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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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Rt 66 trip

Day 17 – Rt 66 trip

When you take a trip like we are, you learn as you go, especially about the questions you should have asked when making reservations. Night before last I mentioned I might not have internet when we got into Grand Canyon Park. Well, I didn’t know how accurate that statement would turn out to be. Bob had trouble getting emails on his phone, I didn’t. We could only connect one device in a room at a time, but then it didn’t work. I’m sure you’ve seen that thing on Facebook in the past few months; could you go without internet for a year? Well, maybe if I planned ahead, but if one is trying to blog daily and your husband is trying to be available to his boss when he’s on a month long vacation, the Grand Canyon is not the place to go. I finally posted yesterday’s blog about 7:30 pm, Arizona time. Vent over!

Packing the suitcase and getting in the car daily is starting to wear us out. It was nice to take the train yesterday and just sit. We slept late this morning deciding we didn’t need to pay for another tour. While still in the room I could see different birds in the woods behind our room. One was the size of a big sparrow, but was blue. I didn’t get a picture, but will look it up when we get home. There were also Ravens. A bit bigger than a crow with a hooked beak. They are professional beggars. Our bags were picked up from our room on the south rim and then delivered back to the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams. That’s service.

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We wandered around the public areas of the South Rim today, visiting different buildings, sights, and seeing the canyon from different spots. There are shuttle buses that will take you from place to place, free of charge. A constant, other than people, were the squirrels. There are signs everywhere with warnings not to feed them. They are known to be the most dangerous animal in the park because of their aggressiveness and bites. They often carry rabies. We took a picture because they are so different from our grey squirrels in western New York state.

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I also took a picture of a cactus, maybe it’s a succulent, because that’s one plant I don’t have at home.

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Below is a noon-time picture that shows more of an expanse of the canyon.

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Below is a picture Bob took. The clouds are gone and you can see a thin line through the center of the photo. That is a hiking trail. We didn’t see any people on it. While writing post cards to the grandchildren this morning I realized I am a bit afraid of the viewing spots that have no protection from falling over the edge.

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A lot of our view today was near the Bright Angel Lodge where we had lunch, at 2 pm. We asked for a table at 1:30 and were told the wait would be about 20 minutes. That wait turned into a little over half and hour. The couple behind us, from Bozeman, Montana, were also hurrying to get on the same train back to Williams that we were so we invited them to join us at our table instead of waiting for one of their own. Richard and Shirley are still Harley riders, as we used to be, and I have a love affair with Montana, so there was plenty to talk about while we kept checking our watches.  Lunch at the Harvey House Cafe was good even if the service was a bit slow. They were busy.

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As soon as we finished lunch we headed for the train.  IMG_1461

Above: inside our bubble on the train. Christina was our hostess today and Clyde sang us some tunes. We saw antelope on the way back to Williams, and yes, I had another Nutty Almond to drink. Bob had another local beer. He is taking a picture of each one and will post a city by city, beer by beer collection once we get home. If you want me to share it, please leave a note in my comments box. Below is a picture of the bubble car from the outside. It is considered first class, so we had a “free” champagne toast today, to our military, the Grand Canyon, and the US with all its faults and strengths.

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Back at the hotel in Williams, we retrieved my pillow from the car, then sat a while in our room so I could finally post yesterdays events. Now I am writing in the lounge, where we had pizza and a night cap. The service wasn’t wonderful tonight, but the pizza was good and there is blues playing in the background. All good!

Since I didn’t take many pictures today I thought it would be a good time to share how I take my notes, they are from the 9th, then end up giving you all the details. I don’t expect you to be able to read my hen scratch, sometimes I have trouble deciphering it myself.

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When I post this we will be back up to date. Bob and I can have an early night, thankful for life, each other and the internet.

 

 

 

 

Day 16 – Rt 66 trip

The organization at the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams, AZ, was a pleasure for me to be a part of. We had to have one suitcase apiece packed and by a certain door by 8:30 am. That meant two things; we had to get up to an alarm clock, and we had to leave some things in the car, like my pillow, the little cooler and our dirty clothes. We buried our computers safely in the middle of our clothing to take them with us.

The vacations package we bought gave us breakfast this morning, along with about 200 other people. The buffet, pictured below, was extensive and I enjoyed my veggie omelet slathered with guacamole. Each table got their own coffee carafe. I can’t imagine how many line the shelves when not in use.

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From there all the people taking the train to the South Rim Hotel run by Xanterra went outside to see the “Wild West Show.” Well, it wasn’t wild, and I don’t think I know anyone that would have played one of the parts of an old-time cowboy, but it was entertaining and a great way to get everyone to the train on time. They pulled the tourist out of the crowd and accused him of cheating at a card game. He was a good sport.

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Our car hostess was a cute young redheaded female that made the trip lively. She gave us lots of reasons it was all right to have a drink at 10 am. When she came to take orders she asked where everyone was from. Small world she went to the same central school, Wayland-Cohocton, I did for five years, and also lived in Wellsville, near where Bob grew up.

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Above: Our train, we rode in a bubble, or on the top floor of a two floor car.

Below: my toasted almond.

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The 2 ½ hour train ride took us 65 miles further north to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It took so long because they only do 40 miles an hour and sometimes slower. For us, having just driven three days through arid lands and then coming into trees again, the ride was a repeat of that scenery. It was relaxing and we had an older gentleman named Syd play a Roy Rodgers and a Gene Autry tune on his ukulele while he sang for us.

As soon as we got off the train, we got on a bus for a tour that included lunch in the Maswik Lodge cafeteria. Our driver, Terry, was a lot of fun and told us things we didn’t know about the Grand Canyon National Park. It is the only park in the US that has its own village including a school, clinic, magistrate, fire station, employee cabins, grocery store for employees, bank, (a gift shop in every building) and a cemetery. You have to have worked in the park for a specific number of years in order to be buried there.

The bus tour took us to two different lookout stations that were not accessible by car. I didn’t write the names down so will just post the best of my pictures. They are all taken a few feet from any ledge, most of which had no guard rails or fences. No wonder people fall off.

 

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One of the fun things we have been doing is meeting new people. After a short rest this afternoon, we went to dinner with a couple from California that we had been talking to during the day. He is in construction and she just retired so we had a lot in common. Before we went to our table in the El Tovar Lodge, we took sunset pictures outside. I’ll post four as the light changes.

