Route 66, Day 6: Morning, Roswell NM

Yesterday was great; nice and leisurely. We really enjoyed Blue Swallow in Tucumcari. It was a nice change from the Motel 6, homey, clean and pleasantly retro. It reminded me a bit of the motel room in The Lost Room which does a lot to recommend it.

Blue Swallow Motel

Tucumcari has a long strip where the businesses have the cool googie retro signs, and the blue swallow is one of them. When we cruised in at night, we wondered why the sign wasn’t all lit up; turns out they had a hail storm a while back than damaged a lot of the neon and they’re having it fixed in Amarillo.

Tucumcari, New Mexico

When we got up yesterday, we had breakfast in the Kix on 66 diner that The Blue Swallow recommended; big omelets and huge slabs of bacon. Then we poked around in the famous Tee Pee Curios shop and took pictures of many of the signs.

Tee Pee Curios in Tucumcari

Tucumcari has an interesting dinosaur museum; it wasn’t the concrete dinosaur park we thought we were looking for, but it was fun for a couple hours, and I got small dinosaurs in the gift shop so we can set up a “Dinosaurs vs. Aliens” diorama in the back window of Phoebe for the car show.

Scary dinosaur!

Eventually, we took of to Roswell. New Mexico is really beautiful; I took lots of landscape pictures on the road that I’m afraid will all look about the same when I upload them. I was trying to convey how wide-open and vast the land is, but that never comes out in pictures. I should have done a stitched together panoramic.

New Mexico Skies

Last night we checked in and met the rest of the caravan, plus a lot of new folks at a nearby Mexican restaurant for some tasty margaritas.

Zig Zag has some margaritas

I think the plan for today is to find wireless access, give the car a bath, and go hunting down some aliens. I’d love to find an Area 51 sign somewheres if we can.

While puttering around in the hotel room this morning waiting for the day to begin, I started reading Kerouac’s On The Road. I’m wondering how in the hell I made it to the age of 39 without reading it. Why was this not on Mr. Bray’s hyper-testosterone-laden “Great American Literature” reading list in high school? I feel extremely cheated by my American Literature education. Damn you, Mr. Bray. It’s like I put on a pair of glasses for the first time and saw literature clearly. Don’t mind me; I’ll be over here with my nose in a book.

UPDATE: we ventured out to find a donut, then hit target for some car wash supplies and gave Phoebe a bath. She still needs some TLC before the car show, but we started getting hungry so we drove to downtown Roswell to find the Not of This World Coffee shop to get sandwich and free wireless. It’s verrrrrryyyyyy slllllloooooooowwww, but at least we’re connected. I’m going to attempt to upload yesterday’s pictures and plug them into this post.

Continue ReadingRoute 66, Day 6: Morning, Roswell NM

Route 66, Morning, Day 5: Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico

I’m up and about in the motel room; Stephanie’s trying to catch a bit more sleep. We’ve been cutting it pretty short on the sleeping, by arriving very late and getting up with the rest of the caravan. Hopefully today we can hang out and be more leisurely; we only have about a 4 hour drive to Roswell.

I’m on a high-speed wireless connection, finally, and I’m hurriedly uploading photos. The Blue Swallow doesn’t actually offer it; some kind fellow named Shawn has left his/her network open. Thanks, Shawn!!

I’ll try to go back and insert some relevant photos into the last several posts about the trip if I can before we actually get up and around.

Tilted Water tower at Britten, Texas

Giant Cross in Groom, Texas

The Big Texan was entertaining; lots of beef. Of course their featured attraction is a “free” 72 oz. steak – if you eat the whole thing in an hour, plus sides, salad and bread. I did not try. Two guys did while we were there; if you’re attempting the challenge, they stick you at a table on a raised platform with a count-down timer. Neither of them could do it. I took pictures, of course.

The Big Texan

Big Texan

72 oz. Steak

Couldn't do it.

We drove from Amarillo, Texas to Tucumcari, New Mexico in a wicked looking lightning storm (I tried to video it; well see how it comes out.); fortunately it didn’t open up and rain much. I think today we’re going to poke around Tucumcari a bit; they have lots of great old googie signs and route 66 shops. Then we’ll take off for Roswell.

Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari

Phoebe and Spacepod in garages at the Blue Swallow Motel

Tomorrow most of the day in Roswell is free; all we have to do is wash the car and find some wireless access. And see aliens, of course. Saturday is when the car show and parade start, and Sunday there are activities, too, although most of the day is free. Monday we head out on the rest of Route 66.

Continue ReadingRoute 66, Morning, Day 5: Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Route 66: Tulsa to Amarillo

We left Tulsa in some pretty tricky traffic, which is really fun in a caravan of 17 people.

Our first stop was the shoe tree, but we did a drive-by, although I think one of our leaders really wanted us to stop. Our next stop was the Rock Cafe in Stroud, a 1939 Route 66 institution. The young woman who runs it Dawn (Welsh?) was the inspiration for the porshe Sally from the movie Cars. It was a fun, tiny little place; we packed the room. I had a great Buffalo burger and fries – very tasty, but oh, the grease. Wow. After we all ate, Dawn gave us a history of the place and how she ended up being part of a Hollywood movie.

Rock Cafe in Stroud, Oklahoma

Dawn ("Sally") from the Rock Cafe

Dawn told us about a guy we should visit – a tinkerer guy named John Hargrove who built a very cool machine shed/garage tricked out with route 66 memorabilia, old cars and signs. It’s hard to describe; I’ll have to link to photos. One of the attractions was a VW Microbus restored and painted to look like the bus in the movie cars.

Double Arrows from an Old Gas Station

Herbie Bug in the side of the building

Mr. John Hargrove's Home

"Fillmore" Microbus from the movie cars

After that we did a drive-by photo op at the Round Barn in Arcadia.

Phoebe at the Round Barn

Because we had to make it to Amarillo in a short amount of time, we hopped off 66 and onto I-40 through Oklahoma. Unfortunately we ended up at the end of the pack of (now) 18 cars, and we had a hell of a time keeping up. Due to the traffic wave effect, the guy in front was going 65, but we were doing 85, 90 and 95 to keep up. Really hard, especially when it pouring rain. Trying to keep up was too unsafe, so we dropped back and let the rest of the pack go on. We caught up to them soon, and stopped in Clinton, Oklahoma at the Route 66 Museum there.

The highlight of the day was that Bob Waldmire was there – he’s a Route 66 institution; the son of the Waldmires of the Cozy Dog we visited back in Illinois, and an amazing traveling artist documenting the attractions and people of Route 66; driving around in an old VW Microbus. It was in the parking lot, so I took photos of every single inch of it. I took one of the postcards I got of it work and asked him to sign it, and he did; very nice guy. And a HUGE liberal, which was awesome.

(I think based on some of the radio conversation that some of the people on our caravan A) don’t know Stephanie and I are a couple and B) are openly homophobic if they think there aren’t gay people around. Although I think everyone’s caught on by now.)

Bob Waldmire's Microbus

Those of us going to Tucumcari have broken off from the pack; we stayed behind a bit to drive more slowly, ditch on some of the photo ops, and be a bit more laid back. We weren’t the only ones stressing about keeping up with the caravan, it turns out. Now we’re headed out to Amarillo, Texas to try to visit the Big Texan for dinner, then we’re going to head to Tucumcari, New Mexico for the night. I’m googling concrete dinosaur parks as we speak.

Continue ReadingRoute 66: Tulsa to Amarillo

Route 66 – Morning, Day 4: St. Louis to Tulsa

Yesterday’s drive from St. Louis to Tulsa was pretty long. I knew when we were still at the hotel and they had 6 stops listed before we were supposed to be in Barton Springs, Kansas for lunch that our trip leaders were a bit overly-optimistic about what we could accomplish. We hopped on parts of I-44 just to keep up time, but even that didn’t help keep us on schedule.

