Sunday, November 30, 2014

Now What Am I Going To Do?

As we locked up and left Afton Station this afternoon, my first thought was "Now what am I gonna do?"  Two months with a closed Station?   This gives me a weird feeling, and by the time I was on the road back to Tulsa, I had already told Ron M. that maybe we should drive up some weekends just to make sure things are ok -- and if we just happened to meet up with some people who want to tour the showrooms, well, I think we could make an accommodation for that.  In fact, I'd love it!  It will take a while to get  used to so many days to do whatever I want, and to take care of tasks like Christmas shopping, Christmas cards, etc.  

Betty and Robin both dropped in today.  Robin is back from a visit with her daughter in Alabama sporting a nice car she bought there - a 2008 Expedition in beautiful condition.   Very nice, Robin!

These folks, from Oklahoma City and Grove, were two of the nine who visited today.  They met very recently on an internet dating site and are getting to know one another by taking a little spin on Route 66 on his motorcycle.  Excellent idea!
Other visitors came from Houston TX, Arkansas City KS, and Lee's Summit MO.   See?  There really are a few people out on the road..  We also had a couple of local Afton kids back for a second day to hang around and ogle at the cars.

What began as a warm morning ended as a chilly and windy afternoon.  Tomorrow will be more seasonal, with the big chill coming in from the north.  After that, several more days of unseasonably warm weather.  Hmm... maybe I should go up to Afton just in case anyone wants to visit.....

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Only Show in Town

At one point today, Ron M. declared that Afton Station was "the only show in town".  And on a quiet winter Saturday he was so right.   We had an unusually large number of local kids stop in today, which is what inspired  Ron's statement.   It's kind of sad for kids in Afton when they're not in school, since there really isn't anything for them to do except wander around the streets and, for those who are more courageous, come in to the Station, the only place open, and look around.  We love having them, but we are also reminded of what "old timers" have told us about Afton once having a roller rink, a movie theater, several department stores, and everything else that a real town needs.   Not so in today's Afton, when the best a kid can do is stop in and put a few quarters in our penny pinching machine in order to have a little souvenir of the town they live in.
We especially loved having the kids today since there were scant few other visitors darkening our door.  A gentleman from Baxter Springs dropped in.  He's a volunteer at the Route 66 visitors' center in Baxter Springs, Kansas.   It was very nice to meet him and exchange stories about what fun it is to greet people from all over the world.
A couple from Minot, North Dakota (with their little grandson from Grove, OK) stopped because the gentleman wanted another look at the Packards after visiting last  year.  It seems he's restoring a 1955 Packard, so  he spent a good deal of time looking at ours and assessing what parts he still needs for his own restoration.  I sent him off with some back copies of the Packard Club newsletter which always have lists of parts for sale. I hope it's of some help to him.   Very nice folks!.
It was unseasonably warm today (over 70 by the time we left this afternoon!),  so Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones decided to drive his Stallion Trike down for a little visit.  Pretty soon the weather won't allow him the joy of tooling down the road on that magnificent bike!

Tomorrow will be our last regularly scheduled opening until February.  We are dispensing with regular hours for December and January because the rate of visitors falls off to almost nothing in the winter.  In the past week, we've sold exactly $25.50 in merchandise, which hardly makes a dent in the expense of driving the 170-mile round trip for me to get here (even with gas at about $2.45 here now), plus the expense of heating these three large buildings.  We will, however, happily open for those who are passing through and can give us a couple of days advance notice.   Robin and Sue both live close to the Station and are willing to open when needed over the winter.  So please don't hesitate to call me at either 918-382-9465 or 918-284-3829 and leave a message if there is no answer.   I'll still be writing blog posts, but not with much regularity.

  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Stop in tomorrow for our final day before the winter closure.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Turkey Story

[Disclaimer:   This story has nothing to do with Route 66 although I did drive to Grove on the Mother Road yesterday on my way to Grove.]

Most families have Thanksgiving traditions.  I guess dysfunctional families do, too.  The tradition in my own dysfunctional family is for me to drive to Grove the day before  Thanksgiving to watch my ex-husband boil turkeys in oil.  When we were divorced, he got the turkey fryer, so since then I've driven the 80 miles to Grove to witness the carnage leading to the edibility of one or more gobblers on the day before Thanksgiving.  David cooks several turkeys for charity every year, and I suppose you could say I fit into that category.

