Monday, August 31, 2009

Dust Bowl musings

Today, I was thinking about the Dust Bowl. Actually, I probably think more about the Dust Bowl than most Americans, because I’m reminded of it, in a roundabout way, just about every day of the week. As a Route 66 museum and visitors’ center owner, I meet modern-day cross country pilgrims on a daily basis. They are following the migratory route of the Dust Bowlers, but oh, how different from them they are. Today’s travelers say they’re seeking “kicks”, but what, exactly, are kicks?

For one thing, virtually all of today’s visitors have smiles on their faces. Not so with the Dust Bowlers of the ‘30s, whose motivation to move westward on Route 66 stemmed from deep poverty and despair engendered by loss of land and income brought about by climatic factors which had turned their once-fertile land into giant sandboxes and rendered their crops as dead as doornails. The Okies and others who moved west were doing so in order to find fertile earth and thus just enough prosperity to feed and clothe their families. They didn’t have much reason to smile. I doubt they had any concept of “kicks” whatsoever. Modern travelers on Route 66 are searching for something else. They want to get back to their visceral roots. They want to recreate the feeling of true joy that happens when one experiences the freedom of the road. There are very few people around these days who vividly remember the Dust Bowl, but there are still those who remember their own childhood, when travel consisted of a succession of small towns as seen from the back window of a Ford or a Studebaker. Every little town was different from the next then, and some of them held true wonders – a tourist trap where there were real live rattlesnakes to see, a store where one could experience the total ambrosia of a pecan log, a spectacular specimen of neon art. Today’s travelers just know that the old Route 66 is out there somewhere, and more and more are becoming determined to find it. Although the end of their road does not include newfound prosperity, it does contain a heaping helping of enlightenment.

The folks I meet and greet every day are a very mixed bag -- old and young, traveling solo or traveling in people-packed minivans, city slickers and ranchers, Americans and foreigners from (thus far to date) 23 countries around the world. The thread that connects them all is that they are filled with the joy of discovering something brand new or the satisfaction of rediscovering the old. While the Dust Bowlers got their kicks at the end of the road when they could finally return to a feeling of security for their families, today’s travelers are getting their kicks all along the way.

The Dust Bowl families sang:

If the day looks kinder gloomy
An’ the chances kinder slim;
If the situation’s puzzlin’,
An’ the prospect awful grim,
An ’perplexities keep pressin’
Til all hope is nearly gone
Just bristle up and grit your teeth,
An’ just keep going on.

Today’s travelers sing:

Travel my way,
Take the highway that’s the best,
Get your kicks on Route 66!

Every day, I feel greatly privileged to meet and greet these people, and perhaps, with luck, add a few kicks to their journeys.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Things I saw on the way to Afton

You can imagine my surprise when, while driving down old 66 in Foyil this morning, the ghost of Andy Payne jogged past me in the early morning semi-light! Naturally, I pulled over beside him and attempted to engage him in conversation. I wanted to ask him what it was like, back in 1928, when as a 20-year-old farm boy he managed to win the Transcontinental Foot Race over scores of professional runners, and how it felt to endure the hardships of inappropriate footwear, inferior nutrition, and marginal accomodations for the 84 days it took him to run across the United States. But then, I wiped the early morning haze from my eyes and realized that Andy wasn't answering back. He never even acknowledged my presence. He just kept running. And running. And running. (Amazing what photo cropping can do, isn't it?)Finally, a little further down the road, the sun rose. . .
. . . and this gorgeous cow didn't seem to mind a bit if I interrupted his breakfast by asking him to pose for a picture.

No sooner did I get to Afton that Tattoo Man arrived just behind me. And only moments later we had our first visitors, three couples in three nice cruising vehicles.Those folks were from Milan MI, Grass Lake MI, and Loveland CO and were all traveling together, covering a good portion of Route 66. They all carried their copies of Images of 66 and asked us to provide autographs. That seems to be happening more and more lately. Many travelers are carrying something to be autographed, and I'm always kind of embarrassed to provide my rather insignificant signature. But hey, it ain't easy to be a star. [Very big ha ha]

A very handsome young couple from Italy arrived next. She was from Venice, he from Padua. They spoke very little English by I managed to gesture them around the Station, and I could tell by their permanent smiles that they were satisfied. They even attempted to ask for directions to some sites along the way, and I attempted to provide them. The jury is out as to whether they ever got there.

