Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weather? Finally Seasonable!

Today was much quieter on Route 66 than the previous few, showing that weather doesn't always matter.  This was a gorgeous day.  Perhaps everyone was strolling in a park somewhere, and I wouldn't blame them.  We did have 10 visitors from 5 different states, so there are definitely folks out there looking for cool Route 66 sites to visit.

Marly spent the whole day with me, which was fun.  We haven't seen that much of one another lately, and we seem to never run out of things to chat (gossip?) about.  Phil also spent part of the morning with us, which was nice because he leaves to go back to California on Wednesday and has no idea when he'll be coming back again.

The sunrise was lovely today, but my photo of it isn't that lovely.  I was in Claremore in a rather obstructed spot when the sun peeked out.
Our ten visitors came from Powell MO, Manchester IA, Kellyville OK, Indianapolis IN, and Rosendale, WI.
This couple from Manchester, Iowa arrived early this morning and we had lots of time to chat about their trip.
Clay Fees from Kellyville, Oklahoma is a member of our Route 66 Yahoo group.  It was nice to meet him in person.

Two ladies from Wisconsin came in on their way home from a dog show in Tulsa.   Their dalmation (who won 2nd prize) barked in the car the entire time the women were touring the Station, but they seemed reluctant to let her come in.  I was hoping for a photo.  Dalmations are such lovely dogs!

That's all for today!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Yesssss! Great day!

Yessssss!   Another day to prove that it's time to put on our big smiles and greet all the visitors who are streaming in the door and probably won't stop streaming in until November.  There were plenty of us at the Station today to provide those smiles.   Marly, Robin, Phil, and Tattoo Man were all in attendance, as were 21 smiling visitors.  It was one of those really great days on Route 66.

This is the first we've seen of  Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones since he recovered his '56 Chevy from it's televised restoration on the TV show "Counting Cars".  He has it back from Las Vegas finally and brought it to the Station today.   It's a beauty!   Unfortunately, my camera took the occasion to get balky, so I only got a couple of close-up photos and none of the whole car.   He was very happy with how the car looks, but had some disappointments when the car was delivered back to Oklahoma with a pretty large number of things that hadn't been done to it by the Counting Cars guys.   He's now in the process of getting those things fixed here in Oklahoma.
 The trunk has a neat airbrushed map of Route 66, plus a tribute to his time in Viet Nam and his recently deceased father.
The side rear windows sport Route 66 shields etched into the glass.  I promise to have better photos when I see Tat again.  It was a ground-up restoration and is spectacularly sparkly!

We had 21 visitors today and they came from Siloam Springs AR, Newcastle Australia, Sardinia Italy, Beijing China, and Miami, Bartlesville, Broken Arrow, Pryor, Adair, and Afton, OK

The man from Beijing loved the new Route 66 baseball caps and bought two.  He also enjoyed photographing all the cars.
For these Aussies, it was a bit colder than expected, but they were enjoying their full Route 66 trip all the same.  They had been to visit many of the Mother Road "regulars" on their way from Chicago to L.A.  The husband and their son are both old car enthusiasts.  He showed me a picture of his car, a Holden which he has modified to have a back seat.
(Not bad for a photo of a smart phone photo!)
The enthusiasm of this couple was infectious.  They're from Adair, OK.

We'll be open tomorrow, so come on down and join the fun!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Windy Day... and a Remarkable Woman

People who live around here -- and by "around here", I mean on or near Route 66 between Tulsa and Afton, -- might balk at me calling this the middle of nowhere.  But to me, the city kid, it's about as far from what I previously called civilization as I can get.  The bottom line, however, is that I LOVE it!  I never knew how fulfilled I could be by relative nothingness.  I love the brown of the fields in the winter.  I especially love the new green carpets of right now.  I love the wonder of how a little rain can alter the color of a field overnight.  I love the "up" cows and the "down" cows, although I haven't figured out what it all means.  Does the weather dictate whether the cows are up or down?  Doesn't seem so.  I love the horses and always wish I was riding one.

I love the chickens in the road.  If there had been a single chicken in a road near the NYC suburb where I used to live, it would have made the front page of the local paper for sure.  Here, it's just "Look out, chickens!".   I love the occasional farmhouse, always wondering what's happening inside.  I usually imagine bacon and fried eggs being cooked.  I can almost smell it.

