Saturday, July 31, 2010

If you air condition it, they will come.

As the sun rose majestically on the prairie, I started the day having no idea if the continuation of our heat wave would have an influence on Route 66 travelers. My concerns were unfounded. It turned out to be quite the mob scene on this last day of July at Afton Station on Route 66. Tattoo Man was there most of the time, Crazy Legs Walker was there for a while too, but both had left before the big "final hour" influx of travelers arrived. By the time the day was over, I'd greeted 42 visitors, 2 dogs, and a horse. (Well, ok, I didn't really "greet" the horse. He stopped for a moment in front of the Station, but then moved on. I was only able to snap this quick photo.)
The rest of the travelers had the good sense to come in. They included folks from Richmond British Columbia Canada, Rose OK, Banyoles Spain, Georgetown TX, Westfield MA, Treasure Island FL, Grove OK, Bernice OK, Parsons KS, Columbus KS, Springfield MO, Kansas City MO, Chelsea OK, Torrance CA, Mapleton IA, Woodward OK, Highland IN, and Fort Smith AR.

Here's Chris from Westfield, MA, who is traveling with three teen age boys in a pop-top trailer. (The boys are Colin, Conor, and Pedro). They've been traveling Route 66 for a full month and we've been keeping up with their adventures via the Route 66 Yahoo group. Very nice people who seem to be having a great time. In this picture, they're gazing in awe at Ron Jones' tattoos. Meanwhile, Dean "Crazy Legs" Walker was entertaining these young men from Georgetown, TX.

Our two canine visitors may not have been the largest dogs we've ever hosted, but they were (according to their owners) at least the mightiest.

Here's Paco, from Treasure Island, FL, described by his master as "the world's smallest pit bull". LOL!
And here's Tiny, a very aptly described teacup chihuahua from Chelsea, OK.
Most of the visitors came toward the end of the day, so I got home late. I'm tired and badly in need of a shower and a bite to eat. But first I wanted to welcome any new readers who may have been guided here by Ron McCoy's fine "Collecting Buzz" newsletter this month. And if you're not on the list to get this free monthly e-newsletter, you may do so by clicking:
That's all, folks!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Shannon Richardson Photo

Yesterday I became aware of a photographer named Shannon Richardson when he emailed me this incredible photo he took of Afton Station in the evening after a rainstorm. I thanked him very much, and he wrote back to let me know that he's working on a book of his photos of Route 66 which will be called Route 66: American Icon. More about the project, as well as some of his other photos, can be seen at:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dog Days on Route 66

This is Andy, who visited this morning from Greenville, Michigan with his master. They were heading for Texas, but stayed for a while while we chatted and Andy feasted on a couple of our complimentary doggie treats. If you plan to come to Afton Station, please know that you are welcome to bring your pet. We are extremely dog-friendly at the Station. Andy was a cute, well-behaved little guy.
Patty, one of my nurses at the St. John Medical Center Dialysis unit came for a visit today and brought her grandson, 9-year-old Dorian. She was picking up a chair made from a tractor seat. I told her she could have it since she collects tractor seats and we don't. In return, she brought me four bottles of wine from her daughter and son-in-law's Blue Coyote Winery in Adair, OK. Yum! A nice visit and a great trade-off for everyone involved. Dorian is questioning the comfort aspects of the tractor seat chair

All the rest of today's visitors were from foreign countries. They came from Munich Germany, Geneva Switzerland, Montreal Canada, and Birmingham, England. I guess the Americans were hiding from the heat. This German couple braved the torrid temperatures on two motorcycles and plan to make it all the way to Santa Monica. Best of luck to them!

I'm kind of tired of griping about the heat, but dang, it's hot! I just heard on the news that we're due for another week of 100+ temperatures. Hey, Mother Nature. . . a little rain would be nice!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Congrats to you and me!

I just (finally!) got the 50,000th hit on this blog. Congratulations to YOU for putting up with me through all those words, words, words. And a tiny pat on the back to ME for spewing them out for almost two years.
See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Long Hot Summer Continues

The morning started with another beautiful sunrise over Route 66 near Chelsea.
I've been told that we're in for at least another week of ridiculously hot weather. It's taking it's toll on a lot of things, and I'm beginning to think that Afton Station is one of them. There has been an increase in the number of people who stop to take photos of Afton Station but don't get out of their cars. I assume they don't want to emerge from their air conditioned capsules, and I certainly sympathize with them, but they have no idea what they're missing. ME! (Ha ha, just kidding!) But seriously, I'm the one who's missing THEM. I keep trying not to let it bum me out every time this happens, and I think I'm getting better at understanding, however I still feel I'm missing out on 1) meeting lots of great new people and 2) telling them of the wonders of Route 66.

