Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Clanton's and Other Things

Sometimes I  marvel at how good it feels to be a real part of the Route 66 experience.  That warm feeling overcame me as I sat eating breakfast at Clanton's in Vinita this morning.  Clanton's -- the go-to cafe for Route 66 travelers around here.  It's known far and wide for being the oldest family-owned restaurant on all of Route 66, older than the Route itself.  And yet, I'm treated like a "regular" there.  The waitress knows me and we chat.  She remembers that I always need a spoon to mix my medicine, and that I can't eat potatoes.  I always exchange pleasantries with several other regulars, even though I'm the least regular of them all.  I am warmed by this kind of down home ambiance and wish that there was a place in Afton with the same friendly feeling.
Ron M., the person in charge of reminding me to take photos (or taking them himself) wasn't with me today so I have none other than the two above.  Too bad, because the two young men who came in from Valencia, Spain were definitely photo-worthy!   I guess I was too busy looking at their gorgeousness to think of photographing them.  (Go ahead, call me a cougar...).   Anyway, they were enjoying their Chicago-to-Cali trip.

It was a pretty slow day today, and yet enjoyable.  A lovely Australian couple from Horsham, Victoria made us a stop on their way from West to East on Route 66.   Other than that, all were local, from Vinita, Langley, and Afton OK.    One fellow from Langley brought us a gift, a 1955 Auto Repair Manual, a very large and interesting book covering all makes and models of '55 cars.

Robin had a bigger day on Sunday, with visitors from England, Australia, Washington State and Wisconsin as well as some locals.  She also washed all the windows!!!  Now we can see out of them again.  :-)

I predict fly season is about to begin.  Better oil up the fly swatters!  I wish Phil would hurry and come back from California.  He's our Swatter-in-Chief!

Here's a video we found on YouTube. I'm not sure who made it, but it's a nice view of our 1917 Packard Motorhome.  The interior is too dark, but the exterior looks nice.

Monday, April 29, 2013

In case you didn't believe me. . .

. . . here's proof that I really was at a meeting yesterday, not just shirking my duties at Afton Station.  The board meeting of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association was held at the Tourism Information Center in Oklahoma City.  It was a long meeting and a long day.   This is just one half of the table.  There were about 18 people there altogether.
Sharing the meeting room with us was this guy.... a VERY large bison head!  If you've seen bison up close, you will be able to imagine how large this fuzzy guy was!  Apparently he fell off the wall, so they parked him in the meeting room.   
 That's all  until tomorrow!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Good Tattoo News!

The sun never appeared outside Afton Station today, but it was sunny and happy inside!   We were all so excited to see Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones appear for the first time since his major surgery about 6 weeks ago.  He drove there himself and we all commented that he looked great -- actually much better than we would have thought after his illness.  He hung in with us most of the day!
It was another good day on Route 66, with 19 visitors who stopped in at the Station.   A man from Jacksonville, FL arrived in this rig, a beautiful bike trailing a colorful, decorated trailer.  
 This couple from Miledgeville, GA also stopped in.  They were spending the week on Monkey Island and decided to do a little Route 66 exploration.
From a little further afield, this couple hails from Trowbridge, England.  They're enjoying a Route 66 holiday which will end just short of California.
 A mom and these three kids from Fairland, OK came in for a visit.  They were on their very first geocaching expedition, and ours was the first cache they had ever found!   Quite an honor for us!   The kids were equally as excited about the penny squashing machine, which they all tried.  Here they are, displaying their pennies.
 Near the end of the day, four gentlemen on their way home from a Volvo Owners Meeting arrived.  They were from Webb City MO, and Bentonville, Bella Vista, and Fayetteville, AR.  The Volvo group is just forming and they had their second meeting today at Clanton's in Vinita.   The  young man on the right, a high school senior who is mere weeks from graduation, is the President of the new group.  How great!!  I invited them to come with the rest of the group on a cruise this summer.
There were also visitors from Clarksville AR, Newport News VA, Ann Arbor MI, and Newfoundland, Canada today, as well as "regulars" Betty, Marlene, Robin, and Marly.     I will not be at the Station tomorrow because Ron M. and I will be attending the Board meeting of the OK Route 66 Association in Oklahoma City.  So, don't expect a blog post for tomorrow.... unless I decide to report on the meeting.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Very G'Day!

