Route 66 Honeymoon Days 5 and 6: Sapulpa, OK to Amarillo, TX
After waking up in Sapulpa with a good night’s sleep, we were hopeful that Oklahoma might be better to us the second day. We ventured down the turnpike and came across Rock Creek Bridge, on an older alignment of Route 66 that was closed down decades ago. Just past it was the abandoned Tepee Drive-In – I couldn’t get a photo from where we were…the brush had grown up too much.
Stroud! We liked Stroud; the people were friendly and the recently restored Rock Cafe (circa 1939) had an amazing breakfast. Our waitress just bought a house there for – no kidding – 39 grand and her dad’s family…talk about a small world…is from Bowling Green, KY. Their downtown had a cute theatre and some cool murals. The still-functioning Skyliner Motel has a super-cool vintage neon sign. I am discovering an affinity for old neon signs. It was also at the Rock Diner where we first encountered a couple of incredibly nice British guys attempting the entire trip on a Harley and a Triumph. If you read my previous blog, you know about the half-unpaved 9-foot segments from the beginning of Oklahoma. Yup…they got stuck on that.
Chandler had the Lincoln Motel, a really cool Phillips 66 in the process of being restored that the Roaming Animal dug (look for him in one of the pics), and an abandoned cafe just behind the Phillips station.
The Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum. Of course, they are closed on Wednesdays and that just happened to be the day we were passing through. However, the building has been restored to its original 1920s state. The original 1920s outhouse, however, has not been restored. It’s kind of hilarious, however.
The owners of the Rock of Ages Farm near Arcadia, OK are trying to save these ruins of a stone gas station reputed to have been the site of a counterfeit ring. They have posted signs and even planted flowers in the old window box.
The Round Barn in Arcadia was built in 1898 and recently restored. It now has a gift shop and museum in the bottom level and you can host a dance in the top. Seriously. A modern attraction is the 66-foot lighted soda bottle at Pops Travel Center.
Edmond, OK is a suburb of Oklahoma City. No one can drive and they are not fans of tourists. There is, however, the very first schoolhouse in the Oklahoma Territory from the 1800s and a giant hippo with a camera. Really, what else do you need?
Once we were in OKC, much like Tulsa, all we wanted was to leave. The locals were kind of expressionless and unhappy, and there was only one section we drove through that didn’t give off the “We Cap Tourists” vibe. We did spot a cool old theatre and the locally-saved Milk Bottle Building on the way out of town, as well as an old garage across from the Milk Bottle (which is now a Korean bakery since the neighborhood is primarily Asian.) After we got lost in the OKC hood, we were ready to get the hell out of Dodge. Plus, the weather was starting to look like the stuff of Midwestern nightmares.
Cool vintage gas station sign in Garth Brooks’ hometown (there is a parkway named after him) of Yukon, OK. They proudly tout that they are the Czech Capital of Oklahoma. Now you know.
After getting lost in B.F. Oklahoma and encountering our British biker friends again (we all put our heads together trying to figure out how to get back to Route 66; it didn’t work) we took the interstate and finally found the Mother Road again in Hydro. Lucille Hamons was named the Mother of the Mother Road after operating a gas station, convenience store, and tourist court at this location since 1941. She sadly passed away in 2000, but her store has been saved. The tourist court unfortunately has not. There was a mother and daughter taking modeling test shots at Lucille’s while I was trying to take these shots. They wouldn’t move. With the storm quickly approaching, I was ready to go and if these photos hadn’t come out so well, I might have told them what magazine I thought her daughter had her only shot with, considering she was disrespectfully wrapping her legs around a historic gas pump.
And then the first storm came. Oklahoma is exactly where you want to be when a storm hits. There is a local restaurant called Lucille’s Roadhouse in nearby Weatherford dedicated to the Mother of the Mother Road. We sought shelter and an IPA here, waiting out the tirade outside.
The first band of storms passed and we soldiered on. There was a full-scale wing of a wind turbine in Weatherford, which I had never seen before. They’re massive. The wind turbines are everywhere in the Midwest and Southwest….miles and miles of them. They were so peaceful-looking.
