Part three: Road Trip 2012 Eastbound Texas to PA

I drove through Glen Rio, New Mexico and crossed into Glen Rio, Texas.  The Last First Motel sign continues to deteriorate, sadly.

My next stop along the route was in Adrian, Texas, which is the middle of the route. The thing about heading east is that all of a sudden, you lose time. I was just thinking about lunch as I was approaching the Midpoint Café and realized it’s suddenly 4:00 instead of 3:00! (and it was only 2:00 in AZ!)  My tummy gets very confused on these trips!

On my way west I had stopped at The Midpoint Café expecting to see and talk to Fran but the diner was closed for the day. I DID see Fran outside at the property next to the Cafe, and she delivered the surprising news to me that she had sold the Café and would be opening a shop next door. So, on my way east I was eager to meet the new owner and hoped that he would still be there for the day as I approached. Dennis took a break to sit and talk to me about his vision for the diner. It’s clear he is very enthusiastic about Route 66 and is very excited to have purchased such a respected icon along the route. I enjoyed meeting him and was excited to be able to try out his hot dog hoagie, which was not yet on the menu. He wanted my opinion whether it should be on the menu. It was a resounding “thumbs up” from me as I have never had a hot dog quite like this one. It was EXCELLENT and if it is on the menu next year, I will definitely be ordering one. The Midpoint is known for its “ugly crust pies” and I forgot to ask Dennis if they will remain on the menu. When I ordered the hot dog, I thought there’d be plenty of room for a piece of pie when I was done, but I was stuffed! I hope Dennis sees many successful years as the owner of The Midpoint Café! I also hope that Fran’s new western-themed shop will be opened when I come through next year. I will miss her at The Midpoint.

Heading towards Amarillo, I enjoyed viewing the famous Cadillac Ranch. It’s always cool to see how the latest graffiti has changed the appearances of the cars. As many times as I’ve seen this famous icon, I never get tired of it!

The Big Texan in Amarillo was my final destination.  After checking in, I decided I would forego dinner and just have a hot fudge sundae for dessert. Let me just say, if you order a BIG TEXAN hot fudge sundae, you ought to have people to share it with. I ate the whole thing myself! Thank heaven I DIDN”T order dinner, too! It was delicious! I love staying at The Big Texan. It is very reasonably priced and has a unique character. I had the breakfast buffet the following morning and let’s just say, I’m still working off the sins of my stay at The Big Texan! I was sorry I missed Becky, but was excited to hear that she was getting ready to go off to the big CARS LAND Disneyland opening. We did get to chat on the phone for a bit, though. I can’t wait to touch base with her to hear all about the Disney experience!

After checking out of The Big Texan I headed onto Route 66 in Amarillo. One of my all time favorite antique shops along the route is The 6th Street Antiques store, owned by Chip Hunt. I always find something there and this time I found the matching pitcher to a depression glass sugar bowl I have. I have never found one like it anywhere! I always enjoy chatting with Chip and since it was a Sunday morning and not yet crowded, we had plenty of time to chat. Chip had made some homemade sweet bread and sent me on my way with a mini loaf of some of the best homemade bread I’ve ever tasted! I ate the entire loaf for my lunch! I feel bad about not using a picture of her store in my book and I knew the photo was eliminated due to some problem with it. I couldn’t remember what the issue was, so I finally went back to my file to see. Oh MY! NOW I remember. The day I took the photos was so sunny and I never saw the issue until I submitted the photos to the graphic artist who compiled the book. There is a reflection of a vehicle that was parked across the street in the glass front, but it doesn’t look like a reflection, it looks like a car has driven into the building! I didn’t see that in my viewer when I took the photos, but I didn’t have one good photo to use, so eliminated the shop altogether from the book. So, if you’re in Amarillo, do stop in the 6th Street Antique store and say “hi” to Chip for me and tell her I sent you.

I also stopped in The Route 66 Gifts Store at the end of the block and enjoyed the nice assortment of Route 66-themed items. Between Route 66 Gifts and The 6th Street Antiques store is Crocodile Lile’s new art gallery, which recently moved to this location. Sadly, it wasn’t opened on this particular day. I’d hoped to finally meet him in person; maybe next year!

