Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fabulous Fisheye

Last week I wrote about a couple from Wichita, KS who stopped in and who were very engaging visitors.  While Cindy (the wife) and I were visiting, Jim (the husband) was taking photos of the cars and the Station with his fisheye lens.   Here are some of the results which he sent me.  I thought they were exceptionally creative.

He also sent me the URL for  his website, which also contains more intriguing images. Check it out at:www.flickr.com/photos/mrscience.  Thanks so much, Mr. Science!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Mixed Bag

Morning:  So quiet and devoid of visitors that Ron M. and I were able to catch up with the reading of a gigantic pile of magazines and catalogs which have accumulated on the table at Afton Station.

Noon:   Betty W. came for a visit and it was a very pleasant way to break the maddening silence of the morning.

Afternoon:  Travelers arrive!  Not many (6), but truly great ones!   First came three women on motorcycles from the Women in the Wind group from Tulsa.  We've met several of these ladies before, and they're always fun to talk to.

Next came this gentleman from Salem, Oregon traveling with his adorable pup Piney.  Bruce is working in Kansas for the moment, but his home is in Oregon.   He was out and about today, learning a little bit about Oklahoma Route 66.  I sensed that he'll be doing a lot more of it soon!
 Finally, an energetic and charming couple from Midland, Michigan  helped us close our day.  Bud loved the cars and spent some quality time with them. Rosemary and I yakked and yakked for a very long time, and I enjoyed every word of it.  By the time they left, I felt like Rosemary was an old friend.  They're veteran travelers and are soon to visit N. Dakota, the last state left on their "been to" list.  For this week, they're staying in a condo at Grand Lake.
It's hard to believe that I won't be back to Afton until next Saturday.  Unless, of course, I just can't stay away......

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Barbecue and Bella

Well, although we were short on visitors on my first day back to Afton Station since last Saturday, we weren't short on interesting happenings.  "We" refers to those "regulars" who stopped by today -- Ron M., Betty, Tattoo, Robin, Phil, and Michael Scruggs.

Betty brought her little Corgi puppy, Bella, for a visit.  Bella managed to entertain us for several hours.  She's got the usual puppy energy, but once she got used to all of us she calmed down and was a perfect little lady.
As you can see from the above photo, I'm still experiencing problems with my camera.  In fact, the male half of this nice couple (below) from Wichita, KS who came to visit today made a valiant attempt to fix the settings for me, but like those who have tried before him, he was not successful.  Cindy and Jim were doing a little Oklahoma Route 66 exploration over the holiday weekend, and Cindy is going to send me photos of some Packards once driven early in the 20th century by her grandfather.  I can't wait to see them!
Our only other real travelers were two guys (father and son) from Oklahoma City, OK.  They, too, had a great interest in Packards.  They said they'd be back.  

 Toward the end of the day, we had a delightful (and delicious) surprise.  Sandy Reynolds, who is working on getting the new barbecue place open just down the road, walked in with a full plate of samples from their very first day of firing up the barbecue.  They won't be open for about a month, but today they were hosting some of their friends during the OSU/OU football game and testing out the deliciousness of the barbecue and side dishes.  She was kind enough to come down and let me have a taste, too.  Well..... if I get a vote, it's an enthusiastic thumbs up!!  The pulled pork was incredibly tender, the brisket flavorful, and the potato salad and sides just the way I like them.  Oh dear, I'm not sure it's a good thing to have this bastion of yumminess right down the road.  Although it will be fantastic for our visitors to have a good eatery in Afton, it could be my downfall.  Yikes!   Stay tuned for my announcement of a grand opening of this barbecue and beer place.
 Tattoo got a new tattoo and asked me to put a photo of it  here.  It's the Palm Grill in Atlanta, IL, just across the street from the Muffler Man giant eating a hot dog on Route 66 in the center of town.
 Unlike today, yesterday was a busy one at Afton Station.  Robin and Phil were holding down the fort, and they met and greeted 18 visitors from afar, including three separate groups from Colorado and a young honeymoon couple from England.  Wish I'd been there.   I will be there again tomorrow, though, and I'm hoping to catch some of the folks passing through Afton on their way home from Thanksgiving visits.  See you then!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving at the Freeway

