Friday, October 30, 2015

Route 66-Tulsa


   This is our first visit to Tulsa. We came with no expectations and were completely charmed by the city. Tulsa is considered the cultural and arts center of Oklahoma. It’s a relatively new city built on the discovery in 1905 of the large Glenn Pool oil field south of the city. By 1920 two thirds of the nations oil was produced in Tulsa. The newly wealthy citizens including J. Paul Getty, Harry Sinclair, William Skelly, and L.E. Phillips built lavish mansions and office buildings in the art deco style. Tulsa is no longer the oil capital of the world but the philanthropic efforts of some of the early oil men can still be seen in the beautiful museums and parks.

  We spent four days in Tulsa which was really not enough time to see everything. I’m dividing this into two parts because otherwise it would be too long. This post is mostly pictures of interesting architecture, old motels and old signs.

  A few classic motels




    Motel signs reused for other businesses. Daylight Donuts was founded in Tulsa in 1954. This is not their traditional sign.


  Brooks Theater opened in 1945. It’s been a restaurant since 1995.078

  Opened in 1962, the Rose Bowl, formerly  bowling lanes is now an event center.


  Moody’s since 1944 and Jim’s Coney Island since the 1950s.


Rancho Grande since 1953.  Tulsans loved this Meadow Gold sign so much that everyone got together to restore it and find it a new home when the building where it had resided for 80 years was torn down.


  Another much loved icon – the 76 foot tall Golden Driller at the main gate of the Tulsa State Fairgrounds


  Because Tulsa is such a young city many of the buildings were constructed during the height of the Art Deco craze and fortunately many of them survived the urban renewal of the 1960s and 70s that destroyed historical sections of other cities.




 Cain’s Ballroom built in 1924 – a garage, a dance hall, and finally a music venue.




Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Route 66 Afton to Catoosa

054   Eastern Trails Museum in Vinita is a small local history museum. Admission is free. The museum is accessible. RVs will fit in the lot on the opposite side of the street.

  The settlement of most of the small towns along Route 66 was tied to the railroad. The establishment of Route 66 kept the towns alive and thriving. Some like Vinita are located close enough to the interstate and other roads that the decommissioning of Route 66 didn’t have an effect on them. Others like Chelsea lost most of their businesses.


  The Chelsea Motel (with showers!) opened in 1939. The rooms are used for storage now.


  Side trip – well worth the 3.5 mile detour off of the route. The largest creation in Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park is a 90’ tall totem pole constructed using 100 tons of sand and rock, 28 tons of cement and 6 tons of steel. Galloway also built a house, a workshop, several more totems and two sets of picnic tables.081

  When he wasn’t building with concrete he made furniture and carved violins. He built an eleven-sided building to house approximately 300 violins, all carved from different woods. Some are on display in the building which is now a visitor center and gift shop.  A gravel path leads past the totem poles to the visitor center. It’s a little hard to push along but doable. The parking lot is large enough for RVs. There’s no admission charge.078                                  074

  The story behind this statue is inspiring. Andy Payne was a 20 year old Cherokee farm boy when he entered the Great American Footrace in 1928. The race started in California and ended in New York, a distance of 3,422 miles. Of the 275 who started the race only 55 finished. Andy Payne came in first, winning the prize of $25,000 which was an enormous amount of money in 1928 as the average yearly salary was only $1,500.


  Adobe Village apartments, formerly El Sueno Courts built in 1938, the first motel in Claremont.


  Claremont is also the home of the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum which has over 13,000 firearms. Most of them were part of the personal collection of J.M. Davis’s who owned a downtown hotel. We’re not gun enthusiasts but it’s hard to pass up up a free museum. :-D  Besides a crazy number of guns the museum also has collections of clocks, musical instruments, campaign buttons, beer steins, mounted animal heads and other stuff.



  Their collection of WWI posters is the best and most comprehensive that I’ve seen.

The museum is accessible. The parking lot is large enough for RVs.