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The El Tovar Lodge was the first hotel in the park. It is majestically beautiful, and our dinner was the best. I had a strip steak, pepper jack cheese au gratin potatoes and broccolini. We were all too full for dessert. It happened to be Gene and Gail De Young’s anniversary and Bob’s birthday is Friday, so we shared the celebration.

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I think everyone should see the Grand Canyon once. It is so huge it’s indescribable. There are many tours you can pay for, and also shuttle buses if you want to make your own way around. It is a busy place until the sun goes down and then the public areas are barely lit. We had to use the flashlights on our cell phones to safely walk to the bus station where we caught a ride back to the main lodge, then we had to walk to our rooms in separate buildings still using the flashlights. They have this thing about light pollution, but in my opinion it was unsafe especially with all the unevenness of the paths.

If you are a hiker, or interested in riding a mule into the canyon the visit would be even more enjoyable. One can purchase a permit to hike in and camp. We saw elk very close to the employee village and I was unable to get a good picture of the mules in their paddock, but Bob got one of a mule in training. They have quite an extensive crew to take care of the animals.

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Day 15 – Rt 66 trip

We got up when all the people walking past our door and slamming car doors woke us. Some hotels are just better than others. Last nights was the old model with all the doors outside and a parking lot between two buildings so every noise reverberated off the walls. Oh well, it was time to get up anyway. We had a small breakfast that came free with our nights stay.

We backtracked on Rt.40 to visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. It was worth every penny of the $20.00 fee. One scenery picture is as good as or different in some way to the one before. Even the little kids were going, “Wow,” when they saw the sights over the railings.

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Painted desert. Needs no other explanation except the pictures don’t do it justice. It was cloudy and misty the whole time we were there. Some sunshine would have made everything more vibrant.

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Another view.

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And another. Sorry my finger likes to get in the shots.

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More depth.

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Below was taken straight down over a railing. The shiny copper color at the bottom center is a petrified tree. You must see these views for yourself to appreciate them.

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The blackness comes from volcanic rock and basalt.

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So much of 66 in this area is buried under Rt. 40, not driveable anymore, or inaccessible on Native American lands, but going through Winslow, Arizona, the route is alive and well for a few miles. We guess it is probably the most famous corner of the whole route because of the Eagles song, Take It Easy, which mentions standing on the corner. Some guys that had just arrived on their Harley’s took this picture for us. Everyone was very friendly and having a good time. The eagle on the window sill and the couple seen above us are paintings. Really good ones.

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Below is Glen Fry, one of the musicians in the Eagles band.

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A brewery down the street was serving lunch to football fans, beer fans, and travelers. Bob and I both ordered a salad.

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The server brought us our beers and said the glasses looked different but were both 16 oz. We told her we would share a water so she brought a large mug and two straws. It was just like being at the old fashioned soda fountain again.

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We got back on Rt. 40 and decided we didn’t need another gift shop or similar museum to what we had already seen, so headed to Flagstaff. Below is a mountain that loomed large on the horizon and the fields were still arid. There were signs to watch for Elk and deer, but we were lucky enough not to see any.

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That mountain range is getting closer and now we have fur tree lined roadways.

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The closer we got to the mountains, the less easy it became to get another picture. We did stop so Bob could put a coat on. We had the top down and the temp had fallen to 68 degrees. There’s a pretty good wind chill when you are going 75 mph. We hadn’t seen any real trees in three days.

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Tonight we are sleeping in Williams, AZ, in the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. The building is a huge and shaped like a baseball diamond with a nice courtyard in the middle. The ticket office and restaurant are in different buildings so we are getting our steps in. We bought a package so  had dinner in the buffet room. I had penne pasta with pesto sauce and shrimp and a salad. Dessert was a apple pie ala mode.

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Singing folk songs during our meal was Jason. We sat and listened until he finished for the evening. I got another spurt of country music. Live at that. You can tell how good he is by the over flowing tip basket, and a lot of those bills are fives.

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The internet has been going off and on all evening. Tomorrow we are going into the park and will stay on the South Rim. I don’t know how the internet will work, so if I miss a day, check my regular Facebook page at Sue Carmichael Spitulnik for pictures.

 

Day 14 – Rt 66 trip

Do you know the meaning of guide? We learned today that our EZ66 guide is just that. A guide meant to lead, but it is NOT professional exactness because businesses close, schedules change and volunteers choose not to do as they have said they will. Plus, the author of the guide is only able to drive the route every few years so the information isn’t always up to date. Keep that in mind as you go through each of our days.

This morning, once again, we had a little trouble finding Rt. 66 as we left Albuquerque, but once we did, we thought we were on our way. Wrong! We came to a spot where we should have turned, but we decided to go straight because there were no signs to direct us. We saw the sign that said “no outlet” and thought it meant no access to Rt 40 rather than dead end. Well, we ended up on a barely paved, narrow road that was like driving on a washboard. There was a silver Nissan that followed us till I told Bob to pull over and let him pass. It felt like we traveled 20 miles, but it was probably two, at 15 to 35 mph. Then we came to a fence and our only choice was to turn into a one lane underpass that went under Rt. 40. We didn’t like the option, but it took us back to Rt. 66 and then we drove for miles at 55 mph with little traffic coming at us and little behind us.

IMG_1286Above and below, typical scenery in New Mexico. Lots of buttes, and redness.

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And then you go around a huge curve and the “dirt” becomes black. Still beautiful, but different.

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An underpass, but a planned two lane one, very friendly compared to the one lane we entered earlier in the morning.

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Below, inside the graffiti covered underpass. This one wasn’t full of glass and debris.

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Coming out of the underpass into a big curve. After the one lane one earlier, this one was almost a piece of cake.

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More red dirt buttes. These pictures are being taken with my phone so you can imagine the beauty if I had had a real camera or you had seen them in person.

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Another butte, the train cars give a better perspective of the vastness.

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And then the Continental Divide. A note of interest. Along the highway, in Mew Mexico and Arizona, when you exited a work zone there was a thank you sign to the company that did the road work. Nice touch. There were also signs indicating a damaged guard rail ahead. If they did that in New York, you would see a sign every mile or so.

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The sign below is a bit of irony. Historic 66 lives in the minds of many, but it is actually only in existence in bits and pieces. We are surprised that the amount of money it brings in through tourism, that  more signs aren’t posted so it is easier to follow.

