Sunday, September 29, 2013

Running on Empty

Empty.  That's how I always feel for a time after my daughter Sarah leaves here following a nice visit.  It was a very wonderful visit, and right now she's on a plane heading back to Chicago.  Boo hoo!   It's funny how that empty feeling when they leave never goes away, from the time they're born until they're, well, a few weeks short of 40 years old.
But, things went on as usual at Afton Station today, and once again it was a good -- but not crowded -- day.  We had some intriguing visitors from Beijing, China.   Two young couples were super excited about visiting Afton Station because they'd seen it in a Japanese (not Chinese) movie that was made here, in part, a couple of years ago.  Their excitement increased when they immediately recognized Tattoo Man (who happened to be sitting there) because he had been featured in one segment of the film.  Apparently, though we didn't previously know it, the Japanese fellow who was the "star" of the film is extremely well-known all over Asia.  Tattoo was thrilled to be recognized by the folks, but not quite as thrilled as they were about being at Afton Station.  In fact, one of the beautiful  young ladies in the group was wearing a traditional dress that she had put on just for the Afton Station visit.
And here are the other three, who were fascinated by Tattoo's back and by the pressed penny machine.
We also had visits from folks from Indianapolis IN, Bentonville AR, Bella Vista AR, Caldwell ID, Calhoun KY, and Livermore, KY.  Betty came to say hello to Sarah, and of course Ron M. was with us.   I'll be heading back to Afton tomorrow after dialysis to meet up with my college roommate who, after over 25 years, called today to say she and her husband will be in that area tomorrow.  Can't wait to see Barbara after all these years!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cooling It

This is the time of year when I start to realize, but hate to admit, that things are slowing down on Route 66 and at Afton Station.  Naturally, we're almost into October and well out of "tourist season", but I refuse to recognize the fact.   Every person who comes in the door is precious to us. We still get a healthy number of visitors, but the flow is starting to slow.  This month, our visitor count has slightly exceeded September 2012, and our sales are gloriously higher than last year.   And yet, it's sad to see the season waning, the weather changing, and the tapering off of travelers.

However. . . today was a really good one at Afton Station.   For one thing, my daughter Sarah was with us for the morning until her dad picked her up at noon to spend some time at his house.  They were both supposed to drive a couple of the old cars in Grove's Pelican Days parade this morning, but pouring rain prevented it.  I was glad because I got to enjoy more of Sarah's presence.  We've had a great time since she's been here, and we've eaten ourselves crazy.  She goes home tomorrow... sniff...
 It rained and rained all afternoon.  It's welcome rain because we need it, and also because it dropped the temperature into the '60s, temps we haven't seen since the very beginning of the summer.

Sixteen guests visited today.   There were two guys heading back to Tulsa from the aforementioned parade with their little Shriners car, the kind that bounces and twists down the parade route.
There was Gail from Hingham, Massachusetts, my very favorite kind of visitor.  Talkative, animated, fun lady who was clearly appreciating everything she saw on her solo Route 66 trip.   When her visit was coming to an end and she was thinking in terms of lunch down the road in Vinita, we suggested Clanton's.    And this is a first... after she finished lunch she called me to thank me for suggesting such a nice spot!
This guy from Wichita, Kansas who came in with his wife, was very much enjoying the DeSoto!   He did a little mugging for the camera, too.
Our other great visitors came from Little Rock AR, Roe OK, Kansas OK, Irving TX, and Jeffersonville, OH.  Marly and Tattoo Man also spent some time with us.  Now that I'm back in Tulsa, the rain has stopped, and  yet I'm grateful for that which we had, as we needed it badly!  See  you tomorrow...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fun With Police Cruisers

We're storing a 1984 Ford LTD police cruiser at Afton Station for a while (for a friend), so today Phil and Marly had a little fun with it.  They were so good at posing as if being arrested that we began to wonder if perhaps they had some experience being frisked and riding in the back of a police car.  Hmmm......

 Once the fun ended, we got back to work greeting our visitors who today came from Excelsior Springs MO, Inver Grove Hts. MN, Oberbipp  Switzerland, Oak River MN, Burbank IL, and Fairland, OK.  Not a particularly busy day, but we  had some fun.

