Friday, 7 September 2012

Day 9 - There's no place like home

Waking up this morning we realised we had a mighty task ahead of us.  One of the highest mileage counts we needed to complete (~340m) as well as three different US States to traverse.  Leaving Springfield, Missouri we were armed with amazing directions, for getting around a local detour, courtesy of Tonya at the Best Western Rail Haven where we stayed last night.  Can't say enough about the hotel - it was ideally suited for our trip and at a really good price.  The staff were super friendly and Tonya in particular was a gem. The BWRH scored not least because their breakfast area had a self-serve waffle iron so Rachael was able to tick the last items on her American breakfast carb wish list (pancakes, waffles, french toast).  Of course we reserve the right to try them all again just to make sure that our sample is statistically relevant.  We also had a side discussion about whether you can get waffle irons in the UK and resolved to find out when we get home.

Our first stop of the day was in a one horse town with two names. It's literally a couple of buildings facing each other across the street and we know it's a one horse town because we saw the horse grazing in it's field.  Gay Parita / Paris Springs is an absolute MUST see on any Route 66 trip. Not least because Gary Turner, a diamond geezer, runs the restored Gay Parita gas station (well it doesn't sell gas but it's got loads of old signs and stuff), plys the passing tourists with free Route 66 soda and lets them take pics with his Bonnie and Clyde wax figures in the garage. (yes this is actually the website)
Your intrepid routetrippers with Gary
Rachael getting an indecent offer from Gary and calling for help (was that phone even connected?)
Clyde has a big gun and I have an orange soda. Whats wrong with this picture?
Rachael's new job as a "exit facilitator" seems suspect.

Gary was a total character and we could have stayed all day just soaking up the sun and drinking orange soda whilst talking to him. However, we had well over 300 miles to cover today and we'd barely scratched the surface so we got back on the road in search of the R66 Drive In in Carthage and then the Missouri / Kansas border.
Route 66 Drive-in at Carthage. Not showing Cars so no point in staying til it opens...
Honestly we looked for a marker for the border between Missouri and Kansas but couldn't actually find anything so we gave up.  Route 66 traverses 8 states in the US and Kansas is the shortest section by a long way.  Only 13 miles of the Mother Road are in the Sunflower State but in R66 terms they are worth their weight in gold.
We were pretty sure we were in Kansas because of signs like this.
For it is in Kansas that one of the key characters in Disney / Pixars "Cars" found it's real life inspiration and therefore there is a direct line from those 13 miles to us being here at all.  No it's not weird that this trip was inspired in part by an animated movie. If you haven't seen Cars, or you are rolling your eyes at us, then you need to go find your inner child some popcorn and the DVD and settle down for a couple of hours because you've been a neglectful outer adult.

Kansas is the home of Tow Tater - the inspiration for Tow Mater. Tow Tater lives in Galena, Kansas at the Kan-O-Tex service station and is looked after by the lovely Melba (amongst others) who we also met today.
Rachael getting a lift from Tow Tater with Melba Rigg - The Mouth
Melba Rigg is another Route 66 character who we could have stayed all day with.  She regaled us with the history of the refurb of the old gas station into the gift shop it is today, as well as all the behind the scenes history and gossip about how Tow Tater came to inspire Tow Mater in Cars. Melba has the nickname "The Mouth" partly because she talks really fast and also because she is the voice of Tow Tater in his real life adventures. Seriously those cattle auction guys have nothing on Melba - she'd definitely win in a speed talking contest.

Sadly we couldn't stay much longer and had to get back on the road.  We drove through the picturesque Baxter Springs before waving goodbye to Kansas. Short but sweet.

We are not in Kansas any more.
Crossing over from Kansas into Oklahoma was a little like coming home.  For some reason Oklahoma reminds us of England.  It's very green with fields at the side of the road, and many of the roads are windy and have hills.  Honestly outside of the warm weather it could be one of the home counties.
As we had a lot of miles to cover today we took a strategic decision to view some of the Oklahoma towns on todays route from the car. Thus went Miami, Vinita, the city of Tulsa, Sapulpa and Bristow.
Just before Tulsa is the town of Catoosa where there is a huge concrete Blue Whale. So we stopped for pictures because it would be rude not to.
A huge concrete Blue Whale at the side of the road.
We tooks pic to prove we weren't hallucinating whilst on the long and windy roads of Oklahoma.
We stopped in Stroud to see the Rock Cafe with the hope of an early dinner there, however they weren't open til 7pm and we decided not to wait around. The Rock Cafe is owned by the lady who inspired the character of Sally in Cars - we didn't get to meet her but her restaurant looks very cool. It's so named because it was built from the rock dug out of the ground when they were building Route 66.

No classic rock bands were harmed during the construction of this cafe.
We pushed on to Arcadia, OK where I unwittingly caught the attention of a police patrol officer.  He took one look at my UK driving license and told me to pay better attention to the posted speed limit signs. (We figure booking me for the smallest of speeding offences wasn't worth the extra paperwork to him)

Having arrived at Pop's in Arcadia we stuffed our faces with burgers, some truly excellent chilli cheese fries and finished off with some milkshakes that make the McDonalds ones that require a suction pump look weak, watery and pathetic. Lets just say they were served with a spoon and where I come from that's whipped ice-cream not a shake! They were delicious though so we'll let them get away with it.  However as good as all that was, the star of Pop's is their soda menu.  They have all of the sodas I think I've ever seen on restaurant menus plus several hundred speciality options and you can have added flavour shots too.  I had a Coke with a cherry shot and Rachael went for Diet Pepsi with a vanilla shot. Pop's also sells gas (thats Petrol to you UK people) and has a shop full of bottles of soda of all kinds as well as sweets and souvenirs.  The restaurant is very modern although it retains a traditional diner feeling somehow.  It's worth a trip in the evening as when it gets dark the huge neon soda bottle out front starts it's light show.  I'm not going to tell you how many pics we took of it flashing away but it was A LOT.
The gas station forecort, with restaurant and shop behind, but who really cares about that when there is a giant red soda bottle in front.
Make that a giant BLUE soda bottle.
Ok now it's purple with a red band running up and down it.
And now it's just showing off.
Arcadia was the last town on our route before our hotel destination of Oklahoma City where we are comfortably ensconced at another Best Western. Tomorrow we have another long day. We leave Oklahoma for the Lone Star State of TEXAS. We are on the look out for tumbleweed and unironic wearing of cowboy hats.  Wish us luck.

1 comment:

  1. Another interesting day, although it's a shame you had to rush that one. The drive-in looks great - again it's a shame you had no time to stop as it's such classic Americana! It's such a shame the Rock cafe wasn't open, but Pop's looks like it made up for it.

    Well, that's me caught up with the blog. Really looking forward to your next installment - I'm sure Texas will be awesome! Drive safely!