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Back to scenery, now in Arizona.

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We stopped in Gallup, AZ so we could visit the Rex Museum to learn more about the Navajo Code Talkers that served during WWII. Unfortunately it is not open on weekends. The picture below was hanging above our table where we had lunch. We did stop at the Gallup Cultural Museum which gave us a hint of creativity of the Navajo when it comes to sand painting and weaving. As we left there two teen girls approached us and asked if we wanted to take home a kitten. When they walked towards us we expected them to ask for money or the like. We explained we were traveling and they apologized for bothering us.

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Above, Jerry’s Cafe. We waited in line at 2 pm with the locals.

Below; chili rellenos. I knew I would get better Mexican dishes in this part of the country. Delicious.

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The other diners at Jerry’s. I have to admit a blue eyed caucasian is not the norm in Arizona. I am having to rethink my old belief that USA citizens all look alike.

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We moved on to Holbrook, AZ where we went to the Painted Desert Quilts shop. I was so taken with the quilt top below, I forgot to take a picture of the store sign. We got some more fabrics for our memory quilt.

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We checked in to our hotel about 4:30 pm then took a nap. Having had a big lunch, we decided to look for a bar to have a couple of drinks and a conversation. We tried the Empty Pockets Saloon first, then moved to the Corral. Roland was our bartender and we met Larry, who they soon asked to leave. He wasn’t a problem, but had been there too long. He was telling us all sorts of stories, so we were glad he left. Next, the young man that sat next to us was from England. Sit down if you aren’t….he was in the silver SUV that we let pass us this morning. He was also born in a town just a few miles from the town my daughter was born in, in Suffolk county, England. It is indeed a small world. We had a grand time talking with him, and then the band started and we got in some dancing to a live-music, country band. Side note, the band, us and maybe a third of the crowd was caucasian, the rest were Latino or Native American. We met Crystal who was doing a promotion for a specific alcohol distributor and she introduced us to the owner, Mark, who stood about 6′ 7″ and probably weighed close to 400 lbs. While we danced, he sat at an out of the way table and just watched the crowd. I imagine he could move fast if any trouble presented itself. We saw about seven cars pulled over while we were there. The rodeo was in town and the police were busy. It was a fun, fun evening and we didn’t want to leave.

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Below, a picture embossed under the shellaced bar surface. And only one guy in the whole crowd mentioned Bob’s mustache while we were there.

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Day 13 – Rt. 66 trip

The last picture I posted last night was of our new Irish acquaintances dancing. After the musicians finished, four of them and we went to dinner, at different tables, in the hotel dining room. The restaurant called, Peace, Love and Avacado, had a full, interesting menu. What I didn’t take a picture of was my southwest chicken salad. Some of you are telling us we will have to diet when we get home and some are even claiming we are making you gain weight. I want you to know that when we aren’t eating we are usually in the car, getting to another tourist stop, which I share with you, or another food stop. Today I took quite a few pictures from the car to prove we are doing something other than eating.

But first; our guide book let us down again. We went to the Rt. 66 Diner in Albuquerque only to find the open sign not turned on and the door being “guarded” by a very thin, seemingly old female that we guessed was a street person. On the loading dock next door there were two young men that also seemed to be street people. They had looks that said, you lock your car, we will still relieve it of its goods. I was glad the diner wasn’t open. We asked Siri where to eat and she sent us to The Shop. We had to order our food at the counter, and for the second time on our trip I was told, “We don’t serve decaf.” Bob got a burrito that was huge because it was filled with potatoes and I got my “usual,” Huevos Rancheros. As usual it was different than any I have had, but delicious. I ate most of it.

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Our next stop was at a very nice quilt shop in Corrales, NM. I got more fabric for this trip’s memory quilt and Bob had a grand time chatting with the ladies. One of the fabrics has “cat”tus on it. Bob groaned. I bought it. We will be getting a new cat, or two, when we finish our travels.

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I haven’t found any good bathroom signs lately, so thought I would post this one for the ladies. Eleanor Roosevelt was a “tuned in” woman and the saying is too true.

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Leaving Corrales, I was able to get a picture of a typical adobe style house. All day I kept saying, “They are so small and they are all the same color.” Very few have an actual grass yard. It gives, go outside and play in the dirt, a whole new meaning.IMG_1247

The mountains off in the distance were beautiful. Most were so far away, they were lost in the haze, but this one was pretty close.

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We dove highway 25 North to Santa Fe. Again the speed limit was 75 mph. Places are  spread out, but still accessible.

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A first floor retail store and upper floor apartment in Santa Fe. The same color as everything else. Not to my liking.

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We found Marcy Street and discovered the town square of shops, street musicians, local jewelers trying to sell their creations and very interesting people to watch. Bob told me if I saw something I wanted in one of the stores to not hesitate. I decided the fur coat I loved in one of the shops, for $3,400.00 might make him have a heart attack, so I didn’t buy it. I did tell him about it, but he didn’t tell me to go back and get it.

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So many jewelers and musicians with Spanish or Native American backgrounds, and here is a blue eyed, blond, cellist. Bob listened to the chamber music he was playing while I drooled over the furs.

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A church. I know nothing more except it’s the same color as every other building.

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Leaving Santa Fe on highway 25 north. Some beautiful scenery.

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Another shot of scenery on 25 north.

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The small town of Pecos is also on 25. This is what I call a full service stop. Food, liquor, groceries, gas, and the necessary room. I didn’t see any ammunition, but it might have been there.

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We were getting short on time so we decided to take Rt 3 south to Rt 40 to get back to the hotel. Well, we had a beautiful, peaceful ride mostly by ourselves on a road through the mountains. The curves kept us at 30 mph for the first half of the route, so it was not a shortcut, but we didn’t mind. We crossed many “cattle or deer guards,” that were as rough as a bad train crossing. (Deer grates, mostly derived from the cattle guards long used on ranches, allow your driveway to stay open while keeping out the deer. They do this by placing a massive grate in the ground that deer generally will not or cannot cross.) We eventually ended up back on Rt. 40 so stopped at Clines Corners, a truck stop that touts it is the largest in New Mexico. We concur. I found some slippers I have been looking for and some good postcards.

The picture below of a turtle is especially for our friend Rhonda. It’s not as nice as the painted one we found. but it’s pretty unique.

