Sunday, August 31, 2014


I like to set goals.  When it comes to Afton Station, I set a goal each month to greet more visitors than the same month in the previous year.  In nearly every case, my goals are met as more and more people are traveling Route 66.   Today, the last day of August, I had a nearly impossible goal, since I needed 87 visitors to meet the numbers of August 2013.   You probably thought I was going to say I met that goal.  Well, I didn't.  Only 43 visitors came today, but instead of being disappointed,  it made me realized that quality trumps quantity every time.  I wouldn't trade the 43 visitors I had today for anything.  They were truly a great bunch!

They came from Frederick MD, Van Buren AR, Dublin Ireland, Wyandot OK, San Antonio TX, Houston TX, St. Louis MO, Viola AR, Tulsa OK, and Leesburg FL.

A great surprise occurred early when ten motorcycles and a car rolled in carrying an unexpected group of folks from Switzerland!  They loved the vintage vehicles and apparently loved the souvenirs, books, etc. that I sell, because they bought and bought and bought.  We had fun meeting this happy group.

But they were not the only motorcycle group to visit today.  Later in the afternoon a group of 10  friends from various suburbs of St. Louis roared in.  And here they are!  (With  Tripper photobombing, as usual!)
A young couple from Dublin, Ireland arrived at the same time as a group from Wyandot, OK, San Antonio, TX and Houston, TX and they spent a good bit of time exchanging tales of their travels on the Mother Road.

The Pooch Of The Day was this perfectly adorable Leslie, who belonged to her parents from Viola, Arkansas.  What a cutie!
Now how could I possibly complain about not reaching my goal when I had such a perfect day!?  Robin will be greeting those folks who plan to travel on Labor Day, so feel free to drop in tomorrow.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friends, New and Old

A near perfect traveling day on a long weekend seemed custom made for anticipation of a nice crowd at Afton Station, and that's exactly what we had today.  A slow morning led to an extremely busy afternoon, full of newcomers, repeat visitors, friends, and a lovely pup named Duke.
 Here's Duke with his friend from Munster, Indiana.  The lady of the house was elsewhere when the photo was taken, probably buying some souvenirs of their Route 66 trip.
The pretty lady in this photo, seen here with her son, was my selection for the Enthusiasm Award today.   She was clearly having a wonderful time as she shrieked her way through the showrooms with an ooh and aah for each car and other item she saw.  I just love to see that kind of enthusiasm for Route 66.  I'm betting this won't be their last trip on the Mother Road.  She is from Garland, Texas and her son from Tulsa, OK.
John and Madeline Schulz are fellow members of our Route 66 Yahoo group and are veteran Route 66 travelers.  They're from Eudora, Kansas and they stopped in today to say hello.  We were so pleased to greet them.
Akio Takeuchi and his wife are longtime Route 66 fans who travel to America from Japan every year to visit and photograph sites along the way.  Akio has just published his third book about Route 66.  All of them are filled with extraordinary photographs.  His knowledge of the Road is amazing considering his limited command of the English language.  They are lovely people and we are always so happy to see them at the door.

Our other visitors, 34 in all, came from Springfield MO, Kansas City MO, Noel MO, Mulvane KS, Nashville TN, Mt. Juliet TN, Brevard NC, Halstead KS, Riverton KS, Enid OK, Tulsa OK, and Fairland OK.

Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones and Dean "Crazy Legs" Walker also dropped in for a while.  Ron M. was with me as usual.

I hope you are all having a festive Labor Day weekend.   If you are within range and feel like taking a little ride tomorrow, won't you please stop in to Afton Station and say hello?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Happy Birthday, Robin

We celebrated Robin's birthday today at Afton Station, although there were just a few of us  there.  We'll do a bigger celebration later when more can attend.  I believe that travel on Route 66 might be abating now, with most kids back in school and oppressively hot weather upon us.  Nevertheless, we did have 17 intrepid travelers who came to our door today, and we had some fun on our own, too.

