A Travellerspoint blog

Standing On The Corner In Winslow, Arizona

Albuquerque, New Mexico to Flagstaff, Arizona

semi-overcast 84 °F
View Route 66 on klemmes's travel map.

Leaving Albuquerque, we began our eighth day on the mother road making our way into Arizona. Most of todays route snaked in between I-40 and back and forth. Before crossing the State line, we pulled over to visit the Continental Divide in Thoreau, New Mexico. By the time we made it to Arizona, we were ready for lunch. We decided to stop in at the famous El Rancho in Gallup, New Mexico.

"R.E. Griffith's Hotel El Rancho was built in 1937 as a haven for Hollywood's famous. His well-known brother, D.W. Griffith (director of such classics as "Birth of a Nation"), encouraged using El Rancho as a base for crews and stars on location because of its access to western landscapes and the rustic elegance of the hotel.El Rancho's elegance included superior service and food of Fred Harvey-trained personnel, accommodations for roughing it in comfort and gaming tables and liquid refreshments in the tradition of the Old West. Stars arrived in Gallup in the insulated atmosphere of Sante Fe Railway trains. But soon they learned about the frontier in a journey to the El Rancho by wagon, carriage or buggy that met every Santa Fe passenger train. Chauffeur driven limousines arrived from Hollywood on Route 66 for use in the daily trips to the filming locations.El Rancho was linked to Hollywood and the movie industry from 1940 through 1964. By 1964, the lure of the western hero was fading. Brilliant technicolor vistas were relpacing dramatic, stark images in black and white. The mysterious west by that time was readily available by automobile along Route 66 and the almost completed Interstate 40." -http://www.elranchohotel.com

After lunch we made our way into Arizona. Our next big stop for the day was the Petrified Wood National Park and Painted Desert. Here we took the 28 mile scenic drive around the park. The first half of the park is known as the Painted Desert.The beautiful landscape included rock formations in blues, pinks and purple shades. Among some of the overlooks you can look down and find an large number of petroglyphs left behind centuries ago by the local native tribes. The second half of the park is known for the large uncoverings of petrified wood. Before we made it into Flagstaff, Arizona for the night, we made a quick stop at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona. This is one of the seven original locations of the fames motel chain built between 1933 and 1950. Still owned by the original family, there are now only two locations left. The other being in San Bernardinos, California. This of course being another icon of inspiration for the Pixar movie Cars(similar to the Cozy Cone- "newly renovated"). We then proceeded into Winslow, Arizona, which was made famous by the Eagles song "Take It Easy." We found the commemorative statue on the CORNER of Kinsley and 2nd street. After a quick photo we headed back to 66. After making it into Flagstaff, Arizona we read up on the on going wildfires in the area. There was a recent outbreak to the north of Flagstaff today, but had been taken under control earlier this evening. The fires near Williams also seem to be under control for now. We'll have to play it buy ear tomorrow as we hopefully venture to the Grand Canyon.

Song of the Day: "Take it Easy" by the Eagles

Posted by klemmes 21:03 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Half Way There

Amarillo, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico

overcast 74 °F
View Route 66 on klemmes's travel map.

We began our seventh day on 66 by heading West out of Amarillo. On the outskirts of town we came across a famous roadside attraction known as "Cadillac Ranch." For those of you who don't know, "Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas, U.S. It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm, and it consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of early Cadillacs; the tail fin) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt." - Wiikipedia.
Although located on a private ranch, in a dusty field, it is encouraged that the exhibit is open to the public 24/7. It is also encouraged that you leave your own piece of art on the cars by tagging them with graffiti. So naturally we were prepared for the visit and brought a couple cans of spray paint. We put our names on one car, and a greeting that read "from Indiana, with love." A tribute to the Cadillac Ranch was featured in the Walt Disney and Pixar film Cars. The fictional town of Radiator Springs sits at the edge of an area referenced on a map as the "Cadillac Range", and throughout the movie, rock formations shaped like the upended cars can be seen as a horizon backdrop.
Another icon mimicked in the Pixar movie Cars is the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas http://midpointroute66cafe.com/ . The Midpoint Cafe is the declared half way point of the mother road. We stopped in for an early lunch and met a woman, who is actually in charge of PR for the Big Texan restaurant, but gave us a tour because her friend Fran (the owner) wasn't there. She approached us after we were caught admiring a signed sketch of "Mater" from John Lasseter of Pixar. She told us how the Pixar crew came through in 2001 for inspirations for the town of Radiator Springs. The Midpoint Cafe found its way into the film as inspiration for Flo’s V8 Café.
After leaving the cafe we headed West to continue into New Mexico. There are not as many side attractions in some of the South West States as there are in the previous States. So with little stops to make, we just relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful landscape. We finally made our way into Santa Fe, New Mexico where we stopped for some shopping. Santa Fe is the oldest Capital in the United States, celebrating its 400th birthday. They have a unique downtown area, as the whole center of town in one large open shopping village. The only downfall to the city is that every building looked and blended into the next. Due to the stucko building code they seemed to have, every building fascade where square brown buildings. Even the Shell station followed this standard, causing us to circle the city before finding the gas station. We had dinner at a pizza joint in the center of town, while being entertained by some local live music. Then it was back on the road to head into Albuquerque where we crashed for the night.