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We hadn’t eaten since breakfast to we stopped in Moriarty because Siri told us this place was good. We can agree. The building is the same color, but the semi-like trailer next door where they do all the food preparation was shinny red and silver. Dinner, shown below, was excellent. We have enough left overs for a snack in the morning before we get on the road.

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My two sides are potato salad, which is like a lumpy mashed with seasonings and relish, and the other is a chopped coleslaw. It has seasonings I can’t decipher, but I enjoyed it. See, another vegetable. The corn bread was dry and crumbly, but yummy.

While at the Wild West, I had the chance to talk to a deputy. He said the bars on the windows and doors is “just a thing.” The crime in the local area is not all that bad.

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We ended our day in the hotel lounge with a couple of “toddies.”

Day 12 – Rt 66 trip

I want to take a minute to thank a couple of people that have helped make this blog process a fun thing to do. I belong to an international writing group called Carrot Ranch Literary where we write 99 word flash fiction stories. Charli Mills is the lead buckaroo. She led a writing retreat in Vermont this past July that I was lucky enough to attend and she introduced me to an author by the name of Craig Childs. Craig’s books are step by step “walks” through canyons in Southwest USA. He wrote about a time his walking partner looked for him and he was scribbling in his notebook. From that example I learned to scribble in a notebook at all our meals, during tourist breaks, and in the hotel room. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to give you all the details I do, sort of in the right order. Also at that retreat was Ann Edall-Robson. She had a camera with her and took many pictures of the same thing then later picked one picture to share. So I take many shots, and before I send the pictures from my phone to my computer, I check for the best ones and delete the extras. You, my friends, get the details and the best. Thanks for sharing our trip with us and thank you Charli and Ann for teaching me.

Bob and I live in a suburb of Rochester, NY. The Monroe county population is 748,000. We have nice neighborhoods and not so nice, but I have never seen the number of examples of expected crime as I have since we hit Oklahoma. The below sign was at our hotel in Amarillo, but we have been noticing bars on windows, businesses with not only fences, but barbed wire on top of the fences. The farther into the southwest, the more noticeable the security becomes, even on personal, inexpensive real estate. What a sad testament to our current society.

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We enjoyed our dinner at the Big Texan last night so much, we went back for breakfast. Once again there were big rigs parked along the side street. If the truckers get off the highway to eat someplace, you can bet it’s good. We could get close enough to the building for good pictures this morning.

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Just west of Amarillo, Texas is the Cadillac Ranch. The story goes, a rich man bought a Cadillac years ago and it was a lemon. He got mad and buried it nose first in his field. To prove his point, he continued doing it. I don’t know when the “tagging” started, but found out today you have to take your own paint, park 200 yards away and walk to the site. Last week some “person” decided to burn one of the cars. Today it is almost all covered in paint again. The only real damage was melting the tires off the rims. (Rhonda, it’s all right!)

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Below is the line of cars. All but the front one have their tires.

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We have seen little trash in the fields and along the roads, except here. Loads of empty paint cans and smashed remnants. Sad, but almost expected.

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You never know who will talk to next on the Mother Road. The fellow that owns the van shown below is from Switzerland. We figured him to be in his mid to late thirties. He shipped the vehicle and his Rhodesian Ridgeback (hound) dog over so he could travel Rt. 66. We didn’t get a chance to ask if the dog had to go through a quarantine process. We did ask which language the dog answered better to. The answer was, “It’s about equal.”

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As we left Amarillo, the speed limit went up to 75 mph. Among the windmills, cows, and brown range, here goes a UPS truck down the road in front of us at 75 mph.

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We made our first stop in New Mexico in the town of Tucumcari. Below is a typical RV park. Really! No trees, no pool, no nothing, except a place to park. Not to my liking. And my niece and her husband are now traveling through the mountains in Washington state. Now that’s some scenery compared to this.

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Below is the inside of the Pow Wow Restaurant and Lizard Lounge also in Tucumcari. Take a look at the booth and figure out how many people are eating. Four, right? Wrong. The older couple are painted on the wall. They fooled us too. The paintings above the booths are top notch. The next picture is a mural of the Lizard Lounge. We were disappointed we didn’t get to experience the night life there.

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Below is a new apartment building in the same town. Bob works in construction so we are always interested in buildings, bridges and steel structures. He sent this picture to his office to see if they were interested in building this type of structure in New York. You can guess the answer. Next to our car, on that truck, is our needed Wyoming license  plate. We are still missing some of the east coast states and Hawaii.

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Below is a good example of how, even residences, are barred and locked.

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Our three hundred miles to cover today, that we thought would be a grueling day in the car, turned into only 4 1/2 hours with the 75 mph speed limit. The roads might be a little bumpy, but they are straight for the most part. We did change elevation gradually, which I only realized because my ears popped a couple of times. We got in to Albuquerque about 4 pm. I took a quick nap, a shower, and now I am writing this is in a jumping hotel lounge with live music as an accompaniment. The bar tender is ridiculously slow, but the “floor show” is great, and we even got to dance to a Patsy Cline song, before dinner!

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Ray and Eva performing in the lounge with only a lead guitar and a tamborine. They played old country, spanish folk songs, and other songs the crowd knew.

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The crowd, some from a tour traveling on a Carolina Tours bus, some from the local area, and us. What a blast. Now we need some dinner in the restaurant located in the hotel. And I’ll get to bed before 11 pm. Yeah.

Day 11 – Rt. 66 trip

Let me start with a moment of silence for the 9-11 victims; the ones who died, the ones who live but suffer from PTSD and all their families and loved ones. On this date, 5 years ago, I lost a dear friend. Bear with me while I remember Dack, Howard Ackerly Stapley. I am fortunate to be able to stay in touch with his wife and daughter.

Bob knowing how the late nights were getting to  me decided today we would stay on Rt. 40, doing 75ish miles an hour, only make our morning and lunch stop and get into Amarillo, Texas, in time for me to do laundry, start my blog, then go to supper and maybe find some country music. Read on to see if he accomplished his goal.

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Red dirt in many places in Oklahoma. This was in Elk City on a new road project.

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We had breakfast at Pedro’s. Above is their colorful, carved and painted booths. I love the colors and happy feeling. Below on the left is Bob’s Mexican skillet which he really enjoyed. Closer to you is my huevos rancheros. This is a favorite of mine and I haven’t had it the same way twice from restaurant to restaurant. You’ll see more examples.

