Day three flowed into day four of the grand adventure seamlessly. After exploring the ghostly streets of McLean the charming community of Shamrock seemed like a metropolis.
The heavy, dark clouds threatened to put a damper on the evening when we pulled up in front of the iconic Udrop Cafe forever immortalized in the animated classic film, Cars. We snapped a couple of quick photos as intermittent rain drops began pounding the Jeep like a drum
The weather and long day were beginning to take their toll and so soon we turned our attentions to the search for lodging and food. This also provided an excuse for cruising the streets and tagging locations for further exploration.
Apparently the threat of storms had led many to seek shelter for the evening in Shamrock. So, time and again we found there was no room at the inn and as a result when a vacancy was found at the Best Western Shamrock Inn there was no haggling on my part even though this turned out to be the most expensive evening of the entire trip, $85.00.
In the grand scheme of things this resulted in but one problem – throwing our budget off track. To compensate we used the added expense as an excuse to simply retire to the room for a light supper and some much needed relaxation.
As it turned out this decision was quite fortuitous. Our search for a grocery store led us to the restored Magnolia Gas station downtown and a preWalmart era locally owned grocery where we picked up some yogurt and sandwich making items. This little store with its hometown feel and friendly staff proved to be the final piece and we chalked Shamrock up as one of our favorite places.
The evening was a long one. Naps rather than sleep interrupted by tornado warnings, pounding rains, and deafening thunder left us a bit punchy and tired for the start of day four. Still, being on the road again and a stop at lonely little Texola soon banished the fatigue just as a spring shower washes the streets clean.
Under pewter skies we strolled the quiet streets and gave the imagination free reign.
Jack Rittenhouse noted in 1946 that Texola, “…a sun baked small town has an old section of stores which truly savor of pioneer days.”
Even with a small remnant population there can be little doubt Texola is for all intents and purposes a ghost town with ample opportunity for the photographer.
After three days of fighting winds and storms the cool temperatures and pleasant breezes inspired us to slow the pace and follow Route 66 through Erick, Hext, Sayre, Elk City, and Canute. In Foss the long suppressed urge to explore was given free reign and we found a quiet place under a tall tree to park the Jeep.
As with Texola, Foss is not a ghost town in the traditional sense but there are still a wide array of vestiges that give indication the little town was once more than a wide spot in the road.
One empty old station nestled in the brush had a restroom paneled with the old style aluminum press sheets used by newspapers. The print was faded to the point of being almost unreadable but on one was the date 1965.
We deviated from Route 66 after learning that there was a small herd of buffalo on a farm near Arapaho. For weeks and countless miles I had been teasing my wife that this trip could only be deemed a success if we saw real, live free roaming buffalo.
In Clinton we stopped at the Route 66 Museum, a must see attraction that will require a minimum of one hour to get the most out of your visit. Initially we were torn betweenn the museum in Elk City and the one in Clinton as our schedule prohibited two lengthy stops. A flip of a coin helped make the decision an easy one.
One of the primary restrictions on our time for day four was the desire to explore the area of Bridgeport and Geary. Having read about the history and scandal of the bridge at Bridgeport, and its replacement to the south on the Canadian River in Jim Ross’s book, had really piqued my interest. We were not disappointed. What a fascinating area filled with a wide array of attractions, sites, and, best of all, quiet places for a picnic.
At Yukon we closed our eyes, sucked it up, and hit the interstate to expedite our drive through Oklahoma City. See, I have a very low tolerance for miles of urban traffic punctuated with stop and go. As this was to a relaxing trip it seemed a very logical decision.
To celebrate our survival of the gauntlet we stopped in Arcadia at Pops. We had hoped to also explore the round barn but it had closed at 5:00 PM, about twenty minutes previous to our arrival.
We sampled an Australian ginger ale and picked up a six pack of various types of soda as a souvenir for our son. My son has an odd sense of humor that mirrors mine and as a result how could we resist buying soda with names like Kitty Piddle and Rat Bastard?
As a result of the late hour we decided to skip calling Jerry McClanahan or dropping in unexpectedly. Instead we added this as well as a stop at the Rock Cafe to the list of to do items for the return trip.
We found Chandler and Stroud to be entrancing little communities that we could easily call home and so we mentally added them to the list of towns that had enamored us on this trip. The only criticism we can offer is they are not surrounded by desert!
One of the more intriguing stops on this portion of our trip was Depew. As the sun was fast setting in the west we earmarked this little community for further exploration, perhaps on the return trip.
The day drew to a close with us cruising through Bristow. This leads to a lodging recommendation. The Carolyn Inn, at the east end of town near the turnpike entrance, was a pleasant surprise.
The property is old but clean. The staff was very friendly. The aamenities were basic but the cost, $60.00 including tax, was quite acceptable.
As with every day of the trip this one ended with eager anticipation about the day to come. For day five the schedule included Afton Station, Kansas, exploration of the ghost town trail in Missouri, and a pleasant evening in Springfield.