Sunday, November 28, 2010

Round on the Ends, Flat in the Middle

For a winter Sunday at Afton Station, this day was not atypical. I wasn't expecting crowds, but I was lucky to have a few great visitors. They came at the beginning of the day and the end of the day. The middle of the day was flat, but since I was alone today, I got some much needed tasks finished; most importantly, I got my Christmas card envelopes addressed and stamped. It's a start.

Early in the day, I was visited by a family of four from Mustang, OK who were returning from a partial Route 66 trip through Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The teen age boys were serious about photographing all of the vehicles, and the father was particularly interested in the old cars, since he's having one restored right now.

At the end of the day, a young man named Rich Dinkel from St. Louis, MO stopped in. He has embarked on a full, Chicago to L.A. Route 66 trip. It's not his first, and I know it won't be his last. He's 100% committed to the Mother Road, has done scads of research, and has even given his vehicle the "Route 66 treatment". Check out the hood, which is now an autograph book for those he meets along the way. On this trip, Rich is planning to drive every driveable alignment, and will walk or bike those he can't drive.


Early this morning, I drove past my favorite doll store in Claremore to see if they'd decorated their Christmas window yet. They had. Here are some of their "kids" waiting for Santa. I've never been much of a doll appreciator, but I do like what these people at the Doll Castle do.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Day

Today was just a day at Afton Station. It was good to be back, but it wasn't a particularly exciting day. Ron M. was with me, and Robin stopped in for a while. We spent part of the day cleaning and straightening up, in preparation for the Australian TV crew that will be visiting VERY early in the morning on Wednesday.

Nine travelers braved the cold to visit Afton Station. A family of 5 from Oklahoma City/Edmond, OK stopped in -- mother, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. They had been staying at the lake for Thanksgiving and decided to do a little Route 66 exploration. We sent them off to the Coleman Theater in Miaim, after calling to make sure they were open today.

Two other couples stopped by -- from Jefferson City, MO and Olathe, KS. Both were on partial Route 66 trips over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

I didn't even take any photos today, and frankly I don't have time to post any right now anyway. However, tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Truckin' Turkey

My Unique Thanksgiving has ended, and it was pretty great!

Here's the story. The other night at a party some of us were talking about what we were doing on Thanksgiving, and then the conversation turned to a truck stop just off the Admiral alignment of Route 66 in Tulsa which serves "pretty good" food. The plot was hatched! A truck stop Thanksgiving! What could be more Route 66 than that?!
So today Ron M., Jim, Margaret, Joe, and I proceeded to the Route 66 Diner at the truck stop for a full Thanksgiving dinner -- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, home made roll, and pumpkin pie -- for a grand total of $7.99 per person! The food was marginal at best, but our expectations were pretty low, so it didn't really matter. I didn't have to cook, for a change! I provided appropriate tabletop decorations and, of course, my camera. We were the only people there -- except for the Blues Brothers and Elvis, of course. Eventually, as we were leaving, a few others came in, but for the most part we had the place all to ourselves.

I recommend Truck Stop Thanksgiving, if you're willing to temporarily suspend your gourmet tendencies and settle for fake mashed potatoes, "pressed" turkey, and canned green beans. After all, it's the thankfulness for our ability to eat among friends in a beautiful country that really counts on Thanksgiving, isn't it? And in case you're wondering what became of the turkey I picked up from David yesterday, I plan to have a "real" Thanksgiving dinner this weekend.

P.S. The truck stop diner is clean and the decor is cute Route 66, '50s stuff. The waitress was great. And the menu brags "the largest chicken fried steaks in Oklahoma". What's not to like?

Thanksgiving Past -- 1978

As I write this, I have no idea if you will be able to enlarge the article below. Without being able to read it, this will be a useless post -- but then again, since it's just a bit of my own personal nostalgia and has absolutely nothing to do with Route 66, maybe you won't care.

