Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Following the Mother Road

August 24, 2015

The Parking Meter was invented in Oklahoma

We had another VERY long day of driving today, but it was more fun than yesterday. We have been following Route 66, "the Mother Road", all day, and really enjoying it.

We left the Lucky Star Casino at about 8:30 or so, and stopped to buy gas at the casino's gas station. It was priced higher than we think the surrounding area might suggest, but it was the only way to repay the hospitality of the Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes who own the casino and allowed us to stay for free last night. We didn't go lose any money in the casino, so we figured the price differential for the gas was only fair.

This is the interior of the little red diner below
After that, we jumped onto I-40 for an hour until we came to Clinton, OK. This was a planned stop for the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. We really loved the museum--its rooms were divided into decades, with each one focusing on the history of Route 66 in that decade. The very friendly lady who took our (nominal) $5 fee to enter mentioned that we should be sure to push the blue button on the wall in each room--this would play a contemporary song of that decade while we were browsing.

In the 1930's room, we heard Nobody's Business But My Own while we read about the building of Route 66, the first road to be linked continuously between eight states, and paved throughout its length. The "mother road" allowed people to travel more easily for commerce and pleasure, and gave rise to uncountable small business--gas stations, lodging, restaurants, and souvenir shops--in towns which are only a memory today.

Somewhere in time, our lives became history!
Prefab Diner, delivered ready to set up within one day!
In the 1940's room, the story continued to the sounds of Woody Guthrie's anthem to Route 66. The 1950s started to look familiar to us (Elvis), and in the 1960s we listened to the Beatles while we read about our OWN history of hippie vans and long haired travelers seeing the country. The last rooms of the museum were dedicated to the demise of Route 66 as the Interstate Highway System was built to bypass the small towns with limited access highway, increasing speed but, most likely, not increasing the pleasure of the trip. In fact, Beth reminded me of a line from the movie "Cars": "People used to travel to have a good time, not to make good time."  I felt quite sad at the end, despite the fact that I have been taking full advantage of the opportunity to "make good time" as we try to get to Santa Fe.

We helped the cause of Route 66 preservation, however, by purchasing several books and a Route 66 sticker for the back of our RV. The books included a VERY detailed traveler's guide to Route 66 (many people come and drive the original roads wherever possible, stopping at the vintage businesses which still survive). From our vantage on the Interstate, we read about the towns we were passing, noted the landmarks still extant, and wished we had months rather than days to explore all the small towns we passed.

Our only subsequent stop, however, was in Amarillo, Texas. This was at a Route 66 classic stop, The Big Texan Steak Ranch. We'd been here in 2007, and I remembered the steaks as being excellent. So we enjoyed our steak lunch before getting  back on the highway. We were heading for our friend Alan's house in Santa Fe (ironically, his wife Susan is back east with her new granddaughter!) We reached our destination just after dark, and managed to get mostly level in the parking lot behind his apartment (the complex is built on a hillside.) We walked Cassie and then went to downtown Santa Fe for margaritas and a light dinner. Afterwards, Alan took us for a walk around the center of town. OOOOOOOHHHH, it is a GOOD thing the stores were all closed!  I fell in love with so many things I would love to be taking home with me. This is a dangerous shopping area, for sure!

We came home after that, tired and ready to get a good night's sleep. More Santa Fe adventures will come tomorrow.

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