Saturday, December 28, 2013

Early Morning Surprise

On our drive up to Afton, which we thought was going to be just a quick look-in to make sure everything was tied down and winterized there, I had a call from some folks who were waiting outside of the Station hoping to get in for a tour. Since we were only about 20 minutes away when we got the call, I put the pedal to the metal (don't tell the OHP) and got there before they got tired of waiting.  What a nice surprise... visitors!

I was very glad we caught them when we did.  They're pulling a travel trailer and heading down to the Rio Grande Valley for the rest of the winter and said they hadn't visited Afton Station in about 6 years.  They own a '49 Packard and are active in Packard and antique vehicle groups in their home town of Petersburg, IL.   Furthermore, they introduced us to their pups, Wolfie and Isabella, two sweet, calm, huggable little angels.
Robin dropped in for a few minutes while we were still there and let me know that yesterday there were only two visitors and both were local.    After the Illinois couple left, Ron M. and I proceeded on our way to Grove.  Now I wonder if, had we stayed, we would have had more visitors later in the day. Oh well, no way to predict that.  It was a lovely day and right now the temperature in Tulsa is 63 degrees. Can't beat that for a mid-winter day!  On our trip to Grove, we checked out the Windham complex on Monkey Island, right on the water, where many of our Afton Station visitors stay in time share condos when they're in the area.  It seems like a nice spot.  Too bad it's not right on Route 66 though.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bored? Who, me?

Thankfully, I'll be driving up to Afton Station tomorrow, although just for a while and not all day.  I don't do well when I'm not on the road -- mostly Route 66, but any road will do at this point.  Ron M. and I will be at the Station tomorrow around 10 a.m. for perhaps an hour at most.   Robin opened up today but had few visitors.  Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be ideal, sunny and in the 60s.  Ah, nice!

I'm practicing with the camera on my new iPhone5s, and so far I find it, like every aspect of the phone, to be excellent.  I took a couple of photos just now, and here they are. This is a hand painted Route 66 stabile that I was given some years ago.  (A stabile is like a mobile in that it has moving parts, but it is grounded as opposed to hanging.)
This one is going to take some explaining.  It was given to me years ago and is one of my prized possessions, although I had mislaid it until today when I found it while cleaning my office.   It's a zebra leg thermometer.  Yes, it's a real zebra leg and hoof, fur and all, taxidermied, with a thermometer nailed to the front.  It's pretty creepy but a wonderful conversation starter.  I have no idea why it was made or by whom.  My apologies to all animal lovers and wildlife preservationists.
So, that's what I do when I'm bored.  I think this little phone takes some really great pictures, don't you?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

66 on Ice

I took a little ride on Tulsa Route 66 this morning thinking I'd be able to take some interesting photos of the ice which is encrusting everything in sight after yesterday's ice storm.  I wasn't successful, for two reasons.  For one thing, my camera doesn't seem to enjoy bringing out the true beauty of icicles.  Secondly, there aren't very many trees along Tulsa Route 66!  I never really noticed before.  I had to drive through the gate of the University of Tulsa in order to snap a semi-decent picture.  This is the spot where the Metro Diner once stood and, like most Route 66 fanatics, I wasn't happy when they tore it down just to produce a "green quadrangle" surrounded by student apartments.  But they do have lots of trees, and all of them were covered with frozen beauty.  It's just that my camera didn't really catch it.
A big limb crashed down across the street from me last night, but otherwise there's no particularly serious damage in my 'hood.  However, since the temperature hasn't risen above freezing for several days, the ice remains on branches, wires, and roofs, leaving Tulsans to move gingerly beneath the creaking and sagging.  I'll be glad when the dripping starts.

Cheers!  Enjoy these few days before Christmas, and I hope it will be a happy and stress-free time for you all!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Long Goodbye

That is the title of an Editorial in Sunday's Tulsa World newspaper.  It made me sad.   I found out that I missed what I feel is an important date in the life of Route 66.   On November 26th, the Route 66 town of Picher, OK ceased to exist as an incorporated municipality.

I have had a very emotional interest in Picher, as well as its sister town Cardin, ever since I moved to Oklahoma and learned that the two towns had been named the biggest (read worst) Superfund sites in the U.S.  The lead and zinc mining that had brought amazing prosperity to the towns in the '30s and '40s eventually dangerously polluted the land, water, and air in the region.   Afton is in the same county and, although not affected as greatly as the other two towns, still has a somewhat dangerous level of pollutants in its air, so I have a personal interest in the whole sad story.  But mostly, I feel so badly for the citizens of Picher and Cardin who were forced to move from their longtime homes.

