Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Phil Rosenstein etc.


I didn't have time to write yesterday because I spent the day with a most unique and inspirational man.  Phil Rosenstein is running across the country from coast to coast, pushing a baby jogger holding all his necessities.   Yeah, running!  He started in Los Angeles on Aug. 14th and will take Route 66 to Chicago, then go on to Atlantic City, NJ.  He's running for a cause, the Mario Lemieux Cancer Foundation (The Mario Lemieux Foundation), and he'll be stopping briefly in Pittsburgh where he's to be honored by the charity.  He will have put well over 3000 miles behind him when he finishes.  But.... you can read all about him, as well as his daily journal, at the Mario Lemieux site under "Run Phil Run".

The neat thing is that I got the pleasure of his company all day yesterday.  Despite a few friends gasping "You're going to allow a complete stranger to stay overnight in your home?", I felt absolutely no uncertainty after emailing with Phil for the last few weeks. He arrived right after I got home from dialysis, and I'd already stocked up on foods he told me he was craving after days on the road eating mashed potatoes and peanut butter. He took his first shower in a week (since he's been sleeping outdoors by the road in his sleeping bag) while I prepared 2 1/2 pounds of spaghetti with garlic and butter and a gallon of orange juice.  This only began to fill the lithe, 130-lb. guy, so he followed up with a couple of bananas.  He eats about 10,000 calories a day, but hey, he runs 30-40 miles a day!    Anyway, a reporter came in the afternoon to interview him, after which we picked up Ron M. and we went for a BIG steak dinner at my favorite steak joint.  Phil stayed at my house last night, but I had to leave for Afton early this morning so I didn't get to say goodbye.  However, I saw him truckin' along near Verdigris as I was on my way home from Afton.  I honked and waved.  I'll see him again on Thursday when he gets to Afton.

On my way to Afton this morning I stopped in Claremore for breakfast and ran into a friend, Blaine Davis, whose father built the famous Blue Whale in Catoosa.  Blaine lives on the premises now and oversees the Whale and the visitors.  We had breakfast together and exchanged a lot of "traveler tales".

Too much chewing the fat (bacon fat!) with Blaine almost made me late to greet visitors who were scheduled to arrive at the Station at 9:30.  I arrived at 9:25 and they were there 5 minutes later.  Although I was still turning on the lights and fans when they got there, I don't thind they noticed my mini-panic.  The group was a senior men's club from Grove and there were 24 of them.  It was an inquisitive group, and the curious old-timers had a ton of old car questions for me.  I think I answered about 90% of them correctly, and hopefully nobody noticed the fudge factor on the other 10%.

There were 42 visitors today... a huge day!  They were all Americans with the exception of four young Brits in a rented motorhome having a big adventure and a British couple who were participating in the 60-car cross-Route 66 cruise with the British Jaguar Enthusiasts Club. Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club : JEC.  Only one of the 60 cars stopped in, but apparently they were all in a huge hurry to get to Oklahoma City for some reason.  Oh well....

Other visitors abounded.   Great day!



Sunday, September 28, 2008

BIG things

The State Fair is in Tulsa this week, so on my way out of town this morning I drove past the fairgrounds to check out a Tulsa icon, the Golden Driller.  He's a 76 ft. tall statue of an oil field worker, and for the other 51 weeks of the year we are accustomed to seeing him with the clothing sculpted to him.   But during the Fair each year a local radio station dresses him in an enormous t-shirt.  I've never actually seen this feat being accomplished, but I'm guessing that pretty big cranes and cherry-pickers are involved.  This picture was artificially lightened, since I shot it barely at sunrise.

As soon as I got out in the country, a heavy fog descended and remained all the way to Afton.  This morning, I couldn't tell you if the cows were standing, sitting, or turning cartwheels!

I arrived in Afton an hour early, and right behind me was a couple from Sweden.  I turned on the lights for them and invited them in.  As a habitual earlybird myself, I have great respect for people who like to get on the road early, and I'd never refuse them entry.  Almost immediately after that, a guy on a motorcycle from Hutchinson, KS arrived.  After the early morning rush, I had a free half hour at which time I cleaned out the popcorn machine (we made popcorn yesterday but barely had time to eat any of it), restocked some merchandise, stamped a big pile of our postcards with an "Hours of Operation" stamp, cleaned the bathroom, and discovered that a can of Dr. Pepper I'd put in the freezer section of our little fridge yesterday and then forgot about had... you guessed it... burst and made quite the mess.  Never a dull moment!

At about 11, two cheerful couples from France (Paris) came in.  I got a kick out of the fact that they all crowded into the little restroom at once and I heard them giggling in there.  They'd found the old condom machine and loved it!   One thing that I continue to notice is that Europeans do a lot more walking than American visitors.  Whereas most Americans park at our door and come right in, folks from other countries tend to park down the street and walk to the Station, or just stroll around town snapping pictures.  Hmm...do I detect an obvious link to the fact that the obesity epidemic here is much more serious than in other countries?  No criticism here, however, since I'm definitely one of those "park at the door" Americans.  Just an observation.

