Saturday, December 26, 2015

Holiday Musings

That I am sitting here in a thunderstorm the day after Christmas would seem odd to me except that it's actually been a pretty odd holiday season all the way around..By that I mean unlike any from my past.   There was no Christmas party this year, due to the infirmity of the hostess.  I did not decorate,  unless you count turning on the electric candles in the window which I never took down from last year.  Plug them in and poof -- decorated!

Christmas itself was nice, however.  I   "Face Timed" it with my daughter in Chicago and her boyfriend, an exercise in online holiday-ing which, for about two hours, felt like the real thing.  Getting to that point, however, nearly cost me my grasp on reality. I was so frustrated by getting the iPad to operate properly that I almost lost my ability to breathe.  I thought for while there that I'd need to breathe into a paper bag just to regain my equanimity.   With the help of Ron M., via phone, who suggested I make sure my WiFi router was turned on (it wasn't) and a few tweaks by daughter and boyfriend,  it worked like a charm.

Ron M. and I had decided the day before that he would seek out one of those pre-made holiday dinners that are offered by local grocery stores (turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, the basics) but when he started calling around to order one, he found that they were sold out long ago.   Hmm.... this caused a little problem.  I first decided to just forget about food altogether.  Ron could eat at his house and I'd throw something together here for myself.   However, my guilt took over and I told Ron not to worry, that I would craft a meal out of what I had in my (quite bare) fridge and pantry.  As a result, I believe that our Christmas dinner was a few notches below those being offered at the local homeless shelter.   At least the shelter offered meat!  Our dinner consisted of acorn squash and creamed peas and potatoes.   A veritable vegetarian feast!  In fact, it was good, although I still hope that the shelter did better.

Two days before Christmas, we decided to take a ride on Route 66 and look for some interesting and festive photo ops for this blog.  We started driving east, then west with little success.   Nevertheless, here are a few things we saw. These are not great photos, but they represent what we observed.

Three new storefronts, all made from rescued buildings.  It's always nice to note that tearing down the old and replacing it with the new isn't necessarily the best way.  In fact, it rarely is.  These restorations give 11th St. (Route 66) a new feeling, and yet they are also a breath of the past.
 Here's a mew mural on the side of an old building.  I am not sure what it advertises, if anything, but it adds color and eye appeal to the surroundings.
 Over on Southwest Blvd. (Route 66 across the river on the other side of  Tulsa) it appears that a new mural is being painted at the Route 66 Village.  It will accompany  the beautiful Frisco train, and the oil derrick. all symbols of the old Mother Road.
A couple of years ago, the Goodwill erected a new sign in the "googie" tradition, honoring Route 66.  This year, another one went up on  the other end of the property.  We couldn't be more delighted that Goodwill chose to  honor Route 66 twice in this way!
This is not a hill.  This is not a mountain.  This is the middle of Tulsa, just as a big, heavy pink and gray cloud rolls in.   The foreboding density of the cloud reminds us of the major storm that is predicted to arrive here the day after Christmas.  And speaking of storms, we do send our best regards to our neighbors to the south who experienced devastation by tornadoes on Christmas Day.  Our thoughts are with you.

P.S. Here is my daughter Sarah and her boyfriend John on Christmas morning, via Face Time.  Sorry, I couldn't resist putting this up here despite  the quality.  The reflection of my camera seems to have taken over John's face.   Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Check this Out!

It seems that I've been away from Afton Station and the blog for such a long time that I fear I might lose some of my loyal readers.   I'm still here, and after the Christmas madness passes, I intend to be back to blogging, exploring interesting Route 66 places, and relating stories about what's going on in the life of little Afton.

I had a visit at home from Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones yesterday.  He wanted to show me something.  Well, he sure did!   He has had the entire back of his head shaved and replaced his hair with a very large tattoo of Afton Station!  I don't know if I have words for this, so I'll just say thank you to Tattoo for  his loyalty to the Station, and also warn him to be sure to keep up the shaving, lest Afton Station will be spouting hair in a couple of weeks.  He now has over 150 Route 66 tattoos.  No matter how you feel about the art of  tattoos, Ron  has  to be singled out for his loyalty to the Mother Road.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Buffalo Hunt

On this beautiful sunny Sunday, our first weekend day of vacation from Afton Station, we were looking for an adventure.  Joe Meeks, our intrepid guide and absolute expert on anything to do with the geography or history of Oklahoma, had remembered that Ron M. and I had talked to him recently about a herd of bison owned by the Cherokee Nation and "hidden away" somewhere in Northeast Oklahoma, but nobody was sure of their exact location.   So, Joe did a little research and suggested that he might be able to find them, and that we should make that a purpose for a nice ride in the country.   Road trip!!

