For various reasons, and not wanting to take on too much at one time, I chose to drive only the western portion of Route 66 (Oklahoma to the Pacific Ocean), with hopes to do the Eastern portion (Chicago through northeastern Oklahoma) at a later time. Even though numerous sections of the old Road are no longer there, many parts still exist and contain interesting places to visit.
Route 66 Schedule - some highlights
Saturday, 23 May 2009 - Arrived in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for the Memorial Day weekend. Visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial, dedicated in honor of the victims of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995. A truly solemn place.
Sunday, 24 May 2009 - A rainy day spent in Yukon, Oklahoma, sightseeing the area and shopping for supplies. With luck, the movie, The Night at the Museum (2006) played on cable TV on Sunday night. As I had plans to see the sequel at the drive-in on Monday, I made sure I was back at the hotel for showtime, as I'd never seen the original.
Monday, 25 May 2009 - Memorial Day (observed). I trekked east on Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Edmund and Arcadia. Being a holiday, many places were closed, and those which were open were quite crowded. Edmund, Oklahoma, was no exception. Edmund's charming Historic Downtown Shopping District, was empty but its statuary on nearly every corner were standing, including a replica of the Statue of Liberty, and the bronze statue of Nannity R. H. Daisey aka Kentucky Daisey, believed to be the first woman laying claim to Oklahoma land in the first Land Run of 1889. Down the street, a local McAlister's Deli was crowded.
The Round Barn on Route 66 in Arcadia, Oklahoma, is unique for its shape. Built in 1898, the round red barn was restored in 1992 and opened to the public. There's even a gift shop. In its early years, the lower portion was used for sheltering cattle, oxen, and such, while upstairs (the Loft) they held dances and used it as a community gathering center. You can read about it here: Round Barn Arcadia Route 66
Pops on Route 66, also in Arcadia, is combination of old-fashioned diner, gas station, souvenir shop, and convenience store. They sell hundreds of bottled soft drinks, a.k.a. sodas or pops, thus the name, "Pops". In addition to food, pops, and gasoline, they sell souvenirs and postcards. The parking lot is huge but was packed. The dining area consists of a counter plus booths, and outside picnic tables are located in the attractive back courtyard. The wait time for seating was especially long for large parties. A seat at the counter was easier to acquire. The name "Pops" comes from their large selection of over 600 bottle beverages on display. The staff is friendly and helpful even though extremely busy. Their large whole fried okra was out of this world delectable. The menu is online. Check out Pops here: Pops Arcadia Route 66
Down the road a bit toward Luther, Oklahoma, is a great barbecue place, The Boundary, housed in an old gas station. There's a lovely huge western mural on the outside wall. Check it out: The Boundary on 66
Painting on the side of The Boundary
At the Winchester Drive In Theatre in Oklahoma City, "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (2009) and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009) were the double feature. The concession stand offered all the great drive-in movie fare: popcorn, drinks, hot dogs, burgers, pizza, candy, and more, plus souvenir Winchester Drive In T-shirts. The walls were lined with historical photographs of the drive-in. It is one of only seven drive-in theatres remaining in the state of Oklahoma. Located at 6930 S Western Avenue, it was built in 1968. In it's early days, only a funeral home was located near the drive-in, today it's a bustling neighborhood lined with businesses and homes. Movie patrons set up their lawn chairs, stretched out their picnic blankets, sat on the hoods of the vehicles, climbed into the open backs of their SUVs, or just got comfy inside their cars to enjoy a lovely spring night at the open-air theatre. It was a treat and a step back into yesteryear when drive-in theatres were everywhere.
