Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tiawah, snakes, and a scare

I found a new town today, and it's name is Tiawah. It's just 5 miles south of Claremore, but I've never been down that road before. It's nothing more than a crossroad, but watching the sunrise over the church there was a beautiful way to start a gorgeous, warm day at Afton Station.
I ordered some rubber snakes yesterday. (Wow, that's not a sentence I ever expected to write! LOL). I thought my new snake box needed some more, and some scarier ones. I also made this temporary sign -- good enough until I can paint one on a piece of rustic wood.
When I pulled up to Afton today, there was a "Construction Ahead" sign right in front of the Station. Since Betty told me the other day that she'd heard that the Horse Creek Bridge was to be torn down, my heart jumped into my throat. I drove right past the Station down to the bridge, and sure enough, there was large construction equipment there and someone was working with a jackhammer. This wasn't good news, since the bridge is made of concrete. I was nervous all morning, but around 1 p.m. they came and took down the "Construction Ahead" sign, so I got in the car and drove down there. WHEW!!! They had simply repaired the damage done a few months ago by a jackknifing truck. And, in fact, they did a nice job. Here's a picture of one part of the repair, all I could get from my moving car with a semi on my tail. The light colored section is the new part. Altogether, there are about 6 new segments. They did a fine job. I'm very relieved, since the Horse Creek Bridge is historic and is in all the guidebooks. It's one of very few concrete bridges with pedestrian walkways on Route 66.
The first five visitors to Afton Station arrived as I was opening up. A couple from Lewisburg, PA, starting out bright and early on their 8-day trek west, were first to arrive, followed by three guys from Bartlesville, OK, one of whom travels the car show circuit as a DJ. Some day, I'd love to have a car show here, so I took his business card.

Later in the day, three ladies from Chicago came to the Station on their 5-day trip "as far as (we) can get" on Route 66. By coincidence, one of the women lives a few blocks from my daughter Sarah in Chicago. She visits Sarah's Barnes and Noble all the time and goes to the same beach just down the street from both of them. She took my picture to take to Sarah at the bookstore when they get home. Cool!

I saw my first fly today. This is both good and bad. It's a sure sign of spring, but it also means that there will be dead flies piled three inches deep on every windowsill by next week. Oh well....

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Answer

I'm sorry to say there were no winners in my "What Is It?" contest. Actually, there were very few guesses, if you must know. Trevor recognized the rubber snakes. Nancy said "It looks like a mirror showcasing someone's very highly developed talent with glass." Both got about half of it right. There were a few others who gave up. Someone suggested it was a portable toilet. Very wrong, but funny! OK, here's the story:

A week or so ago, when Dean "Crazy Legs" Walker was visiting, there was a conversation about what could be found at old Route 66 "tourist traps", things that were fun and silly but, like the tourist traps themselves, no longer exist. Someone mentioned the old Snakes in a Barrel trick, wherein a closed barrel bore a sign saying "Snakes! Open With Care! Rattlers Inside!" or something to that effect. Dean was listening, and yesterday he brought me a completely hand-crafted box, complete with a light on a refrigerator switch that makes it turn on when the lid is lifted, and a mirror in the bottom upon which he glued several rubber snakes and baby rattles (rattles/rattlers... get it?) He spent a lot of time making the box and it's really cool. The person who dares to lift the lid will not only see the snakes, but will also see his/her own reflection coming up from the bottom of the box. Today, I made an appropriate sign for the box, which I'll photograph tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's Crazy Legs being frightened by his own creation.

Now, how could you all have missed identifying this obvious contraption? Ha ha ha!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Mystery Gift

I was given a gift today. Here's a picture of it. I'm not going to give you any details until I ask you to guess what it's all about. No hints. Guesses will be received either here as a Comment to this blog, or to my email address at LaurelRK66@aol.com. More about this tomorrow. Heh heh heh!
Meanwhile, I'm happy to report that it was another good day at Afton Station. Ron M. was with me, and our very first visitors were a very attractive family of three from Livornia, Italy. That's near Florence. They had come all the way from Chicago without a guidebook or a map! The husband's command of the English language was ok, but he certainly wasn't fluent. He confessed that they've been lost most of the time, and had only explored the bigger cities such as Chicago and St. Louis thus far because they didn't realize there was anything to see between them. They didn't even know guidebooks existed, so I introduced them to the EZ66 Guide and they bought one immediately. They were quite grateful for the little bit of help we could provide. That's what it's all about, isn't it? I feel sure they'll see a lot more on their Route 66 trip to Santa Monica now that they have a frame of reference. Their little boy, Gregorio, was fascinated by the new squashed penny necklaces I've been making, so they bought two of them for him.