A father with daughter about 6 years old came in, and the little girl fell in love with the squashed penny machine.  Since she lives locally, I'm sure I'll be seeing more of her.  Then came a lady whose daughter is opening an antique shop and "Route 66 information center" in Vinita (15 miles west of Afton), looking for ideas and advice.  It will open next week and be called Prairie Wind Antiques.

I had a surprise visit from Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones, who had been at the Route 66 Festival in Springfield IL this weekend.  He hit the road at 3:45 this morning and got to Afton Station around 1 p.m.  He only stopped for a few minutes because he was really tired, but he reported that the Festival was as much fun as ever, and well-attended.

PS - I forgot to mention this before.  As I was closing up, I noticed a camera on the counter, obviously left behind by a visitor.  Figuring it had to be the last people there, two women from Pawhuska OK who said they were going up the road to drive the 9-foot highway before heading further east, I put the camera in the car and hoped they were still somewhere within range.  I couldn't find them on the 9-foot highway so I just took the camera back to the Station and I'm not sure what will happen next.  I have a volunteer opening tomorrow and maybe the ladies will come back.  I feel really terrible about this whole thing.  They didn't even leave full addresses in the guest book, so it's up to them to contact me.  If you're reading this, Ladies From Pawhuska, I have your camera!!!



Saturday, September 27, 2008

This one will be short!

It's pretty late for me to start blogging, but I just got home.  After a totally exhausting day, I went to a small dinner party at a friend's home.  My Afton day was one of the most mentally tiring because it seems like every guest who walked through the door had a story to tell, most of them very interesting but very long.  And the people just kept coming all day, to the point where we didn't even have time to sit down and eat a little lunch.  Thank goodness Ron M. was with me today to help with crowd control.   (Actually, there weren't crowds.... it just seemed that way.  Twenty-seven guests altogether, I think).  As a result of all of this, I'll save any details for my journal entry tomorrow.  Meanwhile, here are a couple of pictures from late in the afternoon, when Andie and Holly arrived.  They're also known as the 2Chicks, and they're doing as much of Route 66 as they can in the next couple of weeks.  F2 Chicks » See the World  A guy named James from Alabama was also there, and all were happy to pose for a picture.  The third guy in that second picture (the one in the pointy red hat) is Clive, who is traveling with Andie and Holly and posing for pictures whenever they stop.

More tomorrow.  Night night!

Friday, September 26, 2008

I wasn't there, but.....

As usual on Friday, I was not able to go to Afton today, but the fort was well held down by David and Marly.   When they last called, they'd had 16 visitors -- Swedes, French, and Americans -- and the day isn't even over for them yet.   And the best part is that they're working on finishing up the gas pumps!   The vintage parts we needed were delivered last week, and Marly has been blasting, buffing, and painting those that needed it.  I can't wait to get up there tomorrow and see the results, although I don't think they'll be completely done by then. 

Today's visitors, according to David, included people from California driving a '50s era Packard (I've already forgotten the year.... my memory stinks!)  Also, four Swedish gentlemen were traveling in two Model-As, and maintaining a blog about their trip.  Check it out.  http://www.a-fordresan.se/a-fordresan.se-eng/index.htm .  It looks like an amazing trip and I sure wish I'd been there to meet the guys!

I forgot to mention something that was said to me yesterday which gave me a little thrill, although I'm not entirely sure why.   The visiting family from Minnesota asked me if Radiator Springs, the mythical Route 66 town in the animated movie "Cars", was modeled after Afton!  Since the person who was the Route 66 consultant for the movie is a friend of mine, I know for sure that Radiator Springs was a compilation of many different towns along the Route, not just one.  The visitors said that the first time they came into Afton and then when they saw Afton Station, they were all absolutely certain that they had found the movie town. Oh, how I wish it was true, and that the future of Afton would be as rosy as that of Radiator Springs!  Maybe some day.  In the meantime, it felt good to know that my museum is in a movie town, which of course it isn't... or something like that.

                    Well, maybe without the mesa at the end of the road...   :-)

Four boxes of merchandise for the Station have arrived here at my home, so I need to pay some bills and load the car for my trip there tomorrow.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Arkansas Travelers and others

Ron and I took it easy driving to Afton this morning, since I don't have posted hours on Thursday and I wasn't expecting my first guests until around 2.   We got there at 11, and I'm glad we weren't any later, since shortly after we got things ready for opening, we  had our first visitors.  They were a really nice family from Minnesota who are building a log cabin on the lake close to us.   Their two teen-age girls were with them, and since they said they'd been in our area for the past two weeks, I asked why the girls weren't in school.  Home schooling!   Duhhh... of course!   I've been trying to decide whether I would have liked home schooling when I was a kid.  On one hand, traveling at any time of year with my parents would have been ultra-awesome, but on the other hand I think I would have missed the comraderie with other kids every day in the school environment.   I can't decide.  Anyway, the family will be in our area for another week, and might come back for another visit, and I'm very happy about that. 

While they were there, the car club from Russellville, Arkansas arrived.   It was this group's visit that was the reason I opened on a Thursday, my regular day off.  Ten cars and 17 people!    They had quite a array of neat old cars, but because a truck had parked and blocked much of the access to my parking area (grrrr!!!!) some had to park across the street.  Therefore, photos aren't very good. 

