Sung to the tune of Oklahoma by Oscar Hammerstein: Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, and the GM wheat is killing bees, when the wind blows toxic dust instead of rain!
Just having some fun at the expense of Oklahomians. They can handle it. They’re a hardy lot. Besides the hot, dry, dusty climate and the long drives, Oklahoma and its friendly population make it a fine place to visit – especially the Route 66 part of the big OK.
As seasoned road junkies, we have figured out how to maximize our time on the road versus the amount of time we stop to explore. Let’s call this the On the road/Stop & Explore Ratio or OtR-SaE Ratio. It’s an 95-5 split when we want to get somewhere fast. But when we have ample time and the freedom to explore it’s more like 35-65 split. Today, because we had a rough plan to be spontaneous with a clear end goal in mind (to sleep in Texas), we hit the road early with a 60-40 On the Road/Stop and Explore ratio: 6 hours driving, 4 hours exploring.
Many folks fantasize about long road trips, an adventure on wheels. Roadside picnics and quirky attractions polish off the already soft edges to perfect blue-skied, puffy cumulus days on the road. Road trips are fun, no doubt. It’s a blast to see new sites and meet new people while learning about different cultures. But spending the better part of a day in a car day after day for weeks on end is not all fun and dancing footloose in a metro tunnel. For the most part, initially, my imagination can entertain me for hours while in a moving vehicle. Some of my best ideas surface when I’m zoning out in a car. Some of my worst ideas emerge when I’m zoning out in a car.
Eventually, hours spent in a metal box at 60 mph can render one mentally wobbly. Searching for NPR on the radio in each passing small town is like being on all fours blindly looking for a lost contact lens in a crowded elevator after a night of tequila shots and beer chasers. Not that I would know anything about that. Once rich political, philosophical or otherwise religious discussions devolve to bickering about who was smarter: Nancy Drew or the oldest Hardy Boy or whether or not Daleks could be trained as house pets. By the third round of a playlist, we remake the songs using dirty words for the chorus. Even psycho-thriller audio books eventually drone on like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Once thought portioned snacks get scavenged in about 30 minutes after boredom sets in. When all that remains of the gustatory entertainment are crusty corn nut kernels embedded between teeth, then I know trouble has arrived with dental floss nowhere to be found. I am caught in a state of feeling strung out; stuffed with nuts of all varieties and PB&J sandwiches, trail mix, Red Hot Blues (hello! delish) and oreo cookies yet still hankering for food.
And then there’s the highly interesting aging body antics. Squirming to find a comfortable position – feet up, feet down, feet out the window, feet over the console, hand out the window, arm out the window, other arm draping across the driver’s seat annoying the driver, making the honking signal to trucks passing by, waving to small children and dogs and grandmas and the occasional cute guy, adjusting the seat forward a bit, backward a bit. Finding a pillow to support my aching lumbar, the pillow’s too big, rolling up a jacket works until the zipper starts to impale my spinal cord. I memorize the license plates of cars in front of us in case they hit another car and run. Bitching about annoying drivers should be a national pastime. But my cursing at people who toss cigarette butts out the window makes Scott nervous especially when those people are at the same gas station and in a state where it’s legal to carry.
I am rarely the driver and am totally okay with this. Given that Scott likes to drive and given I have the attention span of an 8-week puppy, it’s safer for all if I remain a passenger. But for some curious reason, when we arrive at our destination, I am exhausted from a hard day of driving. And that lens mentioned earlier? Turns out it never popped out of said eyeball.
On our final day traipsing through Oklahoma, we stopped at several cool little towns. Below you’ll see my Route 66 Quick Tips and photos of this journey. Oklahoma-Route-66-Guide is a useful and comprehensive guide to Route 66 that shows details of the various towns and attractions.
With only about 5000 residents, Bristow is one of those sweet down-home types of places. We drove through town checking out some of the historic buildings and made a stop at the Wake Island Memorial. You can learn more about the memorial and other Bristow attractions here.
Even smaller than Bristow, the sleepy town of Depew has about 500 residents. This town did not recover from the Great Depression. Depew’s riches to rags history also unfortunately includes homesteaders kicking Creek Nation Indians off their turf.
Walking around there, I felt myself slipping back in time to the old west. While I was tooling around with my camera, Scott found pie and got spoiled by a couple of older gals in the shop down the street. The main street of Depew, despite needing some work and housing abandoned buildings, is quite colorful, and you can see the original 1920’s Route 66 concrete in the middle of town.
Quick Tip: Check out the Rock Cafe at 114 W. Main Street. A Route 66 relic built in 1939, The Rock Cafe was constructed from the paving stones from the original highway.
The town of Davenport (population small) is well-maintained and boasts having the most brick roads of any town in the US.
1. From the “Y” at 7th and Broadway one can drive south on two blocks of cement paving to the brick pavement that was laid with Davenport bricks in 1925-26.
2. Check out the numerous murals on downtown historical buildings that highlight the town’s history.
There are several historical or otherwise curious attractions to view in the lovely town of Chandler.
1. Be sure to check out the Chandler Route 66 Interpretive Center located at 400 East, Highway 66.
2. Check out the Museum of Pioneer History housed in the Mascho-Murphy Building at 717 and 719 Manvel.
The one-square mile town of Arcadia has a population of 279. I swiped the definition of Arcadia off the town’s website: any real or imaginary place offering peace and simplicity. A mountainous region of ancient Greece, traditionally known for the contented pastoral innocence of its people.
1. This super rural, imaginary town with it’s pastorally innocent people has one major must-see, the Round Barn. The very red very round barn is considered an architectural wonder, and its creator, Mr. Odor, was scorned and scrutinized and doubted that it could ever be built as it defied current architectural schema. Odor showed those haters who was boss.
2. While we missed seeing POPS, I’m telling you not to not follow in our footsteps. At POPS you can take your pick from over gut-desolving sodas while admiring the 66 foot tall, 4 ton, pop bottle.
Oklahoma City (OCK)
Here’s the truth of the matter. We didn’t stop in OKC, it was just a pass-through the Capital to see the very impressive Capitol. There is a working oil rig in front of this impressive building that shares a resemblance to the US Capitol Building. Surrounding the Capitol we saw remarkable Native American statues created by Allan Houser, a Chiricahua Apache from Oklahoma.
OKC seems to be a vibrant city, so check it out for yourself. Here are some suggestions of things to do.
Miscellaneous Shots of Quirky Roadside Attractions
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Something called ‘the Oklahoma Standard’ became known throughout the world. It means resilience in the face of adversity. It means a strength and compassion that will not be defeated.
~Brad Henry, OK Governor 2003-2011
Our Journey West Across the US
Post #1: Macon Music in Georgia
Post #2: Boy from Tupelo, Mississippi
Post #3: Two Must-Sees in Memphis Tennessee
Post #4: Mosey Through the Arkansas Ozarks
Post #5: Gettin’ Our Kicks on Route 66 from Missouri to Sapulpa, Oklahoma
This is Post #6: More Route 66 Kicks from Sapulpa to Oklahoma City
Post #7: Don’t Mess with Texas on Route 66
Post #8: Route 66 Texas Panhandle
Post #9: Bound for Tucumcari, New Mexico
Post #10: Santa Fe’ed Your Soul
Post #11: The Winds of Taos
Post #12: The Good, the Bad, and the Heinous of New Mexico
Post #13: Dusky, Durable Durango
Post #14: Cliff Dwellings of Mesa Verde Colorado
Post #15: Moab Rocks
Post #16: No Clever Title for Richfield, Utah
Post #17: Leavening Las Vegas