This is one of those seriously iconic Route 66 things. Numerous times along the route people had asked me had I seen it yet, or was I intending to go see it. It’s a barn, it is old, it is red, and unlike most barns it is round…. that’s about it
When I first arrived I was a bit excited about what I was going to see.
But, other than some placards on the walls that talk about it’s history….
From which I learned that back when they were building this there was a folk-belief that round barns were tornado proof, and that there had been a huge preservation movement in support of the barn that began in the 1970’s, which resulted in it being placed on the Register of Historic Places, … really not much of major interest was offered.
currently, the ground floor, for the most part…. it’s a great big shop full of junk… no seriously, the sort of stuff you find at flea markets in poor neighborhoods. (I didn’t bother taking photos of it) Well, that and some obligatory Route 66 stuff you could easily find on Amazon and pretty much EVERY other 66 stop, but that said… it is mostly junk. As a potential marketing space it is being completely wasted. WHY the community doesn’t make it gallery for promoting local artists or something of the like, I don’t know.
That said, the UPSTAIRS is GORGEOUS, and is rightly used a venue for weddings.
Located in Chandler Oklahoma on Route 66 in a beautiful building that once served as their national guard armory, is a museum dedicated to the Route 66 experience. Smartly, its designer looked at the other museums dedicated to 66 (the good and the not so good) and opted to compliment them rather than to repeat them … So, this exhibit is about the experience of some of the local high-points, rather than the road itself — for the low price of $5
I have got to admit, this is one of the better local attempts at a museum I’ve seen.
It has a docent, who, as soon as you walk in…. gives you a little tour of the place. First she talks a bit about the history of the building and it’s construction
Then she showed us the drill hall which has now been repurposed by the community for things like a wedding venue
and finally she took us into the exhibit hall and explained how the interpretive center works. She told us (me, and two women I had run into previously at Pops), about how they had hired a curator to design the space, and I could have told her that just based on layout. (As you guys all know nothing pisses me off more than museums that don’t even TRY to curate themselves). Less is more people, less is more…
The suggested way to start the exhibit, is a 20 minute movie (assuming you have the time) about a man originally from IL who made about his first trip on 66 in his 20s (in 1939 going road-tripping with a buddy to their university in Arizona). On that trip he had written letters to parents at every top along the way, and had taken photographs. Years later, when it was time to move his mom into managed care, upon clearing out the family home he found his mother had kept all the letters and post cards… and this stimulated in him a desire to do the trip a 2nd time, in 2000, now that he was retired. He did so, making a point of trying to stop at all the same motels (or finding out what had happened to them) and focusing on the differences between the two trips. With the help of a friend, a documentary was created which is being shown only in this museum (I looked for it on-line and couldn’t find it, other than references saying it was showing at the museum.
Then you move into a section where you can lie on beds (as though you were staying at one of the Route 66 motor homes), or sit in chairs (which were pulled from classic cars), And watch from a large selection of shorts (about 5 minutes or so each) on a variety of different topics
This one showed either a movie about renovating the Round Barn, that I had visited earlier that day, or a movie about the former icons that are no more — and the changing awareness of local communities and the government that these road side attractions actually need preserving as they are part of our history.
Per the suggestion of a friend, and one of those “places you need to check out on Route 66 lists” I stopped for a meal at the Rock Cafe in Stroud, Oklahoma. Not only is the Cafe original to the 66 experience (the place has been there since 1939, and used to be a Grey Hound Bus stop), but when the Pixar folks were doing their Route 66 road trip as research for the animated movie Cars, they came here, and so fell in love with the place’s owner, Dawn Welch, a Route 66 restoration activist who had moved to Stroud and bought the restaurant in large part to help resurrect the town… that they based one of the main characters for the movie on her; namely, the animated character Sally Carrera (shown as a blue, 2002 Porsche 911) the owner of the Cozy Cone Motel, who serves both as the love interest of/and protagonist against Lightning McQueen, was based almost entirely on .
I found YouTube video by her, where you a taste of what the Pixar folks saw
That said, she wasn’t there the day I visited, and odds are you won’t meet her either… so lets talk about the restaurant she owns.
I found the menu of the Rock Cafe to be far more upmarket/chef driven than I would have expected based on most of the other historic eateries in town (and more than a few of the dishes made me wonder about the German Heritage of Stroud)
Of course anyone know knows me well knows which of the items on this menu I went for (although I admit the Jagersnitzel & Spaetzle with cheese were calling to me)…. but I opted for food more in line with my dietary restrictions (low fat)
The Buffalo burger was ok. The meat patty was thin and crunchy rather than thick and juicy, and the amount of mustard they put on completely overwhelmed the flavor of the meat (which should have been the star of the dish). But it had a good bun…
After eating I checked out the gift shop and IF they had offered this T-shirt on a more feminine cut shirt (a V neck or a scoop neck) I would have purchased it…. but they didn’t.
It’s the Sally Carrera character that’s based on the Rock Cafe’s owner, in front of the cafe and a route 66 sign. (I’ve emailed the owner and she’s agreed she needs some women’s versions, hopefully she’ll get back to me when she has one and I’ll buy it on-line).
This is another one of those places where current maps tell you 66 is one road, when it’s deathly obvious that it’s not. As your driving along on a modern concrete highway bridge, off to the left there’s an antique metal one with a massive Route 66 sign on it.
I double backed to learn it was two lane bridge, brick paved bridge connected to what was the ORIGINAL route 66 in this area, i.e., the Ozark Trail .
…and the road that I took to get here is a deviation from that route… which can clearly be seen going off into the distance from the bridge (and cutting the 2nd leg of a sort of V from the road current maps tell me is 66).
When I got close to the bridge I found these guys their social media folks who have a blog page for the dogs and their dogs travel Route 66. When I doubled back to the other side I found the same couple with their dogs also trying to get onto the actual 66
These guys apparently travel all over take photos of their pups lined up in a row, and then sell them to people. I ran into them finishing off their Route 66 collection… they told me they don’t do it as one big trip, they do it section by section as fits their schedules.