Later in the day, we greeted visitors from Muskogee, Pryor, Sand Springs, and Tulsa OK, White Salmon WA (love that town name!), and Emmaus, PA. Quite a few of our guests arrived on motorcycles, and I can't blame them. It was another absolutely perfect day for being in the open air.

Amidst all of this, I gave a cursory cleaning to the fridge and the microwave. You can't say I don't have an exciting life!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Right out of the starting gate....

Ron M. took this picture this afternoon. Pretty neat, eh?

Even though Ron M. and I arrived at Afton Station about 15 minutes early this morning, we had a greeting party waiting for us when we pulled into the parking lot. One early visitor was a Route 66 friend from Clarksville, IN who goes by the name of Joanie the Cruiser. She's a veteran Route 66 solo traveler, and on this trek she's off to the Route 66 Festival in Flagstaff, AZ and beyond. She has over a month to make the trip. Joanie travels with a t-shirt upon which she gathers autographs of folks she meets along the way. Now, thanks to Gary Turner, proprietor of the restored Gay Parita service station on Route 66 in Missouri, she has two. Here she is with those shirts. Joanie stayed for several hours, during which the parade of visitors started. The 29 travelers came from Trumbull CT, Fairland OK, Peapod KS, Leipzeig Germany, Eastern Australia, Baxter Springs KS, Racine MO, Tulsa OK, Catoosa OK, Grove OK, Greenville, MS, Chatsworth CA and Miami OK.

The folks from Miami OK caught my special attention because the gentleman moved to OK recently from the town in which I was born -- East Cleveland, OH. He was even familiar with the street we lived on when I was born. I always get such a kick out of meeting people who have some connection, however small, with my past.

It was a cool, sunny day today, and we were able to sit outside when we weren't dealing with visitors indoors. It remained cool all day, and now there are some clouds in the sky that might mean rain is in our future, although I don't believe it's predicted. The numerous visitors on motorcycles today were all thrilled by the perfect biking day. With luck, tomorrow will be the same, and I'll be in Afton to enjoy it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Early Motor Travel

With a few precious free moments this afternoon, I was looking through one of my postcard albums of old black-and-white images of early roadside tourist businesses. I have tons of them, and they're one of the most sought after type of postcard for roadside collectors. I'm too lazy to scan many of them today, but here are five which really give one the feel for various aspects of early automobile travel. All are on Route 66. Some day I hope to have all of them online.

Jimmie O'Brien's Modern Camp, Niangua, MO

Lebanon, MO Hotel and Texaco Station

Lee Walker's Resort, Hazelgreen, MO

Central Auto Court, Holbrook AZ

Shell Camp, Vinita OK -- artificially colored sky

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I don't think I have this "selling" thing down to a science quite yet. I'm fairly new to running a store, and although Afton Station is mostly a museum and visitors' center, I do have an area in which I sell Route 66 guidebooks and other books, as well as some small items like magnets, keychains, and patches. Everything I sell is written by, created by, or merchandised by personal friends who are deeply interested in Route 66. I feel pretty strongly about not sending Route 66 money off to China, so I don't carry any of the usual souvenir stuff.

But even with so few items for sale, I still have trouble keeping up my stock. Restocking just doesn't work very well for me. Just when I think I have plenty of everything, someone will come in and buy a dozen of Kathy Anderson's unique key chains, or there will be a run on Jerry McClanahan's "EZ66 Guide", and I'm left short. Since I don't believe in spending money I don't have, and since I try (not always successfully) to separate my personal funds and those of the store, I can't buy stock in large quantities until I have enough funds to pay the suppliers in full and immediately. I guess I'm just not experienced enough to be able to project how things will sell. It's very quirky -- an interesting, but frustrating, learning experience.


