Thursday, June 30, 2016

Two Days in Sedona

Even though I was staying in Flagstaff, I commuted to Sedona for two days of Nia there.  It's a lovely scenic commute and only about 45 minutes.

On Wednesday, I was there in the morning to teach my Amazing routine. Sedona was one of the contributing cities to the routine, and the two teachers that helped me create the titular song of the routine were both present for the class. I have loved the experience of teaching the songs to their creators, and this was no exception for Alba and Wendy. I don't remember how much I've changed what we came up when we first put it together last year, but I suspect it has morphed a bit. Judging by how enthusiastically the class responded to the song, and how well they knew the movements, I'm thinking it didn't change that much from what the local teachers were teaching.

Sedona is a breathtaking town. I've been back several times and each time I'm re-impressed. I forget, I guess, how amazing it is. And I didn't take many pictures because when I've been here before I've taken pictures and I hate them. They lie. They don't even come close to capturing the majesty of the red mountains that surround the town.  Everywhere you look is gorgeous.

After class I scooted right back to Flagstaff because I wanted to head north and do some sightseeing there. I blogged about that here. 

The next day it was raining. I've never seen it anything but hot and sunny in Sedona. Good to learn that a bit of rain doesn't detract from the scenic wonder. Personally, I can more easily enjoy myself when I'm not hot and being sunshined on. Unless I have the freedom to be mostly unclothed, I don't like being in the direct sunshine.

In the morning, I was booked in a Pilates studio to teach an old routine called Miracle. I learned it way back in 1997 or 1998, just a few years after first becoming a White Belt and it was one of my favorites for many years. So it was nice to pull this one out of the vault. Polishing it up in preparation for this morning was like a trip down memory lane.

It was a very interesting experience to see the routine now, after I've had so much more experience and training. I could clearly see my neophyte self and how I approached the routine back then. If I were to learn the routine now I would (and today I did) approach it in a different way and understand it in a different way.

It went really well. I was nervous, but amazed at how well I remembered the routine and the movements with my body.

One woman seemed to be upset by the amount of masculine energy I was bringing and that is present in the routine. She let her arms dangle lifelessly when we were doing a powerful forearm movement called The Warrior and stood stock still during a section when we were making strong chops. Eventually she unceremoniously left the room.

After class the students and I had a long chat. The way the routine ends puts people in a very relaxed and spiritual place, conducive to sharing, so we sat in a circle for about half an hour and talked about our class experience and other things.

For lunch, Alba bought me a "Paleo Bowl" from a local restaurant I can't remember the name of. While she did that I changed from the Pilates studio to the same one I was in yesterday, which is the one Alba teaches in. Wendy teaches in the Pilates studio.

The food was delicious. It was chunks of grass-fed beef steak on a bed of roasted yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. It was a lot of food and I could only eat half of it. I could have maybe eaten it all, but knowing what I was about to do, I opted for prudence and put half of it away for later.

Our afternoon session was more Miracle. But this time I did a movement breakdown for each song. We did a deep dive into Miracle and it was so awesome to get into the details of such an expertly crafted routine.

There were a couple of students who had signed up but weren't exactly clear on what we were doing. At one point, one of them was ready to leave because she feared I wasn't going to stop talking. She wondered if we were going to move. I explained that I would talk a little and we would move a little, but that it wasn't a workout, it was an educational experience. She stayed and had a great time.

The other one balked at the price until I reminded her that it's three hours. Then she said, "OK then it's a bargain." And she stayed and also had a great time.

There were three teachers there. I hope I gave them enough of Miracle that they can start teaching it themselves.

Afterwards, I stopped at the Natural Grocer on the way out of town. I needed to refill my water jugs and I thought maybe I'd find something else to get. As I shopped, I was a little curious that I didn't hear River make a peep. Still, out of habit, I shopped very quickly and got out of there.

His head wasn't popped out the window as usual. And still no sounds were heard. As I got closer to the car, I could see that he was in the driver's seat. He doesn't usually do that. Then when I got to the car, I saw why: He had found my leftover Paleo Bowl and finished it for me. I was bummed since I was looking forward to finishing it myself, but relieved because that meant I wouldn't have to feed him that night.