In an attempt to keep a little tradition going for another year, a few of my Tulsa friends and I decided to have our Thanksgiving "feast" at a local diner.  You may recall that we did that two years ago and ended up with a very unsatisfactory meal but with a lot to laugh about in the following years.  This year, I chose the Freeway Cafe at 4th and Sheridan for several reasons:   I have a friend who highly recommended it, the comments on their website are nearly 100% positive, and I went there for two "test meals" recently.  Although those meals were breakfast, I felt sure that if the quality of their Turkey Day offerings were as good as their breakfasts, we'd be just fine.   Also, they are known to have a wonderful, friendly staff.   All those things turned out to be absolutely accurate.

We arrived around 1 p.m. and the place was buzzing with guests, but we managed to get a good table immediately.  The place isn't at all fancy, unless you want to count the life-sized Elvis in the corner.  Everyone seemed to be in a good mood and came from all walks of life.   The large family of the owners, whom I believe to be Lebanese, were crowded around a table near us and seemed to be having a ball interacting with all the patrons.

The turkey was very tasty and fresh, and I even got a good bit of dark meat, which is my preference.  The mashed potatoes were the real thing and the gravy was great.  There was also cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, stuffing (which, in general, I don't like and this was no exception), soup, salad, and home made rolls.  All this came at a hefty price of $6.99 (with a bit extra if you got pumpkin pie). What a bargain! Our waitress was a sweetheart, hovering over our table as if she didn't have about 20 other tables to attend to.  Upon seeing me having trouble with my camera, she even offered to give it to her son at a nearby table to see if he could repair it.  He couldn't, but he tried.  On top of all this, the people-watching was excellent!
 Ron M., Theresa (Deanna's daughter) and Deanna.   (Theresa, who was the youngster in the group at 40-something, said that she had a great time with "all you senior citizens".  Don't know exactly how to take that.  I do know that an elderly gentleman whom we believe to be the owner of the place spent a lot of time flirting with her!)
In the middle is Joe, who didn't get in the other picture.

After dinner Ron, Joe and I took a ride all over downtown Tulsa.  We were all astounded by the progress that's being made there, a huge revitalization effort that seems to be working.  There are new condos, tons of new restaurants and bars, streetscaping, a new park called Guthrie Green (named for Woody Guthrie), and, of course, in the last couple of years the opening of a professional baseball stadium for the Tulsa Drillers and the huge BOK Center, an indoor arena that since opening consistently get listed in the Top 10 most lucrative and well-attended venues in the United States.  During the holiday season, there is an outdoor ice skating rink and the "tallest Christmas tree in the state" next to the arena.  I'm sure proud of my adopted town!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks. Giving.

I've noticed that several of my Facebook friends have spent the last month expressing, one per day, what they're thankful for this year as we run up to Thanksgiving.  That's fine, but I've decided to save my "thanks list"  and do it all at once on the blog.  As I was organizing my list this morning, I realized that I have so many things for which to give thanks that I've had to categorize and add subsets!   So, lets get started....

On this day, Thursday, November 22, 2012, I am thankful for. . .

My beautiful daughter, Sarah - always No. 1
      . . . Sarah's foot surgeon, who has helped her through her first medical challenge, and who gave her a perfectly repaired right foot.

      . . . Sarah's continued optimism during a tough time in her life

The Dialysis machine, which keeps me alive
        . . . and the wonderful people who treat me at my dialysis facility
      . . . especially Joe, who is the best!

My deceased parents, who somehow instilled in me the ability to be optimistic and upbeat under just about any situation.
Financial security, which allows me to live well and donate to a number of favorite charities.

My friend Ron and his recuperation earlier this year from life-threatening illness
Tulsa, Oklahoma - best place I've ever lived!
Route 66  

Afton Station, the manifestation of my love of Route 66 and my refuge from boredom
      . . .  my incredible Afton Station volunteers, all of whom have become dear friends -- Marly, Phil, Robin,       Tattoo, Betty, Ron M.