We also had visits from a trucker from Texas and a family of three from Miami who were just roaming around for the day and remembered that they'd seen Afton Station before and wanted to see what it's all about.

We were surprised to see Tattoo Man and his lovely wife Roz drive up! They had been on a last-minute weekend trip to Iowa to see a sick relative, and I didn't expect they'd be back so soon. But they decided to drop in to Afton Station briefly to say hello on their way home. I like Roz very much and don't get to see her much, so it was a nice visit.

Betty came for a while too, and then there was the giver of the Mystery "thing", but that's another story for tomorrow.

Start guessing!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Old Friends, Cool Dog

As I sit here at Afton Station on a beautiful mild sunny morning, about 20 minutes before official opening time, I'm anticipating a good day. I just have a feeling. I noticed that Marly was here yesterday and logged six visitors into the book. Three were from Kansas, but there's no mention of the origins of the other three. Here's old Route 66 this morning (known as Route 60 here, as you can see.) Clear skies ahead!
I was listening to someone on NPR this morning who made the remark that "having a blog holds you accountable". I'm not so sure that "accountable" is the right word, however blogging does make me feel kind of "responsible". I'm not really sure what I feel responsible for, though. Let's face it, a blog like this one is 90% self-gratification and 10% entertainment for others. My mission is to make it 100% entertaining to all the creatures on Earth, but I'm realistic enough to know that my readership will always be 1) Route 66 enthusiasts, 2) personal friends, and 3) voyeurs who just enjoy finding out about the life of someone they don't even know. I confess to being an example of both 1) and 3) myself. I'm fascinated by knowing how others live, even if I've never laid eyes on them. It always makes me wish I knew them as well as they feel they know me. There are plenty of people who don't want to be known, who guard their privacy. I'm simply not one of them.

Well, I had 14 visitors today! Yes, it's starting to feel right! My first visitors were two young couples from Atoka, OK who decided to spend the weekend seeing every inch of Oklahoma Route 66. They bought guide books and other merchandise. The next folks, from Lewiston, TX, also bought several guidebooks for their trek on Route 66 to Arizona, then south to Mesa, AZ. They were a deaf couple accompanied by an extremely cute Service Dog, a schnauzer named Toby. They demonstrated how Toby reacts when one of them shouts for help. I wouldn't mind having a Toby in my life! Here he is. . .
I had one of those fantastic surprise moments when Glenn and Janet, old friends from my days on the Prodigy postcard bulletin boards, walked in. I haven't seen them for years! They were on their way back from the west to their home in Canfield, OH and decided to find me in Afton. I was so grateful that they could stay long enough to spend some time so we could catch up with one another as well as exchange info about others who were in our postcard collectors' group. Here they are. . .

A couple from Gentry, AR, representing the Arkansas Miata Club stopped by. They're an advance posse, blazing the trail for the Miata Club's cruise which is coming on April 17. The club visited Afton Station last year, and they intend to visit this year as well. They were just checking to make sure we still want them. Of course we do!!!!!

Four other local folks stopped by today, too... and Betty came and spent the morning with me. It was a great day!

I had dinner with Brad and LaSandra Nickson from the Oklahoma Route 66 Assn. last night and they managed to round up a couple more bundles of the Oklahoma Trip Guide for me. Good thing, since I was down to just a few and this year's edition won't be out for a little while.

Gordon has been keeping me up to date on his trek across Route 66 selling his postcards. Sales have been good and he's met lots of nice folks. I know his postcards are definitely selling well at Afton Station. Way to go, Gordo!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two, two, two posts in one!

First, let's talk about yesterday.