We drove through the Amish country around Choteau and on to Pryor Creek, where we found a good restaurant that has been in the town for well over a  half a century.   Good food!   On to Salina, the oldest town in Oklahoma, established by Jean Pierre Choteau in 1796 as a trading post to trade with the Osage Indians.   It is now a resort community on beautiful Lake Hudson.  On to Kenwood, a small Cherokee Indian town in the foothills of the Ozarks.  The lovely drive was made spectacular by the discovery of the  Blue Hole, a popular swimming spot which we've all wanted to see.

We could only speculate how wonderful it would feel to jump into that natural Jacuzzi which is made by a deep and wide place in the Saline Creek.   We all decided that living in that serene spot with nothing but the sound of river over rocks wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

South of Kenwoood, we took the road to Bull Hollow, where we hoped to find that Cherokee herd.  Well, we found the place and even saw a few bison at far range grazing on the lush brown grass.    With that, we had accomplished our goal, had a fine meal, and enjoyed each other's company for a few hours.

Thanks to Joe, who reminded me of the names of all those places that I'd already forgotten by the time I got home, and to Ron M. who is always fun to be with and who helps me out with this darn wheelchair which tends to make everything more difficult than it needs to be. We look forward to more of our "three Musketeers" day trips this winter.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Help Solve This Mystery

Who does this truck belong to?
When we arrived at Afton Station this morning, this white Chevy S10 sat in our parking area.   It has "Boots Court" magnetic signs on the front doors and Illinois license plates.  We were excited to think that maybe one of our Route 66 family might have left it there in order to take a sightseeing walk around town until we arrived, but when we left this afternoon hours later, it was still there.  It's not a problem at all, but my curiosity is killing me!  Who can it be?  The gals from the Boots?   Ron Hart?  But why the Illinois license plates?   If it's yours, feel free to keep it there as long as necessary, but please let me know who you are and if there's anything I can do to help..

Another cold, windy, dark, and damp day kept some folks away but not all.
A very nice family, including almost one-year-old Jack came for a visit.  They're living in Tulsa now, but she was born and raised in Catoosa.
Also from Tulsa is this woman who visited with her son from Portland, Oregon.  He's a "car guy" and happens to be restoring a Packard from the '50s, so  he was particularly interested in some of the minute details on our cars.
This gentleman is also a car collector, and has had many and varied makes in the past.  They also hail from Tulsa.

We cleaned up the place and got it ready for it's long rest.   We'll be closed all of December and January except for potential private openings for those who let us know in advance.  Please don't hesitate to call and make that request.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Small Business Saturday

Despite Afton Station being a small (very small!) business, I wasn't expecting much traffic today.  It was one of the more ugly days, weather wise, that we've had lately -- very cold, windy, rainy, and bleak.   But we warmed up the Station, turned on the lights, and made it as comfortable as possible.  Betty arrived to spend most of the day with Ron M. and me and, by the way, brought us jars of her home made plum jam.  (Yum!)  Robin also spent a few hours with us and we had a nice time.

We also had eight visitors, which is about eight more than I expected.   They were all delightful, interesting, and brave to face the unpleasant weather.
These folks came from Norman, Oklahoma.  They were just taking a little ride on Route 66.  The fellow on the right told me he once had a 1936 Packard in his back yard, but it was there for so long that it was pretty much of a wreck, especially after goats climbed on top of it and collapsed the roof!    :-)
 This lovely young family moved back to the area from California recently to reconnect with their Oklahoma roots.   It's very good to hear that is a priority with younger folks now. She is from Erick, Oklahoma, which is on Route 66 on the far west side of the state, and in fact she was a personal friend of the famous Harley and Annabelle Russell of Erick, who had entertained and amused Route 66 travelers for years in their Sandhills Curiosoty Shop until Annabelle passed away about a year ago.  
From Hazel Green, Wisconsin came this couple searching Route 66 for items for their extensive collectiton of gas pumps and other petrobilia.   We had a great conversation with them about the TV show "American Pickers", one of my favorites.  They have personal knowledge of how the show is produced exactly, and I learned a lot, both good and bad, about how the program is put together.  Interesting!