So, being without food, I did a quick search when I got back to Flagstaff. I found a BBQ place which I will blog about on my Burgers and BBQ Across America blog.

Tomorrow I will get back on Route 66 and continue heading west.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Grand Canyon, Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano

Today was an incredibly scenic day.  It started out with a trip to Sedona, but I'm going to skip that for now and include it in my full Sedona post tomorrow.

So I'll start from after I returned to Flagstaff and showered.

I decided to take an afternoon trip to see the Grand Canyon.

On my way up, I stopped to get lunch at a burger place that caught my eye. It was on Route 66 and I come to find out was the place where Jackson Browne was inspired to write the line about the girl driving a flatbed truck in his song, "Take it Easy". At that time it was a Der Wienerschnitzel, but now it's called the Dog Haus.

I got a bacon cheeseburger and took it to a picnic table in the Coconino Forest to enjoy.

As I was finishing up, the sky clouded up and I heard thunder. Just as I was driving away from the picnic spot it started to rain.

The rain continued off and on for the whole 75 minute drive.

When I got to the Grand Canyon entrance, it was really coming down hard.

I drove to the parking lot and it was raining so hard that we sat in the car waiting for it to pass. While I waited, I geared up in my slicker and loaded up a satchel for of treats to keep River's attention amongst the throngs of tourists.

As the rain continued, many people ran to their cars and drove away. By the time the rain let up, the parking lot was about half empty. So River and I found a trail and enjoyed it all to ourselves for quite a while.

The sheer size of the Grand Canyon is breathtaking and impossible to capture the feeling of on camera.

We only spent about an hour on the rim. At one point, I got off the trail and walked over to the edge of the giant canyon. It was dizzying to look over the edge. I don't know if this video does it justice.
Dogs aren't allowed inside the canyon, so we had to be satisfied with the rim. (We were)

I took a different highway back to Flagstaff so that I could see Desert View Road, which gave more spectacular vistas; first, of the canyon and then a sprawling desert.

On the way, I saw a sign indicating a National Monument, and I had that annual pass, and still plenty of time before sunset, so I made a detour.

I stopped at two places, Wupatki National Monument...

...and Sunset Crater Volcano.
Both places didn't allow dogs, so I had to take the picture of the Wukoki Ruin from the parking lot and the lava garden made by the volcano from my moving car as I drove by.

Babe reached a 'birthday' today; the big 4-0. The odometer passed 40,000.  The miles I've driven just on this trip are almost 13,000 so far.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Geronimo, Winona, Walnut Canyon and Orchestra in Flagstaff

It was hot and sunny when I woke up in Holbrook. Just taking River out for his morning walk left me sweating and him panting.

I loaded up the car and took off for Flagstaff, my next stop, only 90 miles away.  Since I had so much time to go such a short distance, I took as much of Route 66 as I could today.

Which wasn't much. Most of the time it was concurrent with I-40. Whenever I got the signal, I took off and rode through town on the "Highway That's the Best."

The first place I stopped was at a ... I'm not sure if it's a town or an Indian reservation, but a place called Geronimo that claimed to have the world's largest petrified tree. Since I was jonesing for a petrified tree after my Painted Desert experience at the Petrified Forest, I had to stop and check it out.

I got back on the highway until I came to Winslow, AZ. I would swear that in some versions of the Route 66 song, they replace Flagstaff with Winslow in the lyrics, so I wanted to check it out. This town was very proud of its Route 66 connection and had all the eponymous motels, coin laundries and markets as well as a generous dose of street signage.

The temperature suddenly began to drop. Whereas it was in the high 90's this morning, it was now in the mid 80's.  Last night, I saw that the prediction for today was 109 by 5pm!

