We are embarking on a "Route 66 Tour", and we are blogging about it.

(Scroll down, most recent entries will be at the bottom.)

Bill and Linda Rowland
Broken Arrow OK

(You can send comments to my aol.com address, it's 'ragtimebill', or Linda's FB.)

We begin our journey where we began our marriage in 1969, Joplin, Missouri, at the Royal Heights Methodist Church. Here we are 'escaping' from the church for our first ride together as a married couple... on Euclid Avenue, Old Route 66.
  This is the famous "Blue Whale" in Catoosa, Oklahoma, built as a tourist attraction in the 70s, still free to the public as a swimming hole.
This is a very nice plaza in Tulsa built to commemorate the "Mother Road."
  And another one in Tulsa where the highway crosses the Arkansas River, dedicated to Cyrus Avery, the "Father of Route 66." (We know his granddaughter!)

Blog Starts Here:

August 4: Galena, Kansas, at Front Street and Main is a place honoring the movie 'Cars,' which was based on characters along Route 66, including quite a few from this town.  It's right across the street from the Haunted Bordello (!)  Neither of these was here when we lived in this town in the 70s and 80s.  This corner is where the producers saw the inspiration for 'Towmater.'

Less than thirteen miles of Rt. 66 are in Kansas, but they make the most of them.

August 4: This is a rare section old US 66 called the 'Sidewalk Highway' running between Afton and Miami, Oklahoma. It was built in 1922 before specifications were standardized and it became part of Rt. 66 in 1927. The paved area is only nine feet wide. Its replacement in 1937 marked the completion of paving the entire route. Very little of this roadway is in this good a condition.

August 5: A bridge typical of many on the old road, deserted but with a plaque. This one is west of Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

August 5: This is a wonderful round barn built in 1898 in Arcadia, Oklahoma. The second floor has hardwood floors and is still used for local get-togethers and dances.


August 5: This is a motorcycle museum between Wellston and Chandler, Oklahoma. There are many, many museums on the 'Mother Road.'

August 5: It is not uncommon to have small towns in the West and Midwest make travelers welcome by providing RV spaces in their parks, with utilities provided at minimal charge. This is a nice one, provided by the City of Sayre, Oklahoma, for $12 a night.

August 6: In 1924 a 2600-foot wooden bridge was built over the Red River at Sayre, and two years later incorporated into the Rt 66 system. It was fortified and served until 1958. Part of it burned the next year, but you can still see remnants of the old bridge.

August 6: Believe it or not, this was the Territorial Jail at Texola, built in 1910. Not much traffic these days, in fact this place is on the fast track to becoming a ghost town.

August 6: Erick, Oklahoma, hometown of  Roger  Miller and Sheb Wooley.  The Roger Miller Museum is up the street from this old store, which is pretty well decorated with old signage.

August 6: McLean, Texas was built on land donated by Alfred Rowe, a local rancher in 1902.  In 1912 he had the unfortunate luck to be a passenger on the Titanic. In WWII there was a German POW camp here that was locally called the 'Fritz Ritz.'

August 6: Conoco Station at Alanreed, Texas. There are lots and lots of closed-down gas stations along the Mother Road, in various stages of decomposition. This one is in a little better shape than most others.

August 6: This water tower in Groom, Texas, is supposed to look like this. It was built for a truck stop to attract attention. It does.

August 6: Also in Groom, Texas, is this monumental Cross, built in 1995 that is 190 feet high.  It weighs 2 1/2 million pounds and is the second-largest cross in the Western Hemisphere.

August 6: Here's a bit of whimsy from Conway Texas called the 'Bug Ranch' featuring Volkswagens buried head-first in the dirt with an expectation that folks would spray-paint and otherwise leave their mark on them. We didn't do that, there was no place left to mark...

August 7: Amarillo, Texas.

August 7: Immersing ourselves in Rt. 66 Culture

August 7: This is the famous Cadillac Ranch, the object of the parody of one of the scenes above. Contrary to popular belief, it was NEVER on Rt. 66 originally, but was moved here outside of Amarillo in 1996.

August 7: Adrian, Texas, the Midpoint of the route from Santa Monica, California, to Chicago.  With all the different alignments through the years, it seems unlikely that this is that precise, but who are we to argue with them?

August 8: We camped at Santa Rosa Lake and awakened to scenes like this.  How wonderful to have your morning coffee while smelling the cedar, sage, and other mountain scents.