My friend Lauren from Kentucky came for a visit. She asked if we could take a little trip up to the TallGrass Prairie in Northern Oklahoma, and I READILY said yes! It's my favorite place on earth you know, and one of my favorite things to do is to show it off to people who've never been there before. It was a dreary, drippy day, but that really didn't matter. Off we went. Once we got to the TallGrass itself, I was worried because we weren't seeing any of the 2,500 bison that roam there. But after driving a few miles into the prairie, we came across a HUGE herd, probably the most I've seen in one place at one time. It was quite spectacular. There were probably 500 head or more in one place. And of course a few were in the road daring us to try to pass. They finally sauntered across so we could continue on the path. Fantastic! Here are a couple of pictures, which aren't great due to the non-photogenic weather. When Lauren and I returned to Tulsa, we had a great dinner at Local Table. It turned out to be a very nice day.

Now for today at Afton Station, which I'm aware is why most of you tune in to my blog. Ron M. and I drove up in a pretty severe rainstorm and we observed a lot of side-of-the-road flooding. When we arrived in Afton, we found some flooding in David's work rooms, so we picked stuff up off the floor but didn't do much else, since David said he'd be there tomorrow to mop it out, and besides, it was still coming in even as were leaving in the afternoon.

The morning was pretty uneventful, with no visitors. I'm not surprised, considering the weather. Ron and I did some reading, then we got both Ron and Tripper ready for the upcoming Easter holiday. I guess you'll be able to tell that we were pretty darn bored! In the afternoon however, things picked up. Betty arrived, and shortly thereafter Jim Conkle, head of the Route 66 Alliance, arrived. I was very surprised, considering I'd just seen him at lunch on Monday, and he had driven all the way up to Chicago and back since then, delivering the Route 66 Pulse all the way. But it's alway fun to see Jim, and he caught us up with what's going on along the Route, then had to leave to head back to California. (Gordo, he bought some of your postcards!) He and Betty had never met before, so we made the introductions. Here they are. Just as we were leaving, a couple from Chicago, IL came in. They have a month to complete a full Route 66 tour, so they were just getting started but they have the right guide books, so they'll do just fine.

It's been a busy week for me so far. Time for my life to chill out a little bit, and yet I'm hoping for a VERY busy weekend at Afton Station.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Photo tour of Tulsa

When Gordon was at Afton Station yesterday, he took some photos and said I could post these since they're unlikely to become postcards in the future.

Here are some of Tattoo Man's many, many tattoos.
Here's Tattoo Man's '56 Chevy

And here.... is.... Afton Station!
(These should all be clickable to enlarge, but I'm never sure.)

Last night, I took Gordon on a "neon tour" of Tulsa Route 66, ending with a quite good carne asada dinner at El Rancho Grande, which is on Route 66, of course.

I'm very behind in lots of things I need to do, so sorry for another short (yet sweet) post.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm hurrying!

Here's today's sunrise.
This will be another quick post. One of my visitors at Afton Station today was Gordon Radford, my new photographer friend (the one who does the awesome postcards, available at www.handcolored66.com) (Shameless promotion of a nice guy with talent!) Anyway, he's due here at my house shortly and we're going out on a photo prowl of Tulsa, but not until he gets to sample my bottle of Red Chile wine. I will drive so he can do the sampling, of course.

Gordon has been tent camping across Route 66, and plans to make it all the way to California. I hope his marketing trip is a big success. Route 66 can use some new postcards, and his are beautiful.

David and his son Patrick were at Afton Station today too, and a friend of ours brought over his '57 Chevy golf cart (!) so David could do some work on it. And that's Tattoo Man's '56 Chevy in the background. He was at Afton Station today as well.

That's all for now. Maybe more later.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rewind: March snow

Last year, during the annual-yet-always-unexpected March snow storm in Oklahoma, Ron and I managed to get only a third of the way to Afton before turning back (see Mar. 28, 2009 entry). Today, we made it all the way. However, on the way up there, the weather predictions on the radio were becoming more and more dire. I was getting quite jumpy when I heard that Oklahoma had declared all 77 counties to be disaster areas. So, although we were just having a little slushy rain when we got to Afton, I made the decision to spend just about 15 minutes there to make sure everything was ok, then head back to Tulsa.

