It wasn’t my most abbreviated Route 66 adventure. It also wasn’t the most adventuresome even though Roger’s Car (the descriptor that will be used for our mode of transport on this adventure)was an almost never ending source of concern. However, without a doubt it was the most educational.
The primary purpose of the adventure was to introduce Wes Davies, publisher of New Zealand Today, and Roger Allison representing Sam Murray’s Gilligan’s Wild West Tours, to the wonders of Route 66, and to set GPS waypoints for a series of Route 66 tours these gentlemen will be hosting next year. The secondary purposes were to gather additional photos for the new book, to solicit support for the 2014 Route 66 International Festival, and to make introductions along the way.
Wes Davies allowed me to see Route 66 from a different perspective. He also provided me with an opportunity to introduce the wonders of this amazing old highway to a Route 66 neophyte, and to note what garnered a wow or two.
As noted in the previous posting, the adventure began with an early morning drive to Las Vegas, enduring the gauntlet of citizen suspect security measures at the airport, a flight to Denver, a layover, and then a flight in to Midway at Chicago. Next, we picked up Roger’s Car, a vehicle purchased from an area dealer, and meeting Wes.
Even though it was late afternoon, we set out for Joliet noting key stops for the tours next year such as White Fence Farms and the incredible Rialto Theater. The morning weather report had noted cold and rainy in Chicago but we arrived to 80 degree temperature, high humidity, and rain.
This presented a few issues as Roger and I were dressed for cooler weather. It also led to the immediate discovery that Roger’s Car had not been prepped even though the promise that it was ready for the road had been an integral part of the deal.
The windshield had a film on it as well as snippets of the shoe polish windshield advertisement from the dealership. As a bonus the windshield wipers were in dire need of replacement and the rear tire was half flat.
Then came the discovery that the parking garage ticket was not included in the paperwork and was not left in the vehicle. Needless to say, this created a few interesting complications.
Next came immediate issues with the transmission. One half were the operators fault as we were unfamiliar with the relatively exotic electronic transmission. The other half as we soon discovered was a most disconcerting issue with the gear box.
Still, we survived city traffic long enough to sort out the operator induced issues and after a stop at McDonald’s to reconnoiter, we took to the road. The long day drew to a close with an excellent dinner, delightful conversation, and a couple of beers.
For day two the destination was St. Louis. So, after a hearty breakfast, we loaded into Roger’s Car and set out on a voyage of discovery through the lush landscapes of rural Illinois, and through a string of communities where the essence of the romanticized version of America still reigns supreme.
I even made a discovery, a clear indicator that regardless of how many times you travel this storied old road, there are still surprises. This one took the form of the Wild Hare restaurant in Elkhart. What an absolute delight!
In St. Louis we stopped by the arch for a few photos, set waypoints, and found a motel on the outskirts of town. Day two ended as had day one with good food, fascinating conversations, and a couple of beers.
From St. Louis we set our sights on Tulsa, an indicator of how much of a whirlwind trip this was. Still, we cruised much of Route 66, had a great lunch (no surprise) at Missouri Hicks, visited with Dennis Meiser, missed Connie, visited with Bob and Ramona at the Munger Moss, worked on Roger’s Car at Napa in Joplin, missed Melba and Laurel (Wes had great interest in the De Soto Airflow at Afton Station), and made it to Tulsa late that evening.
Our haven for the night was the recently refurbished Campbell Hotel and dinner at Maxwell’s, an absolute treasure on both counts. Photos will be shared but if your in the Tulsa area on a Route 66 adventure, I strongly suggest partaking in the delights of either facility.
The next day was another whirlwind with the destination being Amarillo. We stopped for a visit with the one and only McJerry, enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Lucille’s in Weatherford, I signed books for the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, checked in on Harley and Annabelle but there weren’t home, set waypoints, and arrived in Amarillo a bit to late to call on the legendary Croc.
The evening was a replay of the previous nights, and then the next morning, we set out early and were at the Cadillac Ranch in time for the sunrise. Then it was on to the Midpoint Café, a trip through Glenrio and Endee, and a stop in Tucumcari.
We missed Kevin and Nancy but caught up with Richard Talley, found an excellent coffee shop, and continued the journey westward. Lunch time found us in Albuquerque and as I was the official guide, that meant it was time for a stop at Kelly’s Brew Pub.
Fortified with an excellent Greek salad, we continued the journey. The destination was the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup.
The old hotel is really starting to show its age but it is still a gem. The lack of a good nights sleep was offset with an opportunity to visit with Mr. Ortega, excellent food, good conversation, and the stunning ambiance of the place.
The next morning started with a breakfast of atole, coffee, and toast, cold rain and a beautiful rainbow that framed the historic hotel. Photos will be posted soon.
Even though it wasn’t lunch time a stop at the La Posada in Winslow was mandatory. We had coffee and I signed books for their gift shop and then we again hit the road with the destination being Williams and the Pine Country Restaurant for lunch.
Near Winnona the intermittent showers had turned to snow flurries and by Flagstaff we were driving through a full blown snow storm. At Williams there were several inches of the white stuff on the ground which seemed to enhance the flavor of the pie and coffee.
Next it was Seligman, Peach Springs, Topock, Hackberry, and Oatman. Yep, it was a whirlwind adventure.
Still, any adventure on Route 66, even with Roger’s car, is better than the best day at work.