Back on I-40 I next noticed I was approaching the town of Winona and recalled from the song the advice not to forget it, so I pulled off. I also saw a sign for a Shell gas station so I was going to fill up.
I don't understand it when this happens: I followed a Route 66 marker indicating to get off the highway, but when I reach the top of the off-ramp there is no guidance of whether to turn right, turn left or go straight. I chose right since there was a sign saying Winona was that way. But after a few yards, without seeing a marker, I doubted my choice. I also noticed that the Shell station was getting further away, so I turned around and attempted a left from the off-ramp.  That was an even more desolate option as it led to a dirt road to a shooting range. So back to the off-ramp to go straight.

Oddly, that choice is the ramp to get back on I-40 and that's where I found the Shell station. I've never seen such an awkward approach to a gas station. ON the on ramp. So someone on the highway wanting gas would have to know to get off the highway at that exit and then immediately right back on. Otherwise the highway skips that Shell station altogether. I didn't end up getting gas, anyway because the highest octane they had was 89. I never saw any signs indicating Route 66 nor did I see much of Winona anyway. So in my mind the next time I hear that song saying "Don't forget Winona" I'm going to ignore the word "don't".

As soon as I got to Winona, it started to rain. Big drops but not many of them.

I was almost to Flagstaff when I saw a sign for Walnut Canyon National Monument. I know that my annual park pass includes admission to National Monuments, but I'm not quite sure what they are, so I pulled off and made a slight detour.

It was an $8 admission per person, so I was happy to flash my card and get in 'free'.

We had a picnic and explored the canyon, which was an unexpected surprise. I'm still not sure how a National Monument is different from a National Park; they seem the same to me.

I still had plenty of time before the class I was scheduled to teach in Flagstaff at 4:15pm. And since I was only a few minutes from Flagstaff, I took that opportunity to fill up my gas tank, buy River's food and check in early to my motel room.  By that time the temperature had dropped to a chilly 68 degrees with rain.

Today's class was at Flagstaff Athletic Club West. It's the first and I believe the only place I'll be teaching on this whole trip with an address on Route 66. I taught the Orchestra routine and it was dynamite. There was a guy who was really doing his own thing. Before class, he was free dancing beautifully to the classical music I was playing, but during class, when I started getting specific with the movements, he didn't. He kept it loose and was really all over the place. I have to admit I was a little distracted by it, but I did my best to embrace it and stay focused. Once I let it go, I was able to focus and all of us had a good time.

I love this routine so much. And one of the students said something afterwards that I always think, "It went by so fast." I wonder if it has to do with the fact that there are only six pieces in the whole routine. The first half hour is only Bolero and 1812 Overture, so maybe it makes it seem like we're not doing as much when there aren't as many new songs.

At one point during class, actually several points, I was short of breath. It was a reminder that I'm well over a mile above sea level and I'm not used to it.  But I pulled back on my intensity and recovered very quickly.

After class, I was chatting with Stephanie, my producer. We were outside the club and I had River sitting on a low brick wall. People would come by and want to engage with him and usually, I discouraged them. But this one guy seemed really sweet and he approached River with a big smile. River seemed to be taking it all in stride until suddenly, I saw the warning signs and gave a quick yank on the leash, pulling him away before he could make contact with the guy. I was just in the process of explaining to him why I don't let people pet him, so River helped make it perfectly clear. He didn't connect and everyone was OK.  But River seemed extra riled up. For whatever unknown reason, he reacted to several guys walking by.

Then, a woman who was in my class came out. She had her two little girls with her. One was crying and in her arms and the other looked like she had just woken up. She was holding her hand. The standing child saw River and was attracted to him. The wise mother encouraged her to enjoy the dog from a distance but I could see that the girl was still drawn to him.  So I shook my fist right near my chest as a signal to River, which he took beautifully and let out a loud, deep bark.  This visibly changed the girl's demeanor. What I wanted to happen was for her to see the dog in a different way. And I could tell by the change in her expression that it worked. She was no longer interested in petting him, even though the bark was controlled and not directed at her. It was still strong and loud, and perfectly effective.

I'm so glad to be back in society after my night in Holbrook. Tonight I had plenty of options for food, and I have a nice, quick internet connection. Ah the things we take for granted until we no longer have them.