We stopped first at Meramec Caverns, one of the oldest tourist traps along Route 66. This was supposedly the one of the hideouts for the Jesse James gang, a nice sized cave with guided tours. We opted to take pictures in front of the signs and visited the entrance to the cave before heading out to the next stop.

Meramec Caverns Billboard

Phoebe at Meramec Caverns

Meramec Caverns "Ballroom" Cave Entrance

Part of the group broke off unexpectedly to visit a toy museum, so the rest of us did a drive-through of little-bitty Cuba where they have some Route 66 murals. We went hunting a giant faucet sign there (totally not my idea, even) and only found it somewhere further on the road.

Lots of great old gas stations, googie hotel and restaurant signs and antique cars along the road that I snapped picture of. To gather the whole group back together, we stopped at the Mule Trading post, where we stopped last year on the way to my cousin Sarah’s wedding. There’s also a nostalgia car place nearby with some awesome old gas station signs.

Mobil Oil Sign

Mule Trading Post Windmill Guy

Tom Bodett just called and said we won ten million dollars. Then he said he was kidding, and it’s time to get up. Stephanie notes that it’s strange there’s no meowing going on right now.

After we gathered everyone up, we stopped at the Devil’s Elbow, an old curved bridge, for a photo op. Because we were about 2 hours behind, we ate at the Elbow Inn, a little bar/restaurant that was both thrilled and overwhelmed by 15 VW Beetles. Basically a pretty rough-neck biker bar; one of their things is having women’s bras hanging from the ceiling. We killed almost 2 hours there before everyone got fed and back on the road.

Elbow Inn at the Devil's Elbow

Bras on the ceiling at the Elbow Inn

Beetles in front of the Elbow Inn

Beetles driving over the Devil's Elbow

Our next stop was the Munger Moss, famous old Route 66 hotel still in operation with a great googie sign that we did a photo op in front of. Then we headed to Riverton and Baxter Springs, Kansas. Kansas has only about 12 miles of Route 66 on the south east corner of the state. When the interstates went through, they bypassed Kansas altogether, sadly, and re-routed traffic directly from Missouri to Oklahoma. Riverton had a little cafe giftshop where we caught everyone up again ( people kept breaking off to do their own thing, or get gas or shop or eat.)

Phoebe at the Munger Moss Motel

After that, we visited the rainbow bridge, which is one of the only remaining marsh arch bridges on Route 66. It’s been restored in the last 10 years, and was a great photo with the beetles lined up on it.

Beetles on the Rainbow Bridge

Then we headed out to Catoosa to see the Big Blue Whale. We stayed on old Route 66 for this and got a bit lost winding around, but managed to see lots more cool googie signs and old restaurants I got photos of out the window.

We stopped for gas, which seemed to be the point where several people lost their cool for awhile. Some wanted to skip the Blue Whale and go on to Tulsa, but rather than just break away and do that, they tried to persuade the whole caravan to go along with them. People gassed up and paid for gas, but then left their cars parked at the pumps while they stood around for 10 minutes and debated the whale stop, so when we finally got people moved so we could gas up, people started bitching on the radio that we were taking too long. This is the point at which I lost MY cool. I’m still pissed off about it.

Anyways, we saw the blue whale, which was excellent, and I loved it. And I want to build one in my backyard. Seriously. You think I’m kidding. You can also contact a top-rated pool contractor in Michigan if you want to build a custom swimming pool to enhance the beauty of your landscape. Premier Property Maintenance experts can also help you to achieve your landscape dreams.

The Blue Whale in Catoosa

Me and Stephanie in the Blue Whale

After that long day, we headed into Tulsa and ate at Cracker Barrel before finding the motel 6. Again, the light wasn’t on for us; the room was dark. Those liars. I took 147 pictures, but again, we’re not on high-speed wireless, so don’t think I’ll try to upload them.

Today is going to be interesting. We travel across Oklahoma and through the Texas pan handle. Most of the caravan are staying in Amarillo, but five or six of us are traveling on to Tucumcari, New Mexico to stay at the Blue Swallow Motel, which is one of the continuously operating 50’s era hotels on the road. The neons signs for it are amazing.