The Vinita Will Rogers Rodeo begins tonight. I stopped by the rodeo grounds this morning hoping to find some great photo ops, but all the animals were behind chain link fences. Bulls just don't look that imposing when they're caged up. This guy was small, probably a roping bull rather than a riding bull. But at least he was close enough to the fence that you can vaguely see him.

It was a slow day, visitor-wise, at Afton Station. There were only six, and they came from Mt. Vernon IL, Grove OK, and Scandia MN. The congenial folks from Minnesota came in when David and I were being interviewed by a reporter from The Chronicle of Grand Lake, so they were interviewed briefly as well. They arrived in a very nice pink and black Ford. The reporter, Bart Montgomery, a nice guy who is an excellent interviewer, stayed for about two hours while we talked his poor ears off. I'm not sure when the article will be published, but you'll be the first to know. That's him on the left, talking to the folks from Minnesota.
On the way home, I drove through three separate but short (about 5 minutes each) thunderstorms. One was pretty violent, the others were mild. Got a good free carwash!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Just a few observations on a non-Afton Station day.

I've been hearing about chicken fried steak ever since I first came to Oklahoma, and although it always looked very good when others were eating it, I resolved to myself that I would never, ever, ever taste it since, let's face it, it's a heart attack on a plate. Here in Oklahoma, it's almost (if not actually) the Official State Food, revered by all. Over 10 years ago, when David and I were still together, Ron M. took us to one of the oldest, most historic and venerable restaurants in downtown Tulsa, called Nelson's Buffeteria (since 1929). On that occasion, David and Ron got their signature dish, chicken fried steak, but I got something much healthier and less exciting. Shortly after that visit, Nelson's closed it's doors, supposedly for good.

A month or so ago Nelson's reopened, at a different location, but with the same menu, same recipes, and many of the same, aging personnel. When I heard it was about to reopen, I decided that I wanted my first-ever taste of chicken fried steak to be from the famous Nelson's. Therefore, Ron and I decided to have lunch there today. Outside, we were greeted with the same old sign from the original location.Inside, they have the same cafeteria line that they had in the old Nelson's, where there are only a couple of choices of fare (and an elderly server who looks as though he might cry if you don't order the chicken fried steak). Most everyone near us in line did just that, although today they were also serving a nice looking meatloaf. When it became my turn, I stepped up and proudly (in my best Oklahoma accent) said "I'll have the chicken fried steak!" Wow, I felt like a true Okie! And just to make sure I'd get the maximum empty calories, I chose macaroni and cheese and fried okra as my side dishes. (Most people get the mashed potatoes, but kidney patients can't eat potatoes.)

With great excitement, I sat down to my first, and probably last, chicken fried steak!I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. It was good, but not good enough for me to have had an unrequited craving for it for 10 years! It was tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside, which I'm told is properly cooked. The gravy was ok. The mac and cheese was fine. The okra? What do people see in that stuff, anyway? I ate some of it, but not all. I couldn't finish the steak. Too much food! The whole wheat homemade roll was wonderful. The pies looked awesome, but we were both way too full for those. I'm so glad I went. It was great to eat in a famous old establishment, albeit in a different building. I think they'll stay open for a long time. The place was packed.

After lunch we drove to the west side of the river to have a look at the replica oil derrick that's just been completed on Southwest Blvd. (Route 66). It's to be the centerpiece of a Route 66 theme park to be built on the site, and was built with Vision 2025 and state Centennial funding. It's very, very tall!

Here's something else non-Afton Station related. Betty called my attention to an article in Monday's Joplin (MO) Globe about the Boots Drive-In on Route 66 in Carthage, MO. Since one of my favorite old postcards is from the Boots, I was interested in this bit of it's history. Excerpted from the article: Linette Gass said, "We all fondly remember the hours we spent buzzing around in circles and circles, hoping to see each other and everyone as we went around and around, or if we were lucky, we would actually find a parking spot. Many Friday and Saturday nights were spent there by the classes of the '50s and '60s. It was very sad when it was closed." Sharon Hill said, "It seems like yesterday. The road went right by Whistler's Hamburgers. Fun, fun, fun. Sometimes we spent a dollar." Lou Walker said, "Art and Betty Boots owned them (the drive-in and Boots Motel nearby) and they had several movie stars stay at the motel. I would like to have a dime for every time I drove around Boots as it was the hangout place for us teenagers."