Robin had a huge piece of pink bubble wrap which had come with the gifts mailed to her by Phil (who is still in California caring for his mother), and Betty, who can't resist anything pink, decided to "wear" it.  She looks like a schoolgirl heading for the prom!
And here are all three -- Birthday Girl Robin, Betty again, and Ron M., just home from his two week visit to Paris, France.  Good to have him home!
Our visitors came from Noel MO, Evansville IN, Tucumcari NM, Ardmore AR, Rotterdam Netherlands, and Quapaw, Elk City, Tulsa, and Grove, OK.

We were excited to have a visit from Nancy and Kevin Mueller,who were returning from a vacation to the East.  These two wonderful people deserve a vacation after being the proprietors of the famous and iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, NM for several years now.  The popularity of their lodging makes it consistantly full of tourists, and the Muellers do much to make them happy and well served.  I'm sorry I don't have a photo of Kevin and Nancy, but I was too busy  talking to them to remember to pick up the camera.

I did remember to photograph this fellow from Rotterdam, Netherlands, who is traveling with his wife who is camera shy.  They are embarking on a full Route 66 trip.
I was delighted and surprised by this magazine which arrived in the mail today.
Mike McAllister from the Packard Club in Pennsylvania visited with his wife Gail some time ago, and being a Packard fan himself, asked if  he could write up our collection in his Club magazine.   He did, and the copy arrived today, with five whole pages containing his article and lots of pictures of Afton Station.  Very nice!  I do hope that it will inspire other members of the Club to travel in our direction and stop for a visit.
I couldn't resist buying this from a visitor today.  It's a 1926 pamphlet and map with an advertisement for an Afton Filling Station on the front.  Although it can't be our Station (since our Station wasn't open until 1930), it's a significant piece of memorabilia because it was printed the year Route 66 came into being.  

All of this made it a great day at Afton Station.  Yesterday was great too, although I wasn't able to be there to greet Dries Bessel from the Netherlands and his band of 13 motorcycle tourists.  Robin and Tattoo Man were there to afford the proper hospitality, but I am still sad about missing Dries again this year.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why The Previous Post Looks So Silly

Please forgive the previous post.  I was experimenting with uploading the text from my iPhone to the Blogger form.   Fail!  

Busman's Holiday

noun: busman's holiday
  1. 1.
    a vacation or form of recreation that involves doing the same thing that one does at work.

11th St. in Tulsa is not pretty. To be honest
 it's downright ugly. But it is also Route 66, the main
 alignment of the Mother Road through the city of Tulsa. It's charms are 
hidden -- very hidden. It is four blocks
 from my house and I drive it no less than five or six
 times a week, so naturally on my one day off I choose to take a 
busman's holiday and drive 11th St. 
once again. Behind, beneath, and around the multiple 
used car dealerships and auto body shops there are 
buildings which surely have been around long enough 
to see a majority of life on Route 66 -- born in the 40s 
and 50s, modified, desecrated, and yet the bones of those 
buildings are still there. But you have to look for them. 
There are even the bones of some old neon signs here
 and there. Somewhere along the way someone 
felt they were worth saving, but in the 60+ years they
 have existed they have been changed, probably not to 
ever be the same again. Amid the riffraffish landscape, 
I see motel swimming pools turned into gardens, cottage style 
gas stations morphed into tiny offices on
 used car lots, building walls embellished with mediocre 
murals which scream "This is Route 66, people! Come and see what 
I used to be!". It is hard
 -- very hard -- to imagine what it used to be. I spent my
 morning trying to do just that. Here is a fraction of what I found on 11th Street and within a block of it in either 

Anyone who visits Facebook will be familiar with this summer's latest gardening
trick.  Cut the bottom off of a head of Romaine lettuce, eat the rest of it, and plunk the bottom into a cup of water and watch it grow. Of course I was skeptical but, by golly, it work Brand-new growth from grocery store produce!  Granted, 
there is not a ton of lettuce but there is enough to make a bed under the egg 
salad I'm having for lunch. It's been way too long since I've "grown my own", so I feel ridiculously excited about this.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

