I spent my afternoon shooting everything that caught my eye on Route 66 between here and Vinita. Good thing I finally broke down and got a digital camera last summer; I couldn’t afford the luxury of blowing through 200 frames in just over three hours if I still had to pay for film and processing.
My fingers still feel weird from being out in the cold so long (despite the insulated leather Harley gloves I was wearing!) but I got enough interesting stuff to make it well worth the frozen fingers and toes.
Here’s a big ol’ double handful of the best. Enjoy!
Trailer court sign on Southwest Boulevard (Route 66) in Tulsa.
Old gas station on Southwest Boulevard (Route 66) in Tulsa.
Two views of the Blue Whale on Route 66 in Catoosa. I was cleaning off my windshield in the parking lot when the owner, Blaine Davis, pulled up. He rolled down his window and said, “I knew that had to be you in my parking lot, because nobody else would come out here on a day like this!”
Rust in peace. J.M. Davis Museum on Route 66 in Claremore.
Two scenes from Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park, four miles south of 66 on OK 28A in Foyil.
The next 10 images are from Little Tin Barn, a lawn-ornament emporium on Route 66 between Chelsea and Vinita.
Little Tin Barn is home to the most irresistible profusion of shapes and textures this side of California’s Bottle Tree Forest.
While I was there, I spent a few minutes chatting with the owner, who assured me I was nuts for traipsing around in the cold all afternoon.
“I used to be sane,” I said. “That was before I had a camera.”
He laughed. “I can understand that,” he said. “Come get me if you need anything.” He went back inside like a sane person. I stayed outside and burned ones and zeros for warmth.
Here’s just a little of what I found:
In case you’re wondering, I will be purchasing one of those lizards next time I’m out there. Would have done it today, except I didn’t notice them until Duane had already gone inside, and I didn’t want to drag him back out in the cold.
Coldest drinks in town….
I think this little guy with his sombrero full of snow was the most striking image out there:
I liked this gal, too, sunning herself in the bleak, dying light of a winter afternoon barreling toward dusk on Route 66:
And in case you were wondering, the answer is yes, they do have it:
I came upon this sobering sign on 66 a few miles east of Little Tin Barn:
As I waded through well-over-ankle-deep snow (thank God I had sense enough to wear boots today!) to get close enough to shoot the sign, an inquisitive gentleman came up to see what I was doing. He was so cute in his fuzzy winter coat that I just had to get his picture, too:
I took several pictures of the horse and the sign, but I like that last one best, because it gets horse, sign, fence, telephone pole, hay bales, snow, and a little bit of 66 all in one shot. It’s really the quintessential Route 66 image. You run across a lot of socially conscious landowners who use their property’s location on 66 to get their message out to the traveling public. Some post Bible verses; some put up crude, hand-lettered signs bearing heartfelt messages about an issue that bothers them; and the late Francis Marten went so far as to post the entire Hail Mary on little signs mounted to the fenceposts, Burma-Shave style, just west of the Our Lady of the Highways Shrine on his farm near Raymond, IL.
Whether you agree with the messages or not, their presence is important. It reflects the fact that 66 is a microcosm of America, and it is a road populated by real people with real concerns about real issues. It’s not slick and predictable like the interstate. It’s a place where a farmer can voice his opinions about the war in Iraq, and a friendly horse will come up to pose for a photograph.
I love Route 66. Sometimes it still amazes me to look around and realize that I’ve been blessed with the incredible privilege of living just blocks away from the world’s most famous highway, and I’ve been entrusted with the incredible responsibility of helping preserve and promote such a fascinating piece of history.