Here are the folks from Switzerland.
On the way to Afton this morning, we stopped in Miami to watch  the circus being set up for a one-day stand.  Interesting.  Those big structures behind the truck are what help to pull up the tent, which is the size of a football field.  I guess they don't make the elephants do that any more.
Sarah is here and there's really little time to blog, so this is all for today. More exciting details of life on Route 66 later.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Klomp Klomp Klomp . . .

. . . was the sound at Afton Station today when a group of four great guys from the Netherlands arrived, and one of them was wearing wooden shoes!   That's a first for us.  I was given a pair of wooden shoes by Dries Bessels when he visited, but this is the first Dutch visitor who said he wears them all the time.   (The Dutch word for wooden shoes is "klomp" or, more properly, "sabot"). Very interesting. 
Here's the whole group of happy Dutchmen.  We liked them!  Second from the left is the wooden shoe wearer.  The rest sported more Americanized footwear.  They had been to the Henry Ford museum in Detroit and are now on Route 66 looking for more cars, cars, cars.
It was a very quiet day on Route 66 today, at least in Afton.   We had a mere 14 visitors, most of them in the afternoon.  They came from Brooklyn NY, Moore OK, Rogers AR, Konawa OK, and Davenport, IA.
Our one early visitor was Glenn from Brooklyn, NY.  He works for the Mayor of NYC's office and was quite the interesting gentleman.  Another car guy, he has four or five vintage vehicles himself, and was heading off to gaze at more cars, too.  It was definitely a car day today.
The two men from Rogers, AR on the other hand were "railroad guys", hoping to have a train or two go past as they visited the Station.

This is the first of what might be several days of very short or even nonexistent blog posts.  Today I got home late and have a lot to do because tomorrow my daughter Sarah is coming for a 5-day visit.  That always means I'll be having too much fun to promise a daily blog.  I'll try, but we shall see.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cool Sunday

As it turned out, we had a good day today but we sure didn't beat yesterday for quantity of visitors!   Marly hosted 73 visitors while I was having a great time in Oklahoma City.   His wife Sue helped out all day, and I'm hoping Sue will want to do so in the future, too.  Tattoo Man was also there to observe the crowds, which included Jim Conkle's bus load of folks from England.

It would be hard to beat yesterday, but Ron M. and I were met at the door when we arrived by three Australian citizens, so we knew from the start that it would be a great day.  They're from Warellan, NSW.   Love their bumper sticker, obviously specially made for their trip in order to "personalize" their rental car.
All three are self-described car nuts, so they enjoyed our collection.  They admitted that they are driving Route 66 not so much to see the usual iconic places, but instead to visit junk yards and car shows and automotive flea markets, looking for car parts.  Well, that's one way to see Route 66.  Different strokes for different folks!   Here they are musing over the purchase of a guidebook.
Later in the day, an 80-year-old gentleman who grew up in Afton came in with his daughter and son-in-law who just moved to Springfield, MO from Puerto Rico.   The daughter also grew up in Afton, so it was good luck that Betty W. arrived shortly thereafter and there was a great reunion!   I love it when Betty is reunited with folks she hasn't seen for years.  In this case, it was 30 years since she saw the daughter.  They spent a good amount of time chattering about the past.
The remainder of our 21 guests came from Glenmore Park Australia (near Sydney), Torrance, CA, Savage MN, Dennison TX, Topeka KS, and Ketchum, Fairland, and Tahlequah, OK.

We also had visits from Tattoo Man and Phil.  So good to have Phil back in town, although only for a few weeks.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

And now, for something a little different. . .

While Marly was busy handling crowds at Afton Station today (one group alone had over 30 people, he said), I was in Oklahoma City speaking to a meeting of Oklahoma County Retired Educators.  There were over 70 people in the group, and three guesses what my presentation was about . . .yep, Route 66!

