October 3, 2012 – Branson, MO to Sand Springs, OK

Leaving Branson we headed for Joplin, MO we passed evidence of the massive excavating necessary to build the road

as well as some early, roadside fall colors.

Traveling north to Galena, KS, we picked up the Historic Old Route 66 (although it actually starts in Chicago and runs 2,235 miles to Los Angeles), whose full-length was in continuous use from 1926 through 1960 …

although many sections in rough shape (to which we can testify) or have even been abandoned today.

Still, Route 66 continues to hold a special place in the American consciousness. The road is uniquely American.  There are a thousand stories of hope, heartbreak, love, hate, starting over, and new dreams found along the next bend of the highway we call the Mother Road. The story of Route 66 is our story; it embodies what makes us a great nation.  No other culture has had the same type of love affair with the automobile, and few have had the wide-open spaces offered by the American West.

Galena,

once the mining capital of Kansas

also sports an iconic gas station which was the inspiration for the Disney classic, “Cars” and one of its stars, Mader!

In recent years the town had fallen on hard times

Although has been going through something of a rebirth more recently.  One abandoned parking area, however, provide several of us traveling together a place for lunch.

After eating, we pointed our rigs west

Toward Riverton, the second of the three towns on the 13 mile stretch of Route 66 which runs through extreme southeastern Kansas.

Marsh Arch Rainbow Bridge

for which there is a by-pass … which is fortunately by-passed as it is too low for our rigs to pass under


Old fashion Phillips 66 gas pumps

South toward Baxter Springs,

Our journey continued is a narrow two-lane road.  There most of the buildings which stood during the heyday of the “Mother Road” are long gone.  However, a couple still stand.

Then …

And crossing into northeastern,

we discovered a section of Historic Route 66 which only the residents likely drive.

It’s narrow and broken nine foot wide pavement and rough gravel shoulders made the ride jaw rattling at anything over 10 miles per hour.  Some 5 miles and 30+ minutes later, we finally emerged on a reasonably paved road again!

The town of Commerce welcomed us along the way.

The next town we encountered was Miami … where a couple of restaurants which served travelers from earlier times still thrive.

It is home to one a half-dozen motorcycle museums along the section of Route 66 we have or will be traveling.

Yet, it had its share of boarded up commercial buildings.

a low bridge, which fortunately had a clearance higher than our rig’s 12’8” height,

and old farm buildings.

Afton, the next town we passed through, is another example of a community along the historic Route 66 on life-support since an Interstate relegated it to the status of a non-entity;

although large agricultural operations are still in evidence.

Vinita, by contrast, has remained a vibrant community with both newer buildings as well as a few iconic throwbacks to the 1960s.

And building murals.

Although a bit out-of-the-way, Totem Pole Park in Foyil hosts the world’s tallest totem pole.

A 90’ folk art totem pole.

It is surrounded by a dozen other smaller totem poles and other pieces of patio art.

However, the most interesting exhibit is of Ed Galloway’s

fiddle collection, housed in the Fiddle House, an 11-sided structure(a monument to the Native Americans).

Each of his 300 hand-crafted fiddles were made from different types of wood which was sent to him by his students.

Claremore is also the home to many memorable murals,

restaurants,

and signs of decay!

Crossing into Catoosa

The Blue Whale is the town’s only real photo-op!

The center piece of a former water park


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