To St. Louis! 

Hey Dad,

So another day another drive

My first stop was a place I had been seeing road signs from about 30 miles down the road.  A candy factory. It was straight off the road so I figured it was worth a look. It was also home to the ‘largest gift shop in the world’ the fudge looked pretty good to be fair, and the gift shop was your usual tourist trap. I didn’t stay long.

My next random oddity was a bowling pin statue. It was advertising for a bowling alley funnily enough. What made me laugh was it was right next to a sign for an ‘adult’ shop. Which also happened to be next door to the bowling alley. Not really two things you see together very often.

Further down the road I stumbled onto a place called Uranus. I pulled in to set the satnav, and to my amazement the little drive opened up into a huge courtyard with a car park in the middle.  There were loads of small shops, all looking like they were straight out of a multicolored western. It was very strange. The shops included a dinosaur play area, a tattoo shop, a burlesque saloon, a mexican restaurant and a fudge shop. Again, a weird mix.  The fudge shop had tshirt with slogans saying things like ‘fudge packer in Uranus’ made me laugh quite a little bit. 

My next stop was a small town called Fanning, which is home to the 2nd largest rocking chair in the world. It used to be the 1st, until 2016 when it was over taken, apparently. It was a huge red rocking chair. Every inch of me wanted to climb up it, but decided against it knowing I am not strong enough to climb a pole with no hand holds. There would have also been the issue of getting down! 

Next to the rocking chair was an old shop, which was up for sale. I had a sneaky look. The shop, barns, land, and even space for a night club were all up for sale as a package for $595,000. It was an unvelieveable amount of space for the money. It was however deserted. 

I then drove though a town called Bourbon, which I think was named after the liquor. I went on a search for the malt shop, but I couldn’t find it. The address I had led me to a garage. I gave up! 

Well after many hours on the road I made it into St. Louis, Well sort of, I am staying out of the centre; too rich for my lacking budget. I booked into the cheapest place I could find, which is something I have been doing for this entire drive. It’s a hit and miss plan, but I think it’s fair to say this one is a miss. The motel allows pets. Which of course meant as I opened the door to my room the smell of wet dog hit me like a brick. I knew I should have been worried when the sign behind reception said ‘no refunds after 10 minutes of checking in’. At least it’s only for two nights. I asked at reception if there was anywhere to grab something to eat in walking distance, I didn’t really fancy getting back in the car. She replied the only place was ‘Hooters’ on the corner. I was not hungry anyway…. 

I have a sneaky feeling tonight will not be the most comfortable stay. You would not be staying in it that’s for sure! 

Oh well, it’s all about the journey right! 

Night dad x

Going to Springfield 

Hey Dad,

So I got up and checked out easily enough and set off along route 66. Or so I thought.  The road signs just stopped! Because a lot of the road had been renamed, asking the satnav is pointless. After driving around in circles unable to find he road I concerned defeat and pulled into a McDonald’s to pinch the WiFi. 

Once I finally found the right road, I headed towards Catoosa it’s a small town along the old route 66, and it’s on the map for one thing; a huge blue whale! The whale sits on a lake. It is a jetty platform with slides into the water. You can walk straight into the smiling whales mouth and down to his tail. There you can climb up to his tail and jump into the murky brown water. From the top so you could see small fish and turtles swimming around. You could even climb a ladder into the whales head,making this structure essentially two storey. It’s nice to see that it is being up kept though, unlike a lot of the sights I have seen along the road so far. 

I travelled through a few other towns, not much to report, businesses, schools, a beautiful church, fast food, the usual.

