Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012 Route 66 Road Trip, Day Three – Tulsa, OK to Tucumcari, NM

We woke up Saturday morning ready to see what the day had in store for us.  We would be going through Oklahoma and Texas with a motel destination of Tucumcari, New Mexico Saturday night.  We had our breakfast buffet at the motel and headed on out.  There are many places to visit in Tulsa, but we did not take the time on this trip to stop. 

So, leaving Tulsa behind, our first stop of the day was in Chandler, Oklahoma.  You can see in the picture at the top of this blog the 1937 Armory, which now houses Route 66 exhibits.  We did not take the time to go in, but it was a massive building, nicely landscaped.  There was also a cottage style Phillips 66 station in town that has been restored.  Phillips Petroleum is based out of Tulsa and has as its icon a 66 shield.
We had gotten off Interstate 44 at Chandler and took Route 66 until we got to Oklahoma City.  Our next stop along the Mother Road was Arcadia.  The Round Barn, built in 1898, is still a main attraction.  They have a Route 66 Exhibit downstairs, but the loft upstairs is used for dances and other events. 

Another great place to stop in Arcadia, and we did (even though it’s not historic) is POPS, which is a convenience store and diner, with more than 400 kinds of soft drinks.  Out front is a Giant Alert…a 66’ tall pop bottle, which is illuminated at night.  Too bad we couldn’t see it after dark!!

We drove through Edmond and then headed south into Oklahoma City.  We had planned to go to the National Memorial on this day, but it turned out there was a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the streets around the Memorial were shut down and lined with people.  So we went by the State Capital, which did not have a dome until 2002. When oil was struck in 1928, the capitol grounds had 24 pumping oil wells.  You can see in the picture there is still a derrick on the grounds.

At this point we got onto Interstate 40 to make some time.  I wish we could have stayed with Route 66, for there is more of the original route crossing Oklahoma than any other state.  It mostly parallels the interstate.  Remember...Cyrus Avery, the guy who was commissioned to connect the highway between Chicago and Los Angeles, was from Oklahoma, and he made sure his state was well traveled.  He wanted Oklahoma to benefit from the tourist traffic.  We could cross the state for a third time and see many places that we did not take the time to see on this 2012 spring break trip.  We crossed over into Texas without stopping in the ghost town of Texola, which sits on the border of both states. 

Even though Texas is the largest state in the 48, it is second in size to the number of miles delegated to Route 66.  Kansas had 13, and Texas, where things are bigger, can only boast of 178 miles from Texola to Glenrio, east to west.  Both of those border towns are now ghost towns, having been bypassed by Interstate 40, but there are plenty of places in between to spend some time exploring, such as Shamrock.

Shamrock had a St. Patrick’s Day festival going on down town, but we drove through it anyway.  It’s a smaller town, however it was crowded with people…and hopping with activity…carnival rides, concession stands, lots to see and do on Main Street.  The water tower is the tallest of this type in the state. 

One of the most interesting buildings on our trip is the U-Drop In/Tower Conoco, dating from 1936.  One of the restaurants in the “Cars” movie by Disney is shaped after this building, the one named “Flo’s”.  We stopped in to see the café and make use of their restroom, though we did not eat there (shame on us!!)

We left Shamrock on Route 66 and traveled to McLean, a little town that was left behind by the Interstate, the last town in Texas to be bypassed.  There are still a few fixtures in town, but the town just had a “dead” feeling.  There’s a Phillips 66 Station here that has been restored to its classic tiny cottage-style.  

Perhaps it was that Rattlesnakes sign that got to me.  Even having the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone in front of the church didn’t compel me to want to spend much time in McLean.   I was ready to move on down the road!

In Conway we stopped to take pictures of the five VW Beetles (the “Bug Ranch”) buried nose first in the dirt.  This was a spoof on the famous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo…another stop, which we made on the way back. 

Route 66 in Texas

People are encouraged to take spray cans of paint and decorate the vehicles as they wish.  This is just another way to make traveling the road a fun thing to do.  This really had little to do with Route 66.  All I can say is some people have way too much money!!

As far as meals, we snacked in the van along the way, and stopped in Weatherfield for ice cream some time in the afternoon.  In Amarillo we stopped for supper at Chick Fil-A.  The sun was going down and we needed to get to Tucumcari, New Mexico for the night.  We had a reservation at an actual Route 66 icon…The Blue Swallow Motel. 

The motel court has 13 units, each with their own garage.  They only had one family unit, and that is the one we had reserved.  It had two bedrooms, one bath, and a tiny kitchen.  This motel was made from surplus WWII cabins in the 1940s.  The owners have taken care to keep the original motel furniture, fixtures, and colors in use, although up to date.  The rooms were very clean, and very unique.  We had a great night’s sleep.  I was probably more impressed with this motel than anything else on the route.  I am so delighted that we chose to stay there.  Let me post some pictures to better tell the story. 

I took some pictures on Saturday night when we arrived because the place was just too cute.  Then I got up early the next morning to walk around the motel courtyard and snap more pictures.  

We had a family unit, with doors entering into bedrooms from the outside, and a hallway between the rooms inside.  A bathroom with a shower was located between the two bedrooms.

The pink stove, the lamps, the chenille bedspreads, the door knobs, the magazines on the lamp stands…everything right out of the 40’s.  Actually the bedspreads were brand new…special ordered with blue swallows on them.  The girls had never seen nor used a rotary phone before, but they did that night…still working!  The televisions were installed in the cut out arches in the walls.  I wonder what originally went there? 

As I mentioned earlier, each unit had a garage.  Of course our van wouldn't fit, but I found some other open garages with murals on the walls…look familiar?  (“Cars” movie)  

Kevin and Nancy are new owners of this historic place, and they are doing a wonderful job of restoration.  They also had a very nice gift shop.  Had to get a few Route 66 hats and t-shirts here.

After walking around and snapping oodles of pictures on Sunday morning, we took time to drive around Tucumcari.  This is one neat town!!  I definitely want to return here some day and spend more time.  We drove by a Mexican restaurant, La Cita, noted for its sombrero on the roof.  There were several murals in the town, and a Route 66 Sculpture near the Convention Center.  The picture below with the red sports car....just a private residence.  We were taken with the architecture and art deco work.

Notice in the picture above the wind turbine behind the route 66 sculpture.  We saw hundreds of these on our road trip.  Seems like they are popping up all across our nation.  Also, see the mountain in the background?  We are now in New Mexico, and it’s Sunday morning…our fourth day.  Check back in a few days for another blog on our Route 66 Road Trip.

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