And on days like this, traveling to Afton alone, I even love the wind which is affording me quite the steering challenge.  It roars across the road and across the plains sideways daring my steering wheel to stay in the middle of the ramrod straight road.  It's dark today too, low gray washboard clouds awaiting much needed rain.  I doubt Afton Station will have many visitors today, but I don't mind easing into the madness.  I'm quite good at being alone as long as I have books, crossword puzzles, and hope.  The start of each season has a day like this.

I was correct.  The day was very slow, with only three visitors altogether.  One, however, was worth the entire day, the windy drive, the cold showroom, and the gas money.

Miriam "Berger" Laisure, from Churubusco, Indiana came with her friend Ver-Linda from Grove, OK, whom she is visiting for a few days.  Miriam, who prefers to be called Berger, is 86 years old and still drives her 30-something foot motor home, pulling her car, all over the country.  But get this -- she is a 65 year member of the Motor Maids, a motorcycle group.  She rides a trike, and it's a beauty.  (She showed me a picture, as well as a picture of her '41 Ford, a gorgeous cherry red.)  This is a woman to admire!!    She's visiting her friend here in OK this week and Ver-Linda knew she would want to see our cars.  I'm so glad she had the opportunity, and that I had the good fortune to meet her.

That's a picture of Berger from the old days, on her bike of course!   I had such fun visiting with these two lovely ladies!

Our only other visitor today was a drop-in from town.  I left a little early because I had a call from Crazy Legs Walker telling me he heard of tornado warnings.  However, the ride home was fine, other than the strongest wind gusts I've ever negotiated.  Wow, my hands are tired from gripping the steering wheel.  By the time I got to Tulsa, though, the sun came out, the clouds were less threatening, and all was well.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Alone Again

This was the first day thatI worked Afton Station alone for ages.   Betty did drop in for a while in the afternoon, but when she was there we had no visitors.  Being a Tuesday in March, I didn't anticipate a busy day on Route 66 and I was mostly correct.   I was happy to have a quiet morning because when I arrived there were plenty of big boxes to unpack.  I've been doing a lot of ordering merchandise for the new season and it seems to have all come in at once.
We have lots and lots of new Route 66 caps in many designs.   The ones shown above don't represent all the designs that arrived today.
We also have over TWO THOUSAND new postcards, just about anything a traveler could want.

 Additionally, we have restocked those great Route 66 flags that everyone wants, EZ66 Guides (don't leave home without one -- seriously), Oklahoma Route 66 guides, license plates, wall signs, and much more.    Come and get 'em, boys and girls!

Well, you know when I start taking pictures of merchandise that it must have been a slow day.  As I indicated earlier, the morning was indeed slow.   Then these three gentlemen from Cherry Valley, Arkansas came in and brightened my day considerable.   Father and two sons, all very interested in American history and vintage cars.  What could be better!  I really enjoyed talking to them.
By afternoon, traffic began to speed up and we ended up with 13 visitors who came from Iowa City IA, Keller TX, Owasso OK, and some home town Afton folks.   Marly was nice enough to open and close for me today, too.  My enthusiasm for the new season continues to grow and grow.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rockin' on Route 66

I have to admit that I wasn't in the best mood when I got to Afton Station this morning.  I had risen very early (3 a.m.) to get some grocery shopping done before heading for the Station, and while unloading my bags one of them broke and groceries crashed to the ground and rolled under my car.  Of course it was pitch dark, cold, and there was a more-than-brisk wind.  So, I grumbled my way through the 85-mile drive up to the Station.  Well, you'd be amazed how quickly I "recuperated" when I got to Afton and when visitors started coming through the door, it was as if I'd taken a large slug of spring tonic.  I was immediately revived and ended up having a magnificent day!

It didn't occur to me until I uploaded the photos I took today that it must have been Facial Hair Day at the Station.   Check out these fabulous handlebar mustaches and awesome beard on some of the people who stopped in...
The first photo is of  handlebar wearer Michael Wheat who, with his wife Judy, is a frequent visitor to Afton Station and a reader of this blog.  They stopped in while taking a Saturday drive from home in Pryor, OK in their sporty Miata with their brand new family member, the adorable Gidget!   Gidget is a sweet pup who loved exploring the room and meeting us all.
 This couple from Cassville, MO has also visited in the past.  They are veteran Route 66 fans and travelers.  His 'stach rivals Michael's!