For dinner, I asked Siri for a burger recommendation and he suggested Diablo Burger. It took me into old town Flagstaff, which was hopping for a Tuesday night. The town looks really cute, maybe a bit too cutsie-touristy for me, but I was surprised, as I didn't think Flagstaff had much going on.

I blogged about the burger here.

I'm going to be staying in Flagstaff for two more nights while I have some classes and workshops in Sedona.

Gallup, Laguna and Petrified Forest

I asked the desk clerk as I was checking out to point me in the direction of Central Ave, which I remembered from yesterday, was the road I came into town on, following Route 66.
Central Ave took me through a cool, quirky part of Albuquerque called Nob Hill. It was more upscale than the things I was used to seeing on Route 66.
One of the first things I saw was this bus stop shelter in the shape of a flaming 66. I tried to get a good picture, but alas, driving comes first. I didn't bother to stop.

I also shot random pictures of Route 66 signs that showed up on my trip out of Albuquerque.

It's impossible to capture with a camera the feeling of what it's like to drive on these roads. Especially for someone not photographically inclined and using an iPhone while driving. But it's a very cool pastiche feeling. I love the abandoned motel that is preserved in its decrepitness and sports a sign touting how many thousands of people over the years had enjoyed respite there in its day.

I passed University of New Mexico and the feeling of the neighborhood changed from artistic, quirky to pizza and beer. And then the feeling changed again, as I got into a 'hood called West Central, this is where it turned into check cashing and donut stores.

Route 66 led me right onto Interstate 40 at the edge of town and I followed it for a while, until I saw a sign that I thought said "Lasagne Burgers" at the Pit Stop 66. I had to stop. When I got there, I realized that I had misread the sign, which said Laguna Burgers. I got one of those instead. I'm glad I did. It was actually so good. Much better than I expected when I saw that I was basically ordering a burger from a gas station. But it had cajun spices and green chili and was really good.

River sat at my feet as I ate. We were the only ones eating outside, even though in the shade it was very comfortable.

I got back on I-40 until I got to Gallup.

I wanted to stop and Route 66 through this town because it made the lyrics of the song, and there's a movement that we do in Amazing inspired by the name of the town. It's a "gallop" of course.

Gallup calls itself "The Most Patriotic Small Town in America" but I didn't see much evidence of patriotism. Which is a good thing. I don't consider patriotism a virtue. For a town that calls itself patriotic there sure is a lot of representation of Native American and Mexican culture. The only reason I would see this town being called patriotic is the red white and blue place name sign and the banners lining the road with stars and stripes on them.

As soon as I pulled off the interstate in Gallup, it started to rain.  I rolled the windows down so we could enjoy it. It was so refreshing. And I love the smell of the first rain hitting hot pavement. We gassed up in Gallup where the guy in front of me at the register asked for "Three shots of whiskey." Without hesitation, the clerk gets a bag and drops three airplane size bottles of Jim Beam into it for him. I've never seen anyone pull into a gas station and buy liquor before.

So we got back on I-40 and passed into Arizona. That's when things started getting really beautiful along the highway. The rock formations and the colorful desert were spectacular.

Then I visited Petrified Forest National Park, which wasn't anything like I had imagined it being. I was picturing some sort of rock formations, maybe even petrified trees or fallen logs turned to stone. But what I saw was basically just the Painted Desert. It seems wrong to use the word "just" when describing the Painted Desert, because it was amazing.

We took a hike on one of the trails and marvelled at the sight of the evidence of millions of years of nature. The wind was blowing and the sky was cloudy so it was nice and cool. It was perfection.

And in an unexpected twist of confluence, my National Park bent and my Route 66 bent meet today as I saw a sign explaining how The Petrified Forest National Park was the only one  that Route 66 passed through.
"Petrified Forest is the only National Park in the country with a portion of Historic Route 66 within its boundaries. You are currently standing where the Mother Road used to be, with the line of telephone poles paralleling its alignment through the park. This stretch of Route 66 was open from 1926 to 1958 and was the primary way millions of travellers initially experienced Petrified Forest and The Painted Desert. Imagine driving to this spot in the 1932 Studebaker before you, when this road was in its heyday. "

It was only another half hour on the Interstate to the wasteland of Holbrook, where I'm staying. It is a 15 square mile city at 5000 feet elevation; and the population is about the same.  It was founded in 1881 and named after the first chief engineer of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. There is a street here named "Bucket of Blood Street".

