Route 66: Springfield, MO to Springfield, IL

September 12, 2015 Categories Road Trips, Travel, USA

Miles driven: 307.8

I’ve been in two Springfields today and I’ve yet to see any of the Simpsons. Granted, I didn’t see much of anything today. The only stop I made in Missouri was in St. Louis at the Arch. I’ve seen the Arch before, but today I went to the top of it. It’s $3 to get in, or free if you have an annual National Park pass (which I do). If you want to ride to the top of the Arch, it’s an additional $7 that the annual pass doesn’t cover. The entire park is currently under construction, which ruined some of the ground-level views, but once the construction is done, the park is supposed to look pretty snazzy.

The “elevator” up to the top of the Arch is quite unique. There are eight little pods (and I do mean LITTLE) that form somewhat of a train that climbs vertically up the Arch. The pods are barely four feet tall and are round-ish, so I had to tilt my head forward the entire ride up to avoid hitting it (a second time) on the wall/ceiling. They cram five people to a pod.

Once at the top, the view is amazing. You can even see some of the construction that’s going on in the park down below.

Seeing the Arch took a couple hours out of the day. The rest of the afternoon was more driving without any stops. The next stop I know I wanna make is 30 or 40 miles North in Atlanta, followed by a stop in Wilmington, and then finally Chicago. Hopefully I can do it all tomorrow and still make it out of Chicago before the traffic gets too crazy.

Route 66: Elk City, OK to Springfield, MO

September 11, 2015 Categories Road Trips, Travel, USA

Miles driven: 449.4

Today was a long day and my brain was completely shut down by the time it was over. I made a big push to get all the way to Springfield, Missouri today, but I honestly wanted to stop by the time I got to the end of Oklahoma. I only have the rental car for four more days and I don’t want to pay to keep it for any longer than I have to, so I’m trying to make as much mileage as possible each day.

I liked Oklahoma because it had some of the best roadside attractions that I had seen so far. I also liked it because gas was insanely cheap. Most places in Oklahoma (and Texas) had gas for $1.99 and near Oklahoma City I saw one place that was $1.84. Too bad it’s not like that everywhere.

My first stop today was at Pops in Arcadia, just East of Oklahoma City. Pops is a gas station, restaurant, and “soda ranch” all in one. They’re well known for having the most soda flavors available anywhere – over 700 different kinds – and for their iconic, landmark soda bottle that just so happens to be 66 feet tall. I couldn’t help myself from laughing at some of the soda names and I decided to buy a make-it-yourself six pack. I think the Kickapoo Joy Juice has the best name.

Not too far down the road in Arcadia is a rare, round barn that’s been there since 1898. There’s supposedly only 20 or 30 of these barns in existence anywhere.

My highlight of the day was gonna be Tulsa, to visit the Route 66 museum, but as it turns out there isn’t one in Tulsa… yet. Somehow I got confused about its location and it’s actually back in Clinton (about 150 miles in the other direction). I feel like an idiot because I actually saw the sign for the museum in Clinton, but didn’t stop because I wanted to go to the Tulsa one. So, the only thing I stopped at to check out in Tulsa was the Golden Driller statue, which is the fifth largest statue in the US.

My last stop was at the Blue Whale in Catoosa. Next to Pops, this was the coolest stop of the day because of how random it is. It’s free to walk in and there’s a small gift shop at the entrance. The entire whale is a dock that you can walk on (and apparently fish from). You can also climb up inside the whale’s head and look out the port holes. I really enjoyed this stop.

From there I drove to Springfield without stopping and had dinner with a friend. I passed through Kansas on the way, but there’s only 13 miles of Route 66 there and nothing I found worth stopping at.

Route 66: Santa Rosa, NM to Elk City, OK

September 10, 2015 Categories Road Trips, Travel, USA

Miles driven: 334.2

Today was focused on Texas. I enjoyed the sights in Texas, but I hated how they have the road set up with I-40. Route 66 is basically the frontage road that runs parallel with the Interstate, but the on/off ramps are directly connected to the service road (Route 66). So, while driving along on Route 66 you’ll suddenly see a yield sign when you approach Interstate exits. And you better pay attention, or else you might have a semi barreling down the road directly at you going 65mph. It wasn’t bad when Route 66 follows the service road on the North of I-40, as you can see the West bound traffic coming at you and making the exits, but I really didn’t like when 66 was on the South service road because it was much harder to see if cars were coming at me.

Anywho, my first real stop today was in Adrian, Texas at the MidPoint Cafe. Adrian was the exact halfway point between Chicago and Santa Monica, but I’m sure that it might not be anymore due to how much the route has changed over the years. I bet it’s still close, though. Either way, they have a cool sign letting you know you’re in the middle.

Just down the road from the MidPoint Cafe are the remnants of an old gas station that I thought looked interesting. It would be so incredibly awesome if that coke machine was a functioning one.

About 50 miles East of Adrian is Amarillo, where the famous Cadillac Ranch is located. Some things I learned today about Cadillac Ranch: 1) It’s not actually located on Route 66; it’s a few miles South of it. 2) It’s in the middle of a field (I always thought it was directly next to a road). And 3) There are only 10 cars that make up Cadillac Ranch; I always thought it was a lot more.

It was difficult getting pictures due to how many people were at this stop. Almost everyone there was spray painting the cars to leave their mark. Even as I was taking pictures, some old lady (not joking, she had to be in her 60’s) came up and started spray painting right next to where I was crouched down taking the photo below.

I continued on and stopped again in Groom, which is about 40 miles East of Amarillo. Just past the town area, on the opposite side of the freeway, was the well known “leaning” water tower. As simple as it is, this is one of the coolest looking things of the day.

After 20 more miles East, I stopped in Alanreed at this 1930’s Texaco “66 Super Service Station”. I actually drove by it and had to turn around to get pictures, as it just snuck up on me.

Shortly after that was the town of McLean. I thought this motel sign looked neat.

But this is what I drove around McLean looking for; a restored 1930’s Phillips 66 Station. The road is divided into one-way strips through the town and has a block in between them, sometimes with buildings in the way blocking the view and sometimes not. The Phillips Station was on the West bound side of the road and I couldn’t see it at first going East bound. I made a loop around the town, driving both sides of the road to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

I stopped for the night in Elk City about 40 miles after crossing into Oklahoma. I’m hoping to be in Springfield, Missouri by tomorrow, but we’ll see how that goes.