Days don't get much better than this!  We had such a great time at Afton Station!   It was a day overrun with visitors, and of the 77 people who walked through the door, all but 5 were from Australia!   Dale Butel's Aussie group was divided in two parts.  Those driving cars came first, followed about an hour later by the motorcycle riders led by one of his partners.  Dale was responsible for 67 of our guests.  During their visits, coincidentally we also greeted five other Aussies who were traveling on their own.  The five non-Aussies who came to see us were from London, England,  Springfield, MO, and Fairland and Miami, OK.  Ron M. was immensely helpful to me today.  I'm tired, and I'm sure he is, too.   So, this will be mainly a photo essay (with all photos taken by Ron).
 The cookies I offered at the door were completely gone in about two minutes.  The motorcycle riders who came later were faced with two baskets full of crumbs.  Sorry, guys!
 Many of the guests managed to find a spot to add their autographs on our door.  Believe me, there is almost NO space left,  yet motivated travelers are always able to squeeze their names in somewhere.
 They posed for photographs with one of our flags.
 They lined up on the street and in our parking lot.   It looked like a Hertz Rent-a-Car parking lot!
 They bought things.  LOTS of things!
When the motorcycle folks arrived, they sought shelter from the sun under our portico.  Yes, SUN!   It was a beautiful day today, perfect for anyone and everyone on the road.

Dale will be bringing two more groups down Route 66 this year, one in August and one in October.  We really love these visits and look forward to them.  Now I finally feel that the long awaited "season" has begun!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


It was definitely a NO FLAG day at Afton Station!   In an effort to keep the flags from becoming tattered pieces of cloth flapping in the unrelenting wind, I left them inside -- and then worried that people wouldn't come to visit if they thought I wasn't open.   Every time the wind collided with my front door, the doorbell was activated, and that's always fun.   Ding, ding, ding all day.  If every one of those dings represented a visitor entering, it would have been a record day for sure.  Alas, that didn't happen, but we did have a bunch of 10 darn good visitors... and here they are!
This is a family from Arvada, Colorado.   They thought they were escaping the wintry weather near Denver, but instead ran into 20-degree temps in Amarillo yesterday and the frigid cold wind and rain in Oklahoma today.  Undeterred, they pressed on.
 These two jolly travelers are from Baraboo, Wisconsin.  I remember Baraboo from our Wisconsin vacation several years ago.  It's known as the Circus City because it's the home of the Circus World Museum.  These folks are heading west.  They came in to ask directions to the closest saddle shop, but stayed and became enchanted by the old cars, in particular the motor  home.
 Here's Kevin Kane.   No relation, although his dad's name is David M. Kane -- exactly the same as my ex, David!   Anyway, he's from Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is one of my favorite cities.  We had an interesting talk about how much more difficult it is these days to cross the US/Canada border than it used to be.  He's going "as far as he gets" on this trip.
Finally, the couple on the left from nearby Grove, OK brought their friends visiting from Orange, California to see the cars.  They've been here before and liked it well enough to want their friends to have the pleasure.

Our visitor numbers have been uncharacteristically low this April, and I don't quite know where to assign the blame.  I haven't heard any rumors about my evil personality keeping people away, so I've narrowed it down to 1) the weather or 2) the economy, but since gas prices are falling and the economy is slowly but steadily improving, I can't really accuse the economy for taking my customers. Therefore, it must be the weather, which really HAS been pretty wretched this month.  Unseasonable cold, several rainy days, storm threats, and actually only two days so far this month that would be suitable for the motorcycle riders who make up much of my visitor log.  I look forward to May, the transitional month that brings me right up to the point where I can start complaining about the heat!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Enthusiasm Returns!

Today was SOOO not yesterday!   I feel wonderful today, all energy and enthusiasm has returned, and we had a great day at Afton Station.   My newest shipment of t-shirts got delivered to my house last night by one of my favorite suppliers, Greg Gazak from Zaks, LLC.   He's always on time and delivers my orders to wherever I want them.   This is one of them, the long-sleeved one, and I also sell a black short-sleeved one with a red, white, and blue Route 66 shield on the front.  Come and get 'em!
Ron M. and I were unpacking the shirts when our first visitors arrived, two couples on two nice trikes, one couple from Steele, MO and one from Blytheville, AR (two towns which are just a few miles apart, despite being in different states!)  What lovely, cheery folks they are!   They're heading for the Grand Canyon and I wish them nothing but wonderful weather, safe roads, and fun, fun, fun!
One of the ladies has a serious fear of snakes, so we made her open the Snake Box.  Just as she was opening it, I shouted "Be careful".  Thankfully, she fell short of having a heart attack, but not by much!
Three great guys from the Dusseldorf region of Germany also came to visit on their Route 66 tour.  The fellow on the left was the interpreter, and I was impressed by his ability to speak English.  He has been on Route 66 previously, but the others had not.   Dusseldorf!  I forgot to tell them that I love their mustard!
 I always enjoy mother/daughter travelers, since I so much enjoy traveling with my own daughter.  These two are from Garden City, MO and are having a good trip so far.  Like all our visitors today, their sparks of enthusiasm energized me.  What a great day!
My liberal use of exclamation points in this post must have already let you know that I'm a happy camper this evening.  Furthermore, I got an email from Tattoo Man saying he hopes to be able to come to Afton Station next Saturday... finally!   And, Aussies are coming on Thursday, so I have a lot to look forward to this coming week.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Serene Saturday