The President of the United States
The Internet, which has changed my life in so many ways
      . . . including the hundreds of friends I've made on line 
      . . . Facebook, because it's fun
      . . . the Route 66 Yahoo eGroup


Our local Unitarian Church, which has the courage to offer Sunday services for atheists.  

 Coffee Mate Fat-Free Original, which is my substitute for milk.  Milk was my favorite food until it was eliminated from my kidney diet.   Coffee Mate is an excellent substitute.
My education, which allows me to win a game of Words With Friends occasionally and do a New York    
Times Crossword quickly

The cease fire in the Middle East, tentative yet still holding at this hour
Oysters, beef tongue, liverwurst, dim sum, sushi, and fresh corn on the cob

Margarita popsicles
Hair spray, toilet paper, and toothpaste


Sirius XM Radio

My Nook

All of my dear friends everywhere!

As I continue, I realize that this could go on forever.   There is so much GOOD in this world.   Today is a time to remember all of that good.  Please do so.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Bits and Pieces

Just a little of this and that today. . .

I was getting tired of people criticizing Mrs. Petraeus's hairdo and calling it "old fashioned", especially after I figured out that I have the very same hairdo!   So, this morning I changed my "do".    I just got back from the hairdresser, and now I look like an old, fat lady trying not to look like Mrs. Petraeus.  Oh well, I tried!
My friend Gordon Radford (aka Gordo, who is a professional photographer) has updated and completely redone his website, and now if you go there you can view and/or purchase the beautiful photos he's taken, many of them on Route 66.  I've always loved his work because of his use of enhanced colors and particularly dramatic sky and cloud formations.  Please take a look at:  www.gordonradfordphotography.com.  Gordo is now offering prints in various sizes as well as greeting cards and mugs carrying his images, and has set up a 25% discount at checkout if you provide the code word LAUREL.  This discount is good until December 24, so consider Christmas giving when you visit the site.
I hope everyone was able to watch Part 1 of  THE DUST BOWL last night (on PBS).   It was excellent, as are all works by Ken Burns.  Most of us who call ourselves Route 66 fanatics are familiar with that period of history and the Mother Road's impact on the time, and this documentary enhances and expands our understanding of what Burns describes as a "decade long national man-made environmental catastrophe"  through use of both images and first person interviews.  Have a box of Kleenex handy for the second half of Part 1.   Part 2 will be shown tonight (Monday), so tune in for the conclusion.
George Higgins has asked me to remind you that it's time to plan next summer's motorcycle tour of Route 66, and to consider joining his Mother Road Ride Rally which will occur from June 8-16, 2013.  Read about it at the Rally's website at:  www.rideRT66.com.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

As Winter Approaches. . .

It seemed strange to get back to Afton Station after six whole days.   As it turns out, the first thing Ron M. and I found out upon arriving there was that not much had happened while we were gone.  There were minimal numbers of visitors, and all of them were local.  Long-distance traveling has apparently faded for the season, so we'll be going to "Open-only-on-Fri.-Sat.-and Sun." for the winter.  
Our visitors today came from Miami OK, Garden City KS, Carthage MO, and Baxter Springs KS.  This couple from Carthage was on a geocaching expedition, but prior to looking for our cache, they came in for a look at our cars.  I believe they were glad they did!
Dean "Crazy Legs" Walker came for a visit, and he took the opportunity to show his ability to turn his feet 180 degrees backwards to one of our local drop-in friends, Scott from Afton.  Dean was on his way to a quick draw shootout in Owasso, OK.   (Sorry for the quality of this photo.  My camera has been having issues with sunlight lately.)
It must be winter!   Tripper is ready for cold weather, with his scarf, mittens, and Santa hat.   Since flipper mittens are hard to come by in Oklahoma, I had to stitch up a pair out of an old Indian blanket last night.  Tripper has lived in our climate for so long now that he's lost his ability to withstand cold temps.  I think this outfit should take care of the problem. 
Christmas is coming quickly to Afton Station.  Here's our little Christmas tree, decorated with the neat fabric Route 66 ornaments fashioned by my friend Susan Yates.  They're available at the Station for $12 each!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Lost Photos