Here are some of the folks.....

...and here are some of their cars (best I could do).


The next pic is of Thomas, a visitor from Germany who arrived while the car club was still there.  He's bicycling solo across Route 66.   As  you can see, he has a full load on that bike.  I can't imagine how he keeps it upright! Wow, impressive feat!   We passed him on our way home about 8 miles outside of Afton headed west, and he was chugging along at a good pace.  (You can see some of the cars belonging to the car club parked across the street.)

But that's not all!   Other visitors included two guys on motorcycles from Ponca City, OK and two middle-aged ladies from Kansas who are doing Route 66 segment-by-segment.   Twenty-six visitors in all.  All this activity made me sad that I can't be in Afton every day of the week.  Look at all the cool people I'm missing!




Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No bloggin' today...

... but I'll be making an unscheduled trip to Afton Station tomorrow to meet and greet a car club.   I'll report after I drag myself home tomorrow evening.   :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Windshield Bugs, Sorghum, and Soybeans

 Just a few random observations on my ride to and from Afton:

There was very little problem with bugs on my windshield this summer -- until just this week.  Suddenly, a plethora of creatures are losing their lives by splatting right in front of my eyes.   Autumn has really brought out the little guys.  Sorry, bugs.  I'd try to avoid you if I could....

Since I never lived in this growing region until just 6 years ago, I'm not very familiar with sorghum.  I'm surprised that it seems to be at it's peak right now, so late in the season. There are also a lot of soybean fields I watch on my way to Afton Station.  They, too, seem to be getting especially lush right now.  Back in New England, most field crops are nearly gone by late September. 

The panhandler I pass at a certain corner every time I drive home from Afton has changed his sign.  The guy obviously has a much better sense of humor than I would have expected.   The hand-lettered sign that usually says "Need food and shelter" today said "Have food and a home/Need beer and Harley parts."  Yes, really!

Now, about my day at the Station.....   It was relatively quiet today, with only 12 visitors.  They all came either early in the morning or just before I was ready to leave, but Betty was there all day to keep me company during the middle of the day and we never run out of things to talk about.   The visitors came from San Jose CA, Missouri, Oregon, Delaware, Toronto, and Indiana, as well as one local guy. 

The Indiana visitors were Shawn and Tim, a father and son on motorcycles.  They visited Afton Station in 2004 and although it took me a while to remember them, I eventually did when they reminded me that on that earlier visit they met up at my place with a guy from the Netherlands who was motorcycling Route 66 solo.  They told me they ended up traveling all the way to California with the Dutchman and are still corresponding with him on a regular basis.  It was fun to think that an international friendship was started with a chance meeting at Afton Station.  This year, the father-and-son team is just going as far as Tulsa on 66, then heading for Dallas to pick up some motorcycle parts.    Here they are!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A very sexy vehicle

A British photographer visited Afton Station a few weeks ago, and I found a really neat photo of our '58 Hawk on his site.   Check it out.

"'58 Packard Hawk" Fine Art Print by David Cross - RedBubble

I was home today, but will be in Afton tomorrow.   Naturally, I'll give a report tomorrow evening.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More babbling....

On my foggy drive to Afton this morning, it was too early to listen to my two favorite NPR shows, "Car Talk" and "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me", and since I don't like music, while flipping channels I landed on yet another political diatribe on some unidentified Sirius channel.  I was raised by parents who believed that it was just as bad to reveal one's political affiliations as it was to reveal one's salary, so I can't get used to the constant political talk among my friends, acquaintances, and pundits on the TV and radio.  This endless presidential campaign is slowly chipping away at my usually rosy outlook on life.   A few months ago, I remember telling someone that I was in some ways enjoying the excitement of it.  Not any more.  The negative campaign ads are going to make me completely crazy before the next six weeks have passed.  We just need to get back to loving and RESPECTING one another!

But enough about that.  My Afton Station day was quiet and non-political.  Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones helped out all day.  He came bearing his newest tattoo, acquired yesterday.  It's the Whiting Brothers sign, right on the inside bend of his elbow.  It looks like it would have hurt that sensitive area, but he said it wasn't a problem.  Here it is.  (Note the Afton Station tattoo just above it).

It was Tattoo Man's birthday last week, so I presented him with a pecan pie today.  It's his favorite food, and it was the best I could come up with for a gift.  I believe he appreciated it.  Hope he doesn't eat it all in one sitting!

We had only 12 visitors, but it was a nice mix of people who enjoyed sharing their stories and listening to ours.  The fellow who came two weeks ago with the gorgeous white Corvette convertible came back on his returrn trip to California from the 50th Anniversary of Corvette celebration in Kentucky.  It was pretty neat that he chose to return and say hi! 

Other visitors hailed from California, Texas, Bartlesville OK, New Zealand, and New Jersey.   The folks from New Jersey were taking photos of each other with Tripper, so I snapped one of both of them.  Tripper posed majestically, as usual.  No such thing as a bad picture of Tripper.  The couple is in the process of moving from NJ to Arizona, and decided to make the trip on Route 66.  Good plan!