August 8: Whoever would have thought that Santa Rosa, New Mexico would be a popular destination for SCUBA divers?  An artesian spring provides constant-temperature clear blue waters the year around.

August 8: This is Pecos National Historic Park, home to Indian ruins and a huge Mission Church. This area was occupied for over 400 years, first by Indians then by Conquistadores, then Friars of the Catholic Church.

August 8: Inside an underground 'kiva' at the park, an area about 20 feet round that held religious significance for the Indians prior to the Europeans.  There were about 20 of these at the site, and this one has been restored.

August 8: Linda is standing over a section of the old Santa Fe Trail. Much of this trail ended up being used as a pathway for the Mother Road (Rt. 66) in New Mexico.

August 8: Somehow we were also unaware that a great battle of the Civil War was fought here at Glorieta Pass. It has been referred to as "the Gettysburg of the West." The Confederacy lost here not on the battlefield but because the Federal troops were able to destroy their supplies and they had to turn back east.

August 9: This is the oldest house in America, on De Vargas Street in Santa Fe, New Mexico, dating back to the 1200s and across the street from the Oldest Church in America.

August 9: This is typical architecture of Santa Fe, the Loretto Hotel.

August 9: We dropped by my friend Martha's house on our way to Albuquerque, to make adjustments to her player piano. Never let it be said that piano tuners don't make house calls!

August 9: This beautiful carving of the Madonna out of an old cottonwood tree stump is a feature of the San Felipe de Niri Church in Albuquerque. Thanks, S. E. Coleman, for showing us around!

This is a more detailed shot of the 'Madonna of the Tree.'

August 9: The KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque,  built in 1927 by the famous Boller Brothers architectural firm, has been restored and is showing movies again.

August 9: This interesting sculpture in downtown Albuquerque marks an intersection of two alignments of US 66, pre-1937 (N/S) and post-1937 (E/W). We are taking the older one, of course.

There is an interesting story as to why there are these two alignments in different directions. In 1936 Governor A. T. Hannett was defeated for re-election and was angry, both at his party and at the people of the Capitol, Santa Fe in particular. Before the new governor was sworn in, Hannett endeavored to pull together a miracle, ordering the construction of a new stretch of Route 66 from Gallup to Santa Rosa ... completely bypassing Santa Fe. The engineers and road crew worked without stopping, battling snows and forests and even working on Christmas. By the time the new governor was inaugurated and sent his head engineer down to halt the project, the job had been completed and cars were traveling the new route that had been built in just 31 days. Thus, Route 66 was shortened by over 80 miles and some bad spots had been bypassed, as well as Santa Fe. Hannett had his revenge.

August 10: Nothing like orange barrels to make you feel like home, almost like we never left Tulsa...

August 10: This is called 'Owl Rock' located out of Mesita, NM, and just around the bend from 'Dead Man's Curve' (!)

August 10: The Continental Divide crosses the Mother Road just east of Coolidge, NM.

August 10: There are many murals on the route, this one in Gallup, New Mexico is particularly nice.

August 10: Also in Gallup is the El Rancho Hotel.  This town was a motion picture location for many years and many well-known stars stayed here while on location.

August 10: This is the lobby of the El Rancho, formerly visited by the likes of Kirk Douglas, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Ronald Reagan.

August 10: On into Arizona, and the Painted Desert.

August 10: Photos cannot tell the beauty of this place.

August 10: This is one of the petroglyphs found in the Petrified Forest National Park.  The Summer Solstice (June 22) would cast a beam of light directly on the image at left center.  You can also see an image of a footprint left by a people gone many centuries ago.

August 10: A fine example of a petrified log in the Petrified Forest National Park. Many other fascinating objects are to be found here. (Hint: if you are over 61 you can get a Senior Pass for $10 that will get you in to all National Parks free for life!)

August 11: The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, still open.  How many of us as kids really, really, wanted to stay in one of these places?

August 11: On the highway at Geronimo Gift Shop, supposed to be the World's Largest Petrified Tree. 

August 11: Homolovi Indian Ruins State Park just out of Winslow, Azizona is another fascinating trip back to antiquity. There are many ancient Indian ruins and cliff dwellings on this route it would be difficult to visit them all and do them justice.

August 11: Joseph City, Arizona, the Jackrabbit Trading Post, more famous for its ubiquitous road signs than anything else.