My next stop was just off route 66, in Foyil. Ed Galloway was a folk artist who built the world’s largest totem pole. It stands at 90 feet and it covered in Indian designs. Surrounding it are smaller poles in different shapes, a cactus and snorkel Arrowhead where the most impressive. There was also a round Hut which had been turned into a gift shop. I was expecting tacky souvenirs, but nope! As I walked in the place was full of fiddles! Only the backs of the mind. Turns out the Ed Galloway was a terrific artist who hand made all of the fiddles out of different kinds of wood. There was over one hundred on display, all with different patterns on them. I spoke with the woman in the gift shop who explained Ed Galloway didn’t even play the fiddle! He just loved the wood. He made over 3o0 of them! 

I drove through more towns then I could name, all with a similar feel to them. Thriving little communities on an historic road. All really pretty and quirky. Between the towns was just fields of green and hay bales. It is exactly like how it looks in pictures and films. 

I followed the road all the way in Kansas. I was only in the state for like half an hour though. I really wanted there to be a ‘leaving Kansas’ sign just so I could get a photo with the title ‘not in Kansas anymore’. However the one I found was on a main road with no where to pull over. Oh well. 

I got into Missouri, where I decided to stop for icecream in another little town. Just up the road I passed a little place called Webb City with a huge statue of praying hands. 

One last drive got me into Springfield. I booked into and non smoking hotel, imagine my disgust when I walked into my room and it smelt of stale smoke. Not impressed. At least it is only for one night! 

Night dad x

Driving to Tulsa

Hey Dad,

So once again I was woke  up by the dumpster being opened. I am done with dodgy motels for a while, I think by next stop I may he booking into somewhere a little more peaceful. 

Before I hit the road I headed back to Alamo to get the radio fixed. The guy sorted it after looking very confused and I set off along the road. The best bit about the drive today is I could do nearly all of it on route 66!

My first stop today was back to the round barn. It was open today! The barn inside is set up like a museum, it was full of old farming equipment, maps and drawings. There was also a scale model of the barn which was pretty cool. They were also selling random memorabilia; some of it completely unrelated to the barn, it was more of a car boot jumble. Sadly upstairs was just an empty void, but the roof structure was amazing. The original structure is on full view. It was a beautiful wooden dome! 

I carried on following the route 66 signs. This stretch of the road was so different to any of the other parts. This part still had life on it.  The road was well laid, with barriers and lines. There were also houses and farms all along the road. There were no ’empty’ sections of nothing. What did make me laugh though we’re all the pop up shops along the road selling fireworks. These pop up shops were in tents, wooden huts and out of the back of trucks, all covered in red white and blue. It seemed like such a strange place to buy fireworks! 

I also drive though many towns like Chandler and Stroud, which again were full of life. People actually lived in these towns, and had businesses.  The buildings were old and the art work was authentic to the buildings, yet modern and nd well maintained. It was really refreshing seeing these old towns breathe a modern life. 

Once I got Tulsa, I was hot and slightly confussed. The hotel I booked online looked nothing like the Internet. It was far more modern, it must have had a face-lift recently and the Internet has not caught up.  It’s very rare somewhere (especially a budget hotel) looks nicer when you get there then in the online pictures. The hotel also had a pool. Sold! I lugged my stuff to the first floor with no lift, grabbed a bikini and headed straight to the pool! Tulsa can wait, I’ll see that tomorrow. For this afternoon, the pool won! 

I was primarily on my own around the pool, then some woman joined me. She seemed nice, but hearing her life story was not on my list of things to hear. Once she started going on about how she had been single for 19 years, and didn’t ever want a relationship, but never had problem with finding men to take home I left. I probably should point out she seemed to be in her early 50s and carrying double the weight she should be. 

I hung around my room for a while hoping she would be gone by the time I went out for something to eat. She was, phew. I found a cheap pizza place, ate and headed back for a thrilling night of laundry. 

Let’s hope for a better nights sleep tonight!

Night dad x

A day in Oklahoma

Hey Dad,

Well I got rudely awoken by the dumpster being emptied at 6am. I guess that’s what you get for booking a cheap motel behind the back of a Dennys. I didn’t seem to sleep well, and after I finally dropped back off to sleep I woke up at gone 9am! I knew I felt tired. 