It was a lovely day for a ride in the country.  Upon my arrival in Grove, David lit the fryer under the 5 gallons of peanut oil and the boiling began.  I'm happy to say that once again this year David avoided self-immolation while performing this task.  If you were expecting some excitement surrounding this whole thing, you're out of luck. That is basically the end of the story except for these photos taken by Ron M., who accompanied me to the ritual this year. 

In a few hours, we'll be carving up the bird and I'll be getting the side dishes together.  Prior to that, I'll be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade which, to the best of my knowledge, I've never missed.  I've even been an actual spectator at the parade several times, which was always fun.   My Thanksgiving isn't really much different from anyone else's, albeit probably more quiet than most.  May you all have just exactly the kind of Thanksgiving you like the most, whether it's alone with a deli turkey sandwich or with a house chock full of family.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New View of the Palmer Hotel

I've been staring at the Palmer Hotel ever since we bought Afton Station across the street from it 14 years ago.   I feel intimately familiar with every piece of peeled paint and every cracked window.  The old building is gradually, gently expiring before my very eyes.  There have been those who have shown some interest in purchasing it and restoring it as a bed & breakfast or an antique shop but the current owner does anything possible to thwart any offers.   I believe she'd rather see it fall to the ground rather than relinquish ownership.
I hadn't seen a good picture of the Palmer Hotel of old until just the other day when this real photo postcard became known to me.  Now there's a way to compare the old, vital establishment with what it has become.  I really don't have much to say about it.  Just have a look.
                                               Then - Early 20th Century
                                                Now - Circa 2010

Eastern Trails Museum

Despite it being a mere 15 miles from Afton Station, I had never made time to visit this amazing small museum in downtown Vinita.  It's less than a block off Route 66, adjoining the library.   I was invited by the Curator Kathleen to have a special tour, so Ron M. and I drove up yesterday and enjoyed an extremely pleasant 90 minutes with Kathleen, who graciously showed us around the place.  The museum can best be described as eclectic, featuring the history of Vinita through interesting items that once belonged to Vinita citizens.  Ninety-nine percent items in the museum are from Vinita.  They're nicely displayed, thanks to Kathleen, who has only been the curator for a bit over a year.  Here are some photo of a few of the unique displays.
 An original, authentic Shirley Temple doll
 A wall from the old Vinita post office
  The re-creation of a Vinita lawyer's office.
 Probably the most eye-catching display is this televisoin, "the first one in Vinita".   It's only a little larger than a radio and the screen is a mere 10 diagonal inches!   Has anyone ever seen one like this before? Neither Ron, Kathleen, or I had.  I'd love to know if anyone else has experience with this mini- TV.
  T he rodeo in Vinita has been going on for several generations.  It is now called the Will  Rogers Rodeo and still draws big crowds every year.  Here are some saddles used by Will Rogers' friends in past rodeos. Also notice the parking meter which once graced the streets of the town.  There is no longer paid parking in Vinita, and Kathleen said that kids who tour the museum are fascinated by the meter.
And of course there is a salute to Route 66  in the form of this large porcelain shield.  
I enjoyed meeting and talking to Kathleen and look forward to many further trips to the museum. And, I now feel secure in recommending the Eastern Trails Museum to Afton Station visitors, especially foreign travelers who would get an overview of the history of the U.S. without getting buried in boring facts and figures.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

He's Baaaaaack!

It wasn't a particularly exciting day at Afton Station today, except that we were delighted to have our friend and frequent Station visitor Michael Scruggs and his wife Noel come through the door this morning.  Michael has been in the hospital for -- would you believe -- over 120 days, fighting a rare form of leukemia.  For most of that time he was in isolation.  He's out now and only has to go back every week or so, and it was nice to have him back and looking so fit and happy.  You might remember Michael from his excellent photos.  He's a  fine photographer and we had a small showing of his work this spring.

Ron M., Betty, and I did more waiting around that greeting visitors today, but that was to be expected.  It was another very dark and gloomy day, with the constant threat of rain keeping people off the road.  We did, however, greet a couple from Columbus, Kansas.  He's visited before but was bringing his wife to show her around.  They bought quite a pile of merchandise before they left.