Good thing we left when we did. By the time we got home there was quite a bit of snow coming down, blowing sideways -- almost whiteout conditions. I dropped Ron off at his house, then came home myself. It took me about 15 attempts before I could get up my driveway. Not fun! I'm safe at home now, and kind of pissed off at Mother Nature because I really wanted to be at the Station today. And who knows about tomorrow? They're predicting about a foot of snow up there, and they're not famous for road clearing in the boonies. We shall see.

And remember, yesterday there were 70+ degree temperatures, sun, and spring in the air.

View from my porch (Can you see the marks from my struggle to negotiate my hilly driveway?)Last year's March snow picture. Look familiar?

Ron's house when I dropped him off

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ramblin' Fever

Ramblin' fever,
The kind that can't be measured by degrees.
Ramblin' fever,
There ain't no kind of cure for my disease.
-- Merle Haggard

Sometimes I need to go somewhere where I've never been before. Around here, I have to use my imagination and pretend I've never been there before, because the truth is I've been just about everywhere. Forget about Route 66 between Tulsa and Afton. I have a good imagination, but it's not that good! I've got that one memorized down to the last branch on the last tree. But I don't get out west of Tulsa very much these days, so this afternoon I took a short "westward ho!" trip. I only got as far as Depew, but it just felt good to be out on a beautiful day on Route 66, in slightly less familiar territory.

I went out specifically to stop and gaze at remnants of the old Route 66 around the Depew area. There are some beauties out there. They're not driveable, but they're pretty photogenic when the haze doesn't get in the way like it did today. Nevertheless, you get the general idea.

Could anything be more indicative of a closed road than someone making it into a basketball court? Route 66 a basketball court! Shameful!! :-) Anyway, these old alignments run right up next to the later alignment of Route 66 and some people have to cross them to get into their driveways or farm roads. Since the tiny segment dead-ends just beyond the photo, might as well put the pavement to good use.

On the way back, I took a quick spin through Depew, another sad little Route 66 town. As you can see, there was not much commerce going on in downtown Depew this afternoon. I paused to have myself a nice cleansing cry in the middle of town. I think I've cried in just about every little Route 66 town I've been in. It has to do with what's been lost, and what used to be. I can't help it. It's my own personal Trail of Tears.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This will be short. . .

. . .because I got home later than usual. I picked up Ron M. at the airport on the way home from Afton, as he was coming home from his two week vacation in California. He got back here at the perfect time. It's a beautiful spring day here in Tulsa, with more nice weather due tomorrow. After that, well I don't want to talk about it. LOL!

It was a fairly quiet day at Afton Station today. Tattoo Man was with me for most of the day, and all our visitors came at once in the middle of the day. Trevor, my blog reader, returned with his family, on their way back from Branson. I got to meet his wife and their two extremely adorable children. Trevor's wife is from Malaysia, so she's my first Malaysian visitor!
Other visitors included a refreshingly young couple from Rose Hill, KS. They are taking their spring break from college on Route 66! Now that's what I like to hear! They have a great interest in Route 66 and although they only have time to get to Tulsa this time, they hope to travel all of it eventually.

A couple from Denton, TX came next. They, too, are doing Route 66 in bits and pieces, whenever they have some vacation days. On my way home, I passed the Blue Whale in Catoosa and saw them taking pictures out on the Whale.

That's all for today!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Just a fun fact

For my birthday, Ron M. gave me a book entitled "Means of Transit", a memoir by Tulsa author Teresa Miller. I'm enjoying it immensely, especially all the references to places I recognize. I just had to laugh at a passage the author relates about an incident that occurred when she was on the faculty at Rogers State College (now University) in Claremore. She invited the world famous PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer to speak at the college. He responded that he'd be delighted to accept, with only one condition -- he didn't want to stay at the Elm Motel! He claimed he'd traveled the country with his bus driver father when he was a kid, and knew which motels to avoid.

The Elms doesn't look too bad today. It's old, and it's outdated, but still appears to be serviceable. I pass it each day on the way to Afton, so I'll now look at it with different eyes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Afton Norwegian?