An Amazing Lady

Among our 18 visitors on this stinking hot day on Route 66 in Afton, Oklahoma was one of the most amazing women I've met since I've been hosting folks at Afton Station.  She pulled up on a motorcycle loaded down with packs and saddle bags, and once she shed her road leathers and helmet (complete with "helmet cam") she came in and introduced herself as Anna from the Ukraine.  A beautiful young woman, she explained that she is taking a full year and touring the entire world on her bike by herself.  When she finishes in the U.S. she will be heading for Brazil and the rest of S. America, then Africa.  She spoke near-perfect English and under her leathers she was dressed in her native costume, since today is Independence Day in the Ukraine.  For now, she is traveling Route 66, interviewing folks, and sending them back to friends at home who are putting them into a full length production.  I felt honored that she wanted to interview me.I wish her well on her amazing odyssey.  Please check out her beautiful website at

We also had a visit from Miley the Dog, who came in with her friends, sisters from Syracuse, NY. When asked, they assured me that she wasn't named after Miley Cyrus.  She was fascinated with the penny crushing machine, however.
A couple from Madison, Wisconsin were our first visitors of the morning and enjoyed the cars very much.

Other visitors came from Antioch CA, Eudora KS, Springfield IL, Nashville TN, Jones AR, and Quebec, Canada.  The four guys from Quebec came via motorcycle.  The two ladies from Antioch CA and Eudora KS were returning from a quilting conference and decided to do a bit of Route 66.   Jess McIntire, the musician and Route 66 advocate, stopped in for a visit, too.  

I left 20 minutes early to take Sarah and John to the airport so they could fly home.  It was such a wonderful visit and I wish they could have stayed much longer.  On the other hand, I finally pick up Ron M. at the airport tomorrow and it will be great to have him back home.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

French Music Comes To Afton, Oklahoma

I'm going to report on two days here, since I was in Afton yesterday, something that rarely happens on a Friday.   I arrived there at about 2 p.m. to await the excitement that was to occur later.  As I had indicated before, we were going to host a small band from France and allow them to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing music on Route 66.  The whole event couldn't have turned out better .  The intense heat of the day was tempered by the coolness of the band and its music..  The audience of approximately 50-75 people included Route 66 friends from afar, local Afton folk, people visiting from France, and others.  I was amazed by the size of the audience.  Sylvie, David's wife, provided a dinner for everyone and there was wine, beer, and soft drinks for all.  It is Sylvie's brother who brought the musicians to our shores.

The first photo of the band was taken by Denny Gibson, my friend from Ohio, who was using superior photo equipment and had a better vantage point than I.  The rest of the sorry excuses for photos are by me and my little Canon.

Sylvie, sister of the vocalist and guitarist, gave a heartfelt and emotional introduction in both English and French, to the band's appearance.
Jane Dippel, a Route 66 friend from St. Louis, was a surprise guest.
My daughter Sarah and her boyfriend John danced to the music as the gentleman in the foreground pays attention to the band
Denny Gibson shoots film.
A table full of local Afton citizens listen intently to the rock and roll.
Ron and Roz Jones also enjoyed the entertainment.
Denny (right) and his new friend Bill Schulter.  They met for the first time at the Station, but formerly had become acquainted via an auto buying transaction on Ebay last year.

My favorite videographer, PJ, came and generously agreed to record part of the concert gratis before he had to leave for a paid job. It can be viewed at YouTube here:  Afton Station Concert by Michel from France

We also had the usual group of drop-in visitors earlier in the day, and thought due to the excitement of the concert I failed to record all of them, I do know we had visitors from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Rogers Arkansas, and Spavinaw, OK
Now for today.  When I arrived at the Station all vestiges of last night's party  were cleaned up and the Station was in great shape, thanks to many who stayed later than I did and pitched in to finish the job.  Today, our visitors came from Westerville OH, Ponca City OK, Ionia MI, Elmhurst IL, Afton OK, and Tulsa OK.
This congenial couple is from Westerville, OH, home of David Wickline, author of the wonderful Images Route 66 books.  According to the wife, her husband is the more avid Route 66 traveler, although it seemed to me that she was having a fine time too, considering the temperature outside was 102 when they came

Here are Marty and Gerri Bilecki, iconic Route 66 travelers from Illinois who stop by every time they pass through Oklahoma, and that's quite often since they are constant travelers.  Descriptions of their many Route 66 explorations can often be found in various Route 66 periodicals.  It was nice to see them.

