Part One 2012 Road Trip: Route 66, Grandchildren and other Adventures

What a whirlwind trip I had this year! I left home on May 21st and returned, after logging 5035 miles, the evening of June 18th. Since I wanted to be at my son’s home in southern Arizona to enjoy the Memorial Day holiday, it didn’t leave a lot of time for the usual Route 66 fun westward. The plan was to do mostly interstate driving, but take a little time to explore sections of Route 66 from Joplin, MO to Oklahoma City.

One of my favorite stops is Country Cottage in Rootstown, Ohio.  Chris has such a charming shop and I love looking at all of the wonderfully unique, handcrafted items she has for sale in her shop.

I have to admit, I get a little confused about time zone changes. I thought the time changed in Indiana, but I stopped for the night in Terre Haute, IN, left the hotel at 8:30 in the morning and an hour later, in Illinois it was 8:30 again! I love gaining time on the way west!

Before getting to St. Louis, I drove through the very lovely community of Collinsville, IL- where you can find the largest catsup bottle (water tower) that’s pictured in my book, Annie Mouse’s Route 66 Adventure: A Photo Journal.

My next stop was at the Missouri Route 66 State Park and Museum in Eureka, MO.  I had stopped in the gift shop during previous trips, but this time I took a few minutes to really enjoy the historic memorabilia on display and wondered how I managed to skip this part in the past!  I also had a great time meeting and chatting with Kat.  They have a great supply of books and other unique Route 66 gifts here, too.

My next stop was in Cuba, MO- the Mural City.  I LOVE this city.  There’s a relatively new shop in town: Route 66 Fudge Shop and Creative Expressions. It’s a rather eclectic place and very cute. I met Marcia who is enthusiastic and makes great chocolate goodies! It’s also a gift shop, ice cream shop and florist!  The famous Wagon Wheel Motel has been beautifully restored to its former glory and Connie has a wonderful shop in the office/check-in area. I stopped here a few years ago before the restoration and it is amazing to me to see the work that has gone into this place!  You can also see the LARGEST Rocking Chair on record at the Fanning Route 66 Outpost, a photograph that is also included in my book.  But you definitely want to go inside, too.  I always find something unique to buy here.  I do believe they also offer wine sampling here, but that’s not really my thing. I picked up a chocolate lunch here!

The Mule Trading Post in Rolla was my next stop. I’d hoped to say “hi” to Carl, but he wasn’t in.

The last stop of the day was in Joplin. I wasn’t really aware of the date until I checked into a hotel- it was the first anniversary of the tornado. It was amazing to see how much progress has been made rebuilding. As an aside, on every cross-country trip, I always get the best price on gas in Joplin, MO- so if you need to fill up this is a great place to do it!

I began Day 3 visiting with Melba at 4 Women on the Route in Galena, KS.  For those of you who don’t know, the character of Mater in the movie CARS was modeled after the old tow truck that sits beside this establishment. This is also pictured in my book.  Melba’s a lot of fun and there are many CARS items to purchase here.

I had never toured the Galena Museum before, so I took about a half an hour to look around. This is on my list to explore in more detail next year. There is so much to see in what I thought was a tiny museum (it’s not tiny at all!) Plan on spending some time here.

Eislers is now called Nelson’s Old Riverton Store and I stopped in to say “hi” to Scott. The flowers outside are so inviting and of course the cute little Route 66 shop inside is a major draw for me! The old fashioned deli and market make it an all around great stop!

Kansas only has 13 miles on Route 66 so I had to drive through all 13 of them and of course stop off at the Marsh Rainbow Bridge. It was cool to see a couple from North Dakota drive across the bridge in a Mustang convertible.

All was going very well as I headed into Oklahoma. In Miami (pronounced “Mi-AM-uh) I stopped off at Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger and had a great brief visit with Gene and family.  This is such a cool place and with every stop I find other little details that I’d miss both inside and outside the building.  My next stop in Miami was at the magnificent Coleman Theatre. The lovely ladies volunteered to give me a tour of this glorious building. In all my trips through, I have never been fortunate enough to be there when it was opened. What a treat! I’m so glad I made the time for the visit.

I then followed the signs to Old Route 66, which took me on the old alignment of Route 66- the 9′ Sidewalk Highway – a very bumpy, dusty, slow drive.  Since I was pressed for time, I hadn’t planned on doing that this time around, but blindly followed the signs instead of my maps and was on the road before I knew it.

Coming out of that, I arrived at Afton Station. I was disappointed to have missed Laurel again, but enjoyed the stop and my visit- as usual.  The building and the love and attention put into it is a worthwhile stop even if you aren’t “into” old cars.  You can’t help but appreciate what has been done here.  I pulled out of Afton Station, drove a few blocks and got that awful sound you get when you know you have a flat tire.  So much for the rest of the stops I had planned– Claremore, Catoosa, Tulsa, etc. But, it was a beautiful day, there was a park bench close by and I called AAA and read a book while I waited. This was an annoyance, but in the grand scheme of things, not a disaster, so I wasn’t going to let it upset me.  I figured I picked something up on the bumpy road, but I had a good spare with me, so not a big deal, just a few wasted hours- during the height of the day when all the things I wanted to see would still be opened.