Anticipating the unusual Thanksgiving I'm planning for later today, my thoughts went back to years ago when David and I were a young married couple, Sarah was a very small child, and we always celebrated the holiday in an almost over-the-top unusual (and yet traditional) way. (If you can't read this article, let me know and I'll type it up this evening, but I believe that double clicking the article should do the trick.)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Talking Turkey

Every Thanksgiving, my ex-husband David fries a turkey for me, and I drive up to Grove and watch him do it. This weird family ritual exists because he got the turkey fryer in the divorce. Thank goodness we're still good friends or I'd be turkeyless! LOL! Actually, I'd have no trouble just roasting one myself, but the fried ones are SO much better. And the frying process is a messy and dangerous job, so I'm pleased to let David do it.

This year, I took Ron M. with me because he'd never seen a turkey being fried. It was a cloudy, windy, and WARM day. I'm guessing it hit records for November warmth, a good day to take a ride and observe a defenseless bird being boiled in oil.

The bird goes into the boiling oil -- veeerrrryyyy slowly! (Note the '55 Packard in the background.)

A little more than a half hour later, the bird comes out.

And now, just to let it drain and pack it up for it's trip to Tulsa.

The most interesting part of this story is that I don't intend to serve the bird on Thanksgiving. Instead, Ron M. and I have come up with a rather ingenious idea for celebrating the holiday in a truly Route 66 "roadie" way. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out about it, so be sure to come back and check out my Thanksgiving photos. Meanwhile, I hope all of YOU have a delicious and thankful Turkey Day!

P.S. We stopped in to Afton Station on the way home from Grove. All is well there, Marly and Robin were working hard on the new building, and we've had a decent number of visitors since I've been away from it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Need Shoes?

The other day when Sarah and I drove down Route 66 to Arcadia to visit Pops, we completely forgot to stop at the "former" Shoe Tree outside of Stroud. I knew it had fallen down, but I needed to see it in person. (No, not because I wanted to retrieve my shoes!) So, this morning I took yet another short road trip west.

The sight of the fallen shoe tree is very sad. I knew it had been dead and brittle for some time, but it's still sad when a Route 66 iconic site is no longer. On the other hand, there are a couple of pairs of pretty nice sneakers now on the ground, if anyone wants them. LOL!
And while we're talking trees, I guess it's finally autumn in Tulsa. I snapped this at the end of my street this morning. Nice!

P.S. It was 77 degrees in Tulsa today!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Reasonably Quiet Saturday in November

I can't believe I hadn't been to Afton Station for a whole week until I got there today. I don't really know what I was expecting, but I brought along a lot of Christmas catalogs to peruse if we had no visitors at all. Ron M. came with me, Tattoo Man came for a while, and so did Betty W. In the morning, to keep busy, Ron M. and I embarked on a project. I won't say any more about it right now, but here's a photo we took during our thinking process. If it works out, you'll be hearing more about it later.

We did have guests today, and almost all of them were long-distance Route 66 travelers. Yes, they're still out there. It's a shame that so many places close completely in the winter, because some of them indicated their disappointment. I am part of the problem, since I'm only open weekends now, but I also recognize that all shop/museum owners deserve a break after a long and busy summer.

Our visitors today came from Quebec Canada, Springfield MO, and Albuquerque NM, along with two little girls from just down the block in Afton. The Albuquerque folks were celebrating with a Route 66 trip, since both of them had turned 66 years old, and were married in 1966 on Route 66 in Albuquerque. That's a lot of "66s"!! Congratulations to them!

Shannon Richardson, an Amarillo photographer, sent me this amazing poster he made when passing through Afton on a rainy evening. You can read about his work here. About - Route 66 American Icon. Thanks so much to Shannon. I can't wait to see your book!

From his website: "Shannon Richardson is based in Amarillo, Texas. He has been photographing commercial / advertising work for the past 14 years. His photography has been featured in the Graphis Photo Annual 2001, JPG Magazine and Shots. Over the last 5 years he has made multiple road trips documenting Route 66. The black and white photographs from this project capture the atmosphere and essence of the road's famed past and present. "

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day Trippin'

On the last full day of Sarah's visit here, we decided to take a little ride. (I don't get enough driving in my regular life, so I needed some more. Ha ha) We needed a dose of Route 66, so we headed west. The original goal was the Rock Cafe (Stroud, OK) for lunch, but it was still too early to eat when we got there, so we kept going. At this point, a visit with Jerry "McJerry" McClanahan sounded like fun. He's got his new gallery all set up, and I'd never seen it since he finished it. So, it was off to Chandler, OK and, as luck would have it, Jerry was there. His house is right next door and in his usual gracious way, he was happy to let us in. It's looking good!
In the past, David and I had commissioned several of his paintings, and yesterday he gave me the working drawing for one of them. Although it's just a sketch, it's definitely suitable for framing, and since David has the original of that one, I'm thrilled to have it.