We'll be back tomorrow for our last day before Winter Vacation (December and January), but remember, if you're coming our way all you have to do is call a bit in advance, at least a day if possible, and we'll arrange for a private opening for you.  918-284-3829 or 918-382-9465.
My dining room, all set up for Thanksgiving dinner.   We had a quiet but very satisfying time and leftovers abound.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

To All of Our Friends. . .

. . . both old and new,
Take some time to reflect on the best things in life. 

 There are many.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

While Eating Pie

I got home from Afton Station a bit late tonight, but I'm sitting here eating the last piece of incredibly delicious lemon meringue pie that Betty brought to the Station today, to the immense pleasure of Ron M., Joe Meeks, and me!   Wow, Betty, this is GREAT!  Thank you!

The weather outside is frightful, a little too much like winter for my liking.  It's cold and extremely windy and that cold air bites right through sweaters and other clothing.  Time to get out some even warmer wardrobe items.  Brrrr.....

It was a good day at the Station, with 15 visitors and some encouraging purchases.  Here are a few of our visitors. . .
A couple from Grove, OK, former neighbors of David.  Although they've known him for quite a while, they had never visited Afton Station.  They certainly enjoyed today's tour of the old cars.
A family from Paris, TX, heading toward Branson, MO.  They decided in a bit of a last-minute brainstorm that they could do some of their travels on Route 66, and we're glad they did.
A couple from Springfield, MO who, despite living in a Route 66 town themselves, wanted to see what there is to see on the Oklahoma portion of 66.  The answer?   A lot!
Local folks from Disney, OK on the lake, have been past the Station many times and finally had time today to stop in.

We also greeted Fred Zander and although I didn't get a photo of him (with his new long beard) it was nice to spend some time chatting with this Topeka, KS citizen whom I've known for many years.  He was one of the very first Route 66 advocates, way back in the early '90s, even before I got involved in the saving of the Mother Road.   Fred drove all the way down from KS to get one of my new Afton Station pins, and I was flattered that he drove for hours just to obtain one.  He's one of the good guys!
This family from Terre Haute, IN was passing through on their way to Tulsa, where he will participate in the Route 66 Marathon to be run tomorrow (Sunday).  The little girl's name is AFTON, so they bought an array of items with the town name emblazoned upon them. 

And speaking of the Route 66 Marathon. . .  Ron M. and I went to the Tulsa Convention Center (also known as the Cox Business Center) yesterday afternoon to put in several hours helping Oklahoma Route 66 Association's president Brad Nickson  work our booth, hand out Trip Guides, and talk to visitors from all over the world about the charms of Oklahoma Route 66.  It was fun and we met some very nice folks.  Tomorrow I'll post a few pictures of some of the 30,000 people expected to come to town for the marathon. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cold Front, Warm Hearts

The chill in the air kept most away from Afton Station today, but those who did visit were from a couple of very different climates and all were warm-hearted indeed.
This couple, formerly from Vancouver, British Columbia , has recently moved back to her original home in Bayfield, Ontario Canada.  They're traveling now in their beautiful Mercedes RV.
.And here is another couple from diverse climates.  She is from Cuba, he is from Formentara, Spain.  They, too, are experiencing Route 66 for the first time.

Betty spent much of the day with Ron M. and me, but not much else took place.  I found a wonderful article in yesterday's Tulsa World (newspaper) about the life of 105-year-old woman who lives in Tulsa, spent most of her life on Route 66, which was very different when she was a kid, and also experienced first  hand the terrible Tulsa Race Riots of 1921.   I won't have time to write about this for a couple of days, so come back and read about it later.  Fascinating stuff!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Nice Surprise

Surprise!  After all my moaning about the absence of crowds at Afton Station, today turned out to be a great day with lots of friendly visitors.  Just like summer on a gloomy, rainy, cold day.   Who knew?