I was also joined today by Robin and Tattoo Man.  Although the day was busy, it was just quiet enough to make it a nice contrast with the chaos of yesterday.  Of course I'll be back in Afton tomorrow to greet visitors and "tourist season" begins to wind down.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

From 'Round the World

For the first time in the history of Afton Station, every single visitor today was from a foreign country!  They came from Torino Italy, Preston England, Zurich Switzerland, Madrid Spain, France, and two couples from Canada, one from Toronto and one from Ottawa.

The three fellows from France who will be playing in tomorrow night's concert came in to set up their equipment.  Everyone is invited for the free concert which even comes with a free dinner!  This is all compliments of David and his wife Sylvie, whose brother is one of the musicians.  Come one, come all!  It will begin around 6 p.m. and I'm sure the band members would appreciate a nice big audience.

Betty, Marlene, and Robin all helped out at various times today as we greeted 17 visitors.

This couple from Torino, Italy were clearly having a great time on their Route 66 holiday.
Likewise this couple from Toronto, Canada.   Despite temperatures above 100 today, all of our visitors remained upbeat and enthusiastic.  I think a few breaths of our air conditioned atmosphere pleased all of them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August: Osage County

One of my favorite things to do is to introduce a newcomer to Oklahoma.  It is especially fun when the recipient of my tour guiding is as enthusiastic and personable as my daughter Sarah's new friend John Amundsen, who came home with her this week.  The title of this post isn't quite accurate, since on Monday we toured Tulsa and Route 66, and it wasn't until yesterday that we ventured into Osage County so I could show him Woolaroc, Bartlesville, Pawhuska, and my favorite place on earth, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.

During our tour of Tulsa, John got to see Riverpark, the Golden Driller, Cain's Ballroom, Oneok Field, the BOK arena, the Center of the Universe, and countless other important Tulsa sights.  John is a train buff, so a trip to the Route 66 park om Southwest Blvd., where he could photograph the engine and other train cars there, followed by lunch at Ollie's Station (also on Route 66 and full of model trains, many of them on the move) was the highlight of his day.  Also on Route 66, we cruised by the East Meets West statue at the Cyrus Avery Bridge and Plaza.

There was a trip th the Blue Whale of Catoosa also, of course.

Yesterday, we departed Tulsa and Route 66 in order to tour Osage County.   On our way through Bartlesville, we stopped for photo ops at Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower, FLW's only skyscraper, and Frank Phillips' home (the Phillips Petroleum magnate).   Moving on to the small town of Pawhuska, which is the gateway to the Tallgrass Prairie, we stopped for lunch at Sonic, John's first introduction to the iconic Oklahoma drive-in.

And then, the Tallgrass Prairie, the star of the outing!   Sarah and I were every bit as thrilled as John was, since we've never seen such a large herd of bison visible from the road.   In a total herd of 2,700 at the Preserve, I'm pretty sure we saw at least a thousand all at once!  There were bison as far as the eye could see, and unfortunately it wasn't possible to photograph the entire herd in one shot, but we gave it a good try.  I'm an old  hand and frequent visitor to the Tallgrass, yet I've never seen such a spectacle, and it surely cemented my feelings that it is my favorite place on Earth.
This photo doesn't even show a 10th of the herd we observed!  
 You can see a few of the thousand bison in the background of this wonderful photo taken by John.  On the Prairie, there are occasional oil wells, but for the most part there is nothing man-made for miles in any direction.
On the way home we stopped at Woolaroc, the Frank Phillips estate and grounds outside of Bartlesville. There, we saw some of the collection of animals that roam the grounds, and Sarah and John visited the museum, where they saw this statue of Phillips himself.

  That concluded the best day of touring I've ever had, and I hope my passengers agree.