Once I finally got up I started the day exploring Oklahoma. 

My first stop was a drive along the parts of route 66 I missed yesterday driving into the hotel. I drove along a road that followed a really nice lake, with people sitting along the waters edge fishing. It looked so peaceful, definitely your kind of place. There was also a route 66 park. One of the cleanest children’s parks I have ever seen. I didn’t stop for long, just long enough to be impressed with how lovely the open public spaces were. 

My second stop was a drive through the city centre. It was amazingly beautiful. Old buildings with modern glass fronted high rises interlaced in between them. The centre felt amazingly spacious, with only a few people and cars around. I have never driven through a city centre so easily! Driving around with no real direction or plan, I came across some beautiful buildings and structures. This has been one of the most surprising cities so far, I really didn’t think I would like it so much. 

After aimlessly driving around, I headed for another building I wanted to see, the gold dome building. The building is basically exactly that, a large round building with a huge gold dome on the top of it. Sadly the building is now derelict and falling into disrepair. I didn’t get many clues at to what it was in a former life, research will be done when I’m home! 

Leaving the doe.i also stumbled across another crazy building, a small single storey brick building, with a huge milk bottle on the top. It’s added to the list of crazy things on route 66! 

I headed out of town this evening to a small town called Arcadia. I had a place to eat in mind. Pops is a diner and petrol; sorry, gas station along route 66. It has a huge soda bottle statue outside. The whole front of the building is glass with shelves full of different sodas in bottles. They sell hundreds of different flavour sodas, and the diner is pretty famous for its burgers and milkshakes. 

Well the milkshake is just about the thickest milkshake I have ever drank! Forget the straw, I drank this thing with a spoon. It was only one step thicker then melted icecream. It was so filling I didn’t need food as well! Of course i still managed a burger and fries! 

I had a wander around the shop, but figured carrying a carbonated drink in a glass bottle in a hot car was not the best plan. I wanted to wait and see the huge bottle outside lit up, but sunset was not going to be for another hour. One other thing I wanted to see was the round barn, which was just up the road. I drive over there and realised the car was silent. Radio had gone out again. Great! Not impressed! The barn was also sadly closed, but I could walk around the outside. Not very often you see a round building with a dome roof made of wood!

I headed back to pops and waited until sunset. It was worth the wait, the pops bottle is made up of horizontal rings attached to a centre pole which forms a straw. The rings change colour, making crazy patterns running up and down the bottle. The glass diner was also lit up with standard white light, but because the light was behind the bottles on the shelves, it made the facade look multi coloured, pretty cool and very clever design. Best looking gas station I have ever seen. 

Frustrated by the radio, and knowing I was staying only a mile away from the airport I headed to Alamo to try and get it sorted. No one was there. Joy. As I tried to leave, I had to go through a security point. I should point out at this stage route 66 and the dirt tracks and gravel roads have taken a toll on the mustang, it was filthy! I got to the exit point, where a woman came out from behind her desk, looked the car up and down and asked ‘is this your personal car?’ I laughed and said no, and then explained why I was there, suddenly realising all the paper work was in my bag back at the hotel. She smiled and looked at the car again, I explained where I had driven from and asked her if there was a car wash near by. In my defense; I had thought about getting the car cleaned, but constantly forgotten once I was actually in the car. She asked me to hold on and walked behind the counter. She came back with another woman from the service department and said that she would be happy to run it though their car wash. Perfect, free car wash! She came back and the car was gleaming. I forgot it was grey, it had been a reddish brown for days! 

Well I am back at the hotel with a clean car, albeit with the radio still broken. Guess I will be heading back there in the morning. 

Night dad x

Driving to Oklahoma 

Hey Dad,

So this morning I packed up and left the castle looking motel to start on a 250 or so mile drive to Oklahoma.