The impressive beard belongs to a gentleman from Albany, MN who, with his wife, is traveling Route 66 to get away from the Minnesota weather.  Wish we could have given them a bit nicer day for their travels today.  It was sunny, but not quite as warm a spring ought to be.
With less facial hair but an abundance of enthusiasm came this family,  grandparents from Neosho, MO and grandkids from Webb City, MO who were taking a Spring Break trek on their favorite road.  It energized me to witness the enthusiasm of the two teens who were overflowing with excitement about being on the Mother Road.  It's so seldom that we meet young folks so ebullient.
Our first Aussies of the new season were here , and like all folks from Australia, were enjoying their trip.  They're taking it slowly, three or four weeks just for Route 66.  They're from Mackay, which is in Queensland.   Love me some Aussies!

Others came from Talala OK, Lakeville MN, and Claremore OK, 19 visitors altogether.   Robin and Phil were there to help me close at the end of the day, and it wouldn't surprise me if more people came in after I left.  They will be working at the Station tomorrow, too.   Betty visited for a while toward the end of the day, and even with all this happening, I managed to close out (finally!) my 2013 books and make a handful of new magnets to sell.

Yippee!  I'm back!   Looking forward to a record-breaking season on Route 66!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring!

I spent the first day of Spring by having a meeting with my accountant.  Exciting, huh?   Well, since he's in Vinita, I got to take a ride on Route 66 today, and after I finished I drove up to Afton to check on things and take a quick inventory of remaining t-shirts before placing an order for more.  Within a week or so, we should have a full supply of both short and long sleeved t-shirts in all sizes, some new neat caps, and more of those super-popular large white flags with shields from each state.   I also received a re-supply of  Kathy Anderson's wonderful large oval wall signs and license plates, both car size and motorcycle size, all Made In America, of course!    We'll be open this weekend, 9:30 to 3 each day, and next week's schedule isn't quite worked out yet, but we're getting pretty close to being open full time now that tourist season is almost upon us.

I arrived at the accountant's office a bit early and sat waiting in my car right on Vinita's main street, Route 66, watching the merchants open up and put out their flags.  There's something very cool about the quiet streets of a small town early in the morning.
After my appointment, I drove to the edge of town to try the new touch screen ordering at Subway.  Very modern for such a small town!  I don't believe we have the new touch screen at any of Tulsa's Subways.  I procured a 6-inch sub which was ... eh.... not terrible, but not exactly gourmet, either.

Ok, maybe not terribly exciting, but it was a lovely day for a ride on Route 66.  Isn't every day?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Grand Opening... or An Opening That Was Grand!

Easing into a new traveler's season at Afton Station was not to be.  On our first official day back to work, we were virtually inundated with visitors!   No complaints here, except I'm kind of tired.  The 37 visitors came from Kansas City, Oak Grove, and Springfield MO and Bixby, Collinsville, Wyandot, Nowata, So. Grand Lake, and Afton, OK.   Some were heading for Spring Break vacations, some were folks getting their passsports stamped (for a rally being sponsored by a motorcycle place in Tulsa), some were local Afton people, and we even had an escorted small group from the mental health center behind the Station.  Such a varied and busy day!
Here are a grandma, grandpa, and grandson from Kansas City.    The grandson is being treated to a road trip which will end in Phoenix, AZ.
Here's a family from Oak Grove, MO.....
... and their sweet little 12-year-old pup, Pearl!   Very cute!

We're so pleased that Phil is back from California and staying for a month.   Great to see him.  In fact, he and Robin worked the Station yesterday and he said he was so glad to be back.  They had about 7 visitors, some from Iowa and the others from Oklahoma.  Here are Phil and Robin....
Ron was with me today.  Betty stopped in for a short time.  T'was a really fulfilling day.  