The gentleman from Bartlesville was just out for a spin on his motorcycle and had never thought much about Route 66, but by the time he left the Station he had purchased three Route 66 books and was getting very enthusiastic about taking a tour of the whole Route in Oklahoma soon.  Apparently Tattoo Man and I are good at dispensing Mother Road propaganda.

The New Zealand couple had purchased a vintage car on AutoTrader.com before they got to the States and picked it up when they got here.  (Oops, can't remember what it was except that it was an 80s convertible muscle car) They plan to ship it back after their Chicago-to-LA trip, where it will join their vintage Corvette.  

I forgot to mention yesterday that Ron M. and I took a ride on the Afton portion of the 9-foot highway to check out the reports we'd heard that a small portion of it had been asphalted last week.  We were of course horrified by the news, but our investigation revealed that the damage isn't too bad.  It's just the first 500 yds. or so, at the very end where it meets the modern road.  They shouldn't have done it, but it certainly could have been worse.  You turn your back for a minute and something like this happens.  I feel a little responsible, since it happened "on my watch", as I'm one of the only ones in Afton who seems to care much about preservation.  I don't know if I'd been able to stop it, but I could have tried.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday at the Station

I'm starting to blog pretty late tonight because after I finshed at Afton Station, Ron M. and I met a group from the Oklahoma Route 66 Association for dinner at the historic Hammett House in Claremore.  It's the home of the world's largest portions, as we found out.  The pie slices alone can't be consumed by one person in one sitting.  Unhealthy eating is alive and well in Oklahoma!

The day at Afton Station was extraordinarily good.  We had a steady stream of visitors, numbering 27 by the end of the day.  Since the weather was perfect, we sat outside most of the day.  Visitors included a lovely couple who are car collectors and foresters in the northwoods of Alberta, Canada, and three gentlemen who are also car collectors and restorers from the south of France.  Although only one of them spoke English, the language of old cars got us easily through the visit.

Some folks from Texas stopped by because they'd heard we have an exceptionally well-restored 1958 Packard Hawk.   They just happened to be towing their own '58 back from a car show.   It was a beauty, too.  This one is his.

This one is ours.

There were lots more visitors -- guys coming back from a Spavinaw car show, a lady looking for information about the history of Afton (which she remembers visiting as a girl), some people from Kansas and other more local folks. 

Betty came and sat with us for most of the afternoon.  Tommy Bassett, who owns the grocery store across the street and is trying to sell it (with all contents of store and the entire white building), drove over on his lawn mower and spun some tales of old Afton.  His family has owned the grocery since 1922, but Tommy wants to retire now.  It's really crucial to the town that someone buy the store and keep it going.  If it goes, there's really not much in town other than Afton Station.  Anyone interested?   It does a very good business, the upper floor is rentable apartments, and there are a couple of adjoining storefronts in the deal.   He wants $100K for the whole thing.   Let me know.  :-)

Here's the building:

Here's Tommy, the seller:

And I am now officially too tired to continue.  I'll be back tomorrow with further excitement. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blogging, after 2 months

This blogging thing is taking on a life of it's own, I think.  I thought it would be more like writing in a diary or journal, something I used to do faithfully but haven't done for about a dozen years.  It's entirely different, at least for me.   As I write, there's  no way I can forget even for a moment that others are going to be reading my words, and that has a pretty huge effect on what I write about and how I write it.  Being super-aware of not making too many typos or grammatical errors is the least of my worries.  I find myself hoping I won't offend anyone, or that I won't embarrass myself with some dumb observation, or that I won't bore my readers to death.   I know, of course, that every day in my life isn't going to be wildly exciting, even if I DO have what I consider the best job in the world -- owning a museum and visitors' center on my favorite highway.  To try to make every day sound thrilling would be a sham, but I still find myself trying to do so.  Sometimes I have to hit myself over the head (not literally!) and remind myself that I'm dedicated to just telling the truth, as unvarnished as possible.   If people don't like it, they'll stop reading.  If they do like it, then I hope they'll stick around for as long as I can make my fingers push the keys. 

Today, for instance, I didn't go to Afton at all.   My day was (is) totally routine.  Dialysis, followed by a couple of errands, then home.  The highlight of my day was finding that my dear friend Ron M. had come over this morning and scrubbed my front porch.    He is an absolute dear and the best friend a person could ever have.  He knew I had been putting off the scrubbing for some time.   He's always thinking of nice things to do.   

I'll be in Afton tomorrow, and I hope you'll be around to hear the news just in case Brad Pitt drops in or the roof blows off. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Go west, old woman!

Driving is my life, I guess.   Today, since it's my free day and I didn't have to drive 160 miles round trip to Afton Station, I celebrated by driving 130  miles round trip in the opposite direction!   I  hadn't been west on Route 66 for a couple of months, so I decided to pay a visit to the fairly new Route 66 Interpretive Center in Chandler and to check out a number of things along the way.  To my surprise, I started feeling a certain amount of sensory overload shortly after I left Tulsa.  There were so many places I wanted to stop, and so little time (since I had to be home relatively early to bake brownies to take to a meeting tonight). 