As one of those '60s teen agers who drove around and around a drive-in in high school (in my case, Jerry's Drive-In in Lexington, KY) I have no trouble relating to this. It's a fun piece of Route 66 history. Boots Drive-In is long gone and there's a Credit Union in it's place.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just in....

.... and a complete surprise! This article (online and in print) in the Bartlesville (OK) Examiner. Very nice. Wonder where it came from ?? :-)

Route 66 historic Afton station home to Packards

Driver Ed

I had a whole post ready to go this morning which dealt with my feelings about the speeds at which folks drive on old Route 66. It boiled down to this: There are two kinds of drivers, those who are in a hurry and those who aren't. Lest you think, from what I'm about to say, that I'm one of those old farts who putters along at 20 mph, I need to set you straight. Actually, I'll let the two -- yes TWO -- speeding citations I've received in the last couple of months do that for me. [But that's another story. Don't get me started. :-) ]

Anyway, what I was going to do was ask that folks don't do two things -- don't drive 20 mph on a two-lane with a 65 mph speed limit, and don't drive 85 mph on that same two-lane. If you must go 85 mph , get thee to the Interstate! If you must go 20 mph.... well, just don't. I encountered both today on my drive to Afton. There are countless times that I, too, have wanted to slow down to 20 mph on Route 66. It's so beautiful, there's so much to see, and I'm never in a hurry because I have the good sense to leave early for any deadline I have to meet. Lateness is my biggest pet peeve, after all. But I'm perfectly capable of pulling over to the side of the road if there's something I want to study more carefully, and it seems others could do the same. That also happens often. Conversely, don't pass me going 85 mph. It's just not safe!

I know that Route 66 is known for slow travel, and I'm a big fan of that. It's one of the reasons I rarely use the Interstates. But I try to always be courteous and aware of those with whom I share the road. I wish others would be the same.

Anyway, I was going to say more -- much more -- about driving, but then this news piece showed up on our Tulsa Channel 6 KOTV news yesterday that addressed a similar subject. KOTV and it's sister station in Oklahoma City sent out two of their reporters to drive between Tulsa and OKC, one on the Interstate and one on Route 66 (which they call "the Shunpike", an old term for any road that is an alternative to the main road). The purpose was to comment on 1) the time variations of the routes, 2) which trip was more interesting in terms of what was to be seen and 3) whether it was worth taking the longer route just to avoid the turnpike tolls. You can imagine the results. They comment on their trips here: Video Page 2009 - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - It's really quite interesting.

Now to the main subject. . . Afton Station, of course! Today was reasonably un-crazy, with just 10 well-spaced visitors. They came from Chambersburg PA, Joplin MO, Miami OK, St. Louis MO, Dallas TX, and Belleview WA. The fellow from Miami OK told me he used to work at the old Ben Stanley Cafe in Miami, and the name rang a bell so I got out my old postcards and found this one of that very eating establishment, which apparently has been gone for many years. Here it is!
He also said he used to paste bumper stickers on the cars that came to Buffalo Ranch, a job that apparently was doled out to high school kids during the summer. For a time, the gentleman moved to Nevada to work in the uranium mines, but returned recently.

David was at the Station today working on a car. He told me he had visitors from South Africa yesterday. Another country for my list!

