Sunday, May 20, 2012

Route 66: Getting There, Carthage, Missouri to Afton, Oklahoma

When you undertake following the original route 66 these days, the first thing you notice is that everyone is talking about a film.  It is funny that a film that sums up the community that is route 66 was made for kids.  However, even kids films can have their moments.

I hope Disney/Pixar doesn't mind that I am embedding from a non-official source.

The interest in this movie has started a mini revival of sorts.  Cynics might think that people are just trying to cash in on the film by selling merchandise and finding and old truck, putting eyes on the windshield, and calling it 'Mater.'  We did see quiet a few Maters on the route, and elsewhere.  However, this film captured the spiritual journey that following the route has become.   There are a lot of people who have dedicated their lives to reviving a time and a place in American history that should not be forgotten.  It is time to get off the interstate and really see America.  Not only are people talking, but a lot of the people talking, as you will see when you take the route, are characters in the movie.  We met the real 'Flo,' stayed at the 'Cozy Cone,' and in the picture above, you can see Tima standing in front of 'Ramones Body Shop.'  There are many cliche's about Route 66 -- "get your kicks," the Mother Road" "America's Main Street.... " etc.  We found the road to be one long community where everybody seems to know everybody else on the route.  We did a great old American road trip, and we grew closer, and as we shared our journey with our friends and family, we have launched many dream vacations.  I hope I can represent, even though I know it will be a poor representation, through stories, pictures and videos a journey I will never forget.

Kansas City, Missouri
Woke up later than I wanted as usual.  Slave to the technology as I haven't been able to get all my video stuff done I wanted.  Threat of severe weather close to here.

Heading out
We did not prepare nearly enough, and so we are leaving later than we wanted to.  However, we are not stressing about it because we have decided to make this a journey where we really have no goals in mind other than to be on the road.
- 2012/04/27 Friday 12:39:29
On the way out, Suyen called Mom.  They are having a garage sale.  We decided to stop by to have coffee and check out the sale.

1 (660) 679-3151
Fran Ave, Butler, MO 64730
This is our first pee break -- one of many to come.  Drinking diet sodas, water and coffee to keep us occupied and full for our diet also makes it so we have to stop often.
71 Highway in Missouri, heading south....
Casey's General Store
1 (417) 237-0634
917 West Central Avenue, Carthage, MO 64836
We have finally turned in to begin our journey.  First, however, we have to stop at our other favorite convenience store, Casey's.  Of course, we are here for a bathroom break and to stock up on diet soda.

Battle of Carthage Civil War
1 (417) 237-7060
205 Grant St, Carthage, MO 64836
Our first stop on our journey is downtown Carthage, Missouri.  We walked around and took some pictures.  We found a great antique store, however, we have arrived here so late, that we could only visit one store.  This store has a lot of old soda machines, juke boxes, star wars memorabilia and toys, and all sorts of neat mid-century items.  Carthage is worth a re-visit.
Carthage, Missouri


Our intention is to drive west.  I wanted to snap some pictures of the Route 66 Drive In, since I have seen it many photo books an brochures.  However, we got bad directions and slow data connection, and headed east a ways ( a few miles).  We got a picture of an old motel by a small lake, and headed back to Casey's to regroup.
We got some pictures and some video of Route 66 Drive-In in Carthage.  It is on the west side of town on old route 66.  People were already lining up for the 20:30 showing.  Hunger Games is playing here.  The glass block ticket booth is nice.  An adjoining metal building to the property looks like it serves as an office for the Drive-In.  There were parts for the sign inside.  I was hoping to find another theater like this along the way to watch a movie.  It is too early for us to end our journey today.

Route 66 in Missouri
In Missouri, we got our first taste of slowing down.  Suyen asked "is this all there is?"  She wanted to know if our vacation was going to be nothing but doing this Sunday driving.  She wanted to make time on the interstate.  The answer was around the corner.