I made a quick stop for a picture of the old bridge west of Sapulpa, just so I could compare it to my pics of the bridge in Chelsea.  In the photo,  you can see the old drive-in movie screen just on the other side. 


 I wanted to stop at the recently-burned Rock Cafe in Stroud, but it was so early when I got there that the shop next door wasn't open and Dawn was nowhere to be found.  I did stop at the Route 66 Shoe Tree east of Stroud.   It looks a bit worse for wear since the last time I visited.   Much of it is still there however, although I don't think my own shoe survived the natural deterioration process.

When I arrived in Chandler, I went first to seek out Jerry McClanahan's new digs.  I had no trouble finding it, but nobody was there.   Striking out so far, I decided to just go to the Interpretive Center and postpone the other visits I wanted to make until a later date.

The Interpretive Center is GREAT!   I am so impressed.  I got a personal tour by lovely Angie Maynor, the director.  We're planning a November cruise there for one of the car clubs I belong to, so I wanted to see it before that so I could give a little personal introduction to it.  I recommend it highly.  www.Route66Interpretivecenter.org.   Here's the only picture I took, which does it absolutely NO justice.  It's a little too dark for photography because the lights are kept low so one can view the multiple screen presentation.  The cool thing is the seating.... you get to choose from lying on a bed (to simulate an old motel), or sitting on Ford Mustang seats, Model A seats, old theater seats, etc.  Clever!


The aforementioned sensory overload made me decide to come straight home after that.  My feelings were mixed.  On one hand, there were tons of places I would liked to have stopped.  On the other hand, it was all feeling a bit too familiar.  I really need to take a Route 66 trip that's not in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, or Illinois, the four states with which I'm most familiar.  I need a trip out west.  Badly.   I drove home on the interstate.  Shame on me. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Here 'ya go, Mark

One of my readers, Mark, requested a photo of the rare, vintage condom machine that hangs in the restroom at Afton Station.   It was salvaged from the old Buffalo Ranch as it was being razed.  No offense to those condom machine non-appreciators.   :-)

It was an absolutely beautiful day today, cool and bright -- except for the five minutes of pea-soup fog I drove through on the way to Afton.   The fog (caused by the warm steam coming from the industries on the McClelland-Kerr Canal hitting the cold atmosphere) made me think of numerous times I've driven across the Pennsylvania Turnpike very early in the morning.  It's almost always foggy there in the a.m., and I always enjoyed the eerie and somewhat dangerous feeling of driving blind.

The day at Afton Station began early when I raised my new flag, a big white one with a Route 66 shield in black in the middle and small shields representing the 8 states around it.   I think it will encourage people to visit, putting more emphasis on Route 66.  It seemed to work, as I had 16 visitors, which isn't bad for a Tuesday.   My first visitors were from Denmark, followed by guests from Washington State, Caney KS, and North Carolina.  Just as I was leaving, a couple of photographers from Miami came and wanted to take just a few shots of the cars, so I opened up and turned on the lights again.  Since I told them I needed to leave right on time today (to prepare for a dinner guest tonight) they were very courteous about working quickly.   I hate to shoo people out, but these particular guys were very understanding, and since Miami is just down the road, they said they'd be back again soon.

When we first opened Afton Station, there were days when I was so bored and so devoid of visitors that I'd sit and count the trucks that went by, recording the name of the trucking company as well as the geographical origin, if I was able to read it as they sped by.  Today, I came across those lists and it reminded me of how happy I am to  have busy days full of interesting people almost every time I open my doors.

Ok, off to get that dinner started.....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to normal

We don't have mountains here in Oklahoma, but today the sun rose over some "cloud mountains" as I was driving to Afton Station.  I shot this picture as I was leaving Tulsa on Route 66.

The operative word here is "sun".   Since the weather looked promising today, I hoped my day would be filled with travelers who had come out of hibernation.   And my hope was fulfilled. It was a very good day at the Station.

Betty was my first visitor.  She came by on her way to church to bring me a another pound of that Amish churned butter she gets in Choteau when she goes there to visit her son.  I love that woman!   Thank you, Betty.

The wind was pretty strong today, and moments after I put out my wooden OPEN sign, it blew over and broke into three pieces.   I couldn't find the electric drill, so it hasn't been fixed  yet.   When I checked the restroom, there was a sizeable puddle on the floor and a new leak sprung in the ceiling.  I'm counting on the ceiling not falling down any time soon.   :-)  Ok, enough tales of woe from me...

I had 21 visitors today.  First came a young couple from Switzerland, followed by a long-haul trucker from Minnesota who was hauling a load of Whitmore Greasers.  Do you know what they are?  I didn't, but he told me all about them. Whitmore Group to Market New Rail Grease Using Catalyzed Materials From Platinum Research Organization | Market Wire | Find A...    Well, I found it (sort of) interesting....   LOL!

