Route 66 (Part II)

Thursday, I went home sick from work.  Some kind of stomach bug had taken hold of me and, although I was trying to get things accomplished at the office, everyone was like, ‘Dude, go home.’  So I did…and I rested.  Friday I still didn’t feel great, so I stayed home.  I hate missing work, but I’m glad I didn’t push myself.  I milled about the house and rested.  By the time Saturday morning arrived, I was feeling better; I was also feeling stir-crazy.  I needed to get out of the house and DO something.  So I went to breakfast.

I sat and ate my traditional bacon and egg breakfast at Brookside by Day and wondered what I was going to do with my Saturday.  It was a beautiful morning and the day was wide open.  When I finished eating, I got into the car and took off down Route 66, not really sure how far I was going to go.  I started by heading over to the Route 66 Pavilion off of Riverside, the place I stopped when I drove 66 from Miami, OK.  Heading down Southwest Blvd, I first passed the Route 66 Village.  The ‘village’ is a small area which consists of a restored steam engine locomotive, a few train cars, and an oil derrick nearly 200 feet tall to symbolize Tulsa’s first oil strike back in 1901.

Driving farther down the road, the old highway runs right through Sapulpa.  I’m not very familiar with this suburb of Tulsa; I never find a reason to come out here.  But I did know they had a restored trolley car somewhere in town, and sure enough, right along the highway was a restored, sheltered trolley car left over from the times when rail ferried passengers to and from Tulsa.  It was a short visit, as the actual area the trolley was kept was closed, so I decided to keep driving.  As I was exiting the city limits, I saw a great old steel truss bridge; a weakness of mine.  I pulled over and explored the bridge for a few minutes, noting the old brick pavement beneath my feet.  It had been closed earlier in 2013 for safety reasons, so I had it to myself.  I wonder how long it’ll be before it, too, is only a memory.

The landscape of Old 66 is peppered with towns I’ve heard my entire life in weather reports on the local news, and I saw many of them for the first time.  Kellyville, Bristow, Depew, Stroud, and others.  Although this stretch of highway wasn’t as dynamic as it was between Miami and Tulsa, each community did their best to grab their piece of Route 66 nostalgia and make it special.  Depew, a town of less than 500 people, sat with the most deserted downtown I’ve seen in a long time, but still had some signage signifying their pride in the town’s heritage.  Stroud is home to the Rock Cafe, a historic restaurant whose owner was an inspiration for the Pixar film ‘Cars’.  Davenport’s downtown is entirely brick paved and hosts many beautiful murals.  Arcadia has a famous round barn and Pops, a gas station/gift shop built around hundreds of soda flavors.

Once I realized I’d driven all the way to Oklahoma City, my focus moved to lunch.  I made a list a few months back of burgers in Oklahoma I needed to try and figured, since I’d come this far, I might as well go a little further.  An hour and a half later, I found myself at the foothills of the Wichita Mountains near Lawton, Oklahoma at a little place called Meers.  Recognized as one of the best burgers in the country, their burgers are made from Longhorn cattle raised by the same family that owns the restaurant.  They’re served in a pie tin and are extremely lean; I was pleased with my meal, to be sure.  They even serve R.C. Cola in mason jars!

Satisfied with my unexpected day trip, I drove back home along I-44.  Now that I’ve driven the two stretches of Route 66 that extend from Tulsa, I want to keep going.  Maybe one of these days I’ll make a weekend of it and go through Missouri, or perhaps back down through Texas and New Mexico.  I’ve been watching so much Breaking Bad lately I’d really like to explore more of Albuquerque…and I hear Santa Fe is an amazing place to visit.

About rhysfunk

Rhys Martin was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981. In 2009, he sold everything he owned and left the country, living out of a backpack for ten months. He discovered a passion for photography while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. After returning home, he looked at his home town and Oklahoma heritage with fresh eyes. When he began to explore his home state, Rhys turned his attention to historic Route 66. As he became familiar with the iconic highway, he began to truly appreciate Oklahoma’s place along the Mother Road. He has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. He has also driven many miles on rural Oklahoma highways to explore the fading Main Streets of our small towns. Rhys has a desire to find and share the unique qualities of the Sooner State with the rest of the world. Cloudless Lens Photography has been featured in several publications including This Land, Route 66 Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Inbound Asia Magazine, The Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World. Rhys loves to connect with people and share his experiences; ask him about enjoyable day trips from Tulsa, locations along Route 66, and good diners or burger joints along the way.
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