From there, we continued to Arcadia because I wanted Sarah to see Pops, and also because I wanted to view the much talked about billboard that arose next to the historic Round Barn, blocking photos from one direction and causing much controversy. At Pops, we arrived at the same time as two large buses filled with elementary school students who had apparently been dropped there to buy pop to drink with their packed lunches on a field trip. The irony of this was not lost on us. Aren't we supposed to limit our kids' consumption of soft drinks? Hmm.... At any rate, it was teeming with kids, thus almost impossible to enjoy.
Loved this "snaky" car in the parking lot of Pops.

Here's a photo of the Round Barn and the billboard. It is a shame that it spoils the whole ambience of what's considered a historic site, although it's not as obstructive as I'd imagined it to be. The jury is out as to how the problem will or will not be solved. Stay tuned.

I took Sarah on a ride on the little segment of original Route 66 pavement outside of Arcadia.

Because our timing basically stunk, it was now too late to drive all the way back to the Rock Cafe for lunch, so instead we stopped at Dan's BBQ in Davenport and indulged in some mighty fine ribs.

On the way home, we also drove around Luther, DePew, and several other Route 66 towns. And this morning, I put Sarah on the plane to go back to Chicago. Boo hoo!

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Awakening

I got home around 9:30 Saturday night after cleaning up from the Super Marathon. The last runner came in a little after 7. I drove back to Tulsa, took Ron M. home, went to bed, got up, took a long, hot shower, went for a nice breakfast, then got back on the road to Afton around 6:45 a.m.

The countryside was enshrouded in fog as soon as I left the city limits of Tulsa. Then, just west of Claremore, I saw them. The runners! There they were, one by one emerging from the fog and darkness, with little blinking lights on their hats and covered in reflective tape, still running... running... running!

Prior to this, I must admit I was thinking that these long-distance runners must be a little crazy to want to indulge in this strenuous sport -- a very different breed from lazy me. But seeing them plod along in the cold, dense fog, strung out for miles, still running after 12 hours while I've been indulging my own comfort-based activities, moved me to tears. Whatever their motivation for doing this, they deserve nothing but my admiration and respect. Each and every runner got a headlight blink and a thumbs-up from me as I passed them, and surprisingly, almost all of them waved back!

More race photos by Brad at the end of this post.

Once in Afton, I spent part of the morning cleaning up what was left from Saturday's mob scene. My first visitors were a very attractive and friendly couple from Torino, Italy, traveling part of Route 66 as well as the Grand Canyon, NYC, and Niagara Falls.

Later, a group from Grove High School came in to take some Senior pictures next to the old cars. Betty W. came in and helped me with the last of the cleanup, and Robin and Phil stopped in, too. The plumbers were here running the gas line to the new building, too. Since I was a little tired today, and since visitors stopped coming around 2 p.m., I closed up 20 minutes early and drove home.

Here are a few more of Brad's great photos of the race.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Visitor Count: A Bazillion!

The first runner hits the Ribbon Road on Route 66 outside of Afton -- Photo by Sarah D.

The Mother Road 100 Super Marathon was responsible for the first time Afton Station has had more visitors than we could count! What a day! And my little band of volunteers, all "super marathon virgins", learned so much from the experience.