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After breakfast we went to Elk City’s National Rt. 66 museum and Old Town Museum Complex. If you are from western New York state and have been to the Genesee Valley Country Museum, it was much like that. It had many examples of the old buildings, offices, and trades. Because we had seen Jesse James hideout in Missouri, the following wanted poster fascinated me. Do you know how much $25,000.00 was worth back then? I guess the railroad could afford it.

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Below is a 1953 Lincoln Continental. You figure out why the date is important to me.

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Below is an example of an exam table in a dispensary. Notice the overhead light. The instruments and set up seemed so archaic it gave me the willies.

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Below is an Elk City train depot replica. The elevation says 1920 feet. That is interesting because even though the terrain seemed so flat to us, my ears “popped” due to the elevation.

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Above is an old fashioned windmill display and below a fence made out of wagon wheels, tractor seats, and tools. I love the creativity of the fence. I’ll bet one could pick up these old tools at antique shops and make a unique fence for your personal use.

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We are glad we didn’t miss this complex in Elk City. We wouldn’t have known how nice it was if we did, but we felt like the time spent there was well worth it.

We got back on Rt. 40 and traveled on to McLean, Texas, to the Devil’s Rope/Old Rt 66 Museum. Devil’s rope is barbed wire. I grew up in farm country, I know what barbed wire is, or thought I did. Yesterday in the cowboy museum we found out there were probably 100 different kinds of barbed wire. Today that information was solidified. The tools used to make it and then string it to make fences are almost as varied at the wire itself. What an education. I took the picture below to show once again, how popular Rt. 66 is with both Americans and non-Americans, besides, the Texas shaped plaque lets you know how far west we have traveled.

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In the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, in the USA, Burma Shave was a popular men’s shaving cream. Below is an example of their unique advertising. In many locations, including where I grew up, one could read these signs, spaced every so many feet apart, as you traveled along a road, until you got the whole sentence. They all ended with “Burma Shave.”

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Below is a photo of the only “Cottage Court” between Oklahoma City and Tucumcari, New Mexico in 1923. I imagine the tourists that could afford to make the trip in those days, in an automobile, were the affluent. Looking at all the memorabilia and then talking about the ease of life and traveling we can do today made us feel very privileged.

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Still in the McLean museum I almost spoke to this “waitress” as a female was called back then. Notice the white uniform and counter set with glass plates and silver. If you have a touch screen you can enlarge the menu and see a 1/4 chicken dinner is only $.90. Since she refused to speak back to me, we bought some postcards and got back on the highway.

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We made it to Pam’s Quilting Corner at 3:30 pm. I am planning to make a Rt 66 quilt and this shop netted me six different fabrics for the project. Linda cut the fat quarters for me and in the course of conversation we took her down memory lane as her father was a 33 year Air Force veteran. Bob being an Army vet and myself the ex of an Air Force vet we had a lot in common. It’s fun to reminisce with someone who has moved as much as I have and been to some of the same bases around the globe. It was almost hard to leave. In the parking lot was the pink SUV pictured below, next to our red baby. When we pulled into Pam’s parking lot Bob’s comment was only a quilter would drive that color car. We didn’t find out who it actually belonged to, but Bob insisted I include it. Personally, I don’t care for that color on a car; it would be great in a blouse or as a flower in a quilt.

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I have to admit one of my foibles is sometimes entering the wrong information into MAPS on my phone and we end up in an unexpected place. When we left the quilt shop I entered what I thought was the address for the hotel. When we arrived, we were in a not so nice part of town, and in a very rutted driveway of an unloved tiny house. We were glad no one came out and started yelling at us while I figured out what information I had given incorrectly. Bob was nice and just said we were sight seeing in Amarillo and we drove back the eight miles we had gone and went the other way a couple more. Sometimes it’s a good thing we are long married and not on our first date.

Tonight we are staying in a very new Best Western.  It is contemporary, spacious, and very comfortable. I took a picture of the hallway rugs as an idea for a modern quilt. I also had the opportunity to do a load of laundry because I needed to. During the cycles I finally wrote postcards I have been collecting for the grandchildren. They will probably all arrive at the same time.

When the laundry was done, and Bob finished working for a couple of hours we drove back across town to the Big Texan Steak Ranch. Oh my goodness it was delicious. The parking lot had multiple semi’s lined up on the back street because the truckers were eating there too.

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Above is the inside of the Big Texan, full of visitors and decorated with animal heads. Our server, Mike, told us they projected to serve 1,600 meals today counting breakfast, lunch and dinner. The beers are from their brewery and the desserts looked good enough to order one of each. Luckily we have limited space, so left the desserts there. My prime rib was about the best I have ever had and Bob’s strip was also very good.

Below, are two gentlemen that sang us a Willie Nelson tune while we dined. They were aged, excellent musicians and I finally got a taste of country music in Texas. It was a restful, though still as long, day.

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In the gift shop of the Big Texan is this pretty creature. No trip to the southwest would be complete without seeing at least one rattle snake. Let’s hope it’s the only one.

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Day 10 – Rt 66 trip

We are having to admit, we can’t see it all. When I made all the plans for the excursion I rarely had us traveling over 200 miles a day. Except I figured all that out using maps which calculates highways. I didn’t know Rt. 66 would be hard to locate and follow from town to town. I didn’t know the speed limit would be about 45 mph in most places and I didn’t allow enough time at each stop. So, ten days in, we are getting to our destination later than expected so take the next morning to explore it which gets us on our way to the next hotel about noon. Gotta figure out a way to break the cycle.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Bob and I both like to eat. Diners and good food abound. Tally’s was our breakfast spot this morning. April took good care of us. The retro decor was the best we’ve seen and the employees seemed to like being at work. I had a Popeye Omelette which had spinach, bacon, onions, and mushrooms inside. Bob had the Tally’s Bomb plate. Both were delicious and huge portions. We ate our leftovers for lunch.

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Bob had the Tally’s Bomb plate.

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Retro look inside Tally’s Cafe.

After we ate we went looking for the Rt 66 Harley Davidson store. Bob still wears all his Harley shirts and the good polo shirt he has needs to be retired. The picture of the bench that is the lead photo for today was in the store. Bob did get a new shirt. It will probably show up in a picture before this trip is over.

Next we went in search of the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza. He is considered the “Father” of Rt. 66 because he was instrumental in bringing together representatives from all the states involved to build a continuous road from Chicago to California. Below, with a messy background, is a statue depicting the change from horse drawn buggy to automobile. The statue was life size, detailed and a beautiful piece of art.