The next stop was The Bug Ranch in Conway. There was a family there with a little guy, who looked to be about three years old, who was climbing in, around and through one of the planted cars. He was using a spray paint can to spray inside. The paint was blowing right back into his face and no adult seemed to notice or care that this child was inhaling these toxic fumes. I was also appalled since there is rusty metal as well as the possibility of dangerous spiders, etc. inside these old rusty cars. I know I may be overprotective when it comes to children’s safety, but I cannot believe how loosely some parents monitor their children’s behavior out in public. Parents, your children’s safety should be more important than snapping that “cute” picture of them dangling over the rim of the Grand Canyon or swinging from the top of an old rusty car planted into the ground!  There are no safety nets just because these are tourist areas! YOU are supposed to be their safety net! I’m sure you could tell that I was a tad irritated with this families irresponsible behavior!

Heading into Groom, you can’t help but see the huge cross come into view and the slanted water tower. But my favorite stop is The Groom Grocery. It reminds me of the little corner store down the street from me when I was growing up. Sharlene runs the store and is a great person; I love poking in to say “hi” to her. If you’re travelling through Groom, stop in to buy some snacks for the road here.

I continued through 66 into AlanReed.  I love this stretch of 66 in Texas!  The post office and general store with the jail beside it is a great stop. Then the old Texaco Station is another great photo opportunity.

Since I had stopped at the Devil’s Rope Museum when I was headed west, I wasn’t too disappointed to see it closed for the day as I continued my drive through McLean. McLean is one of those towns that you get a totally different perspective of Route 66 when headed east as opposed to west, since these are one way streets.  I highly recommend that you drive it in both directions.

As I was headed into Shamrock, I cringed a little, wondering if there would be any other roadside hazards to get my 4th tire! I’m happy to report that the drive through was without incident!

I crossed into Texola, Oklahoma.  There is a little jail here and I parked the car and went inside to see the display- the start of a museum.  There are some architecturally amazing homes that have all been abandoned.  I wish I could buy them all up and revive this town as it has so much charm and character. This is one, as well as Cuervo, NM  makes me feel so sad to see it is a ghost town.

My next stop was in Elk City, which is the home of the National Route 66 Museum. I stopped at the gift shop to buy a few souvenirs and take some more pictures. I’ve already seen the museum itself several times and it is a “must see.” I stopped for the night at the Flamingo Inn. I had stayed there last year and felt it was a good Route 66 motel, but the price nearly doubled from last year, so I was a bit disappointed in it.

It was too early in the day to enjoy the tea room at Country Dove, but I did stop and enjoy browsing in the gift shop.

I continued on 66 through Foss, stopping at the historical marker.  I always stop at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton and pick up any other gifts and souvenirs that I set my sights on westward.  I LOVE this museum and even if you have already seen the National Museum, you should also stop at this one!

Lucille’s Roadhouse in Weatherford and the original Lucille’s in Hydro are also must stops. I love Hydro- there are a few really cute shops still open, including Main Street Clothing,  and a cute little library. (My RANT- a teenie tiny town like Hydro can have a library, but Harrisville doesn’t have one?!)  I was hoping to buy some paint that is no longer available in OH and PA in the True Value in Hydro, but it was closed for the day due to the owner’s health issues. I hope he’s ok- he’s a great guy!

I continued on the Route through El Reno, stopped in the Hinton True Value and found 3 gallons of the paint I needed, went through Yukon, Bethany, Warr Acres and every bit of Oklahoma City, snapping new photos of the Braum’s Milk Bottle and checking out the Owl Court. If anyone knows what’s happening with it, I’d love an update. A few years back there was a lot of hype about its restoration, but it seems to be in worse shape and there are no signs of a restoration in progress. So sad, as it is so cute and would be a fantastic addition to OKC Route 66!

In Arcadia I stopped at Pops, which is a really cool building displaying more flavors of pop than you ever knew existed, and the Round Barn, which is an architectural wonder. The restoration process took a ton of dedication and more physical stamina than I could imagine. I wish Mr. Sam had been there, as he’s always a delight to talk to, but it wasn’t his day. I love the little loop through Wellston, but saw that the flowers and gift shop has succumbed to hard times.

Seaba Station in Warwick is now open as a motorcycle museum and it is awesome! I am not “into” motorcycles, but it was fascinating to me. While I’m disappointed it’s not an antique store anymore, I am thrilled to see this new addition to the route!

I had a wonderful stop in Chandler at the Lincoln County Historical Society! This is a great museum in a beautiful building and well worth the stop!  The volunteers there were awesome!

I stopped in Stroud, bought some more paint in the True Value there (yeah! Finally got all I needed!), then had a great lunch at The Rock Café. I FINALLY got to meet Dawn and she was as wonderful as her reputation suggested! Across the street is a tiny little gift shop called Curious Gifts and it is worth a stop, too.

