Category Archives: Route 66

Trout Fishing in Oklahoma

Coleman Theatre Beautiful

Sorry today’s post is so late. Ron and I went over to Miami this evening to catch a Trout Fishing in America concert at the Coleman Theatre Beautiful on Route 66. It was a general admission show, and somehow, despite showing up about five minutes before the show was supposed to start, we managed to score front-row seats. (I seem to have good luck at folk concerts lately….) Cameras were allowed, so Ron ran out to the car and got mine for me.

I posted pictures and a full report over at Ron’s blog.

Meanwhile, back in Red Fork …


One of my hostas is coming up next to the pond. Hopefully I can plant something over there to shade it before the sun gets too intense. When I planted last year, we still had the boxelder shading the pond. Now it gets full sun. We’re starting to get problems with filamentous algae; as soon as the last frost date is past, I’m going to do a partial water change and cover the entire surface of the water with hyacinths.


The girls apparently kicked a lazy drone out of the hive today. I saw this guy crawling around on the ground in front of the hive. I watch our workers a lot, and I once saw a queen in her little wire-and-wood cage before we installed her in a new hive, but I’ve never seen a drone before.

False garlic

The false garlic is taking over the yard. You can’t believe how much of this stuff we’ve got growing in the back yard. I don’t mind. I think it’s pretty. And if you look closely, you’ll see that little pollinators apparently like it.

Ground Ivy

Our next-door neighbor has a profusion of ground ivy growing between his house and our driveway, just under his flowering almond bush. It’s putting out tons of gorgeous little blue blossoms.

Hope your day was good.


What diet?

The weather was nice today — much warmer than it’s been the last week or so. We spent the afternoon at Cain’s Ballroom, listening to my young friends Emma Jane and Marina Pendleton perform with the Roundup Boys. The girls, who play fiddle and mandolin, were very good, and Ron is crazy about Western swing music, so we had a good time.

I blew my diet to the tune of 2,500 calories today. We spent a good bit of time on Route 66 today, and I just couldn’t resist the lunch buffet at Ollie’s … or a chocolate-dipped ice-cream cone at Toppers in Bristow this evening … or a sandwich, chips and sweet tea at the Rock Cafe in Stroud. But that’s OK. I have just about talked myself into running the OKC Memorial Marathon — for which I have not even begun to train — so I am going to be doing some serious running and cross-training over the next few weeks.

This means that my definition of the word “diet” is about to change.

To a non-runner, the term “diet” means something like “Atkins” or “Slim-Fast” or “less than 1,500 calories a day.”

To a marathoner four weeks from another race, the term “diet” means something like “Can I get a side of pasta salad and an extra roll to go with those mashed potatoes? Hey, Pal — whaddayou lookin’ at? It’s called ‘carbo-loading.’ Let’s see you haul your skinny little butt 26.2 miles, and then you can come talk to me about your precious Dr. Atkins.”

It’s good to be a marathoner. Pass the Ben & Jerry’s, would you?


Mother Roading

Rearview sunset

We spent most of Sunday afternoon on Route 66: Late lunch at the Rock Cafe in Stroud, a stop in Chandler to pick up some paperwork in the Oklahoma Route 66 Association office, and stops at the Round Barn and a nearby Southwestern gift shop in Arcadia before heading over to Western Trail Trading Post in OKC to talk to the owner about some Association business. The photo above was shot on Route 66 somewhere between Bristow and Kellyville.

A little before sunset, I caught these striking clouds just west of Stroud:

Evening sun

We stopped in Depew on the way back:

Depew at sunset

We had storms Sunday evening. (This post is late because we had the computers unplugged to protect them from lightning.) Judging from the sound of the windchimes just outside my office window, I think we might have more on the way. Good for us. We need the rain. We’re still under a burn ban, and most of Oklahoma is one big tinderbox right now.

Actually, most of the Southwest is one big tinderbox right now. Ron and I just got word that McLean, Texas — a great Route 66 town, and home of the famous Barbed Wire Museum — has been evacuated because of a big fire that is also threatening Groom (home of the famous Leaning Water Tower and a giant cross). The residents of those areas are certainly in our thoughts and prayers today.

Hope you had a beautiful weekend.