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A walking bridge with the Tulsa Medical Center in the background. And you know who in the foreground. We heard no sirens last night.

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I have mentioned the EZ66 Guide we are following. The guy in the blue shirt is its author. Jerry McClanahan lives in Chandler, OK. He is an artist as well as an author. In the guide is says to stop by and meet him and he will autograph the guide for you. He was very friendly, gave us some updates on road changes, and was happy when we bought a print of one of his paintings. He could flip through the pages of the book like it was his child’s baby book.

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Our next stop was in Arcadia, to see the Round Red barn above. It was built by slaves in 1898. A pencil drawing of the innards had Bob figuring prices. Below is just a contrast in size of our Mini Cooper to a tour bus. It made us smile, so we had to share.

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Also in Arcadia is a 66 foot pop bottle replica. The store and diner it advertises is called POPS. They have any flavor pop you can think of. Who knows what some of them taste like. Below this picture is the flavor I’m sure my dog enthusiast grandson would pick. For lunch I picked an Australian ginger beer and Bob had something that was grapefruit flavored. It was called KISS and made in Mukilteo, WA.

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It was just after 3:30 pm when we got to the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. We stayed until it closed at 5 pm. Inside there were exhibits about rodeo riders, old time cowboys, Native Americans and the TV stars that we all know from playing both on the big screen. It deserved more time than we had to give.

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Leaving a museum in one city with 100 miles to go to the next city where your hotel is booked means you deal with 5 o’clock traffic because of poor planning. And I thought I had done a fantastic job getting all the stops in a row. We got on the highway and made time. There is not a whole lot of scenery in Oklahoma and you can literally see for miles across the plain. The first picture below, if you look closely at the haze in the background you can see windmills. We couldn’t guess how far away they were. The last picture is of some windmills right next to Highway 40 that we passed on our way to Elk City. The curious thing, in this area, most houses are fenced with gates. When we asked why, we were told to keep the cows out of the yards. The little black dots in the plains picture are black Angus beef cattle.

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Once we arrived in Elk City, we went to dinner at the Prairie Fire Grill. Sara our server was helpful and bubbly. Bob said his pork chops were delicious, but my Chicken Caesar Salad couldn’t compare to last nights salad. One surprise, I have heard many times about the country music scene in Texas and Oklahoma. Last night we too tired to go in search of a honky-tonk and tonight the Grill was playing classic rock. Nothing wrong with that type of music, I was just expecting to hear country. Maybe tomorrow night.

 

 

Day 9 – Rt. 66 trip

I have not been sleeping well, but then again, I often don’t at home either. So this morning, Bob got up before me and went to the Branson Tourism Center to get back the deposit we paid to hold our seats for the time-share sales pitch. I thought they had said it was non-refundable so I was happy to be wrong. They didn’t give him a hassle so they got some points back if anyone is keeping score. The hotel recommendation was top notch, so we left town with another belly full of Clocker’s Café food and coffee.

It was already 83 degrees at 10:30 am so we deemed it a top-up, air conditioning day. It was nice to not have the sun beat down on me all day. We drove back up to Springfield to pick up Rt 66 and head west. Bob filled the gas tank at $2.79 for 91% octane. The little Mini does not like regular gas. We have not noticed much change from what we see at home in the trees, flowers and weeds so far. Our big lesson of the day was most attractions along Rt. 66 in small towns in South West Missouri, South East Kansas and North East Oklahoma are NOT open on Monday. When you plan your trip try to be in a large tourist area on Monday.

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A tribute to the individuals that lost their lives storming Normandy. On the                          Branson Strip, Rt. 76, Branson, MO

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Multi-branches of service memorial in Branson, MO

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Long, straight road over hill and dale between Branson, MO, and Springfield, MO

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1940’s era stone building Phillips 66 station. Many similar stone buildings in the area.

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Above, war memorial in front of Tendercare lawn care company in Carterville, MO.

Below, the sign to go with the memorial

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I liked the name so it rated a picture. Unfortunately not open.

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Above.  There is only 13 miles of Rt. 66 in Kansas so it was a photo stop.

Below.  The retro station was not open.

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A nice mural to prove we were in Kansas.

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We hit the jackpot. The pharmacy was open. Kristal made our ice cream lunch for us.

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We made about six attempts to find the Vintage Iron Motorcycle museum in Miami, OK, only to find it not open, but gone. Our EZ66 book let us down today. The website for this place looked great and said it was open all year.

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Above, world’s largest totem pole near Foyil, OK.

Below, also at the totem pole site. Gift shop closed.

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Aha, a necessity room near the totem poles. I love the name. It was clean and stocked.

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Love the turtle. He was about four feet tall and seven feet long. Just sitting on a corner a few miles from the totem poles.

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We are staying in downtown Tulsa, OK tonight. Across the street from our hotel is a four story medical center (hospital) with a nearly empty parking lot. Sure doesn’t look like home and we haven’t heard a siren yet. Let’s hope they have a quiet night.

We had dinner next door at Baxter’s. My Southwestern Cobb salad was above par and Bob’s Cajun Alfredo chicken and penne pasta was yummy. I stole a bite. I try to remember to do a check-in on Facebook when we eat so you can keep track of how far we have traveled and where we end up at the end of the day. That page is under Sue Carmichael Spitulnik. See you there.

 

 

Day 7 – Rt 66 trip

We got around slowly this morning. It is always hard to leave family when you know you won’t see them in person for at least six months or more. Thank you, Larry and Lisa, for everything. Your home is welcoming and comfortable.

It took us a half hour to find our way out of Rolla in the right direction because the signs for Historic Rt. 66 are not on every corner. It doesn’t help when sometimes the old route just stops and you are expected to know you have to take the highway, in this case Rt. 44 west. I know, just drive 44, but that isn’t the point. Then again, the speed limit is often 45mph on Rt. 66 and it isn’t prudent to stay on it if you are on a time schedule. This brings me to my first suggestion for the day. If you sometime do this trip, try not to have any specific time tables on any given day other than getting to the hotel. As we left town, we noticed the gas price was $2.199 for regular.