Our only other visitors were two couples from Brisbane, Australia.   When I remarked that they were traveling in less than good weather, they let me know that in their native country right now it's ridiculously, uncomfortably hot and they are very glad to be here staying cool.

I used to live in Buffalo, NY.  I can't even fathom the 7 feet of snow they have on the ground right now.  If any of my readers are from western New York, know that you have my sympathy for your plight.  I hope you are all getting dug out, and that the melting that is about to start won't wash you away.

The next time I'll be at Afton Station will be next Saturday.  Sue will keep the place open tomorrow and Tuesday.   On Monday, Ron M. and I have been invited to tour the Eastern Trails Museum in Vinita.  We are looking forward to seeing the place, especially since we want to be able to recommend it as a "must see" for visitors from afar and I like to know what I'm talking about before making recommendations.  I'll report on our visit later in the week.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Pie! The Pie!

The center of attention at Afton Station today was a pie.   Here's the story.  First of all, Ron M. was not with us today as he's under the weather.  However, Joe Meeks had previously planned to accompany us to the Station today and despite frigid temps and the absence of Ron, he was eager to go anyway.  That made me very happy.  The last time Joe was at the Station, he mentioned to Betty how much he loves pie.  Betty said she'd make one for him.  So, today was pie day.  Shortly after we arrived, Betty walked in with a huge,gorgeous lemon meringue pie in hand.  Both Tattoo Man and Robin had also stopped in by that time, so all of us tackled that gorgeous pie with gusto.
Through all this gluttony, we also greeted seven visitors.  They came from Bella Vista AR, Shantilly WA, Wenatchu WA, Atkins IA, Garrison IA, and Afton.
These two gentlemen from Washington State are in the area for some football games but wanted to explore Route 66, too.  The guys from Bella Vista, AR were also on their way to Saturday college football games but couldn't resist popping in to the Station, too.

Unfortunately, we will be closed tomorrow.  There are predictions of unfavorable weather, and with Ron M. sick I don't really want to open up alone.  We weren't expecting much in the way of traffic anyway, so I'm taking a day off.  I do apologize if I've spoiled anyone's plans.  Remember, we will be open Tues., Fri., Sat., and Sun. of next week.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pecans, etc.

Ron M. and I (and Betty too, for a while) shivered our way through the day at Afton Station.  I'm far too stubborn to admit that winter is here and that the temp was 32 degrees this morning as we set off down Route 66.   Fortunately, there was at least one couple who didn't let the weather stop them today.  They are from the beautiful and temperate beach community of Myrtle Beach, S. Carolina, and yet they have chosen to travel Route 66 for the next couple of weeks.
The best guests are those who are excited about their adventure, and that description fit this couple to a T.  They did plenty of planning before starting out in Springfield, MO and intending to go all the way to Arizona.  A little frigid weather won't stop them.

They were our only guests today.  We posted the winter hours on the door, and that  seals the deal.
Starting next week, we will be open Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and will no longer be open on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday until further notice.  Hours and days will be reduced even more as the winter goes on, and I intend to be closed for most of December and January.  Of course, I will try to accommodate any requests for special openings, especially for groups.   Please call ahead for that -- 918-382-9465.  

There's another new business in Afton.  It's a rather big one, too!  Miller Pecan Co. built a new building down the road from which they will process pecans (which are plentiful in this area), and will sell pecan products as well as some other goodies -- jams, jellies, etc.  This business is worth a visit and you can find out more about it on their Facebook page -- Miller Pecan Co.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

How things change. . .

