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. 

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