The Winchester operates on a seasonal basis in the warmer months and closes for winter. Instead of the old-fashioned speakers, Winchester's patrons listen to the movie through their own car radios on Winchester's designated FM radio station. Information about the drive-in can be found here: Winchester Drive In Theatre - Oklahoma City
Winchester Drive-In Theatre Sign
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 - A small Route 66 Park is located at Lake Overholser Park, west of Oklahoma City near Bethany, Oklahoma, includes a walkway featuring markers of the eight states of Route 66, plus a playground for children. A great place for a picnic or a rest break. A brief description and map are here: Route 66 Park
Nearby is the old 1924 Lake Overholser Bridge, over the Canadian River, off Route 66 to the left of the road leading to Lake Overholser. The bridge served travelers for several decades until traffic became too much for the bridge and trucking became the norm as a means of delivering goods across the country. Traffic bottlenecks occurred too frequently and for long lengths of time. In 1958, the United States government opened a new, wider, four-lane divided highway just to the north on a new section of Route 66. Lighter, local traffic still used the old bridge. At the time when I visited, the bridge was closed to all traffic although I was able to walk on it. The bridge was re-opened to local traffic in 2011. Read about the bridge at this link: Lake Overholser Bridge
Visited Fort Reno, its chapel, and its old cemetery, which is northwest of El Reno, Texas. The lady in the gift shop was very helpful and quite friendly. Several others traveling Route 66 stopped in, too, and we had the usual chats, "Where are you from"?, "Where are you headed?", "You're traveling alone!", etc. There are many German and Italian POWs buried in the fort's cemetery, as well as Buffalo soldiers, Calvary soldiers, and others. The fort's chapel is open for daily visitation. Be warned, even in late May, it's extremely hot and humid at the Fort. Bring lots of water, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
Weatherford, Oklahoma, has the 66 West Twin Drive-In Theatre west of town for additional nostalgia. Don't miss the Cherokee Trading Post restaurant and souvenir shop. Look for the big Indian head with the multi-feathered headdress.
Two Route 66 museums are on the western stretch of Oklahoma near I-40/Route 66 corridor. Oklahoma Route 66 Museum on Gary Boulevard in Clinton also has a small restored Route 66 diner on its grounds. This museum is across the street from the Trade Winds Motel made famous when Elvis stayed there. The National Route 66 Museum is part of the Old Town Museum complex in Elk City, Oklahoma. There are recorded narrations at each old Route 66 tableau depicted in this museum (auto camping in the desert, neon tourist courts, gas stations, diners, old vehicles).
West of Elk City is the 1928 Timber Creek Bridge on a short stretch of Route 66 south of I-40.
Arrived in Sayre, Oklahoma for the night. The temperature took a sudden dip and the winds picked up fiercely. It was a very cold night!
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 - Sayre has a very nice Sayre City Park which offers campgrounds, picnic tables, a walking trail, and a swimming pool.
Stopped in Texola, Oklahoma, the last town before reaching Texas, and visited the old Territorial Jail, a tiny building surrounded by practically nothing but weeds. It was a fun photo stop.
Entered Texas, the second-largest state, which has the second-shortest alignment of Route 66. Kansas, with only 13 miles of the Route, has the shortest length. Along the I-40/Route 66 corridor there are windmills, lots and lots of windmills, so many and so close together at times, making them appear as windmill farms, which they probably are!
McLean, Texas, is home to the Devil's Rope/Old Route 66 Museum. If you want to see barbed wire in all its glory and all shapes and sizes, this is the place. The museum includes cowboy, ranching, and western history. The roadside restored Phillips 66 gas station is a great photo opportunity. The charming Cactus Inn Motel is here, but was for sale when I visited.
Groom, Texas, is home to the giant Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, standing 190 feet tall (19 stories high!). It's known as the largest cross in the western hemisphere. You can't miss it unless you are driving asleep. It gets illuminated at night, plus Stations of the Cross in life size bronze sculptures, are included in the complex. A photo of this cross is posted elsewhere on this blog. Read about the construction of the Cross here: Cross of Our Lord
The town of Groom is home to concrete silos (pictured separately). Silos (see photo), water towers, and windmills dominate the landscape throughout the Texas panhandle.
On to Amarillo...