On the way home this afternoon, I ran across another small wagon train heading for Vinita. Is there some kind of rule that you have to arrive at the rodeo by wagon train? Does that mean that if I want to go to the rodeo I need to find a wagon? Well, I just happened to take a picture of this one early this morning (before sunrise) in front of a barbecue joint in Claremore. I suppose I could snag it if necessary. Or, maybe not. :-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cotton Seed Cleaning

Except for spending 3 years in the '70s raising sheep and chickens on a 4-acre "farmlet", I'm pretty much of a city slicker. But I'm also ravenously interested in everything rural, including speech patterns, customs, etc. In this respect, being at Afton Station out here in the ranching boonies has opened my eyes a lot. Occasionally, a visitor says something to me that has me thinking, "Never in my life would I have anticipated hearing a statement like that!" The other day I was told, "Over at the feed mill there's an old cotton seed cleaner you might could have if you want it." Admittedly, I didn't jump at the offer since I don't have the slightest idea of what it looks like. Plus, I don't have any dirty cotton seeds. I'm just telling you this because it was an offer I would never expect to receive, and for some perverse reason it made me feel like part of the rural scene, in the same way a farmer from Afton would feel if he was walking down the street in New York City and someone asked him for directions. Know what I mean?

Since then, I Googled "cotton seed cleaner" and found this. I believe, however, that the gentleman was talking about an antique one, not this modern marvel. He said that cotton wasn't actually grown around Afton, but that the seed would be dropped off by train at the feed mill where it was cleaned. You learn something new every single day.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

66 on 66

Oh m'gosh, what a day on Route 66! I'm short on time tonight and have lots to tell, so I'll try to be concise.

First there was the wagon train. Ok, we've had a cattle drive on Route 66, so why not a wagon train? We met this one between Chelsea and Vinita. Nobody can ever say that Route 66 is dull!Turns out the group was heading for Vinita for the Will Rogers Rodeo which begins next week, and using the opportunity to advertise the Rodeo.

When we arrived in Vinita, the Chamber of Commerce reminded us that the Calf Fry Festival is coming up next week, too. I like to refer to it as the Testicle Festival, and it's open to anyone with the balls to eat balls. (I personally like them a lot!)

We got to Afton Station and hadn't been open very long when 48 people on Harleys roared in. It was Trond Moburg, a great Norwegian guy who leads motorcycle tours of Route 66 for hundreds of his fellow Norwegians every summer. He hasn't visited Afton Station recently because the timing hasn't been right, but today the group was there with bells on. I was thrilled to see Trond and the gang, and there was a special added attraction -- our friends Ken and Melissa Turmel from Oklahoma City were riding along with them!For a short time, the town was clogged with motorcycles. . .

. . . and folks were actually lining up to buy things. That's what I like! The Norwegian are such friendly people, and all speak enough English to make me ashamed of my miserable lack of foreign language abilities.

But that was far from the end of things. Ron M. and I had lots more visitors. . . adding up to my favorite number -- 66 ! Betty stopped by, and there were visitors from Cleora, Lawton, and Muskogee OK, Justin TX, New York City NY, Brighton MI, and Yorkshire, England.

The visitors from Justin, TX were Larry Davidson from our Route 66 Yahoo group and his friend, driving Larry's absolutely awesome and very retro 1960 Ford Ranch Wagon. The lines on that boat were just amazing. Love it! The photo doesn't quite bring out the enormity of this station wagon, and it's in top condition.

At the end of the day, a handsome Italian gentleman (who's been living in New York City for the last 10 years) arrived on a loaded Harley upon which he's been traveling the whole country, not just Route 66, but everywhere else as well. There were others too, of course. Ladies from Lawton, Gold Wing riders from Muskogee, and a guy from Michigan who used to have an office in the old Packard plant in Detroit, and who was driving a very nifty older model Crown Victoria. Good, good, good day!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

High on Oxygen

I've mentioned before that I'm the pits when it comes to multitasking. When people say, "She can't walk and chew gum", they're talking about me. In this respect, the car radio is both my friend and my nemesis. Previously, I've confessed that I can't listen to music when driving. I can, however, listen to National Public Radio or Howard Stern, as I enjoy talk radio. But on the way to Afton this morning, I did an experiment. I turned the radio off. I saw and felt so much more! It was a remarkable experience to absorb the sounds of silence through every pore of my body. I was inspired! I was Queen of the Road! I even opened the windows (oh, horrors!) and enjoyed the cool morning air and changing aromas as I passed between small towns and countryside. I stopped in Chelsea, which is a never-ending treasure trove of photo ops, and snapped a few pictures. (If any of these are repeats, 'scuse me. I was under the influence of fresh air.)