This is the first stop on my trip this year that AT&T doesn't reach. My usual dead zones are more north, in the Dakotas, middle of Nebraska and Wyoming. I wasn't expecting to be incommunicado here in Arizona.

Also, there is very little food option here; especially for someone discerning and with a dog in tow. When I'm at a loss for where to eat, or it's late at night I can usually count on Dominos to deliver a predictably good thin crust pizza. This was only about 6pm, but only options were Mexican and Italian restaurants, both of which I avoid unless they're praised as being of excellent quality. There's just way too much mediocrity peddled under the guise of both of those cuisines. My only choice pizza-wise was Pizza Hut, which I hate. But hunger clouded my better judgement, and I ordered a pie from them. Blech.

During the night, I went to take a big drink of water from my bottle and felt something in my mouth that I immediately recognized as insect. I spit the water everywhere to get the creepy crawling thing off my tongue. I found the bugger, it looked like a tiny baby cockroach.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Extended Amazing in Albuquerque

I pretty much made another beeline today.  My motivation had more grounding in reality today compared to yesterday's gut feeling. Today I knew exactly why I wanted not to dilly-dally. I had an afternoon class to teach in the next state, four to five hours drive away.
I didn't know if I'd hit traffic, road construction, detours, accidents, breakdowns, bad directions, etc. so I always like to give myself lots and lots of extra time when I have a long commute to a class. This meant not stopping much to do Route 66 things.
I got on I-40 and drove west.

I did pull off at one point when I saw a marker on the highway telling me to get off here to follow the route, just as I needed to fill up with gas. So I followed the "Mother Road" through a town the name of which I remember from California. To wit, Santa Rosa. And it was in this town that I learned the nickname for Route 66 that I just used.
I got back on the Interstate and drove through a whole bunch of desert and nothing between Amarillo and Albuquerque.

When I was about 20 miles from my destination, I pulled off the Interstate to again follow the Mother Road for a while. I think the town was called Tijeras. And that was a lot more interesting than the Interstate, of course, but much of the same I've come to expect from whatever street is passing for Route 66.  But two things excited the Route 66 nerd in me:
One-- I was able to catch a picture of, and it was this unique signage.
In New Mexico, they refer to it as Old Highway 66. Most other places called it Historic Route 66, except for Missouri which called it Historic Route 66 Byway.
Two-- There were painted Route 66 icons in the street. Again, I wasn't quick or deft enough to capture them safely, but in the process, I did capture this from the shorts I was wearing.

So thanks to no road construction, no traffic, no detours, no bridges out, not even hardly any turns, I made great time to Albuquerque and headed straight for Sway Studio. And also thanks to passing from Central Time Zone to Mountain Time Zone, I had LOTS of time to hang around the shopping complex under the covered parking.

It was hot in Albuquerque, but at 91ยบ a lot cooler than it had been a few days ago when it was well over 100 degrees. It was an open air parking area and it was windy, so it was actually pleasant when in the shade of the shelter.

No one was around, so I put River on his long leash and let him run around. This is (was) a full two story shopping center ever since I've known it, and this is my fourth year back. But this time, Sway Studio and a Celtic Brewpub are the only tenants on the whole bottom floor. And I guess there are only two on the top that aren't vacant. It was so weird. And it's not like they're intentionally running people out of there, because there are For Lease signs on all the windows. But something is up. Anyway, River and I enjoyed having the whole place to ourselves for about an hour until people started showing up for class.

They asked me to do an extended FloorPlay section added to the Amazing routine, so I pulled out some old JAG hits with the FloorPlay songs from Rockin and Goldfinger.

The gang at Sway love to make noise. They're a whoop and hollar crowd, so they really got into the Texas song. They gave me a "YeeHaw" on the turn before I even asked for it. Another example of this phenomenon that Nia is expressing herself through the Amazing routine as it is touched by so many different people.