Between Hooker, MO, and Morgan Heights, MO, there is a section of the original four lane Rt. 66 which doesn’t exist anymore in very many places. (See picture at the top.) A side road off that section is known as Devil’s Elbow. We did find and drive that road. It’s probably one of the most scenic parts of Rt. 66 in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. We hadn’t had breakfast yet and just as we came off the end of the old road, we found the Country Cafe in the town of St. Roberts. There is actually a smoking room with a closed door and a non-smoking area too. The locale is very close to the Army post, Ft. Leonard Wood, so there are many active duty Army, disabled vets, and retired military in the area. While we ate, we listened to one young man talking to his table-mates, he said, “I’m glad I came home with a bad knee instead of a prosthetic leg.” He is a good example of “Freedom isn’t Free.”

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Bob had corn beef hash and I had a veggie omelet. We both liked our grits.

Around the bend from that parking lot is the tourist attraction, Uranus Fudge Factory and general store. There is a dinner-house/bar, some circus side show booths, an ice cream stand, and other oddities to look at while you are there. I found a couple more funny signs, and of course we got some fudge packed in Uranus. We laughed a lot while we visited, and afterwards too. We also saw our second Alaska license plate.

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Not really a town, just a tourist attraction (that does very well.)

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Adult humor (The fudge is very good.)

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More adult humor.

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Another bathroom sign.

After Uranus, we got on Rt. 44 to make some time and drove on to Marshfield, MO, about 45 miles, and went into that town to view the 1200 pound, quarter scale Hubble Telescope. It is there because that is where Dr. Edwin Hubble is from. It didn’t look like much just sitting on its stand. If you don’t know its importance, I’ll suggest using Google to read about it.

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Replica of Hubble Telescope

We got back on the highway and made good time getting to Springfield where we stopped at Merrily We Quilt Along quilt shop. I’ve been in a lot of shops and this one was top rate because of its very good lighting, excellent selection, and friendly, knowledgeable staff. I found the perfect background fabric for the necktie quilt I will be making in the near future.

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Merrily We Quilt Along was open in Springfield, MO

Next we got on Highway 65 south to drop down to Branson, MO., the country music entertainment capital of the US. There are 200 hotels in the area, a 5-mile-long entertainment strip with multiple theaters, restaurants, novelty stores, amusement rides, and other things to do. The area covers four or five different hills and you have to drive to get from one place to another because it is so spread out. There is ample parking, but traffic is slow. I purchased our two different show tickets and made our hotel reservation through Branson Tourism Center. That was a mistake. They have an excellent web-site and I found all the information I wanted on it. I fell for their come-on that they could save me money if I booked through them. I didn’t. So, suggestion number two for the day. Use any site you can to find the information you want about any trip, then book directly with the theater, hotel, or paddle boat you want to enjoy. You will end up with tickets instead of vouchers you have to exchange for tickets and won’t be talked in to sitting through a time-share presentation when you pick up your reservation packet on your way into town. More about that after we leave Branson.

Our hotel, Lodge of the Ozarks is beautiful. The décor makes me think of the cottage I spent my childhood summers in. The young ladies at the desk were friendly but couldn’t believe we had driven all the way from New York state. We guessed they hadn’t traveled much. We arrived at 4:15 pm in 92-degree sunshine.

For supper we went down the street to Starvin’ Marvin’s. Bob had some yummy ribs and I ate salad and cold shrimp off the buffet. Our server, Kelly W. made sure we had anything and everything we needed to make our meal enjoyable.

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Those Cajun know how to do things up right.

Our theater show this evening was “The Haygood’s.” Six family members, five brothers and one sister, all talented musicians and singers performed rock, country, tap dancing, Over the Rainbow (with a harp as the lead instrument) and finished with a patriotic song. The pyro techniques were great, the light show awesome and their harmonies even better. What a talented family. They have been performing together for over 25 years, change their show on a regular basis and also have a Christmas show during November and December. At one point a lot of shiny silver ribbon was dispensed over the first few rows of audience. The lady in front of us was collecting it afterward and told us she uses it on her Christmas presents each year. I have some in my purse, just because. I can give this show a high recommendation as long as you expect a true variety and not all country music.

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Four members of the Haygood’s. Yes, he’s playing banjo while standing in a recliner.

 

 

Day 6 – Rt. 66 trip

Staying with family in a private home certainly has its perks. I made my own coffee this morning and added 2% milk bought especially for my visit. The rest of the day I have been pampered, to the point Lisa did our laundry. Thank you!

For four months after we started planning our trip, Bob was adamant he would do no work while traveling. Two weeks before we left, he told me he would be bringing his computer. This morning he spent about an hour on a conference call with other members of the construction team at Home Leasing and a client, mostly listening to the others, but then making an informed comment. The client’s response was, “Give us a minute.” Silence ensued for about five minutes. When they came back on the line, they agreed his idea was an out-of-the-box excellent suggestion. He claimed later this wasn’t a vacation day for him, except he’s been pampered the rest of the day too.

With Larry driving, we finally went to breakfast at County Bob’s in St. James, MO. We had a chuckle about the name. I put that photo on my Facebook page under the name Sue Carmichael Spitulnik. I had pork chop and eggs again. I have been trying to remember the first time I had that combination and why I like it so well. Haven’t come up with the memory yet.

From there we went further north to Meramec Caverns in Stanton, MO. The Land the caverns are on has been privately owned through four generations. Neither Bob nor I had ever been in a cave before. We got our feet wet spelunking in a well-lit, very safe, cave that has a 50 feet wide and 20 feet tall opening and is over 16 miles long in its entirety. We went in about half a mile, down 332 feet and had our mouths open in awe the whole time. The cave was used by the Union forces during the Civil War as an ammunition factory because they could extract salt-peter, potassium nitrate, from the dolomite stone to make gunpowder. The Confederate soldiers, Jesse James among them, destroyed the factory during the war. Ten years later, in 1874, he and Frank used the cave as a hide-out after robbing a train because it is large enough to hide a whole gang, their horses, and supplies completely from view. It also has a river for water and “side rooms” for privacy or storage. The stalactites (hanging from the top of the cave) and stalagmites (sticking up from the mud) were beautiful as they had such varied shapes and sizes, and some were millions of years old. The experience was well worth the money and they give a military and veterans discount if you can prove your status.

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Frank and Jesse James statues outside Meramec Caverns

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Stalactites in Meramec Cavern

On the way to the Caverns we saw a license plate that said Cherokee Nation. Where we are from in New York state we have Native American reservations who belong to the Iroquois Nation, but we have never heard of a special plate for them. We are speculating the car belonged to a political representative of the nation and has a special plate like members of the House of Representatives and Congress have. But, that is only a guess.