But it seems like the guys planning travel are planning are packing the day with events timed for those staying in Amarillo, and those of us traveling on have an extra 2 hours are going to be kinda screwed. I’m trying to figure out whether it would be better to break off the Tucumcari group to see an abbreviated version of everyone else’s sight-seeing list, or try to stay with the group and skip stuff at the end.

Continue ReadingRoute 66 – Morning, Day 4: St. Louis to Tulsa

Route 66, Morning Day 3: Morning in St. Louis

We’ve got a long leg of the journey today (400 some miles), so some of the meandering and sight-seeing we did yesterday won’t work today. The plan is to pick some of the major sites along the way, like Merimac Caverns and the Big Blue Whale.

We have some advantages in that we’ve done part of this leg before for my cousin Sarah’s wedding, so we’ve seen a few of the small attractions and photographed some of the “Big Things” before.

There’s also a group that’s going to deviate from the plan and see the arch, and the car stonehenge and such. We haven’t decided whether to join them or not yet… we’ve already seen the arch.

I can hear people packing the cars up outside, and Stephanie’s showering now. We’re almost ready to hop on the road. I hope we can find some breakfast and coffee….

zig zag blogging Route 66 trip

Continue ReadingRoute 66, Morning Day 3: Morning in St. Louis

Route 66, Day 2: Chicago to St. Louis

I had some trouble getting my bluetooth connection to the internet this evening (this motel 6 in St. Louis doesn’t have wireless) so I don’t know if I’ll be able to upload any of the 212 photos I took today.

We woke up this morning and met the rest of the caravan, took tons of photos in the motel parking lot. Most of the people going have some seriously tricked-out cars; lots of cool paint jobs and graphics. Then we gassed up and headed out down Route 66.




First we stopped at the Joliet Route 66 Museum and Howie got them to open, even though they were closed on Mondays. We did a big circular drive photo op, bought Route 66 merchandise in the gift shop, and took off on the road. We had a blast traveling; we communicate with the rest of the caravan using FRS radios, so there’s lots of conversation and joking around between the cars, and a big line of beetles really catches the eye of everyone we pass.



We visited the Launching Pad restaurant and took pictures of the Gemini Giant, then stopped at a antique gas station in Odell. After that we visited another giant Paul Bunyon statue, then drove on to Springfield, Illinois and stopped off at the Cozy Dog, the birthplace of the corn dog. Tasty and very charming, but pretty greasy.







Along the way we picked up 3 more travelers, and stepped on the gas to get to St. Louis, because we meandered quit a bit along the way. Heading into town, we visited the Chain of Rocks bridge, which used to be the bridge over the Mississippi into St. Louis. It’s now closed and you can walk across it. After a big photo op there, we went to Drewes Frozen Custard for ice cream, and headed to the hotel.





I’ll attempt to upload some photos to flickr and add them to this post – we’ll see how it goes.

Update – it took over an hour to upload 20 photos, so I think I’m going to call it a night. I’ll try to upload the rest of the pics when I have a real wireless connection somewhere.

Continue ReadingRoute 66, Day 2: Chicago to St. Louis

Route 66: Did I say 5 other beetles? I meant 12

We finally pulled into the motel at 11 Chicago time, and saw a huge row of beetles lined up; very fun. Too dark to take photos.

Spacepod and Phoebe

Traffic in Chicago sucked hard, but we managed to get into town, finally. We parked in a scary-ass parking garage with the steepest ramps I’ve ever seen, and went to the Summerfest in Lincoln Park. It wasn’t terribly impressive; just a bunch of junk booths selling knock off purses and clothes, a way-too-loud lame band, and the thing we came for – about 6 Smart ForTwos, which we got to test drive.

Stephanie Test Driving Smart Car

The we walked down Clark street and ate dinner, then headed out to Joliet to meet everyone else.

At some point, my cell got confused and started sending all my twitter messages through chat, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on on my end; very strange. Hence the strange twitters.

Way past my bedtime.

Day 1 Photos:

Continue ReadingRoute 66: Did I say 5 other beetles? I meant 12