Before class, one of the students approached me and wanted me to know that she's having hip problems and can't really move but she's doing what she can. I thanked her for taking care of her body. After class she approached me again, teary eyed. She told me she'd been struggling with movement lately, but when I opened my mouth she was dancing. I was so incredibly touched and grateful that she could facilitate that for herself while taking my class. And I wouldn't even have known about it if she didn't tell me.

I am still traveling with the crystal and since May, it has been touched by people filled with post Nia juju all the way across the country and almost back again. Once we do reach the west again, we'll turn it around and continue to gather and transmit head east to loop back again, this time taking the northern route for the second half of the summer, into the fall.

After class some students from class and my producer, Diane, and her husband and two toddlers and River and I went to the Celtic Pub. We sat on the deck and I got a double cheese burger with green chili. Oh my god it was so good. I didn't take a picture of it, but it was also beautiful. The bun wasn't just a bun but an artisan bread roll or something.

River hung out below the table and did really good with one of the husbands and with our waiter, who both happened to already be there when we arrived. But he sounded the alarm when the owner came by our table to thank us for coming by, and he also exploded at my friend Erin's partner joined us at the table, River didn't sit still for that.  I have finally gotten River to the point, though, where even an emotional explosion like that can be quickly ameliorated with love. I basically hug him, giving him a little squeeze with my arms as I reassure him that "I see the guy and it's OK and I got this" and then I've started adding "give me a kiss" and he licks my face or bops my face with his nose and that seems to snap him out of it. Then I scratch his neck and praise and thank him and he lies down. It's so much more graceful than what we used to do.

During our Nia class, it rained a little bit and the students were cheering. It smelled good when we got outside afterward and there were still some puddles on the ground. While we ate, some thunder boomed a few times and I saw lightning flash once. River doesn't care about thunder, or lighting. Or fireworks. Or sirens. He doesn't even flinch, but he's terrified of guys patting his head.

Nothing ever really came of that impending storm. I checked into a familiar Motel 6 three minutes from Sway and took River for a walk in the park next door and fed him his dinner on the grass. His itch seems mostly gone.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Beeline to Amarillo

I didn't feel like messing with Route 66 today for whatever reason. I didn't fight my impulse to get on I-40 and head straight for Amarillo.
Early on in the trip, I saw a sign pointing me to take Route 66, but I didn't want to. I just wanted to drive fast and straight for a while. And there was another sign just outside of Oklahoma City that indicated the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. And I passed on that. If it were Missouri, I might be more inclined, but based on how scant the markers are in Oklahoma, I'll pass.
I was going along until somewhere around Elk City, OK when I saw a sign pointing toward the National Route 66 Museum. So again, I have no explanation for my actions, but I pulled off the speeding Interstate there and got on a town road doing 35 MPH between stop lights.
At least, Elk City does Route 66 up right. They had banners (plural) on every block and at least as many highway signs in Elk City leading up to the National Museum as I'd seen in the rest of the state, combined. There was even one street where the full black and white iconic Route 66 badge was painted on the two lanes that were so designated, going forward.  That got me excited, and I nearly interrupted traffic trying to get a picture of it (I didn't get it).
I did stop and get a picture of Babe parked in one of the ubiquitous abandoned gas stations. You can almost see River poking his head out the drivers door window.

I finally got to the National Route 66 Museum and there was a first part where you could pull into this side 'street' with makeshift old fashion stores and a huge Route 66 street sign in the grass on the other side of the driveway. It was the biggest Route 66 sign I've ever seen.
I tried to get a perfect picture of the cool 60's faux business fronts and the giant sign in the background, but I guess there was some oil on the lens and it came out all dreamlike:
National Route 66 Museum, Elk City, OK
On the other side of the museum the frequency of the signage returned to typical OK standards (AKA no more signs). So I got back on the highway and headed for Texas.
Texas uses a different method for marking Route 66. The brown sign is attached to the appropriate green exit signs from the highway to indicate the Route leaves the highway there. All the other states I've seen so far would have had a separate sign.
There was plenty of time that I was driving on the highway, and I could clearly see the frontage road alongside. I'm pretty sure it was Route 66, but I watched for signs and didn't see any. Again the only evidence of it was in the commercialization of it along the way.