Carterville, Missouri

SuperTam is the real name of this Ice Cream Parlor on 66 in Carterville, Missouri.  Carterville's downtown area has a lot of empty buildings in need of restoration and it is a photographers dream spot.  I met a photographer from Mississippi using old fashioned large format film cameras to shoot photos.  His name is David Wharton, and he is the Director of Documentary Projects and Assistant Professor of Southern Studies at The Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi
He is in Springfield to do a show of his photos at the gallery on campus.  His two companions -- one was a friend and fellow teacher in Springfield and the other was a fellow traveler, were also there taking pictures.  I did my first interview for my video documentation of our journey.  Golden hour was upon us as we were doing our thing.   I spied a place across the street that advertised itself as the Superman Museum and Ice cream parlor, which was actually why we lurched to a stop here in Carterville.  It just so happened that we saw these three people taking pictures in town.

Tima is Walking the Route from East to West

SuperTam on 66
So we came into the parlor, and met the owner.  He enjoyed talking to us and told us everything he could about his shop and about the route through this area.  Suyen, who was skeptical with the idea behind this adventure, began to warm up to the idea and share the vision I had behind it.  We broke our diet and had ice cream.

This old trolley used to run here.  Larry Tamminen built this little picnic area.  He says someday he'd like to make it into a diner.

Suyen with Larry Tamminen, owner of SuperTam on 66 in Carterville, Missouri

Golden hour on Route 66 in Carterville, Missouri
My Wife, Suyen, as a Car Model.  We sent a facebook update stating that this was our car.  Half our friends thought this was the one we rented, the other half thought we were going through mid-life crisis.
The car actually belongs to the owner of SuperTam on 66, who graciously let us use it for our photos.

Tima on 66 at SuperTam on 66, Carterville, Missouri

Carterville to Joplin
- 2012/04/27 Friday 20:36:10
Webb City, MO
Welcome Center in Webb, City, Missouri.  We went to the one in Baxter Springs, Kansas, which is what inspired this trip.
 - 2012/04/27 Friday 21:00:25
Joplin, MO
 The final hints of blue receded from the twilight sky as we made Joplin.  We had been here on that rainy day in March, so we didn't feel a need to do anything but pass through this time.
- 2012/04/27 Friday 21:15:44Baxter Springs, KS 66713
Baxter Springs, KS
We crossed over into Kansas and passed through Galena and Baxter Springs in the same way.
First, we stopped at a roadside attraction called the Rainbow Bridge, outside of Baxter Springs.  We did it late at night, and had a visit from a mystery SUV that seemed to check us out.  That scared us away pretty effectively.  Apparently the famous spooklights are migrating up here from Oklahoma.

Rainbow Bridge outside of Baxter Springs, Kansas

- 2012/04/27 Friday 21:34:05
Commerce, OK
- 2012/04/27 Friday 22:00:18
Miami, OK

After Miami Oklahoma, we drove on a strech of the road which was about 9 feet wide, which was fun to do in the middle of the night.  We thought we had lost the route for a while until we found a marker.  We decided it was time to look for a motel

Before we hit the original 9 foot Portland Cement paved section, we felt in the darkness south of Miami a bit lost.  This was the first time, but not the last.  Signs were few and far apart, and they are not always at crossroads and turns.  We found an online guide which helped, but there were times we wondered if we were driving miles out of our way.  We came upon a place where Route 66 crossed under the Oklahoma toll road.  The last time we were here in March, this is where we turned off of the route, after losing the route for awhile.  There was a truckstop oasis south of this interchange.  We stopped for a pit stop at a place called Buffalo Ranch.
- 2012/04/27 Friday 22:38:37
Buffalo Ranch Travel
1 (918) 257-4264
21600 S Highway 69 , Afton, OK 74331, 74331
- 2012/04/27 Friday 22:54:34

Tom Cat Corner
1 (918) 786-6622
Hwy 59 N, Grove, OK 74344
We trusted google maps perhaps a bit too much.  It lead us down here to what we thought was the Route 66 Motel.  It turns out we were just across the street from it at the Buffalo Ranch Travel Center.  In the middle of the night I had to get out here at this little roadside BBQ joint to ask directions.  We did our turn around and headed back up the road.
- 2012/04/27 Friday 23:20:34
Route 66 Motel @23:20,4/27
Afton, OK 74331, USA
We found this place after consulting google and yelp, once we found some working data.  This is a family run motel.  I believe the family is originally from Pakistan.  We settled into our room to finish out our first day of travel.

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