Ron M. and I were there, of course, and were joined at one time or another by Betty, Scott, and Michael Scruggs.
I caught Ron, Scott, and Michael being non-productive, but there were not many moments like that today.
Fairly early in the morning we were visited by this gentleman from Claremore, OK who is a car restorer himself.   He specializes in Cadillacs but was quite interested in and impressed by our Packard collection.  I feel sure we'll see more of him in the future.
Four characteristically happy travelers came to us from Queensland, Australlia.  Jackie (second from right) let me know that she and I are Facebook friends, which was such a nice realization!  I love that people from different sides of the world can "know" one another through social media.  So, hello Jackie!  Let me know how the rest of your Route 66 trip goes.  I'd love to hear from you.
And here is Jackie admiring the '57 Packard.  It's a favorite of mine, too.

Other visitors came from Colgate OK, Myrtle Beach SC, Coachella CA, Bloomington MN, and Gunniston CO.    A fine day today!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Star

The star of the show today at Afton Station was this perfectly gorgeous Thunderbird driven there by folks from Claremore, just down the road.  The beautiful shade of blue doesn't quite come across in the shade of this photo, but believe me, it was stunning.   So were the people who brought it to  us.  One couple in the T-bird and their friends in a vintage Bronco were just out for a ride on Route 66 and they found a good day to do it.   It was the perfect fall day, cool and sunny.
A couple from Oklahoma City  also exploring Oklahoma Route 66 dropped in as well.  I was crazy about his t-shirt, which advertised the Exchequer Restaurant in Chicago, where Al Capone was known to take a meal now and then.  And, the back of the shirt is intriguing, too.  Ouch!
Our other visitors came from West Plains, MO and Kansas City, MO.   It was unsurprisingly quiet again today.

On the way to Afton this morning, we stopped at the little farmer's market in Chelsea for the last time this season, as they are closing after today.  I couldn't resist these two big turnips, which are beautiful. Peeling them will be a challenge, of course, but worth the pulled muscles and cut fingers.  Yum!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Super Six

It's that old "quality more important than quantity" thing.   We had six visitors today, a paltry number compared to our summer numbers, but there was certainly nothing paltry about the guests we did have.

Ron M. and I, joined by Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones, greeted those six people with open arms.  They came from Cuba MO, Manchester England, Norman OK, and Israel.
This handsome gentleman from Israel is in the States to pick up his son who is about to graduate from Oklahoma University.  We were impressed that he wanted to make part of  his time stateside taking in the joys of Route 66
This fellow from Norman, OK is also taking some time off of his work to do a little Route 66 exploration.
The folks from Cuba, MO are truckers who, despite living in their own vibrant Route 66 city (1 mile from the Giant Rocking Chair in Fanning, in fact) decided to check out some Oklahoma 66.  And the two gents from Manchester, England are traveling the whole road from Chicago to L.A.  

In all cases, we were glad to be open for our guests.  So many shops and attractions have already closed for the winter that we find people grateful to have us there and open for business.  Remember, however, that we too will close for December and January, so if you feel like visiting us you should plan to come in the next two weeks.

There's A New Pin In Town

I'm thrilled with the way this Afton Station 1-inch hat pin turned out!   It's not a great photo, but you can get the idea.  It's enameled and very detailed.  They are available at the Station for$6, so come on in and get one!   (I'll try to get a better photo later today.)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Less Energetic

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was energized by the beautiful fall day at Afton Station.  Today, not so much.  I'm tired.  It was a fine day at the Station, but now I'm more than ready for rest. Therefore, I've decided to formally reduce hours and so I  hung this notice on the door as we left today.
I have mixed feelings.  I fully realize that we will miss some travelers at the beginning of each week, but  there just aren't that many travelers out there anyway, and we sincerely apologize to any whom we do miss.

Today, for instance, there were only 8 visitors, which is way down from usual weekend numbers during the summer.   Our visitors came from Hillville VA, Dallas TX, and Tulsa OK.
These friends from Dallas are spending a few days at Grand Lake and chose today to explore a little of Route 66.  I hope they decide to come back again soon and continue their travels on the Mother Road.