A couple from North Carolina stopped on their way to a Porsche show in Albuquerque.   A couple from York (U.K.) visited for the second time.  The last time they were at Afton Station was three  years ago.  They were doing Route 66 east-to-west then, but this time they were trying a west-to-east trip, which they were finding a lot more difficult.  Some local folks dropped in (Pryor, Vinita, Afton) and then came two young guys from Dallas returning from a rockabilly concert in Missouri.  They were dressed totally in '50s "greaser" garb, with sideburns, long hair, white socks, rolled up t-shirt sleeves, etc.   I asked them if they were in costume, then wondered if I'd insulted them when they told me they dress that way all the time.  Oops! Just as I was closing, another couple from N. Carolina came in.  Basically, they were lost and asking for directions, but they took a little time to look around.

David and his 3-year-old son Patrick spent a couple of hours with me.   I got to do a little babysitting while David loaded some stuff into his truck.  Patrick and I had fun playing with his toy gas station and then making some squashed pennies.

T'was a good day!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wet but worthwhile

Ron McCoy is home from vacation and went with me to Afton Station today.   It was drippy and damp on our trip there, but we didn't see any of the high winds or teeming rains that had been predicted.  Nevertheless, by noon we had only had one visitor and Ron was teasing me, saying I must have been inflating visitor numbers while he was away.  I think I eventually convinced him that it wasn't true.   Early afternoon was punctuated only by a very tantalizing phone call from a documentary producer in Los Angeles, but I won't elaborate on that until things move along a little further.  Ron and I sat outside most of the day (in the covered area, of course).  It was equally damp both inside and out, so we decided we might as well enjoy the light breeze outside and maybe lure some visitors in. 

Two little boys on bicycles were speeding through the gigantic puddle across from the Station, having a ball splashing themselves and each other.  It started us talking about what it must be like to grow up in a tiny, almost deserted town with virtually nothing to amuse a young person.  I suspect it might be a great way to grow up, without a lot of  big city or suburban influences.  There's a lot to be said about making one's own fun, especially when one has only his own mind to work with.  We wondered how they'd describe their childhood after they grew up.

Late afternoon brought a few more visitors.   Two older gentlemen from elsewhere in the state stopped in on their way home from an outing to Branson, MO.  They were total car nuts and one of them has quite a number of vintage vehicles himself.

Our final visitors were three couples from British Columbia, each driving a brightly painted custom hot rod.  They drove to Chicago, then were working their way back on Route 66.   They have six weeks to complete their odyssey, and seemed to be having a ball.  One of the women was the very first visitor ever to ask to photograph my condom machine (a very old-fashioned one, taken from the old Buffalo Ranch when it was torn down).  It's in the restroom, not in working order, and I think probably most people either ignore it or are too embarrassed to mention it although it is quite quaint.   This lovely Canadian lady had no such compunctions.

Here are their pretty cars...

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Hurricane?

Looks like Hurricane Ike, once it finishes with the Texas coastline, will be heading for Oklahoma.  Of course it won't be anything as devastating as a coastal hurricane, but big rain and heavy winds are expected here tomorrow and all through the weekend.   That should put quite a damper (no pun intended) on the big Grand Lake motorcycle rally which is supposed to stop at Afton Station today, Saturday, and Sunday.  I haven't heard whether anyone showed up today, but I'll be there tomorrow to find out for myself.  For me, a quiet weekend for a change wouldn't be unwelcome, but I hate to see someone's long-planned activity spoiled by weather.  Stay tuned....

Thursday, September 11, 2008


It's a rainy day, very dark and gloomy in Oklahoma.  It seems fitting.  Although I lived almost in the shadow of the World Trade Center when it went down (it could be seen from the beach of our Connecticut town), I happened to be in Oklahoma on 9/11/01.  We were there on one of our many trips down to oversee work on the house we were building there and to make preparations for our move.  We had just purchased Afton Station and on the morning of 9/11, instead of going to the building site with my husband, I headed straight from the motel to the print shop to get some Afton Station papers photocopied.  When I walked in smiling, the distressed-looking guy behind the counter asked "Don't you know what just happened?"  I hadn't heard any news that morning, so I had no idea what he meant.  "Seems that a plane has flown into the World Trade Center in New York", he said, and then he invited me to come to the back office where there was a TV tuned to the news.  Like every other person in our nation, I was paralyzed by shock at the picture on the screen.  The rest is history. 

So much has happened in my life since 9/11/01.   I now live in Oklahoma.  I am divorced. I have my beloved Afton Station.  I have wonderful new friends and a new life, but I still have so many old and dear friends.  I own my own home.  My daughter got married.  I had a major illness and am now on kidney dialysis.  And although some of those things sound very bad, when you compare them to the last 7 years in the lives of the loved ones of those who died on 9/11, I can only consider my own life a miracle.  I have never thought of myself as a survivor, but now I think maybe I am.  And my heart goes out to those whose loss was so sudden, so unexplainable, so needless on that terrible September day in 2001.   I pray that they have been able to find their inner survival skills, too. 


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

They just keep coming!