I took my support crew, Ron M. and Joe Meeks, along on the 100-mile drive, and we arrived at 9 a.m. at the gigantic Christian church at which the monthly meeting was to be held.   From a distance, it looks like a huge egg is emerging from the ground.
We arrived early to set up the projector which had the daunting task of projecting my Power Point presentation on a screen that reminded me of the screen we had when I was a kid.  However, the Power Point certainly made it a lot easier to progress from photo to photo, so I remain enamored with modern technology.

The table settings were ingenious and must have taken months to make!  The theme was "Sailing Into 2014". That's a pan of water with a little sailboat floating in it.  
And here are Ron and Joe waiting for things to begin and munching on the large array of snacks available.
I have reason to believe that my talk was well received.  I wasn't particularly nervous, but I did decide after it was over that I should go back to my old style of speaking extemporaneously  rather than working with a script. In any case, I hope I got a lot of the folks there eager to take a trip on Route 66.
After the presentation, we listened to a short business meeting then enjoyed a very nice buffet luncheon.   Thank you so much to the folks at the OCREA for treating us so nicely.  Afterwards, we hopped back into the car and Joe took us on a great tour of Oklahoma City.  He's far more familiar with it than are either Ron or I.    OKC is certainly a city that is seeing enormous growth, and in all the right direction.   Very impressive!  Since we'd taken the interstate to get to OKC in the morning, we decided to take old Route 66 back to Tulsa.  It was a wonderful ride on a beautiful day.  As far as I'm concerned, every ride on Route 66 is wonderful!

Marly just sent these pics from his day at Afton Station.  I see Jim Conkle brought his bus tour to the Station, and I also see that Tattoo Man stopped in to visit with them.   Jim is a veteran Route 66er from California.  Wish I'd been there to see him!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Love Is In The Air

Over the years, we've greeted quite a number of visitors to Afton Station who are traveling Route 66 on their honeymoons, but I believe this is the first time we've met a couple who is heading for Las Vegas to be married -- via Route 66 of course.  Furthermore, they're from the Netherlands!   Following a lifelong dream, Roger and Kitty from Haastricht, Holland are having such a good time.   Oh, I fell in love with this wonderful couple -- so enthusiastic, so talkative, so aware of the charms of the Mother Road.  They don't want to be married by an Elvis impersonator or the like... just a simple ceremony in a small Las Vegas chapel for them.  They won our hearts today, and (Ron M. and I) wish them the very best in their life together.  
We arrived in Afton this morning to be greeted by a couple from New River, Arizona who drove back from spending the night in Miami in order to visit the Station.  Immediately thereafter, a group of six neat vintage cars pulled in -- a surprise visit from a group of 11 friends from Iowa, not a car club but just like-minded friends who needed a dose of Route 66.   Nice people, nice cars.

I was distracted and missed getting a photo of two very attractive young visitors, a couple from Beijing, China.  And rounding out the visits from foreign lands came yet another young, enthusiastic couple from Hanover, Germany.  Ron did manage to get a photo of them enjoying the pressed penny machine.
Five women from Tulsa dropped in near the end of the day.  They just needed a little day trip on 66 and ended up finding us via a magazine article.  Glad to have them.  There were also visitors today from New Bern, North Carolina and Grove, Oklahoma.

Robin is on a week's vacation and taking her place tomorrow and Wednesday is Rann Lee, a new recruit to my volunteer corps.  He's a great guy who looks forward to meeting and greeting travelers.  On Saturday, Marly is taking over because I have to give a presentation to a group in Oklahoma City.  And remember, we're now closed on Mondays.  That's the only Fall change in our regular schedule.
The moon was full and bright this morning.   Must be the love in the air. . .

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Show and Tell

People are so interesting!     And interesting people make my days at Afton Station worth every bit of the long drive to get there and get home.  There was an abundance of interesting folks on Route 66 today, and I'm grateful that so many of them dropped in to the Station.