The next wave of storms were coming on fast, so as much as we wanted to get the heck out of Oklahoma that night, we had stop 30 miles from the state line in Clinton. Not before I snapped a couple of shots of a cool old motel and the outside of the (closed for the night) Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, complete with the moved-and-restored Valentine Diner from Texas.
After watching a tornado touch down just outside Elk City on TV, we woke up and had to venture down that way. We did stop at the Museum on the way out, since it was open, and snapped a shot of the cool vintage car in the window.
Kobel’s Place, in Foss, has been abandoned for years. It sits at a crossroads where it used to serve Route 66 travelers back in the day.
Elk City lived through the twister, evidently. The Cotton Boll motel is now a permanent living establishment, but they left the cool sign. They also have the 17-story Parker Drilling Rig that recalls the town’s oil days, an abandoned old museum with a terribly amusing dinosaur painting in the window, and the National Route 66 Museum with its Old Town Complex. We ran into our British biker friends again here, where they promised us they weren’t stalking us. In the museum, they insisted on taking our photo with the married mannequin couple in the Model T, who were evidently Tucumari Tonight bound.
The Western Motel and the longest soda fountain in Oklahoma, in Sayre. Sayre also created an underground walkway for locals to get from one side of their main road to the other back in the height of Route 66 traveling, to keep their residents safe. I didn’t have the guts to go down there because I know what kinds of mutant bugs grow out here.
The left-hand side of this shot is an abandoned stretch of older Route 66 that runs all the way from Sayre to Erick. It’s actually prettier – parts of it have a canopy of trees. I wish they’d restore that section and reopen it.
Sandhills Curiosity Shop in Erick, OK, located in an old meat market. It looks 37 kinds of awesomely tacky. It was, of course, not open that day.
This shot of an old motor court in Texola is blurry, but during the course of trying to take it, an onslaught of about a dozen angry, smallish, barking dogs came screaming at me from the trailer next door. I snapped the shot and ran for the car, and even at 40 MPH, these dogs were still chasing us LITERALLY all the way to the Texas state line. I have never been so glad to get out of a state as I was with Oklahoma. Thus far, with the exception of a few spots, it was hands down the most inhospitable to tourists.
Texas!!! Finally!! The town of Shamrock recently restored the U Drop Inn and placed some tourist information inside. Two ladies were making a quilt when we walked in. So homespun, I could have cried as compared to Oklahoma. They also fixed up an old Magnolia service station.
McLean, TX has a neat old theatre that is undergoing renovation, along with another Phillips 66 station and the Cactus Inn.
Nearby Alanreed has the 66 Super Station and the Merit Garage. Neither has been completely restored, but someone, at least, has been working to save them.
Groom had this really cool old sign just sitting in the middle of nowhere. They also have the famous leaning water tower, which, contrary to local lore, was not built erroneously at all, but more as a tourist attraction when the Britten Truck Stop once existed and operated at this location. Either way, it’s slightly awesome. The largest cross in the Western Hemisphere, all 190 feet of it, is across Route 66 too. It evidently lights up at night. I am seriously sorry that we missed that glorious spectacle.
The Bug Ranch! In Conway, they have built a spoof of the famous Cadillac Ranch called the Bug Ranch. 5 spraypainted VW Bugs stand nose-deep in the dirt in front of an abandoned motor court and restaurant. Adam had the brilliant idea of attempting to go in. I’d rather go to a Nickelback show than brave what might be inside that place.
Old store just outside Amarillo.
The Big Texan…really, what more do I need to say? We came, we ate, we did not conquer the 72-oz steak. If you should ever choose to do so, they place you at the table on the stage beneath the glowing bull skull (shown below) by yourself in front of the entire restaurant. If you finish the entire meal, including the potato and your drink, you eat for free. We decided to stay at the tacky hotel on the premises, designed to look like an old Western town. Our room had swinging doors leading into the bathroom. So. Awesome.
Downtown Amarillo, with its cool theatre. We grabbed a couple of drinks at a wine bar called Crush, whose wines are on tap. The explanation is on the menu…it actually makes sense, when you think about it. I also snapped a photo of the outside of our awesomely tacky hotel at the Big Texan.
Next day…the rest of Amarillo and then New Mexico!