Ron M. was kind enough to take my SD card home and try it in his computer, where it worked perfectly.  I have no idea why mine rejected it.  Anyway, here are a few of the photos I took on Tuesday on my little jaunt west down Route 66.  
 Graffiti on the remains of the old Bell building in West Tulsa.
Midway Trailer Court sign on Southwest Blvd. in West Tulsa.  "Kitchenettes"!
While passing through Sapulpa, I was stopped by three cars of the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railway going across the road.   
A portion of the Shoe Tree near Stroud
 I love the red shoe!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chowing Down

I have so much to tell today, but unfortunately I don't have a lot of photos to show for it.  On my free day, I started by shopping for some essentials, one of which was a new SD card for my camera.   Then, I inserted it in the camera and hit the road.  I had no particular destination in mind, but I haven't driven west out of Tulsa on Route 66 recently, so I pointed the Subaru in that direction.   I made it all the way to Stroud, snapping photos along the way -- not any of the usual much-photographed sites, but just scenes that happened to tweak my imagination at the moment.  The only "iconic" site that drew my attention was the Shoe Tree, because I was so pleased to see the huge increase in orphan footwear which has been tossed into its branches since my last visit.  I got some good photos there.

Upon arriving home and inserting the SD card into my computer, I became glumly aware that it was apparently damaged, because although there are photos on the card, they refused to translate to my hard drive, thus I can't post them here until I figure out if they're salvagable.

Then, last night, my friend Susan Yates and I attended a Route 66 dinner at Lucky's, an upscale restaurant in Tulsa.  Sponsored by the restaurant and the Melville Winery in Lompoc, CA, it was advertised as presenting a very interesting and somewhat complicated 6-course menu based on various Route 66 foods.  Also, Michael Wallis was listed as the "guest of honor".  Upon arrival, Susan and I were surprised to see such a large number of participants, mostly young folks, considering the very high cost of the evening.  In fact, Michael and Suzanne Wallis, Susan, and I were the only folks there who were representing the "old guard" of roadies in Tulsa.  

Each course was loosely based on a dish from a town on Route 66.  Loosely.  VERY loosely!  Every course was remarkably delicious and accompanied by some very fine wines.  All evening, my thought was that, although none of the regulars were there, it was a great way to introduce the young couples in attendance to the wonders of the Mother Road.

Just for fun, I'll describe the courses here:

Gassing Up (hors d'ouvres) - House Made Beef Jerky, Caramel/Bacon Popcorn Balls 

Springfield, IL - (based on the famous Horseshoe) -- Toasted Bread, Mangalista Ham, Manchego Gravy, ans Shoestrings.

St. Louis, MO - The Waffle Cone (based on Ted Drewes cone) - Wagyu Steak Tartare, Farm Egg, and Caper Berries

Tulsa, OK - The Hamburger - Lamb and Shrimp Burger, House Made Truffle Chips

Santa Fe, NM -- Hatch Red Chile, Pork Belly, Quail Eggs
Lompoc, CA (not on Route 66, but the home of the vineyard) Salad of Local Greens, Shaved Local Goat Cheese, Pistachios.

Dessert - Dark Chocolate Covered Nut Brittle

Because it was just plain not my day for photography, my flash chose not to flash until the last photo I took.  So, what you see is what  you get.    Here is the placemat we each received, which also served as a menu.  The wines served with each course were outstanding!  
     Here's Susan, bathed in the non-light of the very dark restaurant
And I must show this because the flash finally decided to behave.  It's the young couple who shared a table with us.  Nice people, and I hope Susan and I were persuasive enough to see them on Route 66 next spring.
 When I get my other photos online, I'll post them.  Until then, use your imagination, please.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


RAIN.  Yippee!   We need it badly.  COLD AND DREARY.   Boo!   Sure cuts down on visitors to Afton Station.  We left a little early today because we couldn't imagine anyone wanting to play tourist on a day like today.  Hope we didn't miss anyone.   There were only three visitors today, from Denver, CO and Omaha, NE.