First, thanks so much to the incredible volunteers: Robin (who was in charge of sales and sold almost $400 in merchandise), Ron M. (in charge of drinks and much more), Betty W. and Tattoo Man (who manned the food table), Betty B. (who sorted out and distributed the "drop bags", among other tasks), Marly (who did just about everything else, including running to the Dollar Store for another two cases of noodle soup), Brad and LaSandra (who showed up and surprised me, then stayed and worked to the bitter end. Brad also took some awesome photos), Phil (who worked while wounded for a while), and my kid Sarah (who was in charge of runner weigh-ins until her dad came and took her away).
Most of the crew --from left, Sarah, member of marathon crew in background, Tattoo Man, Marlene (Betty W's sister), LaSandra, Betty B., Robin, Betty W.

None of us knew what we were doing, but with the help of some folks from the race committee, by the time the first of the 178 runners arrived we were somewhat organized. The runners were a delightful group, much more delightful than I'd be if I'd just run 33 miles and still had 67 more to go! Besides a couple of blisters, they all seemed to be doing well and were in good shape.

Here's what we learned:
* They sure love warm noodle soup! We went through many gallons.
* They sure love PB &J sandwiches! We ran out!
* They sure love gummy bears, bananas and trail mix.
* They don't really love pretzels, energy bars, fig newtons, and cut-up oranges.
* As expected, they went through gallons of water and Gatorade.
* They wanted potatoes, and I didn't have any because I thought it was weird. Who knew?
* Ron M. and Brad both took photos. Some are here, and I'll save some for tomorrow.
* They nearly all had pit crews, usually consisting of several people in cars tracking them. That's what accounts for the mob scene we had all day at the Station, at least 300 folks, probably more.

The majority of the runners came in between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. They weighed in, changed clothes, grabbed some food and drink, massaged their feet, and headed out again. The whole thing was incredibly fun, entertaining, and exhausting.

Sarah at the weighing-in station

Phil Rosenstein and his girlfriend. See blog entry from Oct. 2, 2008. Nice to see him again!

Runners were still arriving well after dark

There will be lots more photos and lots more to this interesting story tomorrow. For now, good night!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Here's why I probably won't be blogging for a few days. I'm getting ready for the Mother Road 100 SuperMarathon on Saturday. No, of course I'm not running in it! (If you thought that, you've obviously never met me!) But it's taking a lot of preparation for Afton Station's role as an aid station, preparing food, etc. And on top of that, my daughter Sarah is arriving today for a 6-day visit! Therefore, I'll probably be absent a bit, but don't give up on me. I'll be baaaaaack!

Good luck to all the marathon runners. Running 100 miles is almost inconceivable for me. I have great admiration and respect for those who are participating. I also thank all the volunteers who are going to be helping out at Afton Station on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Another gorgeous sunrise today.
After a mere one day on my Afton Station winter schedule, I was feeling Route 66 withdrawals, so I took a ride out west of Tulsa to take a look at the new Route 66 Station Park in Red Fork. That's the site of the 154-foot tall replica of an oil derrick and now, after a dedication ceremony there last weekend, a sapling from the Council Oak in Tulsa. Creek Council Tree Site Buildings in the National Register of Historic Places Tulsa Preservation Commission Eventually, a steam locomotive, passenger car, and caboose will be moved there. Read about it at: Rally for the railroad Tulsa World. I love trains, oil derricks, and of course Route 66, so all of this sounds like a really fun addition to the Mother Road. The derrick is quite impressive.

This is a large shield shaped piece of concrete. I'm assuming it will be a sign when it's completed

The sapling is less impressive. It's only about 4 ft. tall and since it's autumn, the leaves are all brown and falling. Given the proper care, I'm hoping it will thrive in the little park.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

