June 16 - Route 66 - Leaving Missouri, through Kansas, into Oklahoma

I arrived at Twin Bridges , S.P. this evening...about twenty miles from the borders of Kansas and Missouri.

It rained on and off, mostly on, all day. It was an interesting drive though....I'm really enjoying the Route 66 drive. It makes me think I was born too late sometimes though, I mean imagine the adventure of driving from Chicago to L.A. when it was the ONLY way to go. Staying at motels and eating and roadhouses along the way.

Early this morning, just West of Springfield I saw a lot of commotion in some fields on the north side of 66. Lot's of cars and tents and stuff. I saw a sign that said "Festival Camping" with an arrow pointing down a side road, so I pulled in. A guy was taking money and directing cars. I asked him what was going on and he said it was the Springfield Country Music Festival was going on this weekend. I looked around quickly and decided I would pass. I did take a picture of one group's campsite before I left....It's the first one here, with the big tent and yellow truck....notice the stars and bars hanging from the extra long antenna.

I continued on down Route 66. Passing fields full of cows, funny how the rain never bothers them. 66 paralleled I-44 pretty closely so I could see the billboards and stuff. I had seen a lot of billboards advertising different acts playing in Branson, MO. I've heard things about Branson and I wondered if I shouldn't truck on down there to see it for myself...I would have to make a decision soon as I was approaching Oklahoma. I came to a billboard......"Shoji - Invites you to visit Branson" it read. Well Shoji looked like a nice enough guy....but I took another look at his white sequins jacket and decided I could live a few more years without visiting Branson..sorry Shoji.

I crossed several old bridges on 66 as I passed through Halltown, Phelps, and Avilla. I stopped at Owen's Service Station for a fill up....it said "Full Serve", but I waited and waited and no one ever came out.....actually the place has been boarded up for years.

I stopped at "Bryant's Family Restaurant" in Carthage, MO for lunch. The sign on the door said open from 6am to 2pm...it was about 1:30 so I just made it. I walked in and sat down at one of about 5 stools at the counter. A cute girl...probably 25 was behind the counter.
"Am I too late?" I asked pointing at the clock hanging on the wall behind her, they never like it when you come in right before closing.
She turned around and looked at the clock and then looked back at me..."No, yer not late," she said with a twangy Ozark accent, "yer 25 minutes early."
"Great." I replied.
"What can I git for ya darlin'?" she asked
I'm not used to being called "darlin'" by women this young....
I looked at the menu for a minute....where else can you get a cheeseburger and fries for $3.75? Add a Root beer and it's about $4.50.
"Judy, I need a 1/4 Lb. burger and fries please." she announced to the woman in the kitchen.

I picked up a little one page local newspaper kind of thing from a stack on the counter next to me...the "Mornin' Mail" it was called and I read up on the happenings in Carthage.
I read the "Court Notes"

"Carl York and Osa Welton, of Carthage, were indicted for burglary and larceny, the offense being taking brass mountings from a mining plant near Webb City a month or two ago. They have retained D.M. Roper as their attorney."
"John Huffman, a man from Carthage, was charged with breaking into Sharp's slaughter house and stealing a hide and attempting to sell it to D. Well. Attorney J.D. Henry was appointed, Attorney S.L. Barton will defend him."
The list went on...I guess it's high time to be an attorney in Carthage.

My food came out......
"Here ya go sweetie. Do you need ketchup 'n mustard?" the waitress asked.
"Yes please." I replied with a nod, she brought them over.

The woman who owns the restaurant came in while I was eating with twin boys about 9 years old or so. She started talking to some of the customers. She mentioned to one of them that she had four other kids...."Yep, 23, 20, 17, 12 and these two." she said pointing to the twins sharing a plate of fries, "You want some kids?" she joked. A busy woman I guess.

My waitress came by, "Is everything okay hon'?" God I love that.

I finished up and got my check. I paid.

As I was getting up and heading for the door the waitress thanked me....
"Thanks sweetie, come back and see me again now." she said.
"I wish I could," I replied, "but I'm from Chicago. I'm on my way out to California....you'd probably just break my heart anyway." I added. I don't know what it was....but it just seemed like the thing to say as she was standing there with her hand on her hip.
"Chicago huh?" she nodded.
I opened the door.
"Hey." she said.
I turned around.
"I ain't a heartbreaker." she said with a smile and shake of her head.
Foiling temptation I smiled back and walked out the door.
I'll remember Carthage.....and I should have taken a picture, but didn't.