  One of Oklahoma’s most famous citizen is Will Rogers. We knew next to nothing about Rogers but since he lived during Route 66’s glory days we decided that we had to visit the Will Rogers Memorial Museum.  Will Rogers was an interesting guy. Both of his parents were part Cherokee and born in Oklahoma (Indian Territory at that time) after their parents were forced to leave the southeast. Rodgers grew up helping on the family ranch and practicing rope tricks. In his early twenties he went to South Africa to work on a cattle ranch and met Texas Jack who had a traveling Wild West show. That meeting changed everything for Rogers.


   After working with Texas Jack for a short time Rogers moved onto larger traveling acts, then onto vaudeville which led to a movie career. He also had a weekly radio show and a weekly newspaper column, wrote books and gave lectures. Through it all he remained a down-to-earth guy who assisted flood victims along the Mississippi River Valley in 1927, earthquake victims in Nicaragua in 1931 and raised money for drought stricken farmers during the depression. He died in 1935 when the small plane he was riding in crashed in Alaska.

The museum is mostly accessible but some of the ramps are very steep. The parking lot is large enough for RVs.



  You can’t help but smile back at this big blue whale. :-) The whale is a recent addition, built over two years in the early 1970s by Hugh Davis who liked to keep busy after he retired. The property is still owned by the Davis family (we had a nice time chatting with his son Blaine) and is free to visit.

  The whale is not accessible due to hilly, uneven terrain but it’s easy to see it from the parking lot.

   The lot is large enough for any RV.


The closed trading post across the street from the whale was owned by Hugh’s brother-in-law who was an Acoma Indian.


   Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on the outskirts of Tulsa is a good place to stay overnight. Oversized parking is in lot I. The lot has a slope so leveling is necessary. There’s a free dump station and fresh water fill on the edge of the lot.

The casino entrance is a fair distance away and getting to the gaming area requires more travel along hallways so it’s not easy to visit if you use if you have mobility problems. 



Monday, October 26, 2015

Route 66- Quapaw to Afton


  While most casinos allow overnight RV parking, this is something we don’t find often. The Quapaw Casino has a free RV park with hookups and grass between the sites! It’s free for 3 days then $10.00 a day if you want to stay longer. A cow pasture and a train track are along the back. The cows aren’t a problem but the train whistle might be if you’re a light sleeper.

  The paved sections are narrow and have a drop off at the edges so it might not be possible to deploy a wheelchair lift at the site.

The casino is pretty small, moderately smoky and the machines are tight. The chairs are easy to move. Casino

  Crossing the border into Oklahoma has brought us back into farm country with small towns every five or ten miles along the route. Commerce was Mickey Mantle’s hometown and a little park with a statue is located near the high school. The parking lot is large enough for RVs.


  The town also has a couple of cute little former gas stations. The Dairy King which serves hamburgers, ice cream and Route 66 cookies is housed in a 1925 era Marathon station. There’s room for RVs in the side lot.


  Right across the street from Dairy King is the tiny Allen's Fillin' Station. It was built in 1930. The new owners, who restored it, open it on weekends and sell souvenirs and candy.


   It was a surprise to see the Newell factory in such a tiny out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere town. I knew these were expensive motorhomes but I didn’t know how expensive until I looked at their website. Each of these RVs is worth somewhere between 1 and 2 million dollars!


  Ku-Ku Burger was a fast food chain in the 1960s and now Waylan’s in Miami is the sole survivor.  The little bird at the peak of the building used to pop in and out but remodeling has made that impossible.


   The fancy Coleman Theatre was built by mining magnate George Coleman in 1929. It was owned by the Coleman family until 1989 when they donated it to the city.  Check out the four way stop sign in the middle of the street.


    Miami also has a small museum of local history. It’s mostly assorted collections with little historic information. There’s no admission charge. RVs will fit in the lots on the opposite side of the street.


  The Miami Marathon Station, built in 1929 has been completely restored.


  In the tiny town of Afton the Afton Station Packard Museum, formerly a D-X filling station, now houses 18 restored Packards  and Route 66 memorabilia.


Unfortunately it was closed and so we had to satisfy our curiosity by peeking in the windows.


   Afton population has never reached much over 1,000 people but during the years when it’s main street was Route 66 there were five motels, two cafes, two stores and two bars. I-44 bypassed the town in 1957 and except for the Packard Museum and a couple of antique stores the street is lined with empty buildings.