One thing today though was dramatically different, the sky had these weird white things in. I think they were clouds, but I am not sure I have not seen them for a while. There is a huge tropical storm heading up through the Caribbean heading up towards the mainland, and other storms running through states east of here. I think today we must have picked up the tails of the storms. It was also very windy. 

Of course the day was full of weird and crazy stops. The very first thing I noticed was just how flat and baron the land around the road is. There is just nothing to see but fields for miles around. There is the occasional windmill, but that’s about it. It is also quite green, with trees breaking up the landscape.

Anyway, I tried to follow route 66 as much as I could, but large portions of it got merged into the the interstate. My first drive by was a small town called Shamrock.  It was really cool, but empty. I did not see another person, or car, at all! The buildings looked like something out of a old route 66 poster, and the road was wide enough for three lanes on each side, but it was just one huge lane.  

I followed route 66 through Shamrock to the next little town, Texola. This place was weird. It was an actual ghost town. All of the buildings were boarded up and falling into disrepair. Driving along there was an old building with a worn out sign saying “there’s no other place like this place anywhere near this place so this must be the place”. It made me laugh. The one really odd thing though, leaving the town, on a road full of cracks, there was one, huge, beautiful red brick house. It looked brand new. You have to question who would build in such a place, clearly someone who does not want to be found. 

I stopped in a place called Elk City, first from lunch, and second because it is home to a route 66 museum. It also has one of the largest route 66 signs around! The museum was amazing, it was set up it what felt like a small old town, with authentic facades and decorations, all surrounding a grass courtyard with a small pond. The buildings all seemed to relate to the museum topic inside too. 

I watched a short video on the origins of route 66, from way back when horse and carts would try and get across the county, right up to the modern day interstate. There was also a transportation museum, an old town museum full of victoriana furniture and rodeo items, a blacksmith museum and farm and ranch museum. I spent longer here then I thought I would to be honest, it was really cool.

My next little stop was another ghost town. To be honest dad, they are all starting to have a similar feel to them. Boarded up and deserted. 

On from there I had a quick drive through Yukon. On the map purely because it is the home town of Garth Brooks! 

My final stop was the hotel.  It’s been another very long day. I also clocked over 100 driving hours since picking the car up. I have also driven over 4300 miles, give or take a few Jon drove. 

Not wanting to get back in the car I ran over the road for something to eat in a really cool little Mexican restaurant. 

Well yet again I am shattered. 

Night dad x

Amarillo and a big steak

Hey Dad,

So slow morning. I realised this morning I went through another time zone yesterday, and I have not got used to the last one yet. I woke up this morning feeling like it was 8am, nope. It was 10am! 

I also woke up to a handful of messages. By the time I had read and replied, and talked to mum for an hour, somehow it was lunch time! Not sure how that happened. 

Well I eventually got out of the hotel to explore Amarillo. It’s a strange place. When I think city, I think busy, built up, high rise buildings. There is none of that. That place is just like a large town. I drove around for a while hoping to come across something exciting, nothing much. I also drove along the route 66 road that used to go through Amarillo. It had a number of shops and cafes, all in a 195os style, it was pretty cool. 

After a couple of hours wondering around, I went to grab some lunch. One thing I have noticed, people in Texas are extremely polite. Some kid was standing in the middle of the aisle in a store, he said ‘excuse me, maam’ and stepped to one side. I didn’t know whether to be shocked by his politeness, or the fact he called me ‘maam’. I suppose someone had to think I was a grown up at some point! 

I only had a salad for lunch, because I had much bigger plans for dinner! Amarillo is home to the ‘big Texas steak ranch’. It’s a huge bright yellow building, with a wild west style facade. There were giant bulls in the car park, and massive signs saying ‘free 72oz steak’ yep, they offer a 72oz steak, and if you can finish it, it’s free! The record is three 72oz steaks in 20 minutes in one sitting! By a woman who weighs only a little more then me! 

I got told there would be a 45 minute wait, figures! I wondered around the gift shop, and got to see what a 72oz steak actually looked like. It’s about the same size as my face! 