I may have more to report tomorrow, as I'm going to dinner with Route 66 friends.  Should be fun, and a good way to warm up.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I think that the adage "slow as molasses in January" could be changed to "slow as Afton Station in November".  Although we only had eight visitors today, yet another adage applies:  Quality beats quantity.   Ron M.,  Tattoo Man, Betty and I enjoyed the brief but excellent company of folks from Sapulpa OK, Barnsdall OK, Centerville VA, and Ft. Leonard Wood MO.   The gentleman below, from Ft. Wood, has visited in the past, but this time he brought along two friends.  He's a knowledgeable guy who has taken several Route 66 trips and has a great appreciation for the Road.  
Robin and Phil had an equally slow day yesterday.  Although it's to be expected at this time of year, I become melancholy when I think of the long, cold winter in Afton.  Beginning next week, I'll only be there on weekends, but Robin will open up on Wednesdays and Fridays as long as weather permits and travelers are still out there.   We'll definitely be open tomorrow, despite the fact that we're expecting heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Besides being the day to honor those who have served or are serving America in the Armed Forces, tomorrow is also the 86th birthday of Route 66!   Much to celebrate, so you might as well spend the holiday by jumping in the car and driving to Afton, Oklahoma.  There are some mighty nice people there who would love to celebrate with you!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cyrus Avery -- Blowin' In The Wind

Here are a few photos from the dedication of the statue at the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza in Tulsa this afternoon.  I just got home.  The wind was blowing so hard that it was impossible to hear the speeches from where we were sitting, but it was fun to see so many old Route 66 friends there, some of whom I haven't seen since the Tulsa Route 66 Festival in 2004.   The speaker in the second photo is Michael Wallis.  In the fourth photo, see the lineup of Model Ts that arrived from the Tulsa Model T Club.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Buffalo Bones

Never in my life, but most certainly never in the previous 30 years whenI lived in the metro NYC area, did I ever dream that I'd be asked, with a straight and serious face, where one could buy buffalo bones!  But today, thanks to my "new life"on the edge of the Great Plains, I was asked just that.  More amazingly, I almost had an answer.  "Almost" because at least I knew where to buy bulk buffalo meat and presumed they would also have bones. And why, I inquired of the gentleman, did he need buffalo bones?  To make sacred Indian jewelry, of course, he replied.  Right! I learn something new every single day.

I anticipated a quiet day after not having been at Afton Station since Sunday.  That was not to be so.  In fact, our first visitors arrived before I did, and thankfully Phil was there to open up and let them in.  I pulled up a few minutes later to see the two huge, fully loaded motorcycles out front belonging to those visitors, two thoroughly pleasant State Troopers from the motorcycle division of the Illinois Highway Patrol.  They were taking their Route 66 vacation on, of course, motorcycles!  They were loaded down and ready to go as far as possible in a week.  They talked about the possibility of opening a little drive-in soda shop somewhere on Route 66, so of course we talked up Afton.  On the way out, they gave me an Illinois Highway Patrol patch, and I told them to be safe and not to disobey any rules of the road!  :-)

Later in the day, four fun guys (three brothers from Arkansas and their friend from Nashville, TN) stopped in.  
One of the brothers is Terry Beck, the creator of "the world's smallest Route 66 book".  It's a mere 2" x 3" and is packed with Mother Road facts and photos. It was printed in 2004 so it's missing quite a few of the newer places (such as Afton Station) but it's cute and quirky and I might start selling a few here at the Station. It's not for the eyesight challenged,  however, unless you have a magnifying glass nearby!
Other visitors today hailed from Clear Lake IA, Honolulu HI, Parsons KS, and Miami OK.  With visits from Betty, Phil, and Marly I had a much more people-packed day than I'd anticipated.  That, and the 70-degree temperature outside, made it nearly perfect.  I hope tomorrow is the same, when Ron M. and I will be attending the dedication ceremony of the new statue at the Avery Bridge.  It's at 2 p.m..  Come if you can.  It should be fun and festive.