. . . when a couple of smart, funny, cute kids "adopt" your business!  Again today, Justin and Nate, our new "volunteers", arrived at Afton Station shortly after we did.  It feels good to know that young people actually, by choice, want to hang out with you.  We've truly been having fun with the boys around on these days of fewer Route 66 travelers.
Nate and Justin raided our mannequin head and wig collection.
We made a big batch of popcorn, and between Betty, Ron, the boys, and me.... we finished it off in no time at all!  Here they are watching popcorn pop, which is akin to watching paint dry.  Hardly a spectator sport!
We had 13 visitors (not bad!), who came from DesMoines IA, Joplin MO, Fayetteville AR, Broken Arrow OK, Indian Hills OK, and Hanover, Germany.
Here are "two cool couples", as they called themselves.  They drove up from Broken Arrow to check out the museum, and they were indeed every bit as cool as they professed to be.  We also greeted a family group (mom, dad, two sons and one daughter-in-law) from Joplin and Fayetteville, and they were also taking advantage of a pretty day to take a Route 66 drive.  The gentleman from Germany is here on business, and he visited our vintage car showrooms once before about 5 years ago, the last time he was in the U.S.A.  He'll be going home next week after several weeks here.  During a number of visits to America, he has been fortunate enough to drive many segments of Route 66.  Although he was good-naturedly teasing us about our 88-year road as it compares to the century-old roads across Germany, he had to admit that he adores the Mother Road and everything about it.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fun and Foolishness

I'm not saying that a normal day at Afton Station is all seriousness, but today happened to have more than its share of crazy fun.  At this time of year, craziness is good to combat the depression brought on by knowing that the season is almost over.

Our new Junior Volunteers, Justin and Nate, the 7th graders at Afton School, arrived at the same time Ron M. and I pulled in from Tulsa.   They were ready to work, but we had no work for them!   They still wanted to hang out for a while, and we were glad to have them.  They called two of their female classmates who soon came down to join them.  Dolly the Dog joined the fun, too. Some time later, two more of their classmates came in, so the Station was filled with kids for most of the morning.
And where there are kids, silly stuff often ensues.  Today was no exception.  Creepy fun with our mannequin heads!
We had 26 visitors altogether today, including 5 people whom David brought to show the Station and treat to rides in some of the old cars.  To get to the cars he wanted, he had to move others around, so there was this chance for a good photo of my '90 TC Maserati.   It's for sale. Anyone want to buy it?
Our other visitors came from Wichita KS, Mustang OK, Fayetteville AR, Greenwood AR, Tahlequah OK, Ponder TX, and Grove OK.  
Tattoo Man dropped by and gave all the kids rides in his Stallion.  The kids were thrilled.  See Dolly looking on and wishing she could have a ride, too?
Tattoo Man got a new tattoo this week (surprise, surprise!) and asked me to photograph it for the blog so he can have folks see it here.   It's a tribute to the Road Crew, the official band of Route 66, with the signatures of the members of the group (Joe, Don, Woody and Jason) surrounding the shield.  

Here's the family from Texas taking their turn at the penny smashing machine while their dog, Boomer, looks on.
Next week will be our last week of summer hours, and after that we'll only be open on Tues., Fri., Sat., and Sun., although special arrangements can be made for other days if necessary.  So keep that in mind if you're thinking of coming for a visit.  If you have family in the area for Thanksgiving, they might enjoy seeing our little Route 66 and antique car museum, and we'd sure like to meet them!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tiny Bubbles

On any ordinary day at Afton Station on Route 66 in Afton, Oklahoma the last thing I'd be doing is blowing bubbles. However, I must have had a premonition of a slow day to come when I went to the grocery store early this morning and bought a bottle of what, as kids, we called "bubble stuff".  Like most things, bubble stuff has changed, and this particular bottle was touted as being "Glowing Neon".  Sadly, there was more than enough time for Ron M. and me to blow all the bubbles we wanted, because visits from travelers were quite sparse today.

We had six visitors, 5 folks to view the vintage vehicles and a local fellow who cruises through in his artificial flowered hat a couple times a week to pick up anything we happen to be giving away free that day. Two guys who repair cars at a dealership in nearby Vinita stopped in to waste a little time when they were supposed to be taking a car on a test drive.  A gentleman from Welch, OK brought in his two friends who are visiting from Fresno, CA.  And that, my friends, was the sum total of our visitors for the day.

Ron took the camera and disappeared into the back room, where he took some photos of various autographs on our signing wall.  Here are a few of them....