Sorry for this, my fellow Route 66 fanatics, but I headed off of the Route, got back on the Turnpike and headed towards Fayetteville, Arkansas. I have fallen in love with Arkansas. It is an absolutely gorgeous state!

In my book, Annie Mouse’s Route 66 Adventure, I have a few “inside” jokes regarding Mommy Mouse’s cousins Mary and Bob. The adventure ends with the family’s visit to these cousins in Needles, CA. In reality, my real cousins Mary and Bob live in Arkansas. I generally do miss parts of the route because I jump off to go visit with them. Bob is a fantastic cook and a few day’s visit has me gaining a few pounds! This visit was another great one. I stayed a few days and we headed over to Bentonville to the new Crystal Bridges Art Museum. This is owned by Alice Walton and it is a free exhibit and well worth a stop. They also give you headphones to listen to background information on some of the pieces and when I turned in my headphones, I apparently turned in one of my earrings, too. I didn’t discover this until we got back to my cousin’s house. A phone call to the museum was returned the following morning with the good news that they did have my earring and they graciously offered to put it in the mail to me. It was waiting for me when I got back home! A huge “thank you” to the folks at the museum who went above and beyond!

After a book signing in Hastings and visiting for a few days, I headed back towards the route, stopping to visit Brenda and her dad, Charley Barker in Neosho, MO. Charley wrote the poem that inspired my book, Where the Rainbow Touches Ground. Charley had been ill in the spring and I was so happy to see him looking healthy and well enough to be able to enjoy going out to Sunday brunch in Carthage. We stopped at the George Washington Carver National Monument, where I originally met Charley back in 2006.  In Carthage we shopped at Goad’s Antiques in the Courthouse Square area. The Jasper County Courthouse building is very impressive! We also stopped to see the restoration work on The Boots Motel and they are doing a fabulous job! It’s so exciting to see that this landmark was saved from demolition! They even have a few rooms open already to rent out. Brenda is a recently retired teacher and a fabulous hostess and I love my visits with her and Charley.

After we had breakfast the following morning, I headed towards Joplin. It was a beautiful morning when I left, but 10 minutes later, all of a sudden the sky went black and the winds kicked up! Tornado conditions!! Brenda called and asked if I wanted to come back to her place, but I wasn’t sure which area was worse- the one behind me or the one in front of me! I stayed on the freeway and headed a little bit more east, skipping Joplin and the stops I had on my agenda. I have to say, I think I will avoid Joplin altogether in the future! In Webb City, there was no sign of the awful storm I’d just driven through.

I had a nice stop at Bradbury Bishop Deli, another incredibly awesome historic building, and a great visit with Carol.

I stopped at the Chamber of Commerce in Carthage to discover the best route  to take to get to Red Oak II since there is a detour due to construction. I can’t remember what they told me, but it wasn’t much of an issue at all. I  know if you follow the posted detour it could take you miles out of the way, so do stop at the Chamber to get the scoop!

Red Oak II is well worth the side trip. I strolled through the village and saw the restoration of the trolley car in progress. Lowell Davis began the town, still resides in it, but now it is being loving restored by Larry and Lois Frickenschmidt. Lois’ pen name is Skarlet Plume and she has written a book called “Goodbye…Don’t Forget Me!” which is available for sale at Red Oak II.

I stayed on the Route through the various ghost towns until I got into Paris Springs and stopped at Gary Turner’s Gay Parita’s Sinclair Station. After visiting for a few minutes, Gary was apologetic that he didn’t have more time to sit and visit with me since he was preparing for a big motorcycle tour group coming. I always enjoy my visit with Gary and was pleased to see him looking ok after his stroke.

I stopped at a few outlet shops in Lebanon out of curiosity, but after having the Grove City Outlets so close to home, it’s hard to find outlets that compare. I had dinner at the Elm Street Eatery and met a group of gentlemen at the table next to me wearing tee-shirts that said “three generations traveling route 66.”  It was a grandfather, father and two teenage sons. I was SO impressed that the teen sons were really “into” the experience! I don’t know my cars, but they had a beautiful old car that was painted purple.  I always get excited to meet fellow 66rs on the road!

I stayed in room 66 at The Munger Moss for the night and had another great visit with Ramona.  This is a really great Route 66 Motel with a restored neon sign. A truly wonderful Route 66 experience all the way around!