This, That, and The Other Thing

We love to see those big wind turbine blades come through Afton on their way to wind farms everywhere. But today, on our way to Afton Station, Ron M. and I saw this one on an interstate overpass of Route 66, and it's got to be the granddaddy of them all! Pretty impressive, eh? I'd love to see that big rig make a 90 degree turn!
T'was a really great day today at the Station. Ron M. was with me, and Tattoo Man came in for the morning, too. He's all excited about his upcoming trip to Santa Monica, CA for the big Route 66 Birthday celebration on the Pier.
We had some interesting visitors today -- sixteen of them in all. A group of four was already there when we pulled up this morning, a young couple and two middle aged women from Australia. After chatting with them for a while, we found out that the young ones were on their honeymoon and the two older ladies were the mothers-in-law who are accompanying them on their 6-week tour of America, to include Route 66. They'd already been to Memphis, NYC, Niagara Falls, and other places, and now are heading west. The concept of taking two mothers-in-law on a honeymoon was rather "foreign" to me, to be sure. They bought this gorgeous old Rambler convertible when they got to the States, and they'll ship in back to Brisbane from Los Angeles.
They weren't the only foreign visitors today, however. A lovely lady from Switzerland (near the Austrian border) was accompanied by her friend from Bergman, AR. And there were also visitors from Claremore OK, Monticello IL, Springfield MO, and Moore OK. Additionally, a young couple who just moved to Afton stopped to say hello. I didn't know people were still moving there!

The back wall of the building across the street finally came down, and now Afton Station has a lovely view of the grain co-op behind it. We still don't know what is to become of the piece of property where the building stood, but my bet is on nothing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A BIG Little Day

This will be a short post because I'm leaving for a party soon. A party! Yes, me! It's been a while.

It wasn't a busy day at Afton Station. Although the guest register shows only seven guests, three of them were my wonderful Route 66 friends who were passing through on their way up to Lebanon, MO for the grand re-lighting of the refurbished Munger Moss Motel sign. Wish I could have gone with them, because it sounds like it will be quite a gathering.

Jerry "McJerry" McClanahan arrived first. As most of you know, he's an acclaimed Route 66 artist and also the writer of the amazing EZ66 Guide, the guidebook of choice for most Mother Road travelers. Jerry, whose gallery is in Chandler, OK is always fun to have around. He was so busy taking pictures that I forgot to take any of him! He was especially interested in taking photos of Betty W. who was with me at the time. I see an article about Betty in American Road Magazine in the future!

Later, Jim Ross and Shellee Graham from Arcadia, OK stopped by, also on their way to the same Munger Moss party. They, too, spent a lot of time taking photos. Shellee is a professional photographer, so it was understandable. Jim is the author of the Guidebook to Oklahoma Route 66, and he and Shellee together authored Roadside U.S.A., both excellent books. Shellee and Jim

The only other visitors today came from Osceola KS, and Kansas City, MO. They were a mother and father and two adult daughters, exploring Route 66 together as a family. Very nice.

Marly, Phil, and Robin are still working on the new showroom, and they were there today despite the below freezing temperatures in the morning. Yes, it was COLD today! The fields have gone from green to gold to brown, and farmers are clearing the stubble. Who stole my summer? Is it my imagination, or were even the cows shivering this morning?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Winter Hours? Hmmm. . .

The first thing I did when I arrived at Afton Station today was to look at the notes Robin left for me. She worked the last two days (Tues. and Wed.) and had a paltry grand total of 11 visitors altogether, almost all locals, and made no sales whatsoever. So, based on the severe reduction of the number of travelers, the next thing I did was to hang my "Winter Hours" sign on the door, on which I announced that we are going on reduced hours starting next week, i.e. open on weekends only.

But since nothing is ever predictable on Route 66 in Afton, Oklahoma, moments after I hung the sign the visitors started to arrive! And today turned out to be a glorious day with 16 wonderful visitors, all of them traveling Route 66 from far off places! Now, I'm not so sure that I'm ready to move into reduced hours. So, we shall see how it goes for a while, and I just might find myself at the Station far more than I'd anticipated this winter.

Here's part of a convoy of large rigs that visited us early this morning. There were actually 4 RVs in the fleet, but because of their length, my non-telephoto lens could only snap two at a time. The folks within were all friends from Vancouver, British Columbia and are doing a Route 66 tour slowly with many side trips and stops. Fun people!

Another Canadian couple, this time from Calgary, Alberta also visited later in the day. They were followed by folks from Waubeka WI, Ottawa Lake MI, Sylvania OH, and Tucumcari, NM. They were all on dedicated Route 66 trips.

With me today to meet and greet guests were Ron M., Tattoo Man, and Betty W., while Marly, Robin, and Phil were working hard on the new showroom out back. Here they are!