The weather tomorrow is supposed to be quite terrible, with hard rain all day.  We do need the rain, but I'm thinking about not driving up there in the mess.  In case that happens, Phil and Robin will open up and stay as long as is practical.  So, if you're planning to visit tomorrow, it might be a good idea to call first to see if someone is there.  918-257-4044.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Route 66: A Video Postcard

Friends Richard Cox and Rick Thompson, both of Oklahoma City,  worked long and hard for several years to make a beautiful Route 66 video.  Sadly, Rick is no longer with us, but Richard is continuing to work on the piece.   Yesterday, I got to see the first portion, and now you can see it, too.  This is just a preview.   It's wonderful to see how many imagess of Afton Station they've used and how many of the postcards I loaned them are evident in this small piece of film.   Have a look!

P.S. - You'll recognize the music as that of our official Route 66 band, the Road Crew, who gave permission to use it.   

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Cool App and an Announcement

My friend Michael Wheat, a frequent visitor to Afton Station, has discovered a fantastic app called Waterlogue which turns ordinary photos into pretty good watercolors.  I've seen other programs that do the same thing, but never this convincing.   These are my own photos which Michael transported to ethereal images, just perfect for a spring day.   Thanks to him for these.  (Send some more, Michael....)
 The 1917 Packard Motor Coach
The '48 Packard

ANNOUNCEMENT:   Afton Station will be open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this weekend. Please don't let us sit there all alone, twiddling our thumbs.  Come to visit!  You know you want to!   I'll be there on Sat. and Sun. and Robin will be minding the store on Friday.   9:30 to 3 p.m. as usual.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

"m ART ketplace"

My friend LaSandra Nickson, craftswoman extraordinaire and wife of Brad, who is president of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, has been reminding me for about a year that I need to make a trip on the 2nd Saturday of any month to the art/crafts co-op to which she belongs.   Ordinarily I'm at Afton Station on Saturdays, but today I was able to visit.  
 It is not far off Route 66 in Catoosa, OK., home of the Blue Whale.   She and five other women, all active in Blue Whale restoration, have set up an absolutely GREAT 5-room shop where they sell some beautiful and lovingly-made handcrafted items, many of which are Route 66-inspired.  There is jewelry, stationery, fabric works, embroidered works, and many other goodies, all displayed in some intriguingly decorated spaces.  It's really a beautiful shop and the Route 66 items are all unique and one-of-a-kind.
So, if you happen to be passing through Catoosa's Route 66 on the second Saturday of the month, consider checking it out.  It's just a few miles off 66.  See more, including photos of the ladies and their crafts, on Facebook at "Martketplace".  Don't forget that extra "t".  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

On A Clear Day....

... you can see Clearview!

I mentioned the other day that I had read some interesting things about Clearview, Oklahoma, one of the last historic all-black towns in the state.  Readers here will know that I've been trying to visit all of them.  When I have a free day I love to go rambling the back roads of this beautiful state, and seeking out the black towns is a perfect excuse, since they're all on the back roads and, frankly, not easy to find since most of them are almost totally abandoned and in ruins.

When I heard about Clearview, one of those towns which might be having a rebirth, I had to go see it.  So I gathered our little road trip crew -- Ron, Joe, and me -- and off we went!  The reason for Clearview's rebirth is explained in the Tulsa World article below.  I posted it before, but here it is again if you didn't catch it previously.

Of all the black towns I've visited, this was the most remote.  We drove down several miles of dirt (and mud!) roads before finding it.  The population of Clearview had fallen to 53 until recently it became 55 when a gentleman and his wife decided to move there and establish a Black Educators Hall of Fame in the Community Center.   It wasn't hard to find the Community Center in a town with virtually nothing but abandoned buildings, weeds, and ruins.  It was closed, as was everything else in the deserted town, so we drove around and photographed the following sites....
The faded Welcome to Clearview sign
 An abandoned saloon
 Ruins of another building
 A sign explaining the concept of All-Black towns

Our trip continued all morning and afternoon as we drove through Henryetta, Weleetka, and Wetumka.   Small towns in rural Oklahoma are both all alike and all different.  Since all three of us are observers of the unique and unusual, we love to explore and look for interesting facets of each town.  We concluded the trip with a great lunch at a restaurant called Kirby's Cafe in Okmulgee.  If you ever should find yourself in Okmulgee (which, incidentally, is the tribal center of the Creek Indian Nation), do stop in to Kirby's for a good  meal.