Meanwhile, I was cheered up by a call from a gentleman named Paul from Jamestown, NY. He visited recently, and then later he discovered my website ( and called me to tell me that he was moved by my writing so he's going to make another trip to Afton sooner than he'd originally planned. I'm not sure what moved him so, but I needed a little ego booster, so this was nice.

Today, there were only 7 actual walk-in visitors. They came from Vinita OK, Roscommon MI, Whitby Ontario Canada, Broomall PA, and Pittsburgh PA. Lovely people all. For kicks during the down times, Tattoo Man quizzed me from an Oklahoma Trivia book, and I must say I failed miserably. When Betty W. arrived later, she chimed in and did a lot better. Meanwhile, Marly and Kenny continued to sweat it out in the back yard, continuing with the metal building construction.

I bought Betty some fresh rhubarb the other day, and today she arrived with the MOST INCREDIBLE rhubarb pie! Tattoo and I shared a piece, and it was heaven. Betty said she'd make more if I could find her some more rhubarb. So. . . Bye! I'm off to the produce market!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Birthday Cake!

The only bad thing about this day was that there were too many interesting people there at one time, thus not enough time to spend with each of them. It's kind of an epidemic around Afton Station these days. Today was Ron M.'s birthday, and we did manage to have a little party for him around noon. The usual gang -- Ron M., Tattoo Man, Betty W., me -- was joined by Bob from Gravois Mills, MO (who is becoming a regular guest) and his friend Charlene from Baxter Springs, KS. We had sandwiches, then decimated this chocolate cake. Marly stopped in late in the day and polished off the last of the cake.
Tattoo, Birthday Boy, Betty W., Bob, Charlene
We couldn't light the candles. Too many fans blowing them out!

Bob gave Charlene a tour of Afton Station as well as a walking tour of Afton. It's nice to get to know Charlene. She's about to become the President of the Baxter Springs Chamber of Commerce for the 2nd time, and is also involved with Kansas Route 66. Here they are examining the DeSoto Airflow.
Another repeat visitor was a fellow from Paola, KS who visited last year at this time. He is remembered for his very neat old truck and for the fact that he travels with enormous stuffed animals riding shotgun. I had taken photos of the stuffed animals on his last visit. Here's the truck.
A regular reader of this blog, Tanya from Park Hill SC, had told me some time ago that she and her husband and sons would be visiting today. They didn't make it until almost 3 p.m., but we still had time for a nice visit. Her older son Charlie , a mere 9 years old, interviewed me in a very professional way while Mom taped the whole proceeding. I was amazed by how mature this little boy was. His younger brother Will was no less delightful and bright.

Besides all those fine folks, we met and greeted others from Mt. Vernon KY (a trucker), Bird Island OK, El Cerrito CA, Grove OK, Owasso OK, Miami OK, Surprise AZ, Vinita OK, St. Louis MO, Schuyler NE, and Geneva Switzerland. I've got to admit that I'm tired tonight and late getting home. Zzzzzzz........

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sweatin' it out

Another day of temperatures hovering at 100. Most of our visitors to Afton Station today were from Oklahoma or adjoining states -- most, but not all. Ron M. was with me today and we visited with 25 travelers who came from Kansas City MO, Anthony KS, Wichita KS, Bixby OK, Milwaukee WI, Grove OK, Bartlesville OK, Oklahoma City OK, Quapaw OK, Broken Arrow OK, and Chicago IL.

This little girl from Bartlesville, OK and her brother were a little wary of the Snake Box. (Their mom was even more wary! ) Ron M. doesn't help much when he tells visitors that they shouldn't worry because we have a good First Aid kit handy "just in case". But once the kids saw what was inside, they went back several times to gaze at our "pets".
This is Bill and his son Chandler from Broken Arrow, OK. Bill is a regular reader of this blog, so I thought he needed to see his photo here. (Hi, Bill!) He was taking his son on a little trip to fire up his enthusiasm for Route 66.
Another very friendly visitor from Chicago turned out to be a sergeant in the Chicago Police Department (Bureau of Investigative Services). When he found out my daughter lives in Chicago, he was thoughtful enough to offer me his business card to give to her, just in case she ever needs help in the city. What a nice gesture!

