June 18 - Oklahoma Route 66 - Bristow to Foss - Foss Lake, S.P.

I got up this morning and headed out of the campground. As I was making my way out the park road I saw a sign that said "Route 66" with an arrow pointing down an Oklahoma red mud and gravel road. It wasn't the way I came in, but I had kind of been traversing back roads for a while when I happened upon the park last night anyway.....I decided to take this road.

It was bumpy and shook the van up pretty much. It wound up and down and all around the farm country for several miles. Mostly fields full of cows. I came upon two farmers in a pick up truck. They were opening a gate to a cattle field. Cows were coming up from the edge of this field towards them. I figured I'd stop for some pictures of these guys and the cows...they had cowboy hats on, the real deal. So I pulled over and stopped. I got out with my cameras, they noticed me.
"Kin we hilp ya with somthin'?" one called over to me.
"Well," I held up my camera, "I was staying at the campground up the road. Do you mind if I take some pictures?" I asked.
"Pictures? Naaa, take all the pictures ya want. We got a call that some cattle got out so we gotta get in here and check it out." he yelled back, then he headed towards the driver's seat of the truck.
"We're gonna feed 'em too." the other guy called as I approached the gate, "That gate'll open fer ya. Just make sure ya close it up good when ya leave." he added.
"So can I come through?" I asked just to make sure.
"Sure ya can." he answered.

They began towards the tree line with the feeder nozzle on the grain tank in the back of the truck open. It spilled feed out onto the ground in a long straight line. The cows lines right up to eat it and I snapped some pictures. You'll notice an oil derrick in the background. That was common through much of Oklahoma. I closed the gate behind me when I left the field and continued down that gravel road. It dumped me out to 66 before long after all. I'm glad I took that little road.

I passed through Bristow, Depew, and Milfay. I stopped in Stroud, OK for a cup of coffee at the "Rock Cafe", but they're closed Sunday so I settled for a cup from the gas station where I filled up the van...the first cup of coffee I recall drinking thus far on the trip. Next to the gas station stood the "Skyliner Motel", the sign was pretty cool so I took a picture.

A few towns down the road I came to Chandler...the main street is a pretty empty place on a Sunday morning.

I passed through Oklahoma City and continued West. Not too far past the city I saw explosions in a field on the South side of the road, and then planes pulling up from a bombing run. Wonderful old airplanes.....a B-17 Superfortress lumbered away from the black smoke coming up from the ground...actually created by TNT set off by pyrotechnicians on the ground....common at air shows. A B-25 Mitchell followed the B-17, and a B-24 Liberator behind that. The hair on the back of my neck rose and I got the chills as the 50+ year old radial engines whined. These are the planes you would have seen over Europe or the Pacific, or North Africa in the early 40's. The heavy and medium bombers that pounded Hitler's industrial machine. The "Memphis Belle", the airplane upon which the movie of the same name was based was a B-17. The first to complete 25 missions over Europe. They carried crews of ten and we lost hundreds of them over Europe. You can do the math on that one and understand why I got the chills. The sight of such a plane in the air just does that to me. Most of the guys who flew and crewed those planes were well shy of their 25th birthdays. Today there are only about 10 or 15 of them flying. Once they filled the air...hundreds stretched for miles over the English Channel after leaving their bases in the English country side. I did get a picture of the B-17...but not a very good one.

I tried to figure out where the airport was so I could go to the air show. I turned down the first road that looked like it could be the one...a long country road. I couldn't get to the airport from there, but I did find the entrance to the "Route 66 Trader's Market" - claiming to be a "21st Century Flea Market!"
"Huh, never been to one of those before." I thought to myself, so I parked the car.
I could see and hear the planes from the air show close by, but figured the flea market was worth a look.

As I parked and began walking over to the tables full of stuff under large aluminum canopies a guy about 60 came out of what must have been the flea market office. It was a building at one end of the parking lot. He was walking past me carrying two folding chairs under each arm, walking rather quickly. He didn't break stride, but he welcomed me.
"Hello there. Welcome to the Route 66 Trader's Market! Don't forget to stop in at the Safari Grill. My name's Frank Baskin, I'm one of the family, We're glad you're here! Have you been here before?" he asked, he was talking about a mile a minute and walking past me even faster, this all happened very quickly.
"Uh, no." I replied.
"Well then be sure to stop by the Safari Cafe. It's the big orange school bus painted with tiger stripes, can't miss it, took 14,000 man hours to build and weighs 19 tons."
"Thanks." I said...he was just talking so fast, walking by with those chairs under his arms.
He looked over his shoulder one more time...."Well we're glad you're here!!!"
I guess he was one of the members of the family who own the place.

I did check out the Safari Cafe, he was right, I couldn't miss it. It looked as if it had been built from several school buses. The thing was enormous. At least 35 feet wide. Huge wheels and tires. Apparently it really runs. You can see the huge exhaust stacks on the side. Wild stuff. I can't imagine what it must have cost the guy. There was the usual kind of flea market stuff there. I didn't end up buying anything, although the Christmas statues and the bust of Marilyn Monroe were tempting.

I left the flea market and ended up stopping on a highway over pass to watch the air show for a while. There were a bunch of other cars stopped to watch. The Air Force's Thunderbirds were to be the closing attraction one guy there told me. I'd seen them before and still had some ground to cover so I decided to move on.

I passed through the small town of Yukon, OK and took a picture of the flour mill there. It really dominated that little town's skyline.

On down the road, just East of the small town of Bridgeport.....appropriately named I guess, was a very long bridge made up of 38 spans, it was pretty cool.

The sunny skies of the air show were gone by now, back to the Oklahoma rain clouds to which I have grown accustomed. It has rained every day I've been in Oklahoma. The evening sky did look impressive though as I rolled into Clinton....a quiet little place on Sunday evening.

I stopped for the evening at Foss Lake, S.P., just North of the town of Foss. This is the only place so far that I have felt at all vulnerable or somewhat unsafe. Let me explain....

I am the only person at this particular campground. There are only about 8 or 10 sites. The ranger station was closed when I pulled in so no one knows I am here. I haven't paid yet, which isn't uncommon, but it also means the rangers aren't aware of my presence. My site is close to a boat ramp for the lake and the road is not too far away. The bathrooms are close by which cast light on the van...out in the middle of nowhere, in plain view of the road. I don't feel too uncomfortable... it's just nice when they know you're there, that's all...so the ranger will cruise by and give you the wave from time to time. I'm not freaked out really....just not as completely comfortable as usual.

Real Oklahoma cowboys!

Real Oklahoma cows!

Cows always look so expressive to me.

Stroud, OK... pretty quite on a Sunday morning.

The Skyliner Motel (rooms available).


It felt a whole lot like a plain jane 20th century flea market to me.

The Safari Cafe, amazing.

Apparently this contraption really drives!

Everything's for sale somewhere.
Big flour mill in Yukon, OK.
Really cool bridge made up of 38 yellow spans.
  Ominous grey sky.
All's quiet in Clinton, OK.

The vehicle