I was out of Missouri before long and crossed into Kansas. Route 66 passes through Southeastern Kansas for about 15 or so miles. Through the small towns of Galena, Riverton, and Baxter Springs. Before I knew it I was in Oklahoma...."Native America" they call it, although almost all of the indian tribes in Oklahoma today are those tribes that were forced to move from the East and Southeast where they originally lived.

The last three pictures below are of remnants of buildings and automobiles who's glory days are long gone....those pictures were taken in and around Quapaw, OK. The one up on blocks was "4-sale" if you're interested.

I arrived at Twin Bridges, S.P. in the drizzling rain, just South of Quapaw. I pulled into the ranger station and talked to the woman behind the counter. She explained how it worked, I was to pick a site and set up camp, a ranger would be out to collect my money. Good enough.
On my way in I noticed a bunch of "trikes" at the park. A trike is essentially a three wheeled motorcycle. Built from a kit, or just plain homemade, they usually consist of the extended front end of a Harley and the rear tires, suspension, and engine of a Volkswagen Bug. I asked the lady what the deal was. She explained it to me in her heavy Ozark accent...
"Weaaal, thare a group a' motorcycle riders and thare havin' a club meetin' here this weekend. Some of um look pretty ruff. Uwe know, tatoos an' all that, but they're real naz ta chat with. I wasn't sure at first on account a the way they look, but thare real naz."
I figured if they have VW engines in their bikes I've got something in common with them.

I walked out of the ranger station and walked over to a group of these bikers guys and their wives and girlfriends. They were huddled under a pavilion, out of the rain. I talked to a few of them for a while. They all had jean jackets on with huge patches on the back that read "Brothers of the Third Wheel". Catchy name anyway. They were nice enough guys, although, as the lady said, they did look pretty rough. I told them what I was doing, they looked at the van and said they'd like to have the engine to build a trike.
"Well, then, I know where to look if it's not there in the morning." I chuckled uneasily...ha, ha.
They weren't sure what kind of turn out they'd get at their rally due to the rainy weather.

I went and set up camp. I parked at a sight right near the Niosho River that runs along the park boundary, I could see it from the back window of the van, about 30 feet away, down a sheer rock cliff. It was racing due to all of the recent rainfall.

I began to cook dinner and a car with two rangers pulled up. I got out and greeted them, we took care of business.

"Illinois huh?" the one said, "Yer a ways from home."
"Yeah, I've been on the road for a while now. I'm kind of on a trip around the country."
"Oh yeah? Where ya goin'?"
So explained a little bit about the trip to them, told them about the website, and gave them the address.
"Boy, that sure sounds neat." the other said.
"Yeah, it's a lot of fun. People told me I was crazy when I told them I was going to do it" I said.
"Crazy? Naaaahhh, you ain't crazy. How else you gonna git ta see this wonderful country of ars?"
I guess he's right...you've just got to go do it.
They rolled away and I had dinner.

The rain had stopped by now. After dinner I had the back door open and I was getting my bed sheet out of the rear cabinet...pitch black outside, night time...and...
BA-BOOM! CRASH!
Absolutely, positively the loudest thunder clap I have ever heard sounded as a huge bolt of lightning appeared and rain poured instantly.
I jumped about 3 feet and my heart stopped. I mean it scared me to death. I closed the back door and ran around into the side door and slammed it. The rain just poured, like nothing I've ever seen before. It went on, and on, more thunder and lightning. I gained my composure and just started laughing out loud.

"WOOOO HOOOO! YEAH!!!! HA, HA, HA!!!"

It was just amazing. The loudest thunder, the brightest, biggest lightning bolts ever and rain, tons of it. I decided I had to shoot some video of this, or at least get the audio. So I got the camera and rigged it up on the stand I made for it, ran outside and opened up the back door so I could get a clean shot and good sound. It was so cool.
After a while I closed the back door because the rain was being blown inside by the wind. I ended up putting on my rain gear and taking the camera up under one of the pavilions.....steel structures, about the highest things around, with aluminum roofs....I was hoping I wouldn't be struck, and if I was, at least they'd find the tape and be like..."Woa, he got some great shots before the lightning got him."

I stayed out there for more than an hour. It was wild. There is something I just love about being right in the middle of a Summer storm like that...so close to the rain, but perfectly dry. It was great fun.

As I went to bed I wondered if all this rain could make the river rise enough to wash the van and me away. I didn't think it could, but I did wake up a few times during the night and walk out to see what the river looked like....just in case.


Stars and bars fly above an International Scout.


Owen's "Full Serve"

4 Sale
 

 
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