You can read about the closing of the towns here:

I have written about the plight of Picher several times here on the blog, and you can find the posts at:
January 9, 2009
November 6, 2009
January 25, 2011
An abandoned home with a pile of contaminated chat from the mines in the background

RIP Picher, Oklahoma
RIP Cardin, Oklahoma

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thinking Hiatus

I think that after this post (and perhaps another one which I already have lined up for tomorrow), I'm going to take a little hiatus -- probably just a week or two -- from this blog so I can make sense of the massive number of tasks I have to get done before Christmas and New Years.  Gifts must be wrapped, gifts must be mailed (soon!), a couple of gifts still need to be made, food arranged, purchased, and cooked for a party after Christmas, and I just signed on to proofread a friend's manuscript which must go to the publisher in the next week or so.   Eek!

Furthermore, Afton Station today yielded exactly ZERO visitors; so there's nothing to talk about!   We stuck it out until a little after 1:30, but I have finally convinced myself that it's all over for 2013.   I might show up there occasionally when weather permits and when I have a bad case of Afton separation anxiety, but for all intents and purposes we're closed until February.   If I do decide to open once in a while, you'll be the first to know. And, as usual, if you plan to come through Afton or if you have house guests who might like to visit the Station, just give me a call and I'll try to arrange to open for you.   918-382-9465.

There were signs that Santa was lurking around last night.  He left  hats here and there.  Ho ho ho!
Crazy Lady got one.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

One is the loneliest number

And that, my friends, is the number of visitors we had at Afton Station today.  I can't really blame people for not coming out on such an ugly day -- very cold, very damp, very dark, very windy.  Ron M. and I sat around and caught up on our reading until 1:30, then gave up and started for home.   Our one visitor was a local citizen who had lost a packet of important papers yesterday on his walk home from the post office and just stopped in to see if we might have found it.  Hardly a Route 66 traveler.   Robin came in and hung out for about an hour, but otherwise we saw nobody.

On the way out of town, we stopped to take a photo of the bridge which we feel is the same one I talked about in yesterday's blog post.   Seventy-six years has changed it, of course, but it appears that the lay of the land is accurate, and it's the only bridge of such size within 3 miles of Afton to the north.  It has recently been completely restructured.
We plan to go back to Afton tomorrow, and I have high hopes for the day.  The sun has already begun to shine and the prediction is for temperatures in the '50s.   So c'mon, folks,  have mercy on us and stop in for a visit.  Please!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Road Building

I couldn't resist an Ebay purchase recently.   The writing pasted on the back, from a Chicago newspaper, is dated 5-31-36 and says:
Above photo shows WPA workers near Afton, Okla. carrying rock in buckets to a highway overpass under construction three miles away.  Upon completion the contractors were notified that the $1,500 of federal money allotted for the project that was not used should be used on the job in some way, and the contractors had the men carry rock in above manner and placed on the finished embankment, until the required WPA hours were completed.
I think this must be the bridge north of Afton (at Buffalo Ranch) which carried Route 66.  It's the only large bridge in the area, other than the Interstate bridge which wasn't built until the 1950s.  The bridge in the photo, if I'm correct is, coincidentally, being rebuilt right now.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Perkins, Yale, and Stillwater

Ron M. and I took a little jaunt today, away from Route 66.   The main destination was a visit to Ron's cousin in Stillwater, home of Oklahoma State University and the world-famous Eskimo Joe's, but first we stopped briefly in Perkins, OK to look for an old DX gas station which a recent visitor to Afton Station was helping to restore.
We weren't entirely sure we'd found the right place, but when I got home I checked the blog post for the day that fellow visited us, and it confirmed that it was indeed the very same really neat '50 style station he'd told us about.  More about the station is available at the Cimarron Starlite Cruisers website at:  Unfortunately, the building wasn't open, however we were able to drive around the rest of what appears to be the local historical society's "campus" consisting of a number of restored or reproduced buildings from the town's history.
This church is an example of one of the beautiful restorations.
After visiting Cousin Mary for a while, we headed out to find somewhere to eat lunch.  That was accomplished easily when we found a spot specializing in steak and a big salad bar.   Once over-filled, we headed toward home, a trek which took us through several small towns, one of them being Yale, birthplace of Jim Thorpe, world famous athlete known for his feats of athleticism in the 1912 Olympics as well as being a standout in professional football, basketball, and baseball.  There's more to the story than that, so check out Jim Thorpe's bio in Wikipedia.  It's interesting.  Here's the modest home of his birth in Yale.
It was nice getting away for a while today.  On Saturday I should get back to Afton Station - finally - so I'll be there to report on my first trip back in 10 days!  Robin will open tomorrow and the rest of us will be there for the weekend.  Meanwhile, here's a shot of my house in the semi-darkness with my meager (but very tasteful, I think   LOL) Christmas decoration.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It just feels wrong. . .