It was a ho-hum day at Afton Station, and that's not our visitors' faults by any means.  I think Ron M. and I were just a little tired, and all the unfortunate events of the past week were perhaps taking their toll.  We had friends drop in -- Betty, Michael Scruggs, Robin, Crazy Legs, and David -- and ten nice visitors.   Despite all that, I was feeling blah.  By tomorrow I should be back to my usual wonderful (ha ha!) self.  Until then, here's a short blog so that my glumness doesn't rub off on you.

The sunrise was very pretty.

Our ten visitors consisted of folks from Clinton, Springfield and Neosho Missouri, Ogden Utah, and Miami, Oklahoma.  Most were men, taking advantage of a pretty afternoon, seeking to ogle as many vintage cars as possible.
 No comment about this photo.  It's for Ron M., and only he will probably understand  The shot doesn't really say it all, but it was taken from a moving car to preserve our safety.  Hear any banjos????

Thursday, April 18, 2013

More Good Bass

Robin brought me a bag 'o bass today.  She's an avid fisherman who goes out every morning to the stream near their house and pulls in a mess of them.  I now have a bag large enough for several meals.  Thanks, Robin!

Storms!  Tornadoes!  Floods!   Pestilence!  (Well, not that last one...).  No pestilence yet, but to hear last night's weather prognosticators talk, we were to expect all or most of the above.  The nasty weather came in in the middle of the night, but turned out to be tame compared to some of the ugliness we've had since I moved to Oklahoma.  When Ron M. and I made our way to Afton Station early this morning it was still dark and drizzly.  By mid-afternoon the sun was peeking out occasionally, but the temperature  has dropped some 30 degrees since yesterday and it's COLD!   Just another day in Paradise.....

Guests today included folks from Oswego Kansas, Pittsburg Kansas, Frankfort Germany, Birmingham Alabama, and Bella Vista, Arkansas.   Here are the friendly folks from Alabama.....
 ... and here's the fellow from Germany.  His trip to the U.S. wasn't his first.  In the '70s he purchased, for $75, a car on the West Coast and drove it all over the country.  At the end of his trip, he sold it for $50!   Those were the days!
 I guess that's about all for today.  I got a late start on the blog and have much to do before my head hits the pillow tonight.   Enjoy your evening!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What I Learned Today

I learn a lot at Afton Station, both from doing a good bit of reading between visitors or, more often, from visitors.  Today I learned both ways.  In the morning, I learned that David Sedaris, one of my favorite writers and humorists, has a new book out.  I also learned that the Packard Proving Grounds in Michigan has received National Register of Historic Places status.  (That's where new Packards were put to the test back in the day.)

When the visitors began to arrive, this very congenial young couple from Ballant, Australia (near Melbourne) explained to me -- finally! -- why Australians like Ford Mustangs so much.  It has to do with production in Aussie Land in the mid '60s.   A very limited number of Mustangs were sent to Australia in the mid '60s, where they were converted to righthand drive using Ford Falcon parts.  The people of Australia have been charmed by Pony Cars ever since.  There's more to it than that, but those are the basics.
Later in the morning, I learned a lot more -- and  had fun doing so!  A couple from Derby, Vermont arrived at approximately the same time as another couple from Hawthorne, Florida.  A major gabfest ensued!  There was much exchanging of stories of road trips past and present, photos, and advice about future road trips.   The Vermonters were heading west to the Grand Canyon, and the Floridians, very experienced travelers, had lots of tips for them.  Coincidentally, the Florida couple had been visiting Vermont, just a few miles from the home of the Vermonters, when all of them  experienced Hurricane Irene in 2011 which devastated that part of the state.
 What did I learn?   From the gentleman from Florida, I learned a new word which I plan to use as often as possible.  "Wobblypop" - an alcoholic beverage, as in "He had too much wobblypop!"  Ha ha ha!