Posted by klemmes 20:31 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Grapes of Wrath

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Amarillo, Texas

sunny 101 °F
View Route 66 on klemmes's travel map.

Leaving Oklahoma City, we came across "Pony Bridge" in Hydro. A 1933 bridge using 38 ponies (or small trusses) for support. We also stopped by "Lucille's," an old Route 66 gas station ran by Lucille Hamons for several decades. We then made our way into Weatherford, OK and stopped for lunch at the Cherokee Trading Post. Here, Ginine and I both sampled buffalo burgers. No wonder they are endangered...Tasty!
After lunch, we visited two Route 66 museums in Clinton and Elk City. In front of us in the museum tour we met up with the small group of Scandinavians. Later down the road we decided to check out the Sand Hills Curiosity Shop, only to find the entire gang of the Scandinavian Riders Across America crowded inside the small shop, listening to "Harley and Annabelle, the Mediocre Music Makers." Just before we could turn around, we found ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with the motorcyle tour gang from Scandinavia. Being past a tamborine and lyrics (in case we didn't know them in English) and singing along to "Get Your Kicks On Route 66" with some fifty strangers. A truly unique and entertaining coincidence for the memory bank. Our last stop before the Texas State line was Texalo, Oklahoma. Considered to be a ghost town, we found only a few buildings. One of these being an old one cell territorial jail. Throughout the older sections of 66, most of Oklahoma had the original road bed with it's rhythmic "thump, thump" as you rolled over the Portland Cement slabs from 1927.
After crossing into Texas, we came into the town of Shamrock. Here we found the 1936 "U Drop Inn/Tower Cononco." As an iconic art deco masterpiece, some might recognize its architecture as "Ramones" from the Disney/Pixar movie Cars. We then continued on to McLean to find a perfectly restored Phillips 66 station. As we proceeded down the road we attempted to follow the old road until enventually we hit our first bit of rough terrain. Known as the beginning of "Jericho Gap," its marks the last 18 mile section of paved 66 in this area in the 1930s. We were driving along as normal before being launched into a dirt road filled with uneven terrain and potholes. Remembering the book the Grapes of Wrath, the rough terrain caused early travellers to keep their cars literally wired together to prevent the cars from falling apart. Since one of our guide books mentioned it was on private property, we only went about a mile before turning back around. Although difficult to drive, the view of the landscape and surrounding ranches was truly majestic.
Before making it to Amarillo, we first passed by the leaning water tower in Groom. Followed by the giant cross in Groom. The "Cross of our lord, Jesus Christ" stands 190 feet tall and can be seen throughout the whole town. After entering Amarillo, we stopped to have dinner at the Big Texan. The Big Texan is home of the original 72 oz steak challenge. Started in 1960, due to a wager a group of men made to see who could eat the most steak. One man put away 4 and 1/2 pounds of steak.

  • "Beginning in the mid-1960s signs began cropping up along the Mother Road inviting travelers to come in for a 72-oz. steak dinner that was FREE if it could be eaten in one hour. Thousands of road-weary youngsters practiced their ciphering as they converted 72 ounces into four and one-half pounds. Those Big Texan signs became as much of the nation’s culture as the old Burma Shave signs. One company has long-since disappeared with the dust of the old road, but the other still flourishes. Big Texan Steak Ranch billboards can still be seen to the east and west of Amarillo along Interstate 40 and on major north-south routes that run through the Panhandle." - Big Texan

Facts: - in 1963, Klondike Bill - professional wrestler- downed 2 meals in one hour
- the youngest to ever complete the challenge was an 11 year old boy
- the oldest, a 69 year old grandmother
- and the record is held by the World Hot Dog Eating Champ, Joey Chestnut. In 2008, he ate the meal in 8
minutes and 52 seconds
We decided against ordering the "special" and instead shared a smaller steak. But if you care to watch others attempt the slab, you can watch live at http://www.bigtexan.com/ . We then called in a night and headed back to the hotel.

P.S. a shout out goes to the Texas Klemmes in Lubbock. Sorry we didn't have time to visit : (

Song of the day: "Our Town" by James Taylor

Posted by klemmes 16:24 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore

Springfield, Missouri to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

sunny 95 °F
View Route 66 on klemmes's travel map.