I took a picture of yesterday's page from the guest book because it seemed to be a rather typical one.   Unlike today, the early part of the week was much busier and Robin and Sue were visited by quite a number of travelers from everywhere. . .
Here, you can see signatures from England and Japan, among others.  Our guest book is a wonderful remembrance of the huge variety of places the world over from which Route 66 travelers come.
A gentleman named Bob Davis of Car Art Photos made this artwork recently and Tattoo Man brought in a copy for us to display here.  He did it several  years ago and although I already had a copy, I didn't have one large enough to hang.  Bob's work is an interesting combination of photo and fantasy.  He takes a photo of a historic building, then "adapts" it to show how it might have looked in its heyday.  A close look will show the adaptations he made to Afton Station.  The car he placed in front is a gorgeous Shelby AC Cobra.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

New Crew

Nate (left) and Justin, two of the boys who came to visit yesterday, came back today and asked to do chores around the Station on a volunteer basis.  They are 7th graders at Afton School and are both smart, mature, and funny.  So of course we "hired" them!  I hope we'll be able to teach them a bit about Route 66 if they hang around Afton Station a lot.   Ron M. and I were happy to have them around today because they entertained us on a day that was in dire need of entertainment.  Other than Betty, who dropped in for a while, we only had four visitors today, two from Nixa, Missouri and two from Tulsa, OK.
This couple from Tulsa was taking a short weekend trip on Route 66 to celebrate their 2nd anniversary.  They seemed to be having a great time and their appreciation of each other was palpable. The other visitors, whose photos I did not get, were also taking a weekend trip to explore the Oklahoma segment of Route 66.
Justin and Nate didn't just sit around and entertain us today.  They also did some real work, the most appreciated of which was cleaning out the little cubby hole behind the outdoor bathroom.  It collects anything the wind sees fit to blow into it, and over the years has attained quite a bunch of rotten stuff.  The guys cleaned it out perfectly, then continued by sweeping one of the showrooms and our driveway.   The blowing autumn leaves didn't have a chance!

Linda from the Blue Whale down in Catoosa called today and we  had a rather lengthy discussion about what to do in regard to altering the hours of our attractions as winter descends upon us.  We both agreed that we'd stay open full time for at least the next two weeks, then begin to pare down our open hours as the number of visitors plummets.  So, if  you want to visit either Afton Station or the Blue Whale, try to make your visit soon.  Otherwise, call ahead to Afton Station to be sure we're open or to make arrangements for us to open to accommodate your visit, if possible..   918-382-9465

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hey! What's this cold stuff?

It felt like winter this morning.  I wore my first heavy sweater of the season, I used my seat warmer, and I saw actual frost on the grass on the sides of Route 66.  I can't say I'm ready for this early-onset winter, but I guess it's inevitable so I'd better just quit whining and turn up the heat.  At least we didn't get SNOW like the Carolinas and Tennessee experienced today.  The reward for enduring the first cold day is the extra hour of sleep we get tomorrow morning due to the "fall back" time change.

For a while I thought that it wasn't going to be a busy day at Afton Station, but it turned out to be just fine, with a total of 34 visitors.   They all came from Oklahoma -- from Guthrie, Miami, Colcord, Ketchum, Claremore, and Tulsa. The bulk of folks came with a convoy of nice old vehicles on a pre-Christmas "Toy Run" which began in Claremore and was meandering around the area.  We were very pleased to have them stop at the Station.
Ron M. and I were especially fond of this snappy vintage police car.   What a great resto!
Early in the day, three very nice young men from Afton stopped in to say hello.  They even volunteered their time to the Station, and I may take them up on it when the busy season begins again in early spring.    Just prior to their arrival, Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones drove up and brought a toy from the "Cars" movie which he wanted to give to the first kid in the door.  It turned out that it was less than a half hour before these guys showed up, so one of them got the toy.  Karma!

Two couples visited from Claremore in their vintage '47 cars.  Neat!
And then there was the '60s-era Isetta!  When it pulled up under our canopy I was busy doing something else and just glanced at it.  I thought it was a Smart car.  It wasn't until I saw the iconic front-opening door that I realize what it really was.  I love Isettas!
A grandma and grandson who are in the area to do some deer hunting came for a visit.  No luck on bagging a deer yet, but they've only just begun.  They saw a few this morning, and I've seen a few along the roads in the past couple of days, victims of road kill.

Ron M. was with me today and both Tattoo Man and Robin stopped in for a while.  It was actually a nice, unhurried, gentle day and I hope tomorrow will be the same.