It's starting to feel good at Afton Station. People are coming in the door fairly regularly, and during my "down" time I'm so busy writing that the time flies. I'm glad the writing bug hit now, before things get really busy. I'm continuing a little piece I started about 5 years ago, and which may never be finished.

Today, my writing time was interspersed among visits from 9 people. The first couple, from Port Orange, FL were members of the American Volkssport Association (American Volkssport Association Walking Clubs and Walking Volksmarch Events), a group of folks who go on 10K walks in cities all over the country. What an interesting idea! They are doing walks in five states along this year, including the Route 66 cities of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Riverton/Baxter KS, and Joplin, MO. They've already walked in over 30 states.

A man from Goodman, MO hauling the partial body of a Model A, stopped by just out of curiosity. He was taking his treasure home to begin restoration. A man from Miami, OK stopped by looking for resto information. A family of four from Keller, TX are on a Route 66 trip covering OK and TX. The kids were quite taken with the penny squasher, and the adults were happy to find me open, since I was their first stop on the trip.

Finally, my guest of honor was my first foreign visitor of the season. This handsome gentleman said he was from Norway, but he spoke excellent English, so I asked him if he'd spent some time in the U.S. It was then that he confessed that he'd been an exchange student at Afton High School in the '80s, and since he was in the States on a business trip, he decided to come to Afton to do a little reminiscing. He was in some shock at the changes (not good ones) that have occurred since he was here. I was sorry that Betty wasn't around, because he knew her when he was a student. Hopefully, he'll be able to come back on Thursday.

Spring must be on the way. The local boys were spotted dragging a boat down the street today, heading for little Horse Creek, I guess.

Trevor, my very faithful blog follower and fellow Route 66 fan, popped in with his family yesterday on their way to vacation in Branson, MO. I'm so sorry I missed them. Apparently, Marly was there to let them in, although I had no idea he planned to work yesterday. Sometimes things just work out right, I guess.

I went back to Stoney Boyz for breakfast this morning. Why do I love it so? Well, the eggs are good, the biscuits are great, all the other tables are made up of cowboys and working guys with beards and yet they don't stare at me like I have three heads because I'm both a stranger and a "girl", the banter centers around local gossip, dogs, and even some celebrity stuff (Did'ja hear Charlie Sheen didn't get jail time?), the "N" in the big sign outside is backwards, the music is country and, thankfully, muted, and the waitress' name is Stormy. So, what's not to like?

This pony truss bridge in Chelsea is scheduled for refurbishment, according to Frank from the Chelsea Motor Inn, which is just a few yards down the road from it. I thought I'd better snap a picture, just in case they do something uncool with it.


A new study by Portfolio.com named Tulsa the 8th best place in the U.S. for young professionals. It calls Tulsa a "true bargain", with "a strong growth rate, moderate cost of living, and a substantial pool of young adults with jobs and college degrees". Tulsa has the third lowest unemployment rate in the country. Oklahoma City came in 6th. Yaaaay, Oklahoma!

Monday, March 15, 2010


This morning, Ron Warnick generated a discussion on our Route 66 Yahoo group of the various places where there are tunnels under Route 66. These underground passages were used back in the day when traffic on America's Main Street was so dense that it became difficult to cross the road. There aren't many left, and in fact the only one I'd ever seen previously is the one in Chelsea, OK, which I pass many times each week. So, when Ron mentioned that there was one right here in Tulsa at the intersection of Admiral Place and Harvard Ave., I made sure to drive past on my way to an errand in that general direction this afternoon.

In the first picture, you can see the cage around the tunnel entrance on the north side of Admiral. The door to the cage was closed, and I didn't park the car to see if I could open it.