The under-road tunnel in Chelsea. It was built when there was so much traffic going through town on Route 66 that it was unsafe to cross above ground. You can see the other side of it in the distance.

Chelsea's Dollar Store is in the old school auditorium. Different!

Look! Look! A leg lamp in the window of a flea market in Chelsea! As a huge fan of "A Christmas Story", I want it!

Then, I went to the car wash in Vinita, where I haven't been so turned on by pretty colors since the last time I indulged in a mind-altering substance. This fresh air thing is groovy, man!

At the Vinita car wash, they use strange colored soap! Only in Oklahoma..... ChinMex cuisine?!

Now I'm in Afton, and I'm crashing. No visitors yet, but it's only 9:30. I won't be needing the a/c today, and that will be easy on the budget and easy on the eardrums, too. The door is open and the cool air followed me into the Station.
Once things started heating up, they got hot fast. Tattoo Man and Betty both arrived, followed by a parade of visitors, and who could blame folks for wanting to be out and about on such a perfect day. In fact, toward the end of the day, there was borderline pandemonium. There were 34 visitors altogether, and here's where they hailed from:

Wyandotte, Vinita, Grove OK, Fayetteville and Little Rock AR, Steamboat Springs CO, Seymour TX, Ozark and St. Louis MO, Chicago IL, Phoenix AZ, Dayton and Fairborne OH, and Lausanne, Switzerland. Chris, the fellow who works for David sometimes, came in with his wife and cute little 7-month-old son.
This awesome 1934 Pontiac was being driven across the country by a guy from Arizona. Here, some motorcycle guys from Little Rock are admiring it.

It was a truly great day. Back to Afton tomorrow, but for now.... dinner and sleep!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Swingin' with The Road Crew

Ron M. and I started out our VERY rainy trip to Afton Station this morning by listening to The Road Crew CD in the car. If you'll remember, it's The Road Crew that's making an appearance at Afton Station on Sunday, Oct. 4 (at 2 p.m.) for a one-hour free concert. I hadn't really heard much of their music until we listened this morning, and we really liked it! All songs are written and performed by the group and all of them have a Route 66 theme. What's not to like? They are fine musicians. I just hope lots of folks are able to make the trip to hear their presentation in October.
It wasn't an overly busy day at Afton Station today. Nine visitors came from Colorado Springs, CO, Tulsa OK, Dubuque IA and Paxton, MA. I was particularly thrilled when the Massachusettes couple told me they stopped in because she's been reading this blog and felt she already knew us. That's never happened before, but that's what this blog is all about, so I was excited that my writing had lured these nice people to the Station. And since she plans to continue to read the blog, I insisted on taking their picture so they can see themselves here when they next turn on their computer. Here 'ya go, Debra!
The two women from Oklahoma City were the owner of a travel agency and one of the tour directors at the agency. They were scouting the state for places to include on several bus tours in the future. Since they were quite impressed with Afton Station, they plan to put it on future itineraries. Yippee!

The lone visitor from Colorado Springs, CO was on a motorcycle. He was taking his Route 66 trip in honor of his deceased father, who had always wanted to make the trip himself, but was never able to do so. He was doing well, considering the teeming rain through which he was forced to drive this morning. The Tulsa gentleman was a state worker who had passed the Station many times and finally had time to stop. He had a great interest in preservation.

On the way out of Afton this afternoon, we stopped to take a final photo of the water tower, which is finished. The name AFTON has been returned to the tower, but it sure would have been nicer to see a big Route 66 shield up there! At any rate, it's all spruced up and painted now, and that's a step in the right direction. Now there are TWO things in Afton with paint on them -- the water tower and Afton Station! :-)

P.S. Yesterday, when David was at the Station, he had two visitors from Tokyo! That's always exciting. He had a few others as well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Where's the Beef Bourguignon?

