Before we continue with the quick version of our recent Route 66 adventure I need to provide a bit of an update. As you may have noticed, we are a bit behind schedule in regard to the print of the month offer.
The recent trip is just one of my excuses. The second is the development of a special offer that includes a random print featuring a Route 66 location plus signed copies of four travel guides – Ghost Towns of Route 66, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Backroads of Arizona, Route 66 Backroads – for $89.95 including shipping.
Now, we left off yesterday with the book signing at the Barnes & Noble store in Des Peres, Missouri, battling traffic as we left the city, and hitting the road for Cuba, Missouri. The destination for the evening was the historic Wagon Wheel Motel and Connies Shoppe where I was to sign books along with acclaimed author Joe Sonderman of St. Louis that evening.
As time was not of the essence we picked up Route 66 near Eureka and continued west through the rolling hills sprinkled with the reds, oranges, and yellows of fall leaves. For a late afternoon lunch we selected Skippy’s at a quiet county highway junction and were not disappointed in our choice.
In simple terms Skippy’s is an old fashioned road house. Still, the food was good, the service better than average, and the price was on par with many of the generic fast food joints.
The Wagon Wheel Motel, lovingly refurbished by Connie Echols, is an amazing time capsule where the past and present blend seamlessly to create a veritable oasis from the fast paced sterility of the modern era. Just wait until you see the pictures!
We arrived a bit early, took full advantage of the recently refurbished guest laundry facilities, and explored the intricate balance of preservation and modernity on display in our room. For the Hinckley hillbillies it was the state of the art shower that presented the greatest challenge. I will allow the photos of the shower, sans occupants, to tell the tale.
It was a truly delightful evening. While a small group of guests gathered in the vintage metal lawn chairs under the towering trees frosted with fall color, Joe and I assumed our position on the back deck. There was the faintest hint of fall in the air as we met with a wide array of Route 66 enthusiasts, enjoyed cake, wine, and a variety of snacks, signed books, and discussed the history and character of this amazing highway.
My dearest friend and I finished the evening with a quiet stroll around the beautifully landscaped grounds, and photographing the recently refurbished neon signage. It truly was a perfect way to end a perfect day.
The next morning my dearest friend and I, as well as Joe Sonderman, Rich Dinkella, and Dean Kennedy, gathered at Zeno’s in nearby Rolla, Missouri for an excellent but somber breakfast before setting out for the book signing in Lebanon at their excellent Route 66 museum and a special adventure along the way. After more than forty years of providing the Route 66 traveler with good food, friendly service, and pleasant lodging, Zeno’s will be closing its doors soon.
As we savored our breakfast in contemplative silence the owner, son of the founder, talked with us about what the closure meant to his family. It was a deeply moving discussion that left me feeling as though a dear friend had passed.
After breakfast we rolled west into the mountains and made a stop that became one of the highlights of our trip. Marooned high on a hill above the interstate highway the old Beacon Motel, the last vestige of a complex that once included a restaurant and service station, stands as a silent sentinel to more than eighty years of highway evolution that had left its scars on the hills below.
Resultant of its isolated setting the old motel has survived into the modern era with an almost disturbing degree of abandonment. The rooms now house all manner of wildlife and yet clothes still hang in the closets, Dixie cups are still housed in their bathroom dispensers, and directions for the heaters still adorn the beautiful pine paneling in the empty rooms.
Resultant of our excursion, Joe and I arrived at the signing a bit worse for wear but on time. As with each promotional stop on this trip we were met by enthusiastic fans of the double six. My special treat was a visit by Ramona of the Munger Moss Motel who gave me a hug and told me that her husband, Bob, loved my book, Ghost Towns of Route 66.
After the signing my dearest friend and I bid adios to Joe, Rich, Dean, and the delightful staff at the museum, and headed west for the next appointment, the Powers Museum in Carthage where I was to sign books and to speak on the magic of Route 66. As we had but a few hours for the 100 plus mile trip, there was little choice but to follow the interstate highway at least as far as Springfield.
The turn out at the museum was small but enthusiastic. Counted among the guests was Ron Hart of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce that has relocated the offices for that organization to the historic Boots Motel. Plans are well underway to transform this property into the mythical Phoenix.
After the signing we spent a few minutes photographing the amazing court house and the surrounding square before grabbing a sandwich at Subway. Then it was off into the night as we had an appointment in Sand Springs west of Tulsa.
The next morning we again sucked it up, took to the turnpike, and headed for breakfast in Oklahoma City with Ken Turmel, the creative artist behind the post mark art series. We arrived just as the heavy clouds that had darkened the morning began to let loose only to find Ken was under the weather. 
So, we continued our westward journey with plans for ending the day in Santa Rosa. That meant we would have to forgo a stay at the beautiful Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari or checking in on Richard Talley at the Motel Safari but it was the only option as we would be left with but one day to make Kingman, and I had business early the next morning in Albuquerque. 
As had been our custom on the journey east, we slipped from the past to the present and back again by alternating between the interstate highway and Route 66 as the rains fell in sheets. And, of course, we found ample excuse for stops even though each one added minutes to a very long day.
I signed books for the gift shop at the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City and the gift shop at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, we dined at Lucille’s Roadhouse, and photographed the quiet streets of Texola under stormy skies. In Shamrock we again stopped, this time to photograph automotive derelicts for an article to be published in Old Cars Weekly, and to have dinner at Big Verne’s Steak House.
We arrived in Glenrio just in time for a stunning sunset. Now, who could resist stopping to enjoy and photograph that?
Next came a stop at Russell’s for the restroom and assorted snacks before heading off to meet the Mueller’s, the new owners of the historic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari. Now, when it comes to Route 66 there is no such thing as a quick stop.
After the initial exchange of pleasantries they asked if I had any copies of Ghost Towns of Route 66 available as they were sold out, again. While unloading the books I met and talked with the gentleman who is contemplating the purchase of the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian. Then there was lively discussion with some very wet motorcyclists from Kansas, a young couple from Oklahoma, and several others that wandered into the office/gift shop as the world famous neon flashed outside the window.
With great reluctance, and deep weariness, we bid adios and saddled up for the last leg of the days journey. The lights of the Best Western Santa Rosa Inn, a favorite stop of ours when we find ourselves in Santa Rosa at the end of a very long day, were a very welcome sight.

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