion and a very good day depends on that day's kill count? Where else would I stew in the summer and freeze in the winter and not complain (too much)?
The thing is this: I needed a life change -- and I got it in spades. My Connecticut life was almost too perfect. Enjoying being an empty-nester. Living in a house that could have been on a magazine cover. Doing my volunteer work at the historical society or the school or at the non-profit crafts store. Having magnificent friends who all enjoyed plenty of partying, fine dining, or just hanging out together on a regular basis. Having all the time in the world to manage my postcard collection and reaping the social benefits of David's car collecting hobby. It was all pretty nice -- until it began to crumble. Afton Station came into my life at just the right moment, although so oddly timed that it defies explanation, so I won't. Suffice to say that I landed here in Oklahoma without a husband and with only a couple of local friends. And Afton Station was my savior.
Twelve years later I'm still here, and I'm still reveling in the culture shock of my life. Talk about broadening my previously sheltered life! Prior to Afton Station, I'd never gotten to know a long haul trucker. I'd never made friends with a felon or ex-con. I'd never met what seems to be half the population of far-off Australia (and loved every one of them!). I'd never loaned money to a steady parade of mentally disturbed people. I'd never met honeymooners from South Africa. I'd never watched historic buildings crumble and fall before my eyes. I'd never had a guy show up at my door on stilts and never bat an eye. I'd never met anyone running across America, much less dozens of them. I'd never have started photographing sunrises or carefully watching the growth of corn, soybeans, and sorghum. I'd never have met the little band of fabulous people who are fellow Route 66 fanatics, and whom I think of as a family. I'd never have become a blogger and learned the joys of pouring out my inner thoughts to so many people at once. Or maybe TOO many thoughts. I'd better stop now, but not until I make sure that those of you who read this know that you are part of the joy of my new life at Afton Station, and I appreciate every one of you.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
The Afton Station morning began quietly, so to keep myself occupied I started to do a little writing, with plans to post the results here tonight. However, the day got so busy later that I had to stop writing to tend to all the visitors, and now I'm too tired to transcribe and post what I wrote. Stop back tomorrow, when I hope to have time to put it up here. It's nothing special, just those thoughts that go through a person's mind when one is alone, probably more than any of you want to hear, and certainly in the category of a meme.
Meanwhile, here's what actually happened today on Route 66. I had 27 visitors, and I thank Betty for coming by after church and helping out. Tomorrow is the birthday of both Betty and Tattoo Man (no, they're not twins... LOL) but we're not going to celebrate at the Station until Phil and Robin are home from vacation.
Visitors came from Springfield MO, Mississauga Ontario Canada, Cambridge England, Green Forest AR, Fort Wayne IN, Aukland New Zealand, Grove OK, Phoenix AZ, Kansas City MO, Edison NJ, Geneva Switzerland, and Toreno Italy.
This group of guys with an interesting array of do rags on their heads came by motorcycle from Fort Wayne, IN embarking on a Route 66 trip to the west. The fellow in the red t-shirt has the distinction of being the first person, in the 9 years I've been open for business, to try to bargain with me on the price of an item. I told him he lost his chances by wearing that Boston shirt. I'm a NY Yankee fan! :-)
Saturday, September 15, 2012
What I thought might be a dud of a day turned into an incredibly good one. Never mind the morning drizzle and the dark, gloomy atmosphere. It didn't prevent a lot of people from cruising Route 66, and a good number of them stopped at Afton Station. There were 42 altogether. Twenty-one of them were from the Tulsa 'Vette Set which, if you didn't figure it out immediately, arrived in a glorious parade of Corvettes.
Coincidentally, just as the 'Vette folks were touring my showrooms, a fellow walked down the street wearing stilts, the kind that guys wear when they're working on ceilings or high walls. Being far pushier than I'd ordinarily be, I thrust my camera into his hand and asked him to take photos of the parked Corvettes from his lofty perch. He was most happy to do so, so here are a couple of 'Vette picks taken from above.
Here's the whole happy group!
Thursday, September 13, 2012
There was nothing ordinary about today at Afton Station. For one thing, after a few days of me being all alone at the Station, today Marly came and stayed all day. It was great! Unfortunately, he didn't get everything done that he'd set out to do insofar as fixing his riding lawn mower, but we sure had a nice time chatting all day. Yesterday, he visited with a nice group of visitors from Denmark, Virginia, California, Arkansas, Sweden, Germany, and Italy. Maybe he came back today because he had so much fun yesterday.
