Water’s Edge Motel in Gravois Mills, Missouri.

After bidding adios to our friends at the Water’s Edge Motel in Gravois Mills, we rolled south, first on state highway 5 and then highway 7. The we picked up Route 66 near the Devil’s Elbow and commenced to mosey.

By the time my dearest friend and I made St. Robert after making a number of stops for photos and to explore the beautiful Missouri roadside, the appetite was adequately stimulated. The Route 66 Diner, a passable imitation of a classic 1950’s diner, caught our attention. The food and price was adequate as well as average but it did the trick. 
The long closed store and cabins near Stony Dell
east of Arlington.

The next stop has become a favorite of ours, the 4 M Vineyards store just to the east of Fanning, home of the world’s largest rocking chair. This is a real throwback that sparks an array of memories from childhood road trips with every stop. 

We sampled a wide array of interesting breads and goods including corn cob jam. Then we stocked up on fresh pumpkin bread and added a large jar of sorghum. 
The Wagon wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri.

As we drove into Cuba, and past the colorful murals, Shelly’s, and the charming old homes along the shade dappled road that once carried an endless stream of traffic on Route 66, the now familiar sense of warmth that comes with visiting an old friend chased away an entire year of frustrations, job related issues, worry, and anxieties. Then when we arrived at the time capsule that is the Wagon Wheel Motel and found it to be teeming with members of the Route 66 family that feeling was magnified ten fold. 

Only a cursory inspection of the Jeep that revealed a troubling oil leak at the front axle put the slightest of dampers on the warm glow. This, however, was a Route 66 family reunion wrapped in a Norman Rockwell print made manifest in a festival. 

Cuba Fest 2014, Cuba, Missouri. (Judy Hinckley) 

Mike Wallace, a friend from Ohio and a mechanic confirmed my initial thought that with care and an eye on oil levels, we could drive the Jeep back to Arizona. Then Frank Kocevar, the former owner of Seligman Sundries, offered to tow us home if need be. So, with all concerns alleviated, I made a few phone calls in the hope of finding a shop that would be open on Saturday.

When the first garage I called told me they would be closed on Saturday as the owner had promised to take his nephew fishing, I had to smile. Once again I had followed Route 66 down a rabbit hole that took me back to America circa 1958. What a delightful treat!
Excellent food and the camaraderie of friends at Missouri Hick Barbecue proved to be the perfect elixir and soon the Jeep, the oil leak, the long drive home, a pressing deadline, the need to make arrangements for our trip to Los Angeles in November, the Netherlands in January, and a litany of issues that had flitted through my thoughts as we drove east were pushed aside and swept into the corner.

The evening was still young and the best was yet to come. After dinner a small car show developed at the wagon Wheel Motel, a birthday party for Joe Loesch of the Road Crew unfolded, and a Route 66 family reunion commenced in earnest. 

Just like a kid at Christmas, or a pair of Hinckley’s long denied an opportunity for a road trip, we awoke with eager anticipation of the day to come. It commenced with a wonderful breakfast at Shelly’s shared with Mike and Sharon Ward, and Jane Reed.

Then it was off to the commons to set up my table and to kick off the official debut of The Illustrated Route 66 Historic Atlas. The early morning fall chill, the ebb and flow of crowds, the smell of wood smoke under a kettle of slow cooked apple butter, unhurried conversations with friends, the raising of the stars and stripes with troops from Fort Leonard Wood in attendance, laughing children, excellent music, and good food transformed the day into something almost magical. As a bonus, I sold a number of books!

All to soon, it was time to load up the Jeep and close out another delightful Cuba Fest celebration. This, however, was not the end. There was still an evening to be shared with my dearest friend at the wonderful Belmont Winery, a bottle of dogwood wine, an excellent wood fired pizza, the music of the Road Crew, good friends, and lots of laughter.
Authors Cheryl Eichar Jett and Joe Sonderman at the 2014
Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri. (Judy Hinckley)

The schedule for Sunday called for a leisurely drive to Route 66 State Park for their open house where I was to make a presentation and sign books, meet with Rich Dinkela to discuss development of his Route 66 events website, and then commencement of the long return trip with the days end scheduled for the Munger Moss in Lebanon. First, however, was a wonderful early morning visit with Connie Echols, owner of the Wagon Wheel Motel, that included pleasant conversation, fresh coffee, and pumpkin bread from the 4-M Vineyards store. 

We were soon joined by Mary Frances of Mid Century Style magazine, and gift shop customers traveling Route 66. What a wonderful way to start a day! 
In the next post, tales of the 2014 fall adventure will continue. Stay tuned as I have a few things to share such as the discovery of a few delightful restaurants, motel reveiws, and an introduction to a stunning museum.  
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