Home now, and shaking off the effects of 8 hours in the car.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thoughts on Another Two-Hour Day at Afton Station

Yesterday, Ron M. and I took a little ride up to Afton Station just so I could check up on things and add up my February sales (that took 30 seconds) so I will be able to compute my state Sales Tax today.  I haven't started that yet.  If I had, you'd find me in a grumpy mood.   The Oklahoma Sales Tax Commission is a division of Hell, in my opinion.  If I had already confronted that monthly hellishness, I'd be very grumpy by now.  In order to pay my paltry tax each month -- and I do mean paltry, especially in the winter -- I can expect to spend over an hour deciphering the most recent changes in the forms, changes which happen almost every month.  There is someone at the Tax Commission who I'm sure giggles with glee each time he/she manages to complicate the forms just a little bit more.

But I digress....    Sorry for the little rant.

So anyway, we went up to Afton Station and hung out for just a little while, didn't even turn on any lights or hang out any "Open" signs, and we still had a couple of visitors.  One was a very friendly trucker from Missouri who had passed by before but never had time to stop.  We were happy to open up the showrooms and briefly turn on the lights.  The other was a local guy who stopped in to ask for directions and looked around a little   Also, our friend Scott dropped in and I had him take 5 big bags of trash to the dump, an accumulation from all winter.

It's snowing and cold today, so I'm staying home.  With predictions of a couple of more weeks of cold, wintery weather, I'm now considering staying closed for another two weeks.  I do have some wonderful tour groups scheduled for this spring and summer, so I'm feeling a great season coming on.


This just in from the Czech Route 66 Association.... They held their convention in February, and here's the report.  Wow, 170 Czech citizens care enough about Route 66 to attend the meeting.  That is impressive, and it shows how Route 66 is gaining in interest all over the world.   And now, the Czechs are planning a film project, a further step in creating European interest in the Mother Road!

Dear Route 66 friendsI’d like to give you a short information about the 7th Czech Route 66 Associaton Convention.The seventh Czech Route 66 Association Convention was held on Feb. 15 in a beautiful area of the Western-Theme Park in BOSKOVICEMore than 170 Route 66 fans from the Czech and Slovak Republics met together to celebrate Route 66 – the Mother Road. All tickets were sold out in advance!Zdenek Jurasek, a president of the Czech Route 66 Association (CAR66), reported association’s activities of the last year and presented all main plans for 2014.The most significant challenge of this year is definitely creating of a new Czech Route 66 feature film (May 19 - June 3).We would like to visit particular and specific places along Route 66 which are normally hidden from tourists and sometimes even completely inaccessible to the public.Secondly, through the movie we would like to answer questions the participants often asked while traveling along Route 66.And thirdly, creators of the film project intend to present Route 66 as a place where you can experience a lot of fun. We would like to initiate some original “action” - a happening, with active participation of both the Czech-Slovak expedition and the local public, supported by the local media.We informed Route 66 people, associations and organizations throughout the U.S.A. about our filming plans and asked them for cooperation and support.It is exciting how strong and positive response we have received! We are sure that this movie will become the most benefical achievement which will bring the American legend closer to the European audience - closer than ever before!Centerpiece of the evening was the Czech Route 66 Association Award which obtained Mr. ZDENEK STOJAN. Zdenek was awarded for his significant contribution in spreading a name of the world’s famous road in our country. After his return from the Route 66 trip organized by the Czech Route 66 Association in 2009 he became its active member. Later he established a popularROUTE 66 RESTAURANT in CECHY U PREROVA dedicated to the Mother Road. His property became a sought-after tourist spot not only among Route 66 fans in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.I am sure that the 7th Czech Route 66 Association Convention was very successful and I hope that this success will improve a popularity of Route 66 in our country.Zdenek Jurasek, presidentCzech Route 66 Association 
As you may recall, I'm trying to pay visits to each of the historically all-black towns in the state of Oklahoma.  In yesterday's Tulsa newspaper, one of them which I haven't visited, Clearview, was featured in a front page article.  At the time of Oklahoma statehood in 1907, the population of Clearview was 618. Today it is 53.  A spark of life is returning to the town, however, thanks to a gentleman and his wife who moved there recently and started an interesting project.  Check it out here...

When I pay a visit to Clearview myself (possibly this week), I'll have more about this interesting town.  For now, it's tax time!   Growl!