A challenge

I was reading the Christian Science Monitor online today when I came across an interesting book review that really inspired me.

The book, called Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, by Judith Levine, is about a year the author spent refusing to buy anything she did not need for survival. She took her experiment to an extreme with which I am not comfortable, but her idea inspired me in a somewhat similar direction.

Ron and I are huge Route 66 supporters. One of the biggest concerns for roadies is the impact of corporate America on little mom-and-pop operations. To put it bluntly, the McFranchises and Chain-Marts are absolutely killing the little guys. One local feed store owner told me last week that her corporate-owned competitor will advertise items for sale at prices lower than she can buy them wholesale. As she put it: “That hurts.”

The government won’t (and probably shouldn’t) stop the giants. But consumers can (and probably should). Money talks. And I’m not sure I like what mine is saying.

I’ve always balked at the idea of boycotting the big guys in favor of Mom and Pop. The prices are too high. Little stores don’t carry all the products I use. Blah, blah, blah.

But with a smaller selection, won’t I be less tempted to buy things I don’t need, thus more than compensating for the slightly higher prices of individual items? Won’t the little guys’ limited hours encourage me to rummage through my existing hardware collection when I need something instead of rushing to Lowe’s to buy a duplicate?

And if I truly need an item that my local mom-and-pop doesn’t carry … isn’t it likely that they’ll be willing to order it for me if they recognize me as a loyal customer?

We’ll find out.

Starting today, for a period of one month, I refuse to set foot in a corporate-affiliated store (with one significant exception: Our local Fleet Feet store, which is a franchise, has my undying loyalty because its owners, Tim and Lori Dreiling, do so much for the Tulsa running community; they may be a franchise, but they’ve got the soul of a mom-and-pop).

I’ll post updates on my experiment here.


Wick, or: Lazarus, come forth

Our elusive goldfish, Lazarus, decided to make an appearance while Ron was cleaning the pond today. I didn’t get a picture, but oh, my goodness, he’s beautiful.

Laz was the last survivor of a school of four feeder goldfish I bought about a year ago. Ironically, he’d always looked sickly — an eye problem here, missing scales there — but somehow he was the last man standing.

A few days after I put him into the pond last spring, he just … vanished.

We searched that pond over and over, and that little fish just flat wasn’t in there, so we quit feeding him and gave him up for dead.

Several weeks later, I came home feeling very sorry for myself, ready to give up my volunteer work for Route 66 over a combination of factors that had me frustrated to the point of tears.

I walked out into the backyard that evening … and saw the water hyacinth in the pond blooming for the first (and only) time in its life. As I went to get a closer look, I saw a flash of orange and white dart through the water.

I gasped. No way. My previously unnamed fish was alive and well and three times bigger than he’d been the last time I’d seen him. We christened him “Lazarus” in honor of his apparent resurrection.

I took his sudden reappearance as a message from God: That which the world would give up for dead is very much alive.

Of course I couldn’t give up on 66, no matter how frustrated I was. So I redoubled my efforts and wound up having a summer filled with wonderful Route 66 projects that blessed me — and many others — in all sorts of unexpected ways.

Lazarus has disappeared and reappeared several more times over the past few months, surviving against what seem to be insurmountable odds. He’s my gorgeous little reminder never to give up, no matter what material conditions seem to suggest.

To quote my favorite song from “The Secret Garden”:

When a thing is wick, it has a life about it.
Now, maybe not a life like you and me.
But somewhere there’s a single streak of green inside it.
Come, and let me show you what I mean.

When a thing is wick, it has a light around it.
Maybe not a light that you can see.
But hiding down below a spark’s asleep inside it,
Waiting for the right time to be seen.

Weekend in New Mexico

My trip got off to an auspicious start Friday, as I headed out of town after work and found myself driving into OKC under the most gorgeous sunset imaginable. My friend Brad called me just as I noticed the pink mackerel clouds off to my left. Five minutes into our conversation, the light had changed colors three times, there were enormous bands of gold streaking across a dazzling blue sky, and wispy pink clouds danced along the edges like the fringe on some giant falsa blanket. I finally interrupted him to ask if he could get to a west-facing window.