I'm excited that the visitor numbers have been so high for the past week.  Marly, who worked Afton Station yesterday, had about 30 visitors, including Trond's Norwegian motorcycle group of 12 people.  Today, the travelers came in steadily all day.   Betty spent the day with me at the Station, and we had the privilege of meeting folks from Germany, Wisconsin, Indiana and Holland, among others.  One large group came in just as I arrived.  It was a family reunion consisting of relatives from Idaho, Ohio, and Toronto Canada.  I also had a visit from Mike Pendleton, always a pleasure when he drops in on  his regular work route so we can do a little Route 66 gossiping. 

The couple from the Netherlands were directed to Afton Station by Marly.  They were lost, and just happened to stop at his home for directions.  He sent them down to the Station for an EZ66 Guide, which they sorely needed.  A win-win situation for all.   Marly came in later and we discussed the idea of putting a sign in his yard (13 miles down Route 66) directing people to the Station.  He lives at the exact spot where people emerge from driving the Miami section of the 9-foot alignment, so it's a logical place where people stop to ask for help.   Through the signage, we could also direct eastbound people to the 9-foot alignment.

David will take over duties tomorrow because a large Grand Lake Motorcycle Rally begins and runs for several days.  I'm really disappointed that I can't be back at the Station until Saturday.

I have a lot to do tonight, so just one more thing...   This is the quilt given to me by the mother of Trudy, owner of the Chelsea Motor Inn.  I will be putting it on the wall at the Station and I have two more which will be for sale there.  What a lot of work went into it!

The photo doesn't show details, but there are a few landmarks shown along the Route -- the Round Barn, the Blue Whale, the Route 66 Museum, the Chelsea Motor Inn, and Afton Station.  At the bottom is a nice embroidered replica of the OK State seal.  The quilt is wall-hanging size.   Sorry for the bad picture.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Kiwis on Bikes

Sometimes after the biggest days at Afton Station when I have the most to tell, I have the least energy to do so when I get home.   But today was so great that I'm going to blog about it until my fingers no longer have strength to push on the keys.

First, on my trip to the Station today I saw a "For Sale" sign on the Hi-Way Cafe just west of Vinita.  I've only eaten there a couple of times, but their sign is iconic to me in the same way the "Rent A Horse To Ride" sign is.  I've seen that sign for years and years and would hate for it disappear.  I know that a couple of years ago the Hi-Way changed ownership, but now it looks like it's going on the block, and I wouldn't want to see it go -- or at least see the sign go.


We had 40 visitors at Afton Station today.  Thank goodness Ron Jones came to  help out.  Of the 40, at least 20 were members of the Kiwis on Tour group, a very congenial group of New Zealanders who had shipped their motorcycles over in containers from their homeland and had 6 full weeks to explore Route 66 and the U.S.  One of their destinations was the 100th anniversary Harley-Davidson celebration in Milwaukee. They didn't come in all at once, but a few at a time so there was more time to talk.  I wish I'd been part of their group.   They seemed to be having a ball.   One of them is blogging the trip at http://kiwisontour.typepad.com. Here are just a few of their motorcycles parked in front of the Station.


It was quite the international day, as the Kiwis weren't the only foreign visitors.  We also entertained people from Denmark, Quebec, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.  The two young fellows from the Netherlands were having a 3-month holiday in the U.S. after graduating from school, and they were traveling in a pickup truck they'd bought when they arrived here and are contemplating taking it back to the Netherlands with them. 

Bob Brown from San Diego impressed us with his beautiful white '59 Corvette convertible, which he's taking across Route 66, then to Bowling Green, KY to the 55th anniversary gala for the Corvette.  A nice guy in a mighty good-looking set of wheels! 

There were also the usual visits from those who had ventured less far from home, and of course I always love to meet my "neighbors".  The couple who recently bought the old pecan place outside of Vinita and turned it into an RV sales and service business came in and assured me that they were still planning to sell pecans there too, since the building came with several acres of pecan grove.

All of this activity has totally exhausted me, so forgive me if this entry is rather matter-of-fact and not very well-written.  Bottom line -- great day!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Gustav and Hanna

No, I'm not referring to a visiting couple from Germany.  The residue from those two hurricanes rolled into Oklahoma this morning with a real car-washing downpour.  As I drove to Afton, it became blinding between Foyil and Vinita.  I pulled over in a parking lot in Chelsea, but things didn't improve so I pressed on at a reduced speed with both hands firmly on the steering wheel to control hydroplaning in the puddles.  The center of Vinita was moderatly flooded as usual.  They really need to address their drainage issues, I think.  There was also a 140-car train (I counted) that blocked my path for a while.  I arrived at the Station around 9:45 and shortly thereafter the rain started to abate and I was able to put out the OPEN flags.  Today I could keep the door open and the a/c off.  Glorious fresh, cool air!

I had 24 visitors today, making it relatively busy, although I did have an hour in the middle of the day to eat lunch and work up some statistics.  (More about that later.)

A local couple came in with some stories of Afton in the "olden days".   The gentleman's father is 85 years old, has lived in Afton all his life, and loves to tell stories.  He said he'd bring him in soon.  Goody!  Meanwhile, the son did tell me about some bootlegging that went on in my building, when it was the Eagle Service Station, back before liquor was legal in Oklahoma.  Prohibition wasn't over in OK until 1959, kind of late compared to most states.  He also told me that the rock building across the street, which was a livery at the turn of the century, was a stopover for the Dalton gang when they needed something horse-related done.  Those Dalton boys (Dalton Gang - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) seem to pop up a lot around these parts, so of course one wonders how many of the stories bear the earmarks of truth rather than legend. 