Ron M. and I will be back at the Station on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Robin will be working Wednesday and Friday.  Feel free to phone if you'd like us to do a special opening for you.   But be sure to call well in advance so that I can arrange for someone to open  up

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Parade

There was a parade of interesting folks into Afton Station today, including friends old and new.  Ron M. was with me as usual.  Betty W. spent part of the day with us which was nice since we haven't seen her for a few weeks.   Crazy Legs Walker came by on his way to a shoot out in Claremore.  We haven't seen  him for a while either.   We were also happy to see Scott up and around after a health scare and a hospital stay for a few days last week.  Robin stopped in too, so it seemed like old times again.

Our visitors numbered 14 and came from Niagara Falls Canada, Kansas City MO, Louisville KY, Broken Arrow OK, St. Louis MO, Vinita OK, Davenport FL, Wichita KS, and Claremore OK.
 These three gentlemen are from Louisville, Kentucky.  Route 66 has been on the bucket list of the fellow on the right, so he grabbed a couple of his friends and said "Let's go down the road!"  They did, and are having a great time working and playing their way to Santa Monica.
 This is "Roamin' Rich" Dinkela, who is well known by all Route 66 fans.  He travels the Mother Road as often as he can and makes great videos which he shares with everyone.  He is also the guy who is responsible for all those beautiful shields that are stenciled on the road from Chicago to L.A.  He drives a car covered with Route 66 bumper stickers and signs.  I'd say he's right near the top of any list of steadfast Route 66 ambassadors and preservationists.

We had some repeat visitors, including Col. Sue Dulaney from Claremore, OK.  She's known for her store which is directly on Route 66 that has her name emblazoned on the roof in huge letters.  She's a well-known local auctioneer, which is how she earned her "rank" of Colonel, an accolade for long-time successful auctioneers.

Today left me energized and not really ready to shut down for the winter.  I can't wait to see if tomorrow is just as great.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Short and Sweet...again

Mother Nature is trying to tell me something, and here's what I think she's saying:   Time to reduce hours at Afton Station in order to avoid sitting in a big  room waiting for visitors that don't come.   That's not to say that we aren't getting visitors, and it hurts me to think of those we'll miss when I close down for some days each week, but it gets expensive to heat and light the big rooms when there aren't very many people to meet and greet.   In the past five days, we've only had 51 visitors, and numbers like that tell the tale.

However, those travelers we did meet today made me absolutely happy that I was open.  They came from Pittsburgh PA, St.Louis MO, Vinita OK and Auckland, New Zealand.
These two ladies from St. Louis were  having a great time exploring Oklahoma Route 66.  They were especially happy to make the acquaintance of Tripper, our pet giant penguin.
And this trio of young people from New Zealand have six weeks to travel the U.S. (making me very jealous!) and are making the most of it.

The drive  home this evening was challenging and interesting.  At times, the rain was blinding and I had to turn on the emergency blinkers just to make sure other drivers could see me.  When the rain slowed to a drizzle near Tulsa, I remarked to Ron M. that I thought it was perfect conditions for a rainbow but we never saw one.  But then, when I got home and turned on the TV news they showed an incredible double rainbow which I missed because it was behind us.  I love rainbows!

When we finally make a decision on our winter hours, you'll be the first to know.  Until then, it wouldn't hurt if you'd call in advance just to make sure someone is around.  918-257-4044.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Things To Show You

Here are some things to show you.
This is a sneak peek at a huge sign I ordered to put above the big windows of the showroom.  It is 16 feet long and made of sturdy and heavy metal, so it will have to be put up by several people in tandem.  Can't wait until this is project is done!   Don't miss the unveiling. . .soon, I hope!
I love the colors and angle of this photo of the Station.  Ron M. took it while he was on a walk around town today. Nice work, Ron!
Ron also walked past what is probably the most unique house in Afton.  It's a big Victorian which has a lot of quirky touches not visible in this photo, plus an interesting back yard behind a big fence.

Meanwhile, I was greeting guests who came from Vinita OK, Cassville M,  Joplin MO, Brownsville TX, Moore OK, Toronto Canada, and Yuma Colorado.
Early this morning, this group of biker friends came for a visit on their Harleys.
These Canadian folks, from Toronto, are going as far west as they can on Route 66 before their vacation time runs out.   I hope they make it to Santa Monica!

Well, we made it through another week but the rate of visits from travelers is diminishing quickly.  We will probably close completely in December and January, but we plan to keep the doors open and the lights on for most of November.  For some, it's the best month of all for road tripping.