Nothing fosters introspection quite like being asked to write an article for publication that includes tidbits of one's own life. That happened this week, and although it's really no biggie, I thought I'd like to wrap things up in a small 3-to-4 paragraph package. It occurred to me that it wasn't going to be too difficult to do that. Right now, I'm living the most narrow, regimented life of my entire existence. Four days a week I feel completely committed to Afton Station, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. On the other three days I have dialysis until about noon, and that covers my most energetic and hopeful hours of the day. (I've always said that, for me, it's all downhill after 12-noon!) Taking a vacation -- I mean a real vacation -- is too much of a hassle these days, with scheduling remote dialysis, etc. So, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons are what's left of my "free" time. One of those days needs to be set aside for laundry, cleaning, errands, etc. That leaves two afternoons for playing. And so I'm supposed to expound upon my exciting life? What exciting life? I don't think so!

My remedy for the inability to get very far into anything exciting is to take short close-to-home trips where I can see something new and different and observe the rest of the world, if just for a couple of hours. That was my plan for today, a trip to the Tall Grass Prairie, but it never materialized. The weather wasn't cooperating. When I got out of dialysis, the skies were black and it was drizzling, the remains of an overnight thunderstorm. Although I was pretty sure it would clear up later in the day, I made the decision to stay home, and further decided to use part of the day making Boeuf Bourguignon from Julia Child's recipe. And so I did. It's in the oven now, smellin' mighty tasty, and I'll serve it on Friday night to Ron if he feels like coming over. It's one of those dishes that gets better over the course of a couple of days "resting". Being a Julia recipe, it was kind of labor intensive, as was her Onion Soup that I made last week. I even flamed the cognac without singeing my eyebrows or arm hairs! By the way, it's a perfectly nice day outside now. Oh well....

Photo du jour:

You may remember that I wrote an early blog post about the Pryor Creek Bridge in Chelsea, but yesterday I had to run past it again and take another picture for the article I'm writing, and it looked kind of haunted in the early morning fog. Here is is. To refresh your memory, the truss bridge was constructed in 1926 and was on an early alignment of Route 66.

Dust, Noise, and Some Great Visitors

I have just arrived at Afton Station, bright and early, only to find the excavation crew already here and waiting for David. He's having the pad poured on which the new building will be built. I'm both happy and sad about this. There will be more room for cars, but the building will partially block the view of the Station for people approaching from the west. I think, however, that if we cover it with cool signs a liability can be turned into an asset. The jury is out on this.
Check out the dilapidated buildings backing up to our property. At least the new building will hide that lovely vista!
David just got to the Station and is pulling some of the old Packards out front. That should draw in some visitors, despite all the construction happening in the parking lot. I have a feeling today is going to be just a little bit chaotic.


Yes, my prediction of chaos has definitely come true. The work continued to progress on the new building site, with all the accompanying dust and noise. Later, another fellow arrived, hired by David, to reconfigure the wall in the work room to accomodate the new air conditioner. So pounding and sawing has been added to the din. Eventually, Perry Knight (see previous post) and his friend Marilee came to take a ride in the '34 12-cylinder Packard. Both got separate rides, and David even invited Perry to drive the car himself, an offer he gratefully accepted. Although you can barely see him in this photo, that's Mr. Knight behind the wheel.


Of course, other guests came and went all day. I didn't get make notes of them all, but there were about 14, and some came from Spring TX, Oklahoma City OK, and Padua, Italy. (BTW, David tells me he had 4 visitors from Genoa, Italy yesterday when he was here working, so this has definitely been "Italian Week" at Afton Station. ) Apparently Italy is sending all the cute ones over here this year. Here are today's visitors from Padua. Another very attractive couple, and nice, too!

Toward the end of the day, several loads of rock had been delivered and when I left, it was being raked and smoothed. Here's David, the contractor, and Blackjack inspecting the work. I suspect that the pad will be poured tomorrow, and it won't be long before the building is up.