May 1, 2010

Historic Route 66 - Part I

It has been almost 3,000 miles and a full week of driving, heading back from PA to AZ. When we drove though KS I thought why not enjoy the drive instead of staying on the freeway, so from KS to AZ we took the Mother of all roads, the main street of America – Legendary Route 66.

It has been a while since I last posted my last blog, but I am still here :) Finally home, back to our RV routine of no-plan life. We drove thousands of miles sleeping in the truck and in odd and old motels on the way, disconnected from the world, like a great vacation. so here is the summary of the last week or so

Driving back home

Thursday, April 29, 2010 – So we have a new truck, and no more vehicles all around the country. We started our way back home (With the definition of Home as where my RV is parked) on Tuesday, couple days ago. We had to run some errands on Lenexa, KS and by early afternoon we were ready to hit the road again.
This is when I remembered reading about Route 66 in several occasion, and just before we left, in Williams, AZ there were some historic shops and signs about the route. I knew it runs from Chicago to L.A. but I wasn’t sure exactly where the route goes.
imageOpening the map and researching the web – and we found that the route goes through KS. very short piece at the SE corner, but it’s not so far.

Joining the route

We drove south to Baxter Springs, KS and spent there the night in a small motel. The motels on the route are trying to preserve the old time spirit, but some of them are overdoing. Carpets that are torn out, squeaky beds, in short – an experience!

First day - Oklahoma

Route66_OK 001Friday, April 30, 2010 – After a short drive we crossed the border to Oklahoma. The route crosses OK state from one side to another, and there is a lot to see along the route. We drove through small towns like Miami, Vinita and Chelsea. Many of those town flourished at the time, but got forgotten when the new highway bypassed the town. The beauty of this ride is to see the glorious days through the old falling down buildings, stores, motels, service stations and many other establishments along the route. Some were renovated recently, trying to appeal to the travelers along the route. 
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Route66_OK 012 In order to follow the route, you have to have a guide. There is no road named 66 that you drive on. In some parts – the route became part of a newer highway, a street in town, or simply disappeared. Parts of the route are on Private properties, newer facilities (Airports, Parks, etc.) and some are still in the original state. The picture on the left is actually a piece of road that was preserved from way back then. It is only 8’ wide, and my truck takes almost the whole width.
In order to be on track, we got a set of maps, but also, and primarily we used the Route 66 website, that gives a turn-by-turn instructions. Patti had the laptop connected to the Internet using our cellular modem and navigated most of the way. Many times it was very hard to follow as the route has changed during the years and there were many alignments going through the same route. The challenge was even bigger crossing the bigger towns, as the route went through downtown, and you had to turn many times in order to follow the original route. but this was part of the fun – almost like ‘find the treasure’ game.
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Many times the road goes through interesting attractions, like the whale bellow. This once was a swimming pool, and it was built as an anniversary present. It is no longer in use.
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Route66_OK 080We stopped overnight in Chandler, a small town in Oklahoma, at a motel that actually had direct phone lines (no operator needed to make calls) and believe it or not – Color TV!! It wasn’t so bad. Really. One interesting thing about those motels is that they are all owned and operated by Indian families. I have no idea how it became that way, but almost any motel we stopped the owners were Indians. Usually the wife or their 10 years old daughter will greet you and take care of business. And you know it is owned by Indians the second you open the door. You simply smell it. They have a distinct smell to their homes that you can’t go wrong.
Saturday, May 1st, 2010 – We continued our trip through OK today, going through Oklahoma City, running up and down through streets and finally going back to the country side. From this point and on, the route goes pretty much alongside I-40. Many times the route will be on I-40 itself, but for the most part – the route is a service road to the north or south of the freeway.
Route66_OK 011The route is very popular among motorcycle riders, and many places are catering to these guys. You could hear them well before you get there, and they will all have some black leather jackets, bandanas and just the Harley Davidson look…
We stopped at one of those places for breakfast just before we entered the city. We also found a Pops store that sells old time beverages. A very big attraction according to the number of cars parked in the parking lot.
Route66_OK 028Route66_OK 030 Route66_OK 023 Route66_OK 027 They even had a Route 66 bottle

One other noteworthy attraction was an old car show we happen to see in one of the towns on the way. I am not an expert in old cars, but here are some pictures I took on that show:
Route66_OK 078Route66_OK 087 Yes – It’s a Rolls Royce
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The rest of the day was exciting as we drove through the historic route all the way to TX. We stopped shortly after we crossed the border for an overnight stay. So here are some of the pictures from the second half of OK
Route66_OK 057an old bridge, not in use anymore, part of route 66 
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Route 66 in the country
Route66_OK 11438 arches made this bridge – the longest on the route.
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Route66_OK 120Some scenic views along the route
Route66_OK 127Restored Gas Station
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Route66_OK 160Strong winds just before the border with TX Route66_OK 162Entering TX on Route 66
Route66_OK 165Staying overnight at Shamrock, TX – this building  was replicated in the movie Carz.

End of Part I

We tool thousands of pictures along the route, and went through so many interesting places, that it is almost impossible to cover them in one blog.
This blog concludes the first part – from KS through OK to TX.
I will continue this beautiful trip in my next blog, and until then – I hope you enjoy reading, leave a comment – keep in touch!

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