Last weekend, I didn’t have any road trip plans. I spent all day Saturday cleaning out the garage & organizing it so I could get the Mustang inside, in preparation for the inevitable Oklahoma storm season. Sunday was planned as a day of rest. As the morning wore on, I noticed the following week’s forecast called for a lot of rain. I began to feel antsy…so my plans changed. I grabbed my camera, hopped in the car, and headed out.
My first stop was in Guthrie, which is a little less than two hours away. I love the drive out there; the highway passes through a few traditional small Okie towns and I always have to fight with myself about whether or not I should stop in each one. I was too focused on my destination in Guthrie to really pay much mind as I passed through Drumright, Cushing, or any of the other places. When I arrived in Guthrie, the partially-cloudy skies had gone overcast. Normally, this distresses me, but I was too excited to let it get me down. I was in Guthrie to see a bridge, one I’d never seen before even though I’d been there a dozen times or more. The main bridge heading west out of downtown had ANOTHER bridge underneath it; it was actually a double-decker! A friend of mine had shared a photo of it on Facebook a few weeks ago and I was shocked. How did I miss this?!
The bridge was extremely easy to find once I knew where I was going; I’d walked RIGHT by it when I visited for the Gentlemen of the Road festival back in 2013. When the bridge was built in the 1930s, they designed the upper deck (the one I’d crossed so many times) to cater to through traffic, whereas the lower deck was designed for local traffic. Since both bridges more-or-less deposited vehicles at the same place and the lower deck was susceptible to delays from the railroad track, it was no longer in use. Still, it’s highly unusual for a town of 10,000 to have such a bridge, and it’s in pretty good shape. I was able to climb around the banks of Cottonwood Creek and take photos without any trouble. A train even came by while I was there, which always makes me happy. It was a very successful stop; one I celebrated by getting some coffee and chocolate at my favorite local shop, Rick’s Fine Chocolates. If you ever find yourself in Guthrie, do yourself a favor and stop in! Super nice folks and EXCELLENT goodies.
My next stop was in Arcadia, on good old Route 66. A friend of mine recently opened up a shop next door to the iconic Round Barn and I wanted to see it for myself. Joel made and repaired neon signs, and the Route was the perfect home for a shop. He turned a historic mercantile building into a shop and studio, the perfect place for traveling roadies to take a few minutes to admire the lost art of glass bending. It’s a beautiful stretch of 66 and the Bradford Pear trees were in full bloom. The building, which I’ve seen many times before, is now freshly painted and bright instead of worn and empty.
When I walked in the front door of Glassboy Studios, I was welcomed with a hearty handshake and a tour. Joel even let me take a look at the glass he was working on; I even got to toy with some myself! The shop looked just as fantastic inside as it did on the outside. I can imagine that he will see quite a bit of tourist traffic this year, which bodes well for his little gift shop. Not only does it feature t-shirts (also of his own design) but some artwork and photography from some well-known Route 66 folks. We talked about featuring some of my photography, which will be happening soon!
On the way back home, I made a stop at another bridge in Warwick. Although this was right off Route 66, I’d never noticed it even though it was visible off the main road. Another bridge hiding in plain sight! It’s a classic through-truss on a dirt road, surrounded by farmland. The deck and the steel girders are tinted with the traditional Oklahoma red dirt and the clouds had a lovely, low-hanging texture by the time I was exploring the span. As the Deep Fork River trickled by beneath me, I stood and took it all in. Birds were chirping & the distant pasture was a vibrant green, providing a nice contrast for the red at my feet. All of the ingredients for spring were here; it wouldn’t be long and the landscape would be transformed with it.
I hadn’t planned my last stop, but since I was close I figured, “Why not?” Outside of Stroud, I pulled off the Mother Road to say hello to my old friend, the Lincoln County Express. The old child-size locomotive sat there in the weeds, defiant as ever. Luckily for me, a Bradford Pear had started to bloom right next to it. What a lovely way to showcase the rejuvenation of another growing season next to the hearty resilience of our heritage! I’m so glad I took that day trip, as it also helped to rejuvenate ME as well. I have a few more trips planned soon, ones that will take me out into the panhandle of the state for the first time. I can’t wait to share that experience with you!