                This is the rock building that was a livery visited by the Dalton Gang.

Other visitors today hailed from Basel Switzerland, Birmingham U.K., Denver, Kansas, and Arkansas, as well as a hearty helping of local Oklahomans.  The British man is a photographer who specializes in close-ups of vintage cars, so he took some arty photos of our cars which he said will soon be displayed at his photo site: David Cross - RedBubble

During my down time, I was able to compile guestbook statistics for Jan. thru Aug. of this year.   I'm excited to report that I had visitors from 18 countries and 45 states during that period.   The only states not represented were Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, N. Dakota, and S. Dakota, but just two weeks later folks from both of the Dakotas visited (on the same day).  I'm thrilled by these stats.  Who says auto tourism is on the wane? 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Here's the exterior...

One of my journal's most faithful readers asked to see a photo of the exterior of Afton Station.  Here you go, Beth....


And don't forget those wonderful panoramas taken by David Schaubert which I posted in the blog entry for August 13th.  They'll give an even better idea of the Station and it's geographic relationship to the rest of the town.

I won't be in Afton again until Saturday, but I've received a number of calls at home lately from car and motorcycle clubs that want to set up appointments to visit this fall, so it should be a busy season.  It's cool here today and is beginning to actually feel like autumn.  I like it!

The following email and photo came from a recent visitor, Paul Wilson.  I'm posting it here because I really enjoy hearing from my visitors after they've completed their trips and gone home.

Hi Laurel,
  This photo was taken July 13/08. That's my wife Louise. We enjoyed our visit with
you thoroughly, and only wish we could have spent more time.
  The cars were great and I know I could have talked hours with you. At least we were able to visit. We only had a week to do OK and Texas and when you're trying to get as much of the experience as possible just about everything gets cut short.
  However, your suggestion for us to move on down the road quickly to Clantons was timely, and we enjoyed the chicken fried steak.
  I took over 2000 pictures and am still sifting through them. Also the Images of 66 vol. 2, which I purchased from you is proving to be as good, if not better than the original. Also, we purchased the book on The Big Texan from the author herself ( you may recall your comments on selling products of "those you know"). I haven't had a chance to look at it, but will let you know how it turns out in the future. By that timeI'm sure you will already know.
  We were able to hear that funny sound at The Centre Of The Universe you spoke of.
  There were many highs on the trip and only one low. It was really our own fault for not having reservations in Elk City. After a long drive on the interstate we ended up in Shamrock probably missing  some good motels in between. Ah well, you live and learn. 
   Thank you for your hospitality and we do hope to meet with you again some day.
Paul Wilson.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Somebody I missed

Since my hours at Afton Station are so short, I occasionally miss visitors whom I would love to have met.   Such a case is that of Don Thurmond, who stopped at the Station after it was closed the other night.  He and his son have completed a Route 66 trip on which they took over 2000 photos.  He was kind enough to send me one taken in front of the closed Station.  He tells me he'll have a Powerpoint presentation of the others ready soon.     Thanks, Don.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


The morning started out slowly, so I started to write a little essay for this blog about what it's like to be at Afton Station on a morning when it's quiet and there are no visitors.   That will have to wait for another time however, because soon after I picked up the pen and notebook, people started to come in.  Now I'm at home, and this is the first I've had time to write since then. 

There were visitors from Belgium, England, N. Carolina, Arkansas, Holland, and Norway, among others.  The travelers from Norway deserve singling out because not only were they on their honeymoon, but they were so cheerful, chatty, well-informed, and oh so visibly in love.  Tone and Frode Rokenes were married on June 21st and have been on an extended U.S. honeymoon from their home in Beisfjord, Norway.   They presented me with a photo of their wedding "getaway" in a cool 1954 Buick, as well as an absolutely breathtaking view of the fjord and mountains from their Norwegian home. 

And here they are today at Afton Station.

Tone and Frode indicated that one of their favorite U.S. activities thus far was attending the Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa last night.  I have a feeling this couple did a little smoochin' in the back seat while watching Tropic Thunder.  Ah, love....

And speaking of love, I  must give extreme loving praise for Betty Wheatley's home-made taco soup!   She brought me a BIG bowl of it.  I had half for lunch and will have the other half for dinner tonight.   Thank you so much, Betty!  It's so good.   Will you give me your secret recipe???

Monday, September 1, 2008


I couldn't go to Afton today because even though it's Labor Day, dialysis doesn't take a holiday.  But I did find out that the Station was being well cared for by Marly, and by Ron Jones, who made a surprise visit.  It's a good thing they were both there, because Trond Moburg and his merry band of Norwegian bikers came through.  I'm told that there were at least 30 of them, plus a lot of other travelers.  I'm so sorry I missed Trond, who is a great guy.  Drat!   Oh well, maybe next time.