From the guy from Vermont, I learned what it's like to to drive one of those huge, 115,000 pounds (full) logging trucks through the Green Mountains in often nasty weather.  Here he is, showing a photo of his truck to Betty, who shared in my learning today.
 And here's the photo he showed  me -- taken on the day that he turned his truck over on the side of the road.  Yikes!
And what did I learn from Betty?  That I  have very nice friends, something I actually already knew.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Title Contest

As I once again try to acclimate myself to my hectic summer schedule, I'm finding that all vestiges of creativity I may have once had are quickly giving way to a life of rushing around just to get everything done in a day.   I'll settle into a routine soon, but until then, I have completely run out of clever (or even not-so-clever) daily titles for my blog posts.  Therefore, I challenge you, my readers, to submitting a title for this one.   Winner will be announced on Tuesday.

Ron M. was with me today and the morning was very quiet, to say the least.  That translates to NO visitors (except for David and his son Patrick who stopped in to do some business with me).  But actual travelers were nowhere to be seen until noon.   After that, we went on to have 8 visitors, so it was a pretty good day after all.

This gentleman from Taylorsville, KY is showing us his Kodak PlayFull, which is the smallest video camera I've ever seen.  He said it works well for him on his road trips.
 A family from Dallas, TX stopped by, and their very cute little 17-month-old son was fascinated by the penny pinching machine.  Well, actually, he was fascinated by the handle of the machine, which caused me to worry that he was going to bonk his head with it, as several other short people  have done.  He survived, however, and we enjoyed meeting and greeting his mommy and daddy.
Here's a visitor from  Maud, OK, caught in the act of actually buying something!  Sales have been low so far this season, but I keep telling myself that April never has been one of the best months, and there's still more than half of it left.
 The two fellows on the left are from Normandy, France and are having a spectacularly fun time on their Route 66 trip.   They are members of the Normandy U.S. Cars Club, so they derived great joy at examining our collection.   Alain and Gerard left a souvenir of their club with me, which I'll show below.  The gentleman on the right came in at the same time and is from Aberdeen, Washington.   Since they were all going in the same direction after leaving Afton Station (namely, to Darryl Starbird's museum), they bonded a bit before they left.   The gentleman from Aberdeen says he may be the world's champion visitor to car museums, as he can count more than 100 which he has toured.  Wow!
 Here is the card which the French men gave to me.   The '59 Cadillac belongs to Alain.  Look at all nice American cars at their car show!
Enough for now.  Now, name this post!  Help!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stream of Consciousness

It's that kind of a day, so expect a lot of disjointed thoughts.  It began at dawn.  Beautiful sunrise, followed almost immediately by drizzle, then just clouds and gloom.  Mother Nature playing tricks.  Here's the sun rising behind the Oasis Motel on 11th St. (Route 66) in Tulsa.
I was restless and somewhat distracted all day, although things improved when my first guests arrived..  They were a very sweet family from Langley, OK who were returning from acquiring a full truckload of mushroom soil from the mushroom farm in Miami, OK.   They're planning a big garden this summer, and I'm jealous.  My postage stamp yard could never accommodate a decent garden, and I miss digging in the dirt.    The Langley family included an adorable and polite little kindergartener who seemed interested in everything at the Station, particularly my little Tow Mater toy!
The folks from Har-Ber Village came to take the T-Bird we've been keeping for them.  The gorgeous car will be raffled off in September, and we've been selling tickets for them.  Today, they were taking it to the Pelican Festival to reach a new audience for tickets, but it will be back.  They tell me that not a lot of tickets have been sold, so if anyone is interested in taking a $25 chance on a 2003 red T-Bird convertible with fewer than 250 miles on it, let me know.  At this point, the odds of winning aren't too bad.

By noon, not much else had happened at the Station.  There were a couple of calls from friends, and another friend dropped in briefly.  Scott came by on his way to the recycling place with a load of scrap metal.  I cleaned out the file cabinet and got rid of a ton of old receipts, etc.  Ron M. got home from his vacation yesterday but stayed home today with the beginnings of a head cold. I called to see  how he was doing, and he's ok. I hope he comes to Afton with me tomorrow.

This group drove over from Siloam Springs and Gentry, Arkansas... another case of roaming around on what materialized into a nice day for a ride.   They enjoyed the cars very much.
Other visitors (a grand total of 15) came from Grove and Tulsa, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas.