The second picture is a long shot across Admiral, showing the cages on both sides. They seem to be in decent condition, but I don't know if they're still being used, or even if the cages are unlocked.
I've posted this photo before, but here's the tunnel entrance in Chelsea, OK. You can barely see the identical entrance on the other side of the road. I've always been fascinated by the concept of needing these underground passages to get across Route 66, I guess because it reminds me that, in it's heyday, the road carried bumper to bumper traffic at times.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Some shout outs

First of all -- Gordon, from Handcolored 66, thank you! I've been searching high and low for a line of colorful Route 66 postcards in the tradition of the old commercial cards that we used to buy along the road. Being a postcard collector, I'm what you might call very "postcard aware". I wanted to be able to sell some really nice ones at Afton Station. Gordon came into my life a couple of months ago when he was traveling Route 66. He told me he was a photographer, so I planted the idea of postcards in his mind. Well, he's come forth with a collection of 66 designs (latest number, but who knows, there could be more) on very high quality postcard stock! I got my first batch in the mail yesterday and put them up for sale today. I am so excited. They are GORGEOUS! They're only $1 per card, which is a great price for Route 66 postcards these days. Come in and see them soon!

Next, here's to Cort Stevens, my friend and fellow roadie from the Chicago area. I listened to his radio show for the first time last night. I didn't even know he was a DJ, much less such a pro! He plays a large assortment of tunes, and his banter includes a lot of shoutouts to Route 66, road-tripping in general, and even Afton Station! It's both on air, and online. Awesome, Cort!

It wasn't a busy day at the Station today, but it wasn't bad. The day began with a couple of neighborhood kids coming in to squash some pennies. Then my friend, photographer Michael Scruggs from Miami, OK came in to hang for a while, followed by a return visit from Dean "Crazy Legs" Walker, the second in two days. This time he brought me several really neat "Cars" related items. He just can't seem to stay away! A couple from Santa Maria, CA came next. They have 4-5 weeks to do a cross-country trip across Route 66. Dean entertained them by turning his feet backwards so that they could take pictures. I think they left in shock. LOL! The final guest was a gentleman from Oklahoma City who was born and raised in Afton. You all know how much I love talking to Afton old-timers! We had a great conversation, and he promised to look for some old photos to bring me.

I could use some input from my readers. Recently, I put a block on all comments from "Anonymous" because I've been getting a lot of ugly spam on the blog. If any of the rest of you are being blocked, please let me know at LaurelRK66.com. Suddenly, I'm getting a lot fewer comments on my blog, so I'm wondering if I did something wrong while implementing the block. Thanks! I don't want to lose any of you.

How does one get lost in a town that has about four streets? I have no idea, but I managed to do it this morning when I decided to drive around the tiny town of Foyil on my way to Afton. Maybe it was the hour of sleep I lost last night. Anyway, in about two seconds I found myself on a back road leading to approximately nowhere, which can be fun if you're not under time constraints. But I was. I eventually found my way back to Old Route 66, and took a couple of photos on my travels. One is a neat old building which I'm assuming was an old gas station. The other is just a farmhouse, certainly nothing special. For some reason, I related to this house, perhaps because it seems old and substantial, unlike most of the other homes in the town. I could imagine folks sitting on the porch watching all the travelers in the '40s and '50s.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Crazy Legs and Tattoo Man

This morning, it was off with the talk radio and on with the classic country. It was just that kind of day. You've got to understand that the same 80 miles, even if it is old Route 66, can start to get a little monotonous morning after morning. Although I'm not a great music lover, the twangy background tunes transport me back a bit -- to when I was a kid in the back seat of my parents' car, seeing all of this for the first time. I can make my mind go there if I'm in the right mood. I can forget the politics of Route 66 (and yes, there certainly is some), and the problems of Route 66 (there are plenty), and just get lost in the etherealness of the experience, even if it's my 500th trip down the same piece of pavement.

It must have been Double Entendre Day on the classic country station I was listening to. On the play list this morning were "Big Balls of Cowtown" (Mel Tillis) and "Don't Touch My Willie" (Kevin Fowler). LOL!! I also enjoyed one called "King of Barstool Mountain" (Mo Bandy).