Here is Johan, from Kinrooi, in the Belgian province of Limburg.  
Johan is, without a doubt, one of the most avid foreign Route 66 fan ever to have visited us here.  He's also a big fan of any Americana from the '50s, particularly Buddy Holly.  He has enough English to converse with ease.  He's on his very first vacation, and Route 66 was tops on his bucket list.  His enthusiasm was contageous, and Ron M., Tattoo Man, and I caught it immediately.  He produced a book, fully professionally bound, which included photos of his residence in Belgium, decorated entirely in a '50s theme -- but not the usual cutouts of Elvis, etc.  Oh no!  He has all the bushes around his house sculpted into topiary Route 66 shields, guitars, etc.  He has a mock cemetery in his yard and "graves" (rather elaborate ones at that) of Marilyn Monroe, Buddy Holly, Elvis, etc.  He has a couple of fabulous '50s cars, and I could go on and on.   This man lives and breathes Route 66!
He's collecting autographs of all the folks he meets along the road.  Oh boy, I wanted to go back to Belgium with him!!  [Sigh...]
There was more show-and-tell today, too.  This couple from Seneca Falls, NY (on the Finger Lakes) brought Jake for us to meet.   Jake is their mascot when they travel, is present in all of their vacation photos, and has a whole chain of hat pins that commemorate his various travels, both in America and abroad.
This lady from Wilmington, Delaware is traveling Route 66 with her mother, destination Los Angeles.  Their pup named Shelby came along for the ride, so of course we greeted him warmly at Afton Station.
This very cheery couple came to us from Verona, Italy and are intrigued by everything they've seen so far.  Off to California for them, too!

Other visitors today came from Cameron AR, Hackett AR, Jamestown IN, Laguna Beach CA, Dade City FL, Houston MO, Tulsa OK, and Osawatomie, KS.  It was a very busy and pleasant day.   There was a lot of buying done today too, and I never complain about that little plus!

There's a Wikipedia entry for Afton Station!  I don't know who put it there, but I like it.  It appears to be a compilation of portions of a dozen or so articles about the Station.  I made some minor corrections to it, and Ron M. is going to make the corrections on line for me today.  If anyone knows who posted the article, let me know.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Challenger Challenge

Well, it just goes to show what I know. . . or DON'T know.  When our first visitors to Afton Station arrived today, we thought they had driven a vintage Dodge Challenger.  But nope, it was brand new!  The couple from Manchester, England had rented it in Chicago for their Route 66 trip.  I had no idea that Dodge had recreated the Challenger and it sure looked, from where they parked it across the street, like an oldie.

Here's the one they drove today with the vintage model below.
A more discerning muscle car lover would of course know the difference, but not me!  I know virtually nothing about the genre.

Another couple arrived in an interesting car today, as well.   They're from Riverview, Michigan (near Detroit), but flew to Phoenix to pick up an '87 Corvette which they purchased there.  Now, they're driving home in the 'Vette and enjoying every minute of time in their new wheels.  We had a nice talk about the demise of the Packard factory in Detroit,
It was a fairly quiet day today.   Ron and I had a lot of down time, in which I completed two Sunday crosswords and he caught up with a pile of magazines.  We did have a nice group of visitors, however.  Other than those mentioned above, the others came from Bethany Beach MD, Broken Arrow OK, Port St. Lucie FL, Adelaide Australia, Greenwood AR, Peru IN, and Kokomo, IN.
These two friends from Indiana are venturing across all of Route 66.  We suggested they stay at the Campbell Hotel when they get to Tulsa tonight and perhaps also try the brand new Maxxwell's Restaurant in the hotel.  They have a month for their trip and expect to return via the Lincoln Highway. We also asked them to give a shout out to Dan Rice when they get to the Santa Monica pier.
Finally, this Aussie couple is also traversing Route 66 and were buoyed by the lovely (almost cool) weather we were having this morning.  It did heat up by the end of the day, but we never turned on the a/c and were reasonably comfortable all day.  Can fall be near?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Poker... I mean Marble... Run

We were expected to host one stop on a Route 66 Biker Poker Run coming to Afton Station today, but instead we got a Marble Run.  What?  Due to objections by a variety of entities,  the term "Poker Run" is now supposedly an offensive term.  (Remember, this is a state that has 120 casinos!).  Anyway, instead of drawing from a deck of cards at a number of businesses in the Grand Lake area with the winner being the person with the best poker hand, this time they drew colored marbles out of a bag and somehow the winner is discerned via a combination of colors.  Hey, it's just a Poker Run disguised as something else, so never mind.   The proceeds from the entry fees are going to the Veteran's Cemetery Fund in Miami, OK, a very worthy cause.
Chaser and Bear (above) arrived first on their interesting trike.  Sent by the Veterans group, they set up inside the Station and were responsible for  overseeing the marble picking all day.  What nice people!   We enjoyed having them around for the day and they're now our new friends.