When I picked up Ron M. at the Tulsa airport yesterday, he pointed out that there was an incredible -- and large! -- new Route 66 mural on the concourse!   He snapped this photo of it.   It's extremely well executed and colorful, two attributes that don't really show in this photo.   Come to Tulsa and check it out.  It's so nice to see all the new tributes to Route 66 in our city.  I'm proud of Tulsa!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Aroma of Bacon

I really should have been a country girl.  I've always known it, at least ever since David and I had a small farm in the '70s, three of the happiest years of my life.  Now, at this phase of my existence, I have country "moments".  Today, driving to Afton pre-dawn, rolling through the countryside on Route 66, seeing nothing but outlines of fields and fences and an occasional white farmhouse standing out in the darkness, I suddenly smelled bacon.  Frying bacon, emanating apparently from that farmhouse I'd just passed, set back in a pasture on the left side of the road, the only one nearby.  Bacon!  Immediately, my farm girl instincts kicked in, and all I wanted to do was to be in that little house dining on bacon, a couple of eggs, and perhaps a biscuit with some freshly churned butter and recently made blackberry jam -- my reward for getting up on this cold morning and getting the cows milked before the sun came up.  

And then, just like that, the bacon aroma was left behind and I was back in the Subaru, headed for a little old car museum in a little old Oklahoma town.  Real life had taken over once again. . .

Robin closed Afton Station early yesterday because the power went out and it became intolerably cold. Yes, we're having another cold snap, with 30-degree temps yesterday and today.  So, Robin went home to her wood fired stove, and I don't blame her a bit!  If you stopped by yesterday, I do apologize.

Betty came to spend most of the day with me and she brought me a yummy sausage roll, which was almost as good as that farm breakfast I'd been daydreaming about. A nice family from Madison, South Dakota dropped in and enjoyed the cars.  The husband has a collection himself, including a '59 Edsel, a '57 Chevy, and a pickup from the '50s.

I had a long and fascinating chat with this gentleman from Elberfield, Indiana who has been on the road on his motorcycle for almost a month.  He's retired, and is enjoying the freedom of the road.  Before hopping on Route 66, he'd been to Daytona, FL for bike week and a number of other spots, and is in no hurry to head for home.  I really enjoyed exchanging stories with him.
Toward the end of the day, two gentleman made a quick stop at the Station.  They were from Council Bluffs, Iowa and Grove, Oklahoma.  It turned out to be a day sparsely dotted with visitors, but a very nice one nonetheless.  There will be a big warmup now, they say, so I feel sure the number of visitors to Afton Station will increase as the degrees rise.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Road Crew is Coming!

I just arranged for the "Official Musicians of Route 66", the Road Crew of Nashville, TN, to play an informal concert at Afton Station the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 4.  The last time this truly excellent and professional group played at the Station in October 2009 , the audience loved it.  The guys play their own Route 66 compositions as well as rockabilly, rock, and country tunes.  Their versatility is amazing.  Those of you who have purchased one of their CDs at Afton Station know how good they are.
 Unfortunately, the audience was sparse for their last visit to Afton.  This time, I hope to gather a crowd worthy of their music, and that's not easy in a town of very few citizens.  The band will be coming from a gig at the International Route 66 Festival in Joplin, MO, where they'll play for a big audience, so I'm hoping lots of you will come to Afton and see them in a more intimate setting. On top of their talent, they're the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet.

The concert will be free, of course.  More details will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

All Foreign, All The Time!

Where are all the Americans? I guess it's still a little too early for them to be traveling.  But our foreign friends are out and about, and I'm delighted to say that every one of the Route 66 travelers at Afton Station today were from somewhere other than the U.S.A.   We love our visitors from afar!

Betty, Marly, and I greeted 8 visitors today.   The first couple was from Woodstock, Ontario, Canada.  . . . 
. . . followed by a couple  from London, England. 
 Then, in the afternoon there were two folks from Sheffield, England, and finally a couple from Easton Township, Quebec, Canada.

The folks from London are temporarily residing in Ohio and were taking their beautiful vintage Indian motorcycle to several biker events across the U.S.  They decided to check out Route 66, and they are ferrying the Indian on a trailer behind a motor home.  All the other couples are doing traditional Route 66 trips.  The couple from Sheffield, England told us that they  had avoided a hefty drop-off charge on their rented VW Beetle by securing it from Alamo in England before coming to the U.S. That was interesting news since the usual drop-off charges can run from $500 to $1500 when a vehicle is picked up in Chicago and dropped off in L. A.

Tune in again tomorrow because I'll have some very exciting news to report!