August 12: Just like the Eagle's song in Winslow, Arizona.

August 12: "♫ Don't forget Winona ♫♪"...
Actually, folks, there ain't much there.

August 11: Williams, Arizona, is a jumping-off place for the Grand Canyon, but a pretty swinging place on its own accord.

August 11: We enjoyed a great supper here in Williams before striking out the next morning on the train for the Grand Canyon.

August 12: We took lots of pictures here at the Grand Canyon, but as this marvelous place is not actually on Rt. 66 we will only post one.  If you want to see more, let us know!

August 13: The DeSoto Salon in Ash Fork, AZ has a good marketing strategy.

August 13: Seligman, Arizona seems to be a town centered around the tourist trade, in particular those like us who are following Rt. 66. Places like this extend for block after block along the Mother Road.

August 13: Valentine, Arizona, not a happy memory for some school children a hundred years ago.  This was the home for two schools; here you see the school for white children, then a way down the road (now on private property) is the one for the Indian children, where they were taken (by force if necessary) to assimilate them into white society and religion.

August 13: Hackberry, Arizona, another tourist trap catering to us '66 nuts' and containing an amazing collection of memorabilia and vintage vehicles.

August 13: And yet another one, less accessible than the previous one, Cool Springs (!) in the Mojave Desert on a back stretch of Rt. 66 between Kingman and Needles, California...

August 13: ...which said stretch also included Sitgreaves Pass, with extremely steep and  narrow roadways complete with tight switchbacks. Interesting to navigate if you happen to be  driving a truck and a 26-foot travel trailer! But, worth it, because this is how you get to...

August 13: ...Oatman, Arizona. This is another tourist-friendly town, where a hundred years ago a gold strike brought miners to town. When it closed down, the miners abandoned their burros to the wilds. There are thousands of them here now, and freely roaming the streets looking for handouts.

August 13: Made it to California, 2000 miles later,  this is Needles, 106 (but it's a 'dry heat.')

August 13: And this is what you see across the Mojave desert on Highway 66, hot sun, desert, and little else. We drove on to Barstow without encountering much to write home about.

August 16: As for more Route 66 photos in sunny Southern California,
I am afraid that you will have to look elsewhere. Many photogenic sites
exist but are pretty well covered with urban civilization, while the route
itself is best described as white-knuckled California highway driving.
Meanwhile, our travels are extending far beyond the confines
of this one historic highway, as you have already seen with our side
trip to the Grand Canyon. We are going to continue our blog, but on
another page that is not dedicated to the Mother Road of Highway 66,
at http://ragtimebill.com/blog2. Catchy name, huh?!!

August 16: This is the actual end/beginning of old Route 66, the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and the Santa Monica Expressway. No signs or other indication of its importance are in evidence.

Just a few blocks away, and with the Pacific Ocean in the background, is the Historic Site, with a monument that was dedicated in 1952 honoring this as the 'Will Rogers Highway.' But ...

... This is where a lot of people think it SHOULD end, on Santa Monica Pier, where "you can't go any farther West without getting wet."

We have had a lot of fun making this blog of highlights of our Route 66 tour, two weeks of history and nostalgia. Our exploits will continue on our non-66 blog, starting off with the giant redwoods and Yosemite, here. For now, a few closing thoughts from each one of us:

Bill: This trip was nostalgic, historic, and often kinda sad. What has
been impressed on me is the sheer power of a slab of highway to
impact people's lives for both good and bad. While the advent of a
major highway brings prosperity to a town and its residents, so the
removal of it can bring devastation to an entire community, mute
testimony of that being all too apparent in hundreds of desolate
gas stations and overgrown motels in what have become mostly
ghost towns but once were thriving communities. Souvenir stands
now are the recipients of the largess of Highway 66 and seem to
be doing quite well, as communities embrace the legacy of the
20th Century. I hope this legacy endures.
Linda: Rt 66, this was quite a trip. We have enjoyed learning history
we didn't know about the route and the towns the route
traveled through. It has been nostalgic for me as we traveled this
route many times when I was a girl. Now on the rest of our trip. We
will feel less constrained to stay on a particular path. Wanderlust
here we come. As Bill has already mentioned we will start a new
blog, but not as regularly posted for anyone interested in where we
end up. Thanks for checking in and stay tuned.

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