Larry drove Rt. 66 on the way back to Rolla and made tourist stops for us. We drove through Cuba that has lots of murals on the outside of buildings, then on to Fanning to stop at The US 66 Outpost to see the Giant Rocking Chair. The gift shop there is a must. There were hundreds of flavors of pop; we call it soda in New York. Some of the flavors were Barf, Dog Drool, Birthday Cake, and normal ones like cherry cream, grape, and different colas. We bought some socks with silly sayings to give as gifts. Many other things caught our eye, but we resisted knowing we still have 19 more days of travel.

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Mural on side of Fanning Outpost in Cuba, MO. Murals line the route.

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At Fanning Outpost

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Merchandise bag worth keeping

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Another funny bathroom sign. Expect to see more.

Our “lunch” stop was at Soda & Scoops in Rolla. This home-made ice cream shop was opened by a couple so their daughter who has Downs Syndrome would have a pleasant place to work. We met the daughter and saw the Mom. I will be talking about the bourbon spiked espresso ice cream with chocolate chunks for a long time. Its name was Exhausted Parent. To keep the ice cream from dripping out of the bottom of the waffle cone, a Hershey’s Kiss was put upside down in the point. The ice cream is made in Madison, Wisconsin. It will be my goal to find another store that carries it.

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Soda and Scoops menu in the store. Below – a unique table for children.

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We spent the early evening looking at before and after pictures of the house Larry and Lisa have been remodeling for the last three years and then Larry cooked steaks outside for us for dinner. It was a very relaxing day.

Day 4 – Rt. 66 trip

I guess there is anger no matter where you go. We were unwilling listeners to a screaming match outside our hotel window this morning at 6 am. If I had a nickel for every time the F word was used, I could have paid for breakfast. It seemed to be between a boss and employee that work for a pilot/escort car company and Bob heard the employee get fired. We saw three enormous “tubes” come through the area today that were being escorted by what I grew up calling “chase cars.” There is a huge, extends for miles two ways, wind turbine farm off Rt 55 (66’s replacement road) between Odell and Pontiac, IL. We think the tubes are the bases of the windmills.

We used a book called EZ66 Guide for Travelers, 4th edition, to plan our trip. Thank you again, Rhonda, for telling us about it. We also have an Illinois Rt. 66 visitors guide magazine. Both of these aids have interesting stops pinpointed, good restaurants listed, and loads of museums and other 66 memorabilia described so travelers like us don’t miss anything. The guide even shows where the original road still exists and where it doesn’t and what roads to use from Chicago to LA. Our breakfast choice, The Old Log Cabin, was listed in both. We can agree it should be. Shannon was our bubbly, informative, attentive server. I had a potato casserole with my omelet and when Bob asked for a bite, I told him he only got one. Shannon brought us their visitor register book to sign. It was actually a large accounting book and our first introduction to how many people from other countries come to experience Rt. 66. We had no idea it was such a big deal all over the world. We figure about 50% of the travelers are not Americans. Some speak English and some don’t. The accents are interesting to listen to. The Old Log Cabin had a wooden quilt block on the outside of the building and inside there was a whole trail shown if you wanted to go exploring. Shannon gave us printed directions to get into Pontiac proper and two pens advertising the restaurant.

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Great restaurant in Pontiac, IL. Make sure you order the potato casserole.

We went into town and found the Livingston County War Museum. (It’s interesting to see the same names repeated in each county and state. I wonder if it will still be happening by the time we get to the west coast.) This museum was like nothing I had ever experienced. They have over 200 mannequins dressed in military uniform with all the rank and ribbons earned of local deceased vets, and a few really famous ones. It was like standing among live troops. I was in awe. The education director of the museum, David Estes, and I had quite the conversation. I told him about the Rochester Veterans Writing Group I belong to and the anthology project we are working on. He wants to do a Skype session with us and buy some of our books once they are published. It was all I could do to keep my emotions in check while we were there. Each soldier has his/her picture attached to the uniform with information about where he/she served. Soldiers and memorabilia are on display representing WWI to the present. I wish every locale in the US would do this to honor their vets. We also talked to a Vietnam era sub mariner who had come from Chicago with two other Navy vets to donate some of his personal items to the museum. This experience will live long in my memory. We also visited the Rt.66 museum and the Pontiac-Oakland (car) museum.

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A room full of local veterans and their memorabilia. That’s Audie Murphy on the right in the sand color uniform.

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Lady veterans from the Pontiac, IL area.

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A Vietnam Veteran

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And guys in their BDU’s.

A general observation has been, once we got to Cleveland the license plate holders changed as to which sports-teams they advertise support for. Now we are in Illinois they have changed again. We have spotted 38 different US license plates. Tonight we have to do an inventory to see which ones we are missing. We aren’t paying as close attention now we are just doing short jaunts in the car.

This afternoon we drove north on the old 66 to a town called Odell. There is a 1932 filling station there. The gas pump doesn’t work anymore, but it’s one of those that the gas bubbled up into the top receptacle then was hosed into the car via gravity. They also sold Licks66 homemade ice cream. Bob had strawberry and I had butter pecan. Both were very good. That was lunch.

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1932 gas pump and station in Odell, IL. Bob with our red “baby.”

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The people who visited the station today. Notice all the foreign countries represented. It’s fun to talk to them.

Next we went a bit further north to a town called Dwight. There is a bank there in a building that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Between the one-way streets and lack of easy to spot signage we couldn’t find it so stopped at the local fire station where some firemen were sitting on their truck out in the sunshine. They gave us more directions we had trouble following. In the end, we found the building. Get this, the back of it was directly across the street from the fire station and there was a big sign stating the fact painted on the side of the building facing the one we were looking for. It gave us a good chuckle and we got to see the beautiful Dwight train station.

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Dwight Train Station

We had supper at DeLong’s. A local café with good food. The prices here are about two-thirds what we pay in Rochester. I had as good a taco salad as ever and Bob had chicken pot pie which was more like a stew in a bowl with a biscuit. The serving was huge and he had trouble finishing the beef sandwich he ordered thinking the bowl would be a cup.

It’s an earlier night tonight. That’s good. Maybe we will get going in a timelier manner tomorrow.

 

 

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