Blue Whale, Catoosa, OK

For the life of me I’m not sure WHY the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma has become one of Route 66’s must see locations.IMG_1145.jpgIt’s noted on ALL the lists. But, it was built in the early 1970’s, so it’s not even concurrent to the route’s hay-day, and on top of that it’s not even particularly impressive. IMG_1226It started off as a roadside attraction, a sort of very low rent amusement/water park…. (the whale offers multiple ways to slide in to the water) …. but when compared to pretty much ever amusement park or water park out there… I’m talking really really low rent.IMG_1225

AND, considering it’s supposed to be a water slide type thing, you’re not even allowed to swim in the water there anymore…

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It’s fairly close to The Nut House, which also for the life of me doesn’t deserve its acclaim. All I can thing of is that folks traveling the route are sort of desperate for things to see along it at time (there’s really NOT much in the way of mother nature to look at along this stretch of the road) and were grateful for almost anything diverting where they could stop and stretch their legs.

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That said, according to wikipedia it’s actually made it on to TV more than a few times (usually as part of a reality TV show).

The Nut House, Claremore, OK

One of the places that I kept hearing about as MUST see on Route 66 was The Nut House in Claremore Oklahoma and for the life of me I don’t know why.

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It’s a 40 year old store. As such it dates from 1978, when 66 was already being decommissioned, and is not even one located within interesting architecture. Why This is a must see makes about as much sense as saying ANY gift shop along the route is a must see.  It sells nuts, fresh fudge (tasty, but fudge) and has a deli. The goods for sale are a wider variety than one normally sees in these Route 66 places, but most of it was made in China so … a generic gift shop none-the-less.

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The ONLY interesting thing about this place is that it’s located adjacent to a store that sells RV’s which makes good sense as I’m sure more than a few people at this point are wishing they had one.

 

Pryor Creek Bridge Route 66, Chelsea, OK

I was driving down 66 (on the left lane) when I saw an exit off the right line for Old 66 and veered over to get to it (no traffic, it was safe), and came across this Pryor Creek Bridge, which was built in 1926, and I think it’s questionable that it is wide enough for two modern cars. fullsizeoutput_4c16.jpeg

Almost as soon as I got there there another driver pulled in right after me. He first asked if I was all right, he’d seen me veer than stop. I assured him I was, just being a tourist. Then he took this picture for me.

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Turned out he was a fellow Route 66 traveler … in fact this was his third time doing it, and he suggested an app for me should I ever want to do it again. Apparently this guy lives a lifestyle similar to my own and has even had bumper stickers made to that effect that he hands out to people he meets.

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None of the maps I’ve looked at mark this road as having been 66, the blue line NS-426 is what my GPS in my car saw, and see below for what google sees

Clanton’s Cafe, Vinita, OK

Clanton’s cafe on Route 66 in Vinita was one of the places I had marked as MUST try their foods… and I even planned my day to arrive there around dinner time… only to find it was closed!

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Clanton’s was one of the restaurants along the trek I was really looking forward to trying. This place has no shortage of accolades from TV and magazines, not to mention getting almost 5 stars on TripAdvisor and 4 on yelp. AND they’re supposed to have the best Chicken Fried Steak on Route 66, which is one of my favorite dishes

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But MY good luck, between me planning my trip and arriving there, they’d posted NEW hours which include being closed on Sundays. So

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Afton Station’s classic Packards, Afton, OK

Located directly on Route 66, The Afton Station Packard Museum, is yet another historic Gas station and mechanics shop that has been repurposed into a museum. This one is dedicated to the Packard and other classic cars — but I can’t tell you much as it was closed-up by the time I got there (4:30 ish on Sunday).

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That said, the town it is in is DEAD… to the point of scary; I’d say a good 80% of the businesses on this street are closed up and the few people that I saw (were more stumbling than) walking around all looked suspiciously like meth users.

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So between that and the weather, I was pretty motivated to not stay here too long. I did however peer through the windows, and from the look of it,

IMG_1127.JPGA very large gift shop that once again is mostly filled with EXACTLY the same merchandise I’ve seen elsewhere. IMG_1126.JPGAnd a collection that consists of seven cars shoved into the garage, with very little to no explanations. IMG_1129IMG_1128

OK-KS-MO Tri-State Marker, Joplin (OK, KS, MO)

This is what it says it is… within the borders of Joplin (MO) there is a fairly well hidden marker (not far off the old 66 route) that marks a spot where three states meet: Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. That said, it is seriously NOT easy to find. My car’s GPS couldn’t find it, and ultimately I had to resort to google maps (which won’t work if you don’t have data coverage in that area)

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It is located down very old heavily pot-holed (seriously, watch out or you’ll screw up the alignment of your wheels) road that is more gravel than asphalt, just off a roundabout. And alongside a large pillar (there’s nothing ON said pillar to explain why it’s there).

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I have a feeling that the reason the road is in such disrepair is because it’s sort of a no-mans land… the road to the monument lies RIGHT on the Missouri/Kansas border… although google maps puts it JUST at the edge of Missouri.

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[Am I the only one who always get confused between Missouri, MO…. Montana is MT … Massachusetts, MA and Mississippi, MS]

Route 66 Gateway Sign, Miami, Oklahoma

Just as you enter Miami Oklahoma you see this really nice Route 66 sign

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The Miami not the Miami of Florida but rather the Miami tribe which had originally lived in Indiana (where they are no longer recognized as a tribe) but were moved here. This relates to other places I’ve visited such as Tippecanoe Battlefield, at which point the Indians who had Tecumseh, were forced to move to here, in Oklahoma (i.e., Indian Territory) while the ones who did not support him and had decided to live like white men were allowed to stay in Indiana.

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Indian Territory Memorial, Quapaw, Oklahoma

The word Oklahoma actually translates in the Choctaw language to “red-person,” specifically, ukla=person and huma=red, and the entire territory had initially been ‘given’ by the US government as a territory intended solely for the tribes… and it is where the tribes from the southeastern states were marched towards on the Trail of Tears.

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This Memorial located directly upon the old Route 66 route marks one of the boundaries of “Indian Territory” a continually shrinking zone that the American government promised to leave to its native populations that at this point is more easily observable via the names of places than on the faces of its occupants.

Pops soda ranch, a service station with a difference, in Arcadia, Oklahoma

While a 66 roadside attraction, Pops Soda Ranch, having opened in 2007, is most clearly NOT so much an icon of Route 66’s heyday, so much as one of its rebirth. This ultra modern ode to the soda pop includes a 66 foot bottle of pop, in Neon (would love to see it at night, but didn’t manage that, maybe next time).

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Pops has a fairly impressive selection of of drink options (I didn’t see any alcohol)

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They have these 6 pack cases, and you can either buy 6 of one or mix and match them as your heart desires

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I’m sad to say these were the ONLY ginger beers I found that weren’t diet… the Sioux city one was a bit better (more ginger burn) than the “extra ginger” Cock and Bull, ironically enough. And for those who really don’t want soda there’s hot chocolate or mocha coffee

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Of course the place sells gas (I only saw a handful of folks filling up there) and they have a large selection of things to eat (I didn’t eat there)

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odds and ends you can buy (many of them route 66 oriented)… but let’s face most people are there to try all the different flavors of pop.

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