Day 5 on the mother road started early today to travel 328 miles from Springfield, Missouri, through Kansas, and into Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We began by driving through the town of Halltown, Mo before arriving at the "Gay Parita Sinclair Station" in Paris Springs, MO. Where signed their guest book and talked to older gentleman by the name of Frank who was filling in for the owner for the day due to a funeral. He told us how the owner, Gary Turner, were good friends who used to travel the road when they were younger, and how he bought and restored this station over the years. Frank also told us about another restoration project down the road, known as Red Oak II. Lowell Davis created Red Oak II , a site full of relocated and restored old buildings (including a cottage style gas station from rt 66). Http://redoakii.com . We continued on into historic Carthage. On the outskirts of town we found a large restored Route 66 drive in theater.
Afterwards we headed through Carterville where we crossed an old 1922 iron bridge. Next up were the towns of Webb and Joplin before crossing the State line into Kansas. The mother road only crosses a whopping thirteen miles of the Sunflower State. So don't blink or we'll miss it. After passing through Galena and Riverton, we came to Rainbow Bridge. This was the last of three Marsh (named after designer) that once graced the State of Kansas. And just like that, we were into the next State.
Across the Oklahoma State line we stopped in for gas, at a station that had its own "buffalo ranch" for tourists. The few buffalo that they had were keeping cool in the shade over an acre away. In the town of Chelsea we took a 1926 loop option of the road to find the Pryor Creek 1926 iron bridge with a partly graveled road. We then continued into Foyil, OK to visit Totem Pole Park; home of the world's largest totem pole. Reaching 90 feet into the sky, this concrete totem pole was built over several years by Ed Galloway during the 40s. On the same property was his "Fiddle House," where he displayed all of his handmade fiddles; each made from a different type of wood. Further down the road we finally came to Catoosa, OK. Where we found our highly anticipated Blue Whale on the side of the road in an old swimming hole.Hugh Davis built the Blue Whale in the early 1970s as a surprise anniversary gift to his wife Zelta, who collected whale figurines.[1] The Blue Whale and its pond became a favorite swimming hole for both locals and travelers along Route 66 alike.

"Originally, the pond surrounding the massive Blue Whale was spring fed and intended only for family use. However, as many locals began to come to enjoy its cool waters, Davis brought in tons of sand, built picnic tables, hired life guards, and opened his masterpiece to the public." - Wikipedia

After another handful of small towns, we stopped in Arcadia, OK. Here we first visited the 1898 Round Barn, now fully restored to its original beauty. And next we stopped by a not yet historic site, but very unique roadside attraction. POP'S is a great new diner and convenience store with over 400 types of soft drinks. We swung in to pick up a 6-pack (variety of cream soda, root beer, and "dry sodas") then back onto 66 to head into Oklahoma City for the night.

Song of the Day: "Sh-boom" by The Chords

Posted by klemmes 16:52 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Spelunking through Missouri

Saint Louis to Springfield, MO

sunny 84 °F
View Route 66 on klemmes's travel map.

We got a late start this morning as we awaited our package with Ginine's replacement cellphone (that she lost yesterday). The salesperson at Verizon said it was being overnighted and should be expected at our hotel in the morning. Noon rolled around sooner than expected, and no sign of the phone. So we had to check out and had them deny the shipment, so we can have Verizon resend the phone after we return from our trip.
After finally heading out of town, we made one more stop in St Louis. To the "Ted Drewes Frozen Custard," home of the famous Concrete treat. This famous predecessor, similar to treats as the Blizzard and the McFlurry, is a cool retreat from Route 66. Their name "concrete" derives from the thickness of the treat, which is demonstrated with every purchase by tipping the cup upside down without losing its contents.
Leaving St Louis we passed through the small towns of Eureka, Allentown, and St Clair. Admiring the scenery of the rolling hills, while passing through our first glimpses of rock formations on this trip. Our next major stop of the day was in the town of Stanton, Missouri. Here we found the Meramec Caverns; which we have been drawing 66 goers off the road for decades with the help of painted barnsides being used as billboards. As our main stop of the day, we spent the most time here. Walking an hour long tour through the grand caverns, we took in the natural history of the land. Meramec Caverns are most famously known for the hideout of Jesse James. Down the road from the caverns was another related attraction. This being the Jesse James Wax Museum, which claims to hold the truth of his death. In the 1950s, a man with the alias John Dalton came out from shadows to claim he was the real Jesse James. At 102 years old, he stunned a nation with his tales and matching characteristics of this "American Robin Hood."
Further down the mother road we came upon the small town of Cuba, MO. Here we stumbled upon the newly refurbished Wagon Wheel Motel, murals among the buildings, and giant rocking chair just outside of town in Fanning. The rocking chair had to be over 60 feet tall, just sitting in the middle of Missouri's vineyard country. We had a late lunch on the road after stopping by the Circle N malt shop. We finally made it through the second half of the state, over the hills and through the rocks, only to arrive at a beautiful overlook at Devil's Elbow. As the sun set over the valley, we took some photos of a distant train trussel down below. We finally arrived pulled into our hotel in Springfield, MO just before the day changed. We grabbed a pizza and off to bed.

As a side note of the day,

We found it rather amusing over the number of adult bookstores and gentlemens clubs we came across while driving acoss the "Show Me" State. It puts a new perspective on how they chose the State nickname.

Song of the day:
"My Girl" by The Temptations

Posted by klemmes 16:41 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

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