He couldn’t.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a fisheye lens or a place to pull over (I was on the turnpike just then), so I couldn’t shoot it for him. But I felt like a bit of a tease, telling him about that gorgeous sunset while he was stuck in a downtown skyscraper, so I made a mental note to bring back a New Mexico sunset for him.

These next three shots are for Brad. Notice Tucumcari Mountain in the background of the first two images:

Tucumcari Mountain



I spent two nights at the incomparable Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari. The weather was a little chilly, and it was too overcast to go out and shoot dazzling vistas on Saturday morning, so aside from brief visits to each of my usual haunts (Tepee Curios, Lowe’s grocery store, Coyote Moon, and La Cita), I spent most of the day at the Swallow, reading and napping and taking it easy. Which was fine with me … I’ve made so many manic trips out that direction, it was good to have a little time to slow down and catch my breath.


Inflation forced this bit of neon work off the Swallow’s marquee, but the owner keeps it hanging in a garage to amuse nostalgia buffs:

$3 and up

I slept in a little on Sunday morning, read some more, and then hit the road around 11 a.m. Tucumcari time (which would be noon Tulsa time).

Instead of taking Route 66 back home, as I’ve done a dozen times before, I decided to try something new: I took U.S. 54 to Guymon, then picked up U.S. 412 from Guymon to Sand Springs, which is about 5 miles from where I live. I found a few interesting things on the road.

This great-looking old motel is in Nara Visa, N.M., about five miles from the Texas border:

Western Stars

As I was shooting this theater in Dalhart, Texas, a guy jogging down the otherwise deserted street said, “The inside is even prettier.” I can well imagine. Too bad it wasn’t open.

Theater in Dalhart

This monument to the XIT Ranch is also in Dalhart:

XIT monument

This guy is standing outside an abandoned steakhouse between Dalhart and Stratford:

Big guy

This abandoned house east of Guymon looks like something out of The Grapes of Wrath. There are a lot of abandoned houses like this in western Oklahoma:


I think this next image is from Woodward, but I didn’t take notes, so I could have shot it somewhere else:

Mystery motel

I didn’t know this was possible, but I think Oklahoma has actually one-upped New Mexico for gorgeous scenery. Look at the striations in these mesas. They look like something out of the Painted Desert, but they’re actually on U.S. 412 west of Enid:

Painted 1

Painted 2

Painted 3

And finally, just to cap the trip, here’s a sunset west of Enid:

OK sunset

I am the Starlight …

The Starlight Express (my Scion xA, so dubbed because of its striking resemblance to a roller skate) and I are back in town.

I am pleased to report that it was a wonderful, relaxing trip, and by the grace of God, the Starlight Express and I shattered our old gas mileage record (399.9 miles on a single tank) by 30.8 miles, posting an impressive 40.712733 mpgs tonight after getting caught on the Cimarron Turnpike with a tenth of a tank and 395 miles on the trip odometer. The gas light came on at 400 miles … five miles past the sign that said, “GAS — FOOD — NEXT EXIT — 35 MILES.”

There was nearly a gallon and a half left in the tank when I finally fueled up.

Mind you, the Starlight Express is not a hybrid … just an inexpensive, well-designed Japanese ICE that’s got an EPA rating of 38 mpg highway but easily outperforms that if you drive like a hypermiler. I highly recommend the xA if you need something inexpensive, reliable, and cheap to feed.

More details from the trip when I get these photos worked up.


66 in the snow

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 park

Trailer court sign on Southwest Boulevard (Route 66) in Tulsa.

Bell station

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

Rust in peace. J.M. Davis Museum on Route 66 in Claremore.

World's Largest Totem Pole


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.


Dr Pepper

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:

Kitchen sink

I came upon this sobering sign on 66 a few miles east of Little Tin Barn:

Iraq sign

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.



I’m just about finished with my mural project for Paintmaster. I just have to go back sometime this weekend, when I can look at it with fresh eyes, and see if there are any touchups to be done or details I’ve missed.

Here’s the last big stuff I did:

gas pump

Here is the whole mural:

Finished mural

I didn’t get my herbs planted tonight, but that’s OK. I’ll have time to do that this weekend.

Hope your day was productive.


Oh, P.S.: I have lots more tomato sprouts coming up. Hooray!