Back on the road, I realized I needed to make up some time, so I hopped on the turnpike. I HATE the turnpike! Do people lose all reason when they get on a highway? There were signs that said “be prepared to stop, construction ahead.” But, alas, a semi crashed into the backend of a tiny little car and then the tiny car behind the semi crashed into the semi. Did no one believe the signs? Long delay while police, ambulances, etc. arrived on the scene…. should have stayed on Route 66!

Off the turnpike, I stopped at the Cherokee Trading Post in El Reno, OK. This is where I purchased my High Spirits flute a few years ago, which I LOVE,  and I love shopping for authentic Native made merchandise here.

I began looking for lodging in Clinton; every place was filled up.  The Hometown Inn & Suites in Elk City was my lodging for the night. This is NOT Elk City’s finest. Every single place in Elk City was filled by the time I looked for lodging and I was stuck here. The bathroom was disgusting and the woman at the desk told me it was a big hotel, they couldn’t clean ALL the rooms! I got the sense that this poor woman was supposed to be everything and do everything at this establishment.  Be that as it may, I won’t be back next year!

The next morning I headed into Texas. I stopped at the Chamber building in Shamrock (that REALLY cute building, also featured in my book) but it wasn’t opened yet. Nothing was opened in Shamrock yet, so I headed toward the interstate. Suddenly, it sounded like a gun shot and my rear tire was flat- not even 24 hours after the first tire went flat! What actually happened was that something flew off of a pickup truck that passed me, hit my car, cracked my rim and blew the tire. This was a much bigger deal than the previous day’s flat tire. But I was thankful I didn’t have an accident and was able to pull over to the side of the road without major damage to my car.  AAA put my donut on and I had to limp into Amarillo- some 100 miles away- to search for a replacement rim and new tire. So much for my Route 66 trip! Desperate to use a restroom, I stopped at The Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean on the way to Amarillo and was happy to see Ruth Trew there.  I didn’t take the time to tour the museum, but did buy a few gifts. This museum IS a must stop if you have never been there before. The first time I was there I was so amazed to see the various “devil’s rope” sculptures.

In Amarillo, I had to call all over town to find someplace that had my size rim in stock. Kudos to the wonderful folks at Discount Tire who replaced the rim and sold me a new Goodyear tire at a fantastic price!  Once the tire and rim were replaced I headed onto I-40 and continued straight to the Sandia Peak Inn in Albuquerque. This is a Route 66 Motel that has wonderful owners who take so much pride in their property. It is safe, clean, updated and has a great breakfast. I stayed there last year and knew that’s where I’d stay again. I was not disappointed! The sculptures in the parking lot are quite interesting, too!

Friday, May 25, 2012- The 7th anniversary of my father’s passing.  I still miss him terribly. My goal was to be at my son’s around six.  I drove from Albuquerque to The Painted Desert Indian Center at Adamana Rd. Lita has become a friend over the years and I simply had to stop and say “hi” to her!  She sells some fabulous, quality jewelry here.  It was around noon and she talked me into having lunch with her. What a great visit we had! What a fabulous impromptu lunch, too!  After the events of the previous day, it really helped my stress level! Thank you, Lita!

I got to my son & DIL’s house, an hour south of Phoenix- shortly after he returned home from work. I last saw them at Thanksgiving. I cannot believe how big my grandson has gotten in that short amount of time! He had just turned 3 then and now he talks so much better.  And how smart he is, too!  He does “school” online while his mom is busy. I was so impressed with this online “school” -abcmouse.com.  Zack had to make choices and think critically and it was the coolest thing to hear him talk through his choices! WOW!   I had a blast playing with Zack! I just love when the little ones place their little hands in mine and pull me along to see something or do something. Zack showed me his favorite place to play outside.  This little guy is “all boy!”  We had a Memorial Day picnic, I went to church with them, was welcomed into the home of friends of theirs who just had a baby and we had a DQ birthday cake for my son’s 29th birthday. Time with Michael, Lisa and Zack was all too short.  When I packed up to leave, Zack said, “Don’t weave, grandma.”  I LOVE three year olds! So so precious!  Oh- Michael didn’t like the way another of my tires looked so I had it replaced while I was there, too. That makes 3 new tires from the start of my trip!

Annie Mouse’s Route 66 Adventure: A Photo Journal is available both on my web site: www.anniemousebooks.com and on Amazon in both print and e-book (kindle) versions.

Part two – the trip back east- to follow.

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