On the way out of town (in the 102-degree car!) we stopped to attempt a photo of the Tallon Building. It's the one near the center of Afton that, legend has it, was faced with pieces of Route 66 pavement when the old surface was broken up during resurfacing many years ago. We wanted to see the date on the name plaque, but even after zooming and enlarging it, the date is still not readable. We'll try again tomorrow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Notes about this and that

Betty W. has found more information about the Acme Courts I mentioned on yesterday's post. The motel was built in 1936 by a mail carrier, Sullivan Johnson, and his wife Ureatha. (Their two sons were doctors who built the hospital that was once in Afton.) In 1959, the Acme was still listed as a motel in the phone book.

Above is my other postcard of the Acme. It indicates that it has a playground, reasonable rates, carpeted floors, and 14 refrigerated units. It's slogan is "You Must Be Satisfied". There was also a Conoco gas station attached.


Ramblings. . .

I can't help but imagine myself in the shoes of Route 66 travelers from non-English speaking countries. I don't particularly care how many iconic sights they see as they wander across America; I do care about how they are treated, both by me and by others they meet along the way. By the time east-to-west travelers reach Afton, Oklahoma I recognize that I have a lot to live up to. They've undoubtedly already met Ramona at the Munger Moss (the epitome of hospitality), the 4 Women on the Route (fun gals, a happy place, and great food), Gary Turner at Paris Springs (arguably the best ambassador of the Mother Road that we have), Connie at the Wagon Wheel with her spectacular restoration work, Dean Walker in Kansas, who will do anything for travelers (including turning his feet backwards!), Dave Clark with his information-packed tour of Chicago Route 66, and that's just the tip of a very large iceberg. There are so many more!

So, when they get to my humble Afton Station, travelers already have a pretty good feel for the Mother Road, and I think it's my duty and pleasure to continue and expand upon the hospitality they've already experienced. That 's a lot of big shoes to fill!

I remember my days of touring European and Asian countries with little or no knowledge of the language or local customs, often with unreadable maps. A stranger in a strange land requires a little more pampering than a native son -- a smile, a sincere handshake, a slight bow -- depending on the nationality of the visitors. Words aren't always necessary, but if the proprietor of a Route 66 attraction knows a few, it can't hurt. I want foreign visitors to Afton Station to leave feeling comfortable, appreciated, and informed -- and go home with only the best memories of our beloved road.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Three Musketeers

These three happy friends from Guadalajara, Spain were among my first visitors today. They're doing the whole Route 66, and all are in the U.S. for the first time. I enjoyed meeting and chatting with Javier, Jesus, and David.

It wasn't a very busy day today at Afton Station. I still think the intense heat is keeping folks off the road. It didn't stop some however, from Portsmouth NH, Bartlesville OK, Chelsea OK, and a couple from Melbourne, Australia. Twelve visitors altogether. Betty W. came for the afternoon, too.

I'm (finally!) starting to make these laminated signs for the cars. They will cut down on questions I can't answer. I need to wait for David to return from his vacation, however, so I can quiz him on under-the-hood details for some of the cars. Since nearly all our vehicles are "orphans" (cars of which the manufacturer is no longer in business), I will also add some history to each sign.
Akkey Takeuchi sent me this picture taken at the Festival in Kansas last month. It's Ron M., me, Akkey, and Marian Clark. Akkey is from Japan, but he and his family are annual visitors to Route 66, and he is the author of the book ""The Tropic of Route 66", full of beautiful photos.
It has been confirmed that this building, still standing in Afton, is indeed the remaining unit of the old Acme Courts which were built in 1936. Although the motel was directly on Route 66, this small unit was at the east end of the court and now hidden by trees. One tree, in fact, grows straight through the unit.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I'm sure that on these long summer days, some of you are looking for a little diversion. How about a few games of Hangman? You probably remember it from childhood. Back in 2004, when the International Route 66 Festival was held in Tulsa, we used this little game, put together by Brad Nickson, on our festival site. Perhaps you'd enjoy testing your knowledge of Route 66. Give it a try. It's not very difficult, and all words are related in some way to Route 66. Just a little gift from Afton Station!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not much goin' on. . .

With the thermometer hovering on the 100-degree mark and the heat index at 108, it wasn't a day for anybody to want to do much of anything. Our most intrepid Route 66 travelers at Afton Station were a couple from Fairboult, Minnesota, traveling with the top down on their red Corvette. Wow.... too hot for that, in my humble opinion, especially if you're from Minnesota where cooler temperatures are the general rule. However, these folks were having fun on their way to the Grand Canyon, and they should have great tans by the time they get there.