In Rolla, I stopped at the Totem Pole Trading Post. This is another icon that I wish I had included in my book. It is missing from my book only because of an unfortunate series of events that prevented the return of the release form in a timely manner. Tim Jones is a wonderful person, working hard to keep this Route 66 icon open and it is a great stop!

I continued along Route 66 and had to stop to remove a box turtle from the road way to avoid squishing it.

I strolled through a few “cute” shops in St. James, a little bummed to see a few more shops closed up that I had enjoyed stopping at in the past.

I FINALLY found Bob’s Gasoline Alley. It’s a little jog off the route in Fanning but well worth the side trip. It’s amazing to see how much memorabilia is on display on the property of this private residence!

I made a brief stop at the Jesse James Museum in Stanton. If you’re lucky enough to catch Lee in, he is a fantastic tour guide and incredibly talented and knowledgeable!

Back in Illinois, I targeted some of the less well-known areas – The Glen Carbon Covered Bridge and Yanda Log Cabin.

In Staunton I stopped at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch, one of my favorite stops in Illinois along the route.  This is so much more than a place to see live bunnies, though. It is a gift shop, has historical vehicles and gas pumps and Rich Henry, himself!  Rich had Big Red “autograph” a post card for me- really fun! I bought Ken, The Landrunner’s, postmark art here, too. This is a really interesting piece of artwork. (I still need to frame and hang it!)   You have to actually STOP and go inside to truly appreciate this landmark.

Mount Olive was a really great stop! The Soulsby Station is a must stop- you have to go inside to get the true experience. The Mother Jones Monument is in the Union Miners’ cemetery and is an important historical marker. A stop at From Our House to Yours ended up being newsworthy! A local reporter came in to take my picture and do a little story on The Adventures of Annie Mouse author stopping in their town. I loved the shop and the people there for being such great fans of Annie Mouse! Mount Olive is high on my list of stops for next year. I do want to spend more time there!

I drove through Litchfield, enjoying the section of the old route through town and stopping to take pictures at the Ariston Café. I wish I had been ready to have dinner, but it was too early- next year I’ll plan around it!

I finally found the Our Lady of the Highway Shrine in Waggoner; easy to miss heading east. It is actually in someone’s yard, so be respectful!

The Sugar Creek Covered Bridge in Glenarm was well worth the side trip. What a beautiful drive through the country!

I arrived in Springfield late in the day and  had a cozy dog at the famous Cozy Drive In, owned by the Waldmire family. The inside is like a museum and shouldn’t be missed.  I drove through the historic district, then I made a really poor choice of hotels and won’t be staying there again!! In the morning I found the Lauterbach Muffler Man, visited Shea’s Petroliana Museum (well worth the stop and the $3 admission!), visited the Lincoln Tomb, and finally, the Lincoln Home Historical Site, which is actually part of a small restored village area. This is part of the National Park system and is a free tour. VERY worthwhile! I enjoyed a very full day in Springfield!

Springfield, IL marked the end of my Route 66 tour. I began to head for Columbus, Oh so I could visit with my daughter-in-law and granddaughter. (My son is deployed to Afghanistan at the moment.)

I had a great stop in Crawfordsville, Indiana. I had dinner at the Creekside Lodge overlooking the creek. The next day was mostly driving the interstate except for one stop at The Red Ribbon Antiques in Greenfield. I’d like to spend more time exploring Greenfield in the future.

My last stop was VERY rewarding! I arrived in Columbus on a Friday evening and had my first pizza in a month with Alecia and Abby! I got to babysit Abby all afternoon and evening while Alecia to a graduation party. Abby and I went swimming, played games and read stories and the time flew by! Grandchildren are wonderful and I had a blast with this precious little one!! She is just too cute for words! Sunday was Father’s Day and we went to Bob Evans for breakfast. It was just a little crowded!  I love looking at houses and was excited to accompany Alecia while she checked out potential areas and homes. We had a really fun day and sharing it helped us forget for a minute that the three of us didn’t have a dad to celebrate the day withL  At least Abby will have her daddy back home soon!

I left Columbus and began the trip back to Pennsylvania, making a brief stop in Ashland, OH. This is another town that seems to be slowly disappearing. Each year I stop there are more and more empty store fronts. It seems Ashland, too is suffering from the WalMart infiltration.

I loved my time on the road, but as I saw Pennsylvania approaching, I couldn’t wait to be back home! I couldn’t believe how green everything was! My yard looked like a jungle. There was no evidence of a drought at my house!

It has taken me a month to get minimally caught up on everything.  And now it’s only 10 more months before my next Route 66 Adventure!!!!

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