I was seated next to an English couple driving route 66 in the other direction! It was really nice having some form of company in a restaurant. As we were talking about the road, a guy was taking on the 72oz challenge. He was about half way through with 35 minutes to go. It was unvelieveable! He finished it all in just under an hour. Bearing in mind the challenge includes two side dishes and a drink. There was a round of applause from the restaurant.  

Well my fillet steak was pretty damn good dad, but probably not the best steak I have ever had. I think other then the way you cooked steak; that steak in Dubai is still winning! 

As I was leaving another guy took up the challenge. It was quite handy as I got to see the full extent of the challenge before he started it. 

Time for bed, another long drive and another state tomorrow! 

Night dad x

Midtown, dirt tracks and cadalliacs

Hey Dad, 

So I hit the road again today, I have been looking forward to this bit of the road. 

Before I left I checked the map and it looked like I could drive the majority of the journey on the old route 66. 

Well I set off, roof down perfectly happy, following the route 66 sign. Until, suddenly without warning the tarmac ran out! I had been warned parts of route 66 were now just gravel tracks, and not wanting to turn around and double back on myself, I followed the gravel track. It could not be that long could it?
Wrong.

Well it turns out this track went on for 14 miles! This road was not very mustang friendly either, so my maximum speed was 15mph. For the whole 14 miles. To top it off there was nothing around either! The landscape was flat and there were only a handful of derelict buildings in the distance. It was very pretty in places though, with old wooden bridges and once loved building remains. 

Mercifully I eventually found tarmac. I am not sure who was more pleased, me or the mustang! Following the road for a couple more miles lead to an interstate. That was the end of old route 66. 

My first stop for the day was Midtown.  It is the middle of route 66, where LA and Chicago are 1139 miles away in opposite directions. After taking a handful of photos of the big white painted line across the road I headed into the midpoint cafe. 

Back on the road I headed towards dots museum. It was so not what I was expecting! It was a little house in a residential area. There was no one around. I don’t know what it is about these small American towns feeling like they should be in a horror movie, but the door was shut to the museum and I didn’t really want to leave the car parked up on the side of the road. I was also not brave enough to knock on the door, there was no one around and the surrounding area was silent. Weird. I took some outdoor photos and left. 

A little further down the road was cadalliac ranch. This is 10 cadalliacs buried nose down into the ground. The public are then encouraged to come and spray paint the cars. So armed with a can of red spray paint I went to town! It was great, like acceptable vandalism. Some guy then gave me his can of white paint, so I went crazy with that too. What amazed me though was the rubbish, there were cans and lids everywhere! It’s amazing people can just drop it on the floor and leave it. Not wanting to keep the spray can, nor wanting to add to the rubbish, I gave them to someone who turned up with no spray paint. Why you would turn up with no paint is beyond me! 

Two minutes down the road was a huge cowboy called the second amendment cowboy. There were also three beautiful cadalliacs on plinths behind him. I didn’t stay long, just long enough for a few photos. 

Next stop, Amarillo!

I drove past the city limit line singing ‘is this the way to Amarillo’ in my head. That was more for Claire then you though. 

I got into Amarillo, now came the joyous task of finding my hotel. The satnav had a melt down and couldn’t find it. Wonderful. For some reason as well Amarillo seem to have an adversity to use able WiFi. I must have driven to over ten fast food places trying to steal the free WiFi to find out where I was going. Eventually I ended up in Dennys ordering a milkshake to just use the WiFi.  The satnav was three miles out!

I checked into my hotel, the Camelot Inn

 It actually looks like a castle. It is very budget and very basic, but perfectly comfortable. The woman behind reception is missing all of her front teeth, but lovely. She even gave me a nicer room because she liked me. The room is actually pretty nice, just a little dated.  At £25 a night, just out the centre, with breakfast and a pool, what more could you want?

Night dad x