Approximately 40 other bikers arrived all day, a few at a time, and drew their marbles.  (As far as we could tell, none of them lost their marbles...:-)
  This guy was a hoot, plus he reminds me of Willie Nelson.  I just had to snap his picture.
Nearly all of the bikers stayed long enough to have a look at our old cars and they all appreciated them very much.   But amid all the chaos, we also had 24 visitors of our own.  They came from Quebec Canada, El Dorado TX, Hamburg Germany, Oconomowok WI, Grove OK, San Antonio TX, Charleston SC, Kansas City MO, Anchorage AK, Carrolton GA, and Stuttgart, Germany.
A French Canadian gentleman, from Quebec, was our first visitor.  Traveling alone across Route 66, he seemed to be intrigued by all he'd seen so far and was eager to see more.
A family group came for a visit, checking out a little bit of Route 66 while staying at a resort not far away on Grand Lake.   The three on the left (grandfather, grandmother, granddaughter) are from Anchorage, Alaska, and the couple on the right (son and daughter-in-law) live in Carrollton, Georgia.  They "met in the middle" for this vacation!

Ron M. helped me all day as usual.  Tattoo Man, Crazy Legs, and Scruggs also came by.  But the best news of all is that Phil is back!    Yes, he's back, at least for a while, from his extended visit to his parents in California. While he was there, his father passed away and he stayed to care for his 92 year old mother.  But this week, he packed up his mom and they drove back to Oklahoma!  I do hope they stay a while, or better yet, permanently!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dubby and Others

Guest of honor today at Afton Station was Dubby, a sweet little Boston Terrier puppy Betty is baby sitting for this weekend.  Three month old Dubby touched everyone's heart.  She was so happy just to cuddle contentedly in Betty's lap for over an hour.
And then, she made an instant friend with this gentleman from Edmond, Oklahoma who came to visit.
We had a great day today, as many are still traveling Route 66 in large numbers.  Our visitors came from Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada, E. Pachogue NY, Mandan ND, Ringtown PA, Marseilles France, Douglasville GA, Sarnia Ontario Canada, Aukland NZ, Madison WI, Warwickshire England, Rogers AR, and Tulsa and Claremore, OK.
These two fine fellows are from Marseilles, France.
It was fun to meet these two.  They're from Long Island NY, almost straight across Long Island Sound from my former home in Connecticut.  She even has friends from my former town.   But the most interesting coincidence was when he said they'd been in Tulsa visiting with his sister who just opened a coffee shop on 11th St. (Route 66).  Turns out Ron M. and I met his sister at a meeting a couple of months ago.  Small world!
These two guys were amazed to learn that we had visitors from their tiny home town of Mandan, ND just a week or so ago!   They looked in the Guest Book and established that the wife of one of them just might know the previous visitors!  More small world!  I love this kind of stuff!
Dave and Amber left this on our autograph wall.  I don't know who they are, but the guy is cute.
We drove past the Campbell Hotel on 11th St. in Tulsa on our way to Afton this morning, expressly to snap a picture of the brand new Maxxwell's Restaurant in the hotel.  I'm so excited about this cafe because it opens for breakfast at 6 a.m., which makes it possible for me to eat there every now and then.  They also serve lunch and dinner. The Campbell has needed a good restaurant for a long time.  It's a wonderful historic Route 66 hotel, with gorgeous rooms and other amenities, but really needed an eatery within it's walls.

So sorry to have missed the visit from Dries Bessels from the Netherlands and his group yesterday.  Robin and Tattoo Man must have done a great job of hosting them, however, because they left us a cannister of the most delicious Dutch cookies!   Thanks, Dries!