Today, along with the usual assortment of townfolks looking to borrow money (and incidentally, there's no such thing as "borrowing" money in Afton, as the rate of return is near zero) we also had visitors from Calgary Alberta Canada, Piedmont OK, Chicago IL, Paris France, and Birmingham England.
Here are the wonderful folks from Calgary. They're traveling across Route 66 in two small sports cars. One is a Shelby repro and (o my!) has no top! I don't mean that the top was down, I mean they came all the way from Western Canada with no top at all! So far, they've been lucky when it comes to rain, but from what I can see of tonight's weather maps, they're going to hit some pretty heavy stuff in the next couple of days. They seem unfazed by this problem, and I liked them for that. It's best when traveling to just take situations as they come and not sweat the small (or medium sized) stuff. I wish them well.
Unexpected special guests today were Blaine Davis and his friend Linda from Catoosa, OK. Blaine has been the custodian of his family's famous iconic Blue Whale for years and years, and he's also a huge Route 66 advocate who has been doing good works for Oklahoma's part of the Mother Road for as long as I've known him. Today, he and Linda were doing research moving toward soliciting of corporate sponsorships for some of Oklahoma Route 66 Association's future projects and activities. It's always so nice to see Blaine. And here he is with Linda.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Meet Bella, Betty's brand new baby Corgi. What a cutie! She was given to Betty as a surprise early birthday gift from her kids. She's such a sweet dog. I've fallen in love with corgis ever since last month when our friends who came from Salt Lake City to help while Ron M. was in the hospital brought their adorable and well-behaved corgi named Whipper. Bella is very much a puppy with lots of puppy behavior traits, but she was a perfect little lady during her first visit to Afton Station.
Corgis originated in Wales, so it was a perfect day for her to make her Afton Station debut, since a majority of our guests today were her fellow Europeans. They came from Lyon France, Hamburg Germany, Eersel Netherlands, and Yorkshire England. Of course, a number of our 21 guests were also domestic, arriving from Elizabethtown TN, Lexington MI, Derby KS, Tyler TX, and Bartlesville OK. Unlike yesterday, when Marly had a frustratingly slow day (only 4 visitors!), today was lively, made so by a good number of happy travelers. All of the European folks were doing all or most of Route 66, as were several of the U.S. folks
Here's the Perrin family from France -- (l to r) daughter, mom, dad, son -- who are touring Route 66. The daughter has spent some time in the U.S. learning English, so she was the translator for the family.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
I was looking forward to a large Route 66 vintage truck convoy that was supposed to be passing Afton Station today, so I was on truck watch all morning. Early in the day, a beautiful vintage specimen pulled in, so my hopes were fired up.
The owners, from Kendallville, IN were super people, and they won my heart when they said that of all the stops on the tour thus far, Afton Station was by far the best. I was even more flattered when they showed me this photo of their place in Indiana. Wow, what a wonderful restored Shell station! And I believe he said they have over 40 vintage gas pumps. I am humbled.
I saw a couple more vintage trucks go by but they did not stop, and then in pulled this incredible 1956 Greyhound bus, also a part of the convoy! Have I ever told you how much I love old buses? I'm a huge fan, and some day I'd like to own one myself. When the owner of this one found out that Afton Station was once a Greyhound station, he took some photos with it in the background, but he couldn't stay long because he was having diesel trouble and couldn't turn off the engine. But just getting to see this beauty was enough to make my day.
Two more owners of vintage trucks stopped and came in very briefly. One indicated that some of the convoy members were talking about getting on the interstate. I think he was right, because after about noon, I never saw another one. Kind of a bummer, but at least I met some very nice people and got to drool over the Greyhound.
Tattoo Man and Betty were both with me for part of the day. There were 31 visitors, and they came from Toronto Canada, Kendallville IN, Baraboo WI, Chelsea OK, Buffalo NY, Bisbee AR, Longmont CO, Sand Springs OK, Gillespie IL, Irvine CA, Melbourne Australia, Lake Lindon MI, Iowa City IA, Paraparaumu New Zealand (say that three times fast!), and Fairland OK.
We visited with a honeymoon couple, so of course I had to take their photo for the blog. The couple, who live outside of Buffalo, NY, were married a while ago, but this Route 66 trip is their delayed honeymoon. Congratulations to them!