2010.07.02 A Route 66 Journey


Would the real Slim Shady please stand up?  Miles repeatedly serenaded us with this tune all morning while we were getting our gear together.  Between his singing and his desire to bring his recorder along for the ride, I believe we have a musical director for this trip.  Congratulations Miles!

I had a pleasant surprise this morning.  After hauling all of the luggage into the driveway, and studying how it was all going to fit in the fan, I realized we would not need to strap the luggage bag to the top of the van.  Somehow, it all fit inside, and that will save us loads of time this morning, and every other morning on the trip.  We had not even left the house yet, and things were falling into place.

We pulled out of the driveway at 7:13 this morning, beating our goal by 2 minutes.  Now that’s the way to start a vacation!

Today’s travels followed a Route 66 theme.  Our first stop this morning was Chandler, and we drove Route 66 all the way there from Tulsa.  One of the highlights was driving through Sapulpa and passing Liberty Park.  There was a “Statue of Liberty” in front of the park, and as we passed, Marissa (who is 6) said, “Hey, there’s a green lady over there holding a torch!”.  Oh my.

We made one quick stop on the way, and that was to take a picture of the Rock Café in Stroud.  This is an original Route 66 landmark, as the café opened in the 1930s.  And to give it a pop culture twist, the character “Sally” from the movie Cars, was based on the owner of the Rock Café.  There were even some wooden cutouts of several of the cars from the movie out front.


The Rock Cafe in Stroud, OK


All 9 of our traveling party met at Chandler, at the home of my brother, Scott, and his wife, Erin.  Stephanie enjoyed a birthday last week, so we had a family celebration this morning with some French Toast casserole.  Erin is a fabulous cook and made quick work of breakfast.

A Birthday Breakfast in Chandler


We pulled out of Chandler, and continued down Route 66 until we reached Arcadia.  There, we had a couple of stops to make.  The first was a visit to the Round Barn.  It was originally built in 1898, and later, Route 66 snaked its way just a matter of feet from its doors.

The barn is 45 feet tall – a truly massive structure considering the year it was built.  It is one of very few actual round barns in existence.  The gift shop / museum on the first floor of the barn has several pictures of “round barns” taken from newspapers, but the locals have courteously placed stickers over these pictures with the label “Not Round”.  Sure enough, most have sides, Don’t argue with an Arcadian.


Standing on the shoulder of Route 66, in front of the Round Barn.


The interior of the Round Barn was big enough to provide an echo.


After a short visit at the Round Barn, we walked across Route 66 to our cars, then drove ¼ mile down the road to our next stop, Pops.  Pops is what I would call a new Route 66 landmark.  It was not built until 2006, which is just a “few” years after the demise of Route 66.

The main building for Pops has a great architectural styling, and the icon is a giant pop bottle that stands 66 feet tall.  An appropriate number, I would say.

Pops carries over 400 varieties of soda.  Selection: Great.  And they will sell you any of them for $2.19 a bottle.  Price: Scary.  But hey, it is vacation, so everybody in our car was allowed to pick out 3 bottles.  The total damage: $36.50.  That is a LOT of pop.


This bottle at Pops lights up at night.


We wrapped up our purchase about 11:00 and as we were walking back to the car, Miles asked, “You mean we’re not going to eat here?!”  Son, we just gorged ourselves on breakfast 2 hours ago!

We said goodbye to Route 66 and hopped on the Interstate for the rest of the day.  Our next stop was in Clinton, Oklahoma, at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.  This was a pretty neat little museum.  For the most part, our group had the run of the place to ourselves.  I was a little curious as to how many people visit the museum, and the lady at the register told me they had 33,000 visitors last year.


Mallory and PK (Mom) dancing to the jukebox at the Route 66 Museum.


The museum is divided into segments, and each one represents the status of Route 66 in Oklahoma during a particular decade.  It was pretty interesting, and it wrapped up with a 15 minute video.  The most interesting part of the video was that the man who sang “Get your kicks on Route 66” was asked to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony on the final stretch of interstate highway that effectively killed Route 66.  He said the crowd was cheering, and he chastised them for doing that.

After we left the museum, a spontaneous parking lot picnic lunch erupted, as it often does with our group.    We ate a light meal, because it was already after 2:00 and we had our sights set on the next stop: The Big Texan!


Our family will eat a meal anywhere!


It rained on us for most of the drive between Clinton and Amarillo, but it paused for a moment as we pulled into Groom, Texas.  Groom is best known for the “Leaning Tower of Groom”, which is a leaning water tower.  Interestingly, it was built that way to attract tourists.  The shtick must not have been that great, because whatever place of business used to sit near the water tower is long gone.


I could not believe we were the only family taking our picture here!


Just 45 minutes down the road was our final destination of the day.  Every time we have ever driven through Amarillo, we make it a point to eat at the Big Texan.  The Big Texan started as a Route 66 landmark, but after I-40 opened, they moved the restaurant so that it sat next to the Interstate.  Of course, it is famous for their FREE 72 OUNCE STEAK (if eaten in 1 hour). Nobody in our party attempted to take the challenge, but we did eat a lot of dead cow.

We were fortunate enough to get to see one poor soul attempt the 72oz steak challenge, but his 1 hour timer went off and he was nowhere near complete.  His prize?  A complimentary t-shirt and a bill for his meal of $72.  However, the crowd was very gracious and as he left the stage (yes, you get to sit on an elevated stage in front of the entire restaurant) the several hundred people in the dining room all gave him a round of applause for his effort.


This fellow attempted to eat the 72oz steak in 1 hour. He failed.


Group Photo at Big Texan.


Miles ordered a meal that was 1/4 the size of the 72oz Steak. He finished it!


Mallory and Marissa relax in a Texas-sized rocking chair.


After our meal, we made our way to the Big Texan Gift Shop.  All 3 kids bought something, but Mallory’s purchase of a pair of handcuffs and a Sheriff’s star is the highlight.  10 minutes later, Marissa was being escorted around our hotel’s parking lot with her hands cuffed behind her back.

Looks like it is going to be a long 12 days for Marissa.

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