. . . when I don't go to Afton, thus I have nothing particularly relevant to report here on the blog.  I feel I'm going to lose my readers if I miss an entire week of blogging.  Then again, maybe you all need a break from my babbling.  Since I've stayed home for the entire weekend, minus a few "driving around town" trips just to shake me out of the doldrums, I really have nothing much to talk about.

For those who may be traveling Route 66 right now, I can tell you that the roads in and around Tulsa are pretty clear, so come ahead and enjoy our beautiful town.  The main roads are fine and the secondary roads are passable but slightly slippery (except in my Subaru, which seems to be able to easily conquer any road condition.).   It's still extremely cold, however, so if you're visiting Tulsa I hope you brought a warm coat!

Since no blog entry is worth its salt without a photo, here's one of  my house.  Snow is so rare around here that I seldom get to snap a pic of my 1915 bungalow with a bit of snow on and around it.  This is the best I could do this time.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Let It (Not) Snow

You may recall from previous years that I become a total grinch when it comes to the subject of snow.  Snow is evil.  Snow is Mother Nature's punishment for the sins of man.  Snow serves no immediate purpose that rain can't serve just as well.  Anyway, that's my humble opinion and has always been and always will be.  

And since we've had a little snow here in Oklahoma, there is a fine chance that Afton Station won't be open tomorrow.  The road conditions aren't ideal for an 85-mile drive, the temperatures tomorrow are supposed to range from 5 to20 degrees, and there's enough snow on the ground to make me stubborn about walking around in it.  Furthermore, I seriously doubt there will be many, if any, travelers out there this weekend.  (In the case that there are, please call me early (918-382-9465) so that I can find someone who lives closer to open up for you.)

I apologize for my grinchiness.  I really just want to hibernate.  I hope you understand.  And if you are roaming around this weekend, please be cautious on the roads.

Monday, December 2, 2013

More Than Just Five Moons

The Executive Director of the Tulsa Historical Society wrote to thank me for posting the blog a few days ago entitled Five Moons, about the ballerina statues on the lawn of the Society.  I am going to post her note here for those who may be interested, when coming through Tulsa on your Route 66 trip, in seeing a beautiful mansion filled with wonderful exhibits which would appeal to folks from all over the world, not just Tulsans.
 Michelle Place said...
Laurel, Thank you for your lovely comments about the FIVE MOONS that are the showcase of the Vintage Gardens at the Tulsa Historical Society. There are also a number of artifacts that are artfully displayed throughout the Garden. I hope that the viewers will also take some time to travel up the cobblestone drive between the two mansions and visit the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum. We have eight annually rotating galleries that tell the fabulous stories of Tulsa, the citizens and events. We are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 4 (closed on Holidays) - Michelle Place, THS Executive Director

Sunday, December 1, 2013



 Pecans, that is! 

 Much of our day at Afton Station today was "hurry up and wait".  We were reminded that this isn't the summer tourist season any more, and visitors were few and far between.  One way Ron used his free time was to take a walk around town, and during his walk he came upon some pecan trees that were shedding their bounty so he helped himself.  Shelling pecans isn't easy, but Ron managed to use some of David's pliers to crack them and we had a little midday snack.  Doesn't he look serious about his work?
When we weren't nutcracking, we were visited by just a few people.  Betty W. and Michael Scruggs each dropped in for a little while.  We also had a visit from a gentleman from Tulsa who was just beginning to find his way around Route 66.  We armed him with both of our free Oklahoma Route 66 booklets and reminded him that there was plenty of the Mother Road to explore right in his own back yard.

A couple from Camdenton, MO (Lake of the Ozarks area) also came by on their way home from a month long trip to California and Arizona.  What fine, interesting folks they were!  They have a large ranch where they raise cattle and horses, and that life always interests me.
Since I was asking her questions about life on the ranch, she gave me this photo of her bottle feeding one of the calves.  I must share it with  you because it's such a cute picture.  They were a great couple!
Well, we won't be open again until Friday, when Robin will be minding the store.  I'll be back in Afton on Saturday and Sunday.  Perhaps now that the Thanksgiving family weekend is over there will be more people on the road looking for interesting places to visit.