I had an interesting day today at Afton Station. It was quite busy, with 14 visitors, many of whom were on Spring Break. I guess I can expect the vacation week to bring quite a few visitors -- at least I hope so. Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones helped me today, and Dean "Crazy Legs" Walker stopped in for a while too, meaning I had both of Route 66's "characters" with me at one time. Some of the visitors who dropped in while they were there were treated to Tattoo's tattoos and Dean's ability to turn his feet completely backwards. Here they are! Note Dean's feet. . .
Dean brought along the brochure advertising the Tri State Adventure (International Route 66 Festival) coming up this June in the Route 66 triangle formed by OK, KS, and MO. I'll post details here tomorrow.

Our first visitors were Ron and Colleen Yockey, longtime Route 66 fans who used to live in Afton but moved to Scranton, PA recently. They came back for a visit, and it was so nice to see them. Ron is still still fueling his truck with waste cooking oil which he collects from restaurants, etc., and which I think is just very cool. He's also a biker and a world-class barbecuer. Other visitors included a family of four from Pottsboro, TX who had an adorable 3-month-old baby named Ellie. Ellie must be one of the youngest visitors we've had at the Station, and definitely one of the cutest. Another couple, from Columbia, MO arrived in a sleek Airstream, heading west. Then, at the same time, a couple from Claremore, OK and a man traveling solo from Eureka, CA arrived, and both owned Packards which they were planning to restore. The struck up a conversation and I wished David had been there to render some Packard advice.

Low-hanging clouds shrouded my drive home to Tulsa. It was eerily pretty.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A visit from the Bronte sisters

What a cloudy and gloomy day! I started out the day bummed by something I read in the newspaper (which I won't go into now), but with great good luck my mood was lifted by visits from my first guests at Afton Station.
Charlotte and Emily, accompanied by their people, arrived soon after I did. Charlotte and Emily are a gorgeous pair of King Charles spaniels, owned by folks from Plymouth, MI who were headed to California via Route 66. The next (and last) visitors were a husband and wife from N. Mankota, MN who are going all the way from Chicago to L.A. in their red vintage Corvette. Slick! They all left me jealous and ready to stow away in their vehicles.

Mike Pendleton stopped by with more news about the 2010 Festival. When I get more information, I'll start talking about it here. Betty W. came later, and we spent the afternoon chatting. Thanks to Betty for helping me close up today.
I got to Afton a little late today because I had to pick up something for David in Tulsa before I left. I spent the time waiting for the place to open by cruising a little of 11th St. (old Route 66). I found this new Mexican restaurant in an old fast food place (I think it was a Wendy's, but I can't really remember). Later, I saw an article about it in the Tulsa World. It hasn't been open long, but got a pretty good review in the paper. It's not much to look at, though.I've always liked this building, and I believe I wrote about it once before. It's the Max Campbell Bldg. on 11th St. and it's being restored. It used to be a hotel (and a few other things thereafter) but hasn't been used for some time. It will be returned to it's former hotel status, and will be called the Campbell Hotel. Since it's been quite a long time since a new lodging place has opened on Route 66 in Tulsa, this is a welcome development.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A gift from a friend

One of the best things about being part of the Route 66 eight-state community is the people you can call friends. Sometimes, you feel they're friends even if you've never laid eyes on them. Jim Hinckley from Arizona, one such friend, sent me a wonderful surprise birthday present that arrived yesterday -- a copy of his newest book, Ghost Towns of the Southwest. This is one BEAUTIFUL book! It showcases a large number of former mining towns in New Mexico and Arizona, with impeccably researched descriptions and phenomenal and often haunting photographs by Kerrick James . Of course, there's quite a bit about Route 66, which makes it even more appealing to me. Jim is going to do a book on Ghost Towns of Route 66 one of these days, and I look forward to having it in my collection. In the meantime, this generous gift from Jim will be on my bedside table for a long time while I read every word and peruse every photo. I totally recommend it!

Thank you, Jim!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Bison at Buffalo Ranch -- the fake one

Difference between small town and big city: This morning, at the Afton post office, I noticed that all three of the other cars parked there were left unlocked with their motors running. I turned mine off and locked the door, out of habit. Sad.

Note on an ad for a real estate broker on the placemat where I had breakfast this morning: "We do not rent pigs." Not something you see very often in the big city -- or maybe anywhere, for that matter. And I was hoping for a porcine leasing arrangement. . .

