Friday, April 13, 2012

Route 66 Road Trip Day 2, part B – St. Louis, MO to Tulsa, OK

After lunch on Day 2, and stopping in Lebanon, we headed out Interstate 44 until we reached Springfield, MO.  At Exit 72 on the west side of Springfield, it was time to head off west down the Mother Road once again.  I had read that this a beautiful stretch of road that winds through pastoral settings of rolling hills and green fields, and is pretty much the way it was back when.  When the interstate came in, it by-passed many of the little communities along this route, and the cafes, motels, parks, and gas stations began to die off for lack of business.  Many went belly up, and some of the buildings are still there, as though frozen in time.  There are more ruins of Route 66 businesses along this stretch than any other in the whole eight state route of “America’s Main Street”.

One of the first little communities we came to actually only had two buildings left, that I could see.  We came into Paris Springs, MO, but it might as well be called “Gay Parita”, for that was the “business” that dominated this spot in the road.  The only other building in town was right across the road from “Gay Parita”, and I do not recall what was over the door.  It may have been a restaurant, but it looked abandoned.  You can see the “Route 66” sign painted in the road between the two businesses.

Probably one of the most unique stops along our way on this road trip was at “Gay Parita”.  I’m going to insert several pictures here so you can get a feel for what it is, but let me tell you up front that “Gay Parita” is the name of the replica gas station, built on the site of a former gas station which no longer exists.  Gary Turner built this station, and it looks authentic.  He named it for the original gas station owner’s wife.  Her name was Gay and Parita is Spanish for “equal”.  She was considered an equal partner with her husband in the business…she worked just as hard.  Look at these pictures:

Gary was real quick to take us out to the stone garage and show us his handiwork there.  It was loaded with signs and all kinds of things you would find in a garage, plus a few characters.  Get a load of his vehicles!! 

Gary would have kept us all day…he had so many stories to tell, and a lot of time on his hands.  Talking to others along Route 66, they all knew Gary.  He calls other “cronies” (other Route 66 business owners) sometimes on a daily basis.  If you ever travel Route 66 in Missouri, you must go through Paris Springs and stop at “Gay Parita” and let Gary talk your ear off!  He also told us of other stops we needed to make on our trip…a very informative guy!!  But we needed to get going, after at least an hour with him, as we needed to make Tulsa by nightfall.  So back on the route again…

Gary told us to be sure and check out these old bridges on our way to Halltown:

 The bridge on the left is a “pony” style bridge built in 1923, and the right bridge is a “thru-truss” bridge built in 1926.  The roadway here is the original road surface and width.  At one point all of Route 66 from Chicago to LA was covered with Portland cement.  The picture below gives you a better feel for what that looked like.  Can you even imagine the work that went into that??  This is just an example of what all there is to discover traveling Route 66.  There’s something for everyone!

One of the small communities we passed through after seeing these bridges was what remains of Spencer.  It was so sad to see these little burgs closed up and shut down in the name of speed….interstate travel.  Loved those gas prices back then though!!

We drove through Carthage, but planned to spend more time here on our return trip.  The day was slipping away from us with all the time we spent with Gary at Gay Parita.  We drove by a Route 66 Drive-In, which is still in operation, and then on to Joplin where we found another Giant Alert!!  In case you don’t see it…it’s the big crayon.  Giant Alerts are what our six year old enjoyed the most…looking for them, and taking their pictures.

We saved enough in our food budget on this day, thanks to the “snack alerts” from the Granny Jar, that we were able to enjoy a meal in one of our favorite kind of restaurants:  Mexican!  We found a good place in Joplin, but I do not remember the name of it.  I just know we were all pleased with our meal…and they had the white queso cheese dip, which is always a mark of a good Mexican restaurant! 

Leaving Missouri behind, and still traveling on Route 66 we headed on into the state of Kansas.  There are only 13 miles of Route 66 in this state, but it was part of the original route, and we didn’t want to leave it out.  Galena had a restored Marathon gas station with a tow truck, “Tow Tater”, which was the inspiration for the tow truck ‘Mater in the Disney movie, “Cars”.

In Riverton, Kansas, we went by an old arch bridge, built in 1923.  It’s so pretty with the little river running underneath.

Pay attention to this next picture.  You will see a railroad track on the back side of the road.  The early roads were built along the railroad right-of-way corridors.

Well, nighttime was falling, and we needed to get to Tulsa for our motel reservation.  There were a few towns we would have to catch on our way back.  So we left Kansas behind and entered Oklahoma

We had a motel reserved for this Friday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a chain motel with a swimming pool.  We were able to use “points”, so it did not cost us for the room, and it came with a breakfast buffet for the morning…another savings on food!!  As soon as we got settled in the room, we hit the pool and hot tub and just relaxed after a long day on the road, and many, many stops!!  (Need I say…the little one didn’t want to get in the “cold” water? ....and neither did Grandpa!!)

Join me again when I post Day 3 of our Route 66 Road Trip!! 

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