August 23, 2015
|Route 66 diner, St. Robert, MO|
Today’s blog will be short, because we drove all day with minimal entertainment during the drive. We left St. Louis at about 9:30 in the morning, and headed southwest on I-44 toward our ultimate stop for the night, planned as Oklahoma City. We were traveling along the old Route 66 road for much of the time, and saw a number of references to stops along the route whose nickname is “the mother road.” I was perusing our tour guides and maps for much of the day, at first looking for “something interesting” to stop and see, because the drive was not supposed to be terribly long. I didn’t find much in Missouri, however, and we soon started looking for a town along the way which might have some good barbeque. We were hoping to make up for missing Pappy’s last night.
The AAA books gave me a couple of options, but one came along at 11:30, which was too early. So we stopped for lunch in St. Robert, at a recommended roadside bbq place. Joe said his pulled pork was yummy, although “nothing extraordinary”, but I was pretty unimpressed with my brisket. We also found a Missouri tourist office, so I was able to collect a bunch of literature for our return trip, and we drove past the Route 66 diner, which looked suitably retro. I jumped out of the RV and took a photo before we got back on the highway.
That was it for our stops for the day—for some reason, that morning segment seemed to drag, and it was already after 1:30 when we finished lunch. (We were delayed an extra 5 minutes by Cassie’s ecstatic rolling in the grass.) We drove all afternoon through Missouri, and into Oklahoma. We stopped and picked up a bunch of literature at the welcome center 10 miles past the state line, but neglected to ask about the toll roads coming up. Oklahoma has a bizarre set of toll roads which are all short segments of longer roads, and we never did figure out how they decided what to charge. The first time we left the road was the honor system: “Did you come from Missouruh?” “Yes.” “$1.25”. After that we paid $4, $1.75, and later, at two exact change coin toll booths, $1.15 and $.60. I’m still wondering if we should have bought a “Pike Pass.”
All afternoon, I was trying to find a place to stay for the night. Oklahoma City had four Good Sam rated campgrounds, but they would all run us about $45, and all we really wanted was to stop and sleep and hit the road again in the morning. There were no state parks anywhere near our route. There were NO highway rest stops anywhere in the vicinity (we were switching between I-44 and I-40) and when I checked the internet, the reports were that the Walmarts did not allow overnight parking. I didn’t want to stay at a Cracker Barrel, and didn’t see any Flying J’s coming up—both places which are RV friendly. I did notice a mention of the Oklahoma County Fairgrounds, which gave me the idea to see if they allowed RV parking when there are no events at the fairgrounds. I couldn’t find a website to tell me that, but I ended up on a website listing free rv parking places, and while looking for a county park or info on the fairgrounds, I found a list which included a casino in El Reno, about 10 miles or so west of OK City. I found some reviews of it, one from just a month ago, which indicated it was 1) free, 2) had hookups, and 3) was safe. I’ve always wanted to try casino camping—this is something I know a lot of RVers take advantage of, and it is usually free or extremely low cost. So I put the address of the casino into my Google Maps.
Well, in this case, Google Maps had its head up you know where (if it would have had one.) It led us off the free interstate onto another toll road, and then onto 15 miles on a very badly paved road in a quite rural area. When it finally brought us out on the main highway the casino is on, it told us to turn the wrong way and then took us down a dead-end road. It was deep dusk by then, and our rear view camera has lost its antenna and isn’t working. I had to get out to help Joe make a k-turn (luckily it was a dead end, so no traffic.) We went back to the main road and stopped at a gas station/convenience store to ask, where was the casino. The lovely young man directed us back the way we had come, telling us we couldn’t miss it. He was right—if Google Maps hadn’t taken us on such a stupid way, we’d have been there probably 30 minutes earlier, too.
But—indeed, here we are, at the Lucky Star Casino in El Reno, Oklahoma. There are 10 RV spaces here with FULL hookups (electric and sewer!), for free, and the casino security guy could not have been nicer when I went in to register with him. He told me he’d always wanted to see Atlantic City. He says they are open 24/7, and if we need anything to come and let them know. I believe the casino is owned by the 500 Nations, and if it weren’t so smoky, I’d go inside and support the tribes. But I’m very tired and I really DO want to get going early tomorrow—we are planning to stop at the Oklahoma Route 66 museum about an hour from here.