As I'm driving in to Afton each day, I start mentally reciting routine things that need to be done as soon as I get there -- deactivate security system, turn on lights, get out money box, open the showroom, Windex the showcases, etc. The one thing that often makes or breaks my good mood upon arrival is putting out the flags. It's a little nothing job, but they're an absolute necessity to let people know we're open. But if the day is very hot, very cold, or very windy, I face them with much more distaste than the chore actually deserves. In Oklahoma, most days tend to be very hot, very cold, or VERY windy! Today was the windy kind. The wooden sign kept blowing down, so I gave up on that. And my hair was a wind-blown mess all day. Note to self: Hurry up and get a haircut!

That strong wind blew six visitors (literally!) into Afton Station today. A couple from Lancaster, PA and headed for Phoenix had decided to "do" Route 66 on the way. A visit to Gary Turner in MO yesterday had them well-armed with guidebooks for their trek. They were collecting autographs in their Images book. I always feel (ridiculously) like a celebrity when asked for my autograph. While those folks were still there, a man from Elm Knot, TX arrived and we all talked for a while. After the Pennsylvanians left, the Texan and I had, for obvious reasons, an interesting chat about his wife's recent kidney transplant. Later, a couple from Grove, OK stopped by. The wife, having previously lived in both Depew and Bristow, OK, had lived just about all her life along Route 66, but like so many, hadn't thought much about it until recently. Finally, just as I was closing, a handsome and wonderfully dressed young man from Broken Arrow, OK arrived to close out my day on a high note.

I had a call from Ron M., who is vacationing in California and Nevada. He reports that Scotty's Castle is a "must see" if you happen to be in the Death Valley area. Take note.

My flowers are blooming! Daffs are up, and pansies are perky. Grass still brown.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Early onset Spring Fever

* When I left the house at 6 a.m. (well before sunrise) I heard birds singing.

* I drove 20 mph under the speed limit all the way to Afton.

* I found myself shouting "Good Morning!" to cows.

* I switched the car radio from endless NPR news, Martha Stewart advice, and Howard Stern dirty talk to a station playing classic country.

* I'm not disturbed by the bugs on the windshield.

What does all this mean? Yep, a (probably premature) case of Spring Fever! It hits me hard at this time of year. I like to think that spring makes me more creative, but really it just makes me goofier and more daydreamy.

I fall more in love with Claremore every day. I've been snapping pictures there whenever I have a little extra time on the way to Afton Station. I'll show those another time. Today, I stopped at "My Doll Castle" on Claremore's very vital Main St. (called Will Rogers Blvd.) because that amazing doll store creates wonderful, fanciful window displays for major holidays. This morning, when I saw a blaze of green in the window, I pulled into a parking spot right in front. St. Patrick's Day! I took some photos of the dolls, but will post them closer to the holiday. In the meantime, here are a couple of other dolls in their window. I've never been much of a doll lover, but these are just extraordinary!


At the Station, I had 9 visitors today, a respectable number. I was hoping for more, of course, on this beautiful day, but this was definitely a "quality beats quantity" kind of day. My first visitor was a lady from Tulsa collecting pressed pennies for her son. Later, a guy named David Smart from Tulsa and his friend stopped by. He grew up in Afton, graduated from Afton High School in '79, and was on a real nostalgia trip. Betty, who was with me at the time, remembered him from when he was a kid, and of course he remembered Betty for the delicious ice cream she served down at the Dairy Ranch. His parents once owned the Little Cafe attached to the Palmer Hotel across the street. He was so enthusiastic about his past, the fun of growing up in Afton, and remembering old friends, that he completely cheered our day. I hope he comes back often.

A family from Deer Creek, OK came in next. They were visiting their lake house for the first time in months, making sure the place had survived the harsh winter. Another sign of spring! Later, a couple from Peggs, OK stopped by. They were extremely interested in Route 66 and how I got involved with it. I predict they'll be taking a full-size Route 66 trip one of these days. Here they are!
On the way home, I stopped to chat with Frank and Trudy at the Chelsea Motor Inn for a little while. I'm just crazy about those folks!!! They're painting their motel, so I disturbed the work for a short time by staying to gab. A great day!