Here's a laugh. Siri, who butchers all of the street names in Santa Barbara with her not-even-trying Spanish accent, finally gets one right. She pronounces Amarillo, TX (which is pronounced exactly how it's spelled) with a perfect Spanish accent. She doesn't roll the r, but she hits all the vowel sounds of the way they say yellow in Spanish.

While we're at it, also fun to here to give me a direction containing an Oklahoma highway in it because it sounds as if she's making it up as she goes along. "Turn left onto....OK, ...235 south."
I think you had to be there on that one. Sorry.

I got into Amarillo and put an ad on Craig's List to find someone with clippers so I could cut my hair. I had luck finding someone the last time I was in this motel so it popped into my head to do it again. I found someone nearby who had clippers I could borrow and wouldn't mind doing my back and neck, or watching me so I don't miss anything.  Now my hair is short again.

When he left, I got some BBQ from the place next door. It was close enough that I could leave River in the room, walk over to the BBQ joint, order and bring my food back and River was cool when I got back. Definitely interested in the brisket, though.

We've been back in Texas for six hours and already River is scratching obsessively. I'm convinced he's allergic to Texas.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Route 66: Day 4 - The Big Blunder

When I checked into the motel in Springfield last night they told me that check out was at noon. It's usually at eleven, so the extra hour stuck out and it was at that moment that I decided to sleep in late this morning.
I ended up getting up at about 9:15, but taking my time with my fixes of coffee and social media. I also paid my bills online and mapped out a plan of attack for the day.
The storm could not have come at a more opportune time. It was storming from the time I shut the door with my dinner last night. Still plenty wet with dark grey skies and about 71 degrees. The rain wasn't hard anymore, but it was still raining big drops in Springfield.
As it happens, I had just run out of coffee and had been long out of canned and/or dried meats and was nearly out of coconut oil, so I was hoping for a chance to go to a store. In this lovely weather, I could easily leave River in the car for twenty minutes while I shopped at a natural food grocer I found online.  Mama Jean's Natural Market in Springfield.
I love to shop at stores that have already done their homework, as opposed to a store that would sell just anything. I appreciate the ease with which I can choose. I don't have to look at the back and wonder what the heck kind of bad stuff is in there if the store I'm shopping in is committed to only stocking foods that meet a high criteria of natural healthfulness in their food products. So I can walk down an aisle and quickly grab things I like as they catch my eye. I could also fill up my water jugs so I was set, and River was perfectly comfortable waiting for me.
Next, I set my navigation to take me to E Kearney St. because I had read that Route 66 runs along it in Springfield.  And it does! So I got on and my journey begins.
I felt like I was getting pretty good at it as I watched for those blue markers and twisted and turned my way through the scenic city streets and country roads.
Right away I saw something that made me want to stop. An official Route 66 'Roadside Park'.
A lovely mural on the wall across the street says "Get Your Kicks" and has lots of cars and 66s. 

The Route 66 bike rack

It looks like they're planning to build a few picnic tables. 
And maybe that building is going to be a restroom, 
But this caught my eye...

That clock tower looks like it might be made of those glass solar panels.
The MO Dept of Transportation is also planning to use those same panels at the rest area I visited yesterday.  It seems like Missouri is pretty serious about their Route 66. 

So the rain has stopped by now and the temperature is a perfect 72. The grass is lush and cool and wet and River just wanted to keep lying in that grass. 
I also noticed that Springfield calls itself the Birthplace of Route 66. 

