The trusty Jeep in Elk City during the fall 2014 road trip.
Being somewhat technologically impaired (a fancy way of saying that I just don’t seem to get it) hindered regular postings during our road trip, the fall 2014 edition. These problems were compounded by very long days on the road that resulted in some pretty late arrivals at motels, some early starts that found us enjoying the sunrise as it unfolded over the highway, and the simple fact that some of our evenings were consumed with the need to restock supplies, lively conversations, incredible dinners with friends, good music, and in general, good times.
As there was a need for speed on day one, we followed I-40 to Holbrook for lunch at Joe & Aggies with David Heward, a local with very long roots in the community that is becoming a leader in the rebirth of the historic city. Then it was back on the road with an eye on Santa Rosa and a dinner at Joseph’s with Dean Kennedy, a friend with a shared passion for Route 66 and the people that make it special.
An oasis in Guymon, Oklahoma
The following day was another long one with the final destination being El Dorado, Kansas a few miles to the east of Wichita. Magnifying the long hours was the vast emptiness of the Panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma, and western Kansas.
The saving grace during the first half of the day was the discovery of a wonderful little restaurant in Guymon, Oklahoma. Our second stop later that afternoon merely fueled a very long running joke that is now well into its third decade.
From our very first road trip as husband and wife, when an attraction failed to meet expectations, or was deemed a bit hokey, I would quip that it was the World’s Largest Hand Dug Well. Well, on this trip my plans was to introduce my dearest friend to this one of a kind road side attraction that is the claim to fame in Greensburg, Kansas.
On my last visit the well was surround by a beautiful park and covered by a gazebo type roof. Now, the park is still there but the well is encased in a shrine, a shrine that I might add, closed ten minutes before our arrival. The joke continues.
The third day marked the start of a more relaxed pace for our adventure. After a wonderful and hearty breakfast, we explored a beautiful park that embraces an intriguing county and oil field museum.
The next stop was Fort Scott, the historic community as well as the fort itself. This will most definitely be added to our very long list of must see places.
The historic district is truly an architectural treasure. It is also amply peppered with wonderful shops (including a book store!) and restaurants.
The fort itself is scenic as well as historic. Walking the grounds, and exploring the buildings with exhibits that captures the essence of military life on the frontier, there is an almost palpable sense of history.
The morning view from our room at the Water’s Edge Motel in Gravois Mills, Missouri.
In El Dorado Springs, Missouri, we discovered an unexpected time capsule in the form of a small café where everyone smoked. The waitress, the cook, the cashier and most everyone except for the kid coloring his menu and enjoying his grilled cheese sandwich seemed to have a cigarette hanging from their mouth.
To be honest I had almost forgotten what it was like when restaurants were often as smoky as a skid row pool room. I seem to have also forgotten that there was a time when I contributed to the foul atmosphere.
As it has been a tough year for us, and as this was our first major road trip in 2014, I had a surprise for my wife in the guise of a beautiful lake cradled by mountains bedecked in fall colors. The bonus was to be our haven for the evening, the Water’s Edge Motel, a wonderful gem that hearkens to a time before the Lake of the Ozarks was almost entirely ringed by condos and resorts.
As this motel is accessed by a relatively short but extraordinarily scenic drive from Route 66, I wholeheartedly suggest travelers consider adding it to the travel itinerary.
Water’s Edge Motel, Gravois Mills, Missouri.
Enhancing our visit was an excellent dinner and wonderful conversation shared with Bob Swengrosh, and Robin, friends as well as the proprietors of this wonderful motel and ardent Route 66 enthusiasts. Our only regret was that the pressing schedule prevented staying for a second, or third, or fourth day.
It was a late start day. The stunning sunrise, a hearty breakfast, as well as coffee and conversation shared with our hosts, kept us from hitting the road until almost 10:00.
We meandered south and picked up Route 66 just east of Lebanon, and then motored through the Devil’s Elbow on our way to Cuba. And that is where will pick up the story with our next posting.