Another intrepid traveler was a woman from Lansing, Michigan doing the whole Route, start to finish, by herself. She indicated that she loves traveling solo, and I concur. I'm sure she'll have a ball, since she's done part of Route 66 previously, and had all the right guidebooks.

A lovely man named Roger, who runs the local "Meals on Wheels"-type non-profit in the Ottawa and Craig County area came in just to look around. We talked quite a bit about the rewarding feeling of delivering daily food (and conversation!) to shut-ins. What an important job Roger is doing!

Toward the end of the day, we were visited by ten old friends who went to school together years ago in Barnsdall, Oklahoma, traveling together in a caravan, were doing a day trip up on our end of Route 66. They now live in Tulsa, Bartlesville, and Skiatook, OK.

Work on the new building progresses even in the heat. I just need to give a shout-out to those three guys who are sweating it out every day, cutting themselves on sharp edges, and clearly wishing they had several more people on the job in order to lift those giant pieces of sheet metal. Marly is proving himself to be a great manager of a very difficult project.
Our do-rag mannequin mysteriously sprouted a very sinister mustache overnight! Ron M. took this evidence "head shot".Amid the heat, here's something cool. Betty B. makes these very cool signs out of cut up license plates. Aren't they great? She has several other designs, and she also has the blisters to prove it!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Sunday

What ever happened to lazy summer Sundays? That doesn't happen at Afton Station! I must say that most of our guests are delighted to see us open, since so many Route 66 businesses are closed on Sunday. But why would I close? Afton Station has become a big part of my social life as well as my business life, so why wouldn't I want to be somewhere where I can visit with old friends and meet new ones at the same time?

Sunday mornings are usually slow, but not today. I greeted six guests even before I was officially open! I got an early start , so besides opening 90 minutes early I also had some time to roam around and take a few pictures before arriving at the Station.

I took a ride to a bridge over the Interstate in Vinita where I could get a good overhead shot of what used to be "The World's Largest McDonalds", a title it no longer holds, although I'm quite sure it's still one of the most unique entities in the chain.
Here is a small gas station a few blocks west of Afton Station which I've been told has been put up for sale. Anyone interested? It's tiny, and recently has just been used for storage. As you can see, it has it's own private lake, just like Afton Station! Hah!
The 23 visitors to the Station today came from an array of states and countries. Prior to officially opening, four travelers from Norfolk, England arrived. I was delighted (but also a bit embarrassed) when they said they'd come to Afton last night after I'd closed, so they drove all the way to Tulsa (80 miles) to spend the night and then drove back to Afton this morning because Gary Turner at Gay Parita had advised them that Afton Station was a "must see". They said they were not disappointed, and I hope they were telling the truth.

Prior to opening, two folks from Claremore on a motorcycle stopped in, too. They were followed by a grandfather and grandson also on a motorcycle all the way from Lakewood, OH, and then folks from Marionville MO, Dewey OK, Grove OK, Ash Grove MO, Vinita OK, St. Louis MO, Brussels Belgium, and finally our friend and veteran Route 66 travelers Jane Dippel and her grandson Max from St. Louis, MO. It's always great to see Jane's smiling face at the door. She and Max are taking their annual Mother Road trip, this time only as far as Amarillo.

Here's another young man, Dylan, who loves to press pennies, but was having quite a struggle with the heavy handle. He insisted on doing it by himself, and was happily successful in the end.

All afternoon there was a parade of large racing boats being trucked past the Station. I don't know if they were being delivered straight from the manufacturer or whether there's big boat race happening somewhere on Grand Lake. In any case, it was fun to see all the colorful graphics. This is the only one I was quick enough to photograph, and it was by far the least colorful.
Betty W. stayed with me for the afternoon and she brought me a jar of her home made plum jelly. I just had a taste (on a spoon, right out of the jar) and it's exceptional!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Intrepid Travelers Ignore Heat

This was the temperature showing on my car thermometer when we left Afton to drive home this afternoon. And yet there were plenty of intrepid visitors, using all manner of transportation, traveling Route 66 today. One was even bicycling across Route 66! He was a small man, all muscle, dripping in sweat, HUGE pack on his back, and when asked from whence he came, he indicated he had no home. I wish I'd taken a picture of him.

Instead, I took several photos of Tattoo Man which will be used in an upcoming newspaper article about him. I don't want to scoop the publication, so I won't mention its name. When the article comes out, I'll post a link.