I made River's driving area all inviting and tried to coax him in but he just wanted to stay in the grass.
I finally got him in and we took off, following the route through the guided tour of Americana. I thought of Route 66 as The Disneyland of Road Trips. Making it seem all the more surreal, so many business use that iconic sign on their signs. Hair salons, auto detailing, pawn shops, cafes, RV parks and smoke shops all join in on the historic celebration.
I passed another place where I had to make a choice between going straight, to follow Route 66, or to turn right to follow Route 66 1923-1928. Again I chose to go straight.
At some point later, I found it odd that as the Route 66 marker told me to take a left, I also saw a road sign indicating it was 25 miles to Conway in the direction I was turning. And I remembered that I was in Conway yesterday. That's where they're going to put the solar panels by the end of the year.
I wasn't sure what to do. I also noticed that I was traveling in a north east direction, which was also not a good sign. I figured I maybe connected to that 1923-1928 route as they re-converged and I was starting to head the wrong way.

It was then that I noticed a blue marker in my side view mirror. Facing the opposite way as me and indicating to make the next right turn to continue on the route. That wasn't the direction I thought I came from, so I U-turned as soon as I could made that right turn and saw a sign confirming that I was indeed back on track, heading the right direction on Historic Route 66.

After a while longer on the route, I saw another even more disconcerting sign.

Welcome to Springfield?! Wha...
I must have taken off in the wrong direction from the start this morning when I left Springfield and then drove along the route, not recognizing any of it because I came into town via the Interstate last night. So I learned a lesson about how the route runs both directions, and that adds another layer of complexity to the game.

I was literally laughing out loud as I was figuring out what had happened. And it was getting late, so I set my navigation to the Petco in Tulsa; the nearest place I knew would have River's brand of food. So it was nearly three in the afternoon as I got on I-44 West and drove past the motel I woke up in six hours prior.

I stayed on the Interstate for a while, but I have my navigation set to take me on the scenic route whenever feasible. And so somewhere in Oklahoma, about an hour outside of Tulsa, Babe tells me to pull off the highway and get onto the frontage road.

As I drive along that road I start to notice that many of the business are using that iconic logo again. I've been on segments of Route 66 that look exactly like this, so it could very well be it. I kept looking for a sign marker, but none were showing up.

Funny enough, I was actually on OK-66, so I wondered if the businesses were taking liberties by calling themselves the Route 66 hardware store or gas station. But then I saw a big, official looking building that was some sort of Oklahoma Route 66 Visitor Center. So I figured I must be on it. I was used to how frequently the markers came around in Missouri, but they clearly weren't as diligent about marking the road in Oklahoma. In Chicago, the Route 66 marker signs were dark brown, but outside the metro area, within Illinois, they were a faded brown. So much so that I started seeing them as lavender. And then, when I got into Missouri, the signs were bright blue and much more frequent.  When I finally did see one in Oklahoma it was a light brown. The whole day, I saw only three of those official brown DOT signs saying Historic Route 66. If I were making an effort to stay on it, rather than just being on it co-incidentally again, I might be getting frustrated at the lack of communication.

Instead it was fun to relish in all the 66ness. US-66, OK-66. June 26, 2016...
66 MPH
It took me through some pretty awesomely, desolate old towns. 
Like Afton, OK: Ramshackle and abandoned, weathered and jerry rigged, the whole town was like from an old western. 
Or Arcadia, OK where I saw the worlds largest pop bottle.
Or Sapulpa, OK where they have the Heart of Route 66 museum.
And in all of these places, I saw nary a marker. Even Sapulpa, who you'd think, being the heart of route 66, would have some signs.
Maybe they feel that calling it OK-66 is sufficient. 
I did love this sign, painted on the wall in one of those towns. Check out the phone number!
So I made it to Tulsa and got River his food, and then got right back on Route 66, aka OK-66 most of the rest of the way to Oklahoma City.  For the last five minutes, I got on I-35.

It was late when I finally checked into the motel room in Oklahoma City. They didn't have any more ground floor rooms, so I got a third floor room. And the ice machine doesn't work, but I can walk over to the Days Inn and use their ice machine because they have an agreement. But, he assures me, the ice machine just broke down today.

I'm glad that I had shopped today because there is scant to choose from here and it would have been a fast food night. But instead I got to enjoy some of my fermented vegetables with a tuna sandwich and some macaroons for dessert.