Ron M., Tattoo Man, and I greeted 23 visitors. They included these two cute little girls and their parents in this 1957 Studebaker Scotsman from Buckeye, Arizona. There was this young man, his two sisters, and parents from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was quite thrilled with the penny smasher. Another young man from Frisco, Texas managed to convince his parents that he required a squashed penny, too. It's so exciting to see how many younger families with kids are traveling Route 66 this summer!
And, other visitors came from Esslinger Germany, McAllen TX, Little Rock AR, Hagerstown MD, Kennewick WA, and Bremen Germany.

Ron M. took this nice picture of the Huppmobile.
We all survived the sweltering day, and I'll be back in Afton tomorrow to meet many more folks.

Friday, July 16, 2010

False Alarm?

You can forget, for the moment, all that stuff I said yesterday about my computer dying. For some reason, it had a miraculous recovery and is running faster than ever. I have no real explanation for this. For now, I'm going to put off buying a new one, although I know this is probably a bad idea. Ron M. thinks the recovery was just "the calm before the storm". Personally, I think the problem was sunspots. Ok, quit laughing. It can happen, and usually in mid-summer.

Although I'm not in Afton today, I will post some photos to celebrate the restoration of my computer. Tomorrow I'll be back in Afton. Today, Marly's brother and sister-in-law are minding the store. They've never done it before, but I'm sure they'll do a fine job.
Can this building be saved? Not sure. It's across the street from Afton Station and down a few yards, and it appears to be beyond repair, although it would be nice if the facade could be saved for the sake of continuity of the block.

This has nothing to do with Route 66 or Afton. It's my back yard. It's just a random photo I came across in my files, a little more cheerful than that other photo of the semi-demolished building.
I feel sorry for the cows during a week like this. They have no shelter, and it's, literally, broiling outside. :-)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fun With A Bucket Truck

This may be my last blog post for a few days, provided I can even post it. I need a new computer. This one has slowed to a snail's pace and I can't stand it any more! Stay tuned and I'll be back in a few days when I'm up and running again, hopefully on a new machine.

This will be quick. Visitors today came from Zug Switzerland, Modesto CA, Boise ID, Hughson CA, Sonora CA, Manteca CA, Bokeelia FL, Clovis NM, and Lawton, OK.

Today's fun was Marly going up in the bucket truck he borrowed for use during the erecting of the new showroom. He used my camera to take some overhead shots of Afton Station which came out very well. Fun for all!

I call this "St. Louis Light". It's the first segment of the new showroom building. There are 20 such sections, and they're going up at the rate of one or two a day. Might take a while before the building is habitable.
Meanwhile, it is ghastly hot today, and those guys working out back on the new showroom worked from 6 a.m. until noon, then took off after the thermometer soared above 100 degrees. No wonder my computer is pooping out. Today was fit for neither man nor computer!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Calm Before The Storm

For most of the morning, Betty B., Tattoo Man, and I wondered if the extreme heat wave was going to make this my first day without a single visitor. We waited, Betty B. rearranged her shelves, Betty W. stopped in for a visit, and Marly and crew sweated over their manual labor out back. Would this really be the first summer day ever without any passing travelers? Bt 1 p.m. that started to seem possible. I was NOT happy.

Then, Betty W. and Betty L. left. With that, Tattoo and I were deluged with an onslaught of visitors -- 26 in about 90 minutes! NOW it was becoming fun! They came from Hulbert OK, Shigayoka Japan, New Hope PA, London England, San Francisco CA, Bella Vista AR, Cedar City UT, Cottontown TN, and Orlean and Toulouse France.

These local kids came in to chat for a while. Very cute. When I asked them to pose for a picture, this is as close as they'd get to one other. "She's not my girlfriend", he said. Ah, those crazy 'tweens!

Pete and his son Jason Guy from Utah were here just a few days ago, but came back for a second look. Both wanted to be photographed with the renowned Tattoo Man. Here's Pete.
And here's Jason, the son. Look closely and you'll see that Tattoo Man hasn't quite grown up yet.

This was impressive -- an extended family of 11 from Orlean and Toulouse, France, all traveling together in a caravan of three cars. They plan to traverse all of Route 66 from Chicago to L.A.
While we were having all the fun indoors in the air conditioning, Marly and crew were slaving over the puzzle of putting together a modular metal building in the 100+ degree temperatures outdoors. Of course, I urged them to come in for cooling off and a cooling drink as often as possible, but they braved most of the day sweating in the back yard. Here's Marly's brother Ryan displaying his muscles. Or maybe those are "thumbs down" for the day.