Blue Whale is out here somewhere. I've got it on today's MUST SEE list. Charly is excited about finding it too.
Blue Whale is out here somewhere. I’ve got it on today’s MUST SEE list. Charly is excited about finding it too. When driving Route 66 you don’t always see signs directing you to landmarks. (By the way, if you see someone stealing a sign on Route 66, PLEASE get their description and report them to the police. Route 66 is there for EVERYONE to enjoy, and their thievery only makes things less enjoyable for others.)
Cars are strategically abandoned, or placed, along Route 66. Charly liked this cute coupe.
Stuff like this make for some great travel photos. That’s 99% of the fun, in my opinion, of traveling Route 66.
Back on the road and suddenly Charly yells, “Brent! Can we race?”
“It looks like it’s closed,” I stated hoping that will diffuse the situation.
“Let’s stop and check,” she said with the enthusiasm as a child expecting ice cream.
As we pulled in the parking lot it was clear it was not operational. So, instead we took a photo.
“Charly, you do realize in order to race your car has to meet certain safety criteria like roll-bars, seat harness, fire extinguisher, and so forth. Not to mention, you have to wear a fire suit and helmet,” I explained.
Here only reply was, “Oh.”
Change of Clothes for Blue Whale
Anticipating the Blue Whale, Charly changed her clothes into her swimsuit.
“I cannot understand how anyone can drive around in a car wearing a swimsuit,” I commented.
“I want to be ready to swim,” she bubbled as she said it.
We soon saw a sign and turned off the road. Charly grabbed her goggles and was ready to hit the water.
“Wait, go to the car and get those fairy wings I brought,” I said as I spotted a field of “mushrooms”.
No sooner as I snapped the photo the wings came off and Charly went running in the opposite direction.
“Where the scrud are you going?” I yelled.
“Swimming!” she responded.
The Blue Whale
The Blue Whale is a swim hole a guy made back in the 1970s as a gift to his wife who collected whale figurines. You can read more here.
Today it is a Route 66 tourist attraction. (NOTE: It is not open for swimming. The swimming is only part of this fantasy story. YOU CANNOT GO SWIMMING HERE. Again, it is only part of this story.)
Before I knew it she hit the water. It was about then someone came out and yelled at her, “Hey! No swimming!”
Picnic at the River
From there we found a nice grassy area under a tree for a picnic with some food we picked up at a small grocery store.
My advice for driving Route 66 is to take your time. Having a picnic near the old Route 66 can often provide a view you can’t find elsewhere. You might see a group of motorcyclist cruising down the road, or someone in a 1930s vintage car. It’s fun to relax and take in the view.
EnlightInn was our first stop after the drive-in movies last night. I dropped Charly off at her cottage and went straight to mine. We were both beat.
Knock – knock – knock.
Avoiding being too cliche and knocking shave-and-a-haircut, I decided to do a Morse Code comma.
Knock — knock — knock-knock — knock — knock.
“Hold your horses,” I heard coming from inside Charly’s cottage.
A few seconds later, she yells, “You can come in, I’m decent now. It’s safe.”
I opened the door, but remained on the front step.
“WHAT! You aren’t ready to get breakfast?” I said trying not to get angry. “Put some clothes on and let’s go.”
“Whoa! I made an appointment to visit their sensory deprivation tank,” Charly said looking at me like I should understand.
“Sensory, what?” I said rather loudly.
“Sensory deprivation. They put you in a tank filled with mineral water and turn off the lights while you float in the darkness,” she explained.
“Okay, that’s sounding a little like stuff the C.I.A. does in war zones,” I said raising an eyebrow.
Charly started laughing which was getting me more irate, but before I could blow a fuse, she said, “You arranged for us to stay at a health spa, shouldn’t we take advantage of the amenities?”
I took a step back and realized I did reserve this nice cottages, and I did read that it was a health spa.
“Okay…” thinking of what to ask, “… what time do you think we should hit the road?”
“Chill, dude, and take a dip in the tank too,” she smiled.
“Uh, get in a tank, no lights… with you?” I said reluctantly.
“Heaven sakes NO,” she said glaring at my like I had lost my marbles, “To steal your words, that would be inappropriate. Go see if the sauna is available, or something like that.”
I closed the door to her cottage, scratched my head, and thought about what I should do while she pampers herself. Maybe I’ll go get breakfast… they do serve food here.
EnlightInn has quite the charm. In its day it was a motel for Route 66 travelers. The current owners remodeled the cottages and did an amazing job.
A couple of the buildings are dedicated to spa services, and the main building is the office and juice bar. It has a hominess to it. I could stay there for days.
I decided to get a smoothie.
“What do you recommend?” I asked the young lady at the counter.
“I personally like the Hippy Hippy Shake,” she responded.
Being a big fan of Tommy James and the Shondels, how could I NOT get the Hippy Hippy Shake.
“You convinced me,” I said, pulling out my wallet, “I’ll take a Hippy Hippy Shake.”
She handed me my shake and reading my expression she said, “Try it. I realize the color is a little off-putting, but you need to taste it.”
Telling myself its about the same color as a chocolate shake, I took a sip.
“Hey, this is REALLY good,” I said.
Back on the Road
Charly finished her spa treatment (which is about all she talked about for the rest of the day), and we hit the road.
We didn’t make it very far until we saw my friend Paul with another photographer setting up their MoLights.
“Hey, Paul,” I yelled out the car window, “want to shoot Charly?”
Landing a punch on my shoulder, Charly growled, “Nobody is going to SHOOT me.”
I pulled the car over and Charly ran over to greet Paul and his buddy.
After a discussion with the other two photographers about the great service and products at MoLight, Charly and I were back on the road again.
A special thanks to EnlightInn. They were kind enough to put Paul and I up for a night when we did our Route 66 Tour. I HIGHLY recommend staying at EnlightInn when you travel through Tulsa. The cottages are cozy, but also loaded with home amenities. The staff is friendly and wonderful to talk to.
Another special thinks to Michael Mowbray, owner of MoLight, for providing some equipment during our tour. Not only does Michael service what he sells, but he USES what he sells. He doesn’t sell anything that he can’t support or offer advice on its use.
Closed Post Offices seems to be a theme along Route 66. This time, it even has Charly miffed. There is no consistency to finding a Post Office open as we travel.
Closed Post Offices seems to be a theme along Route 66. This time, it even has Charly miffed. There is no consistency to finding a Post Office open as we travel.
I convinced Charly to purchase some postcards. The conversation went like this…
“Hey, Charly, check out this postcard,” I said, “You should get some and send them to your friends.”
“Why?” looking at me with a confused face, Charly went on, “I can just text them or post them on Instagram.”
This time, it was my turn to roll my eyes. I reminisced about the days when you’d run to the mailbox to see if you got anything. A postcard, letter, package, it was like winning the lottery back then.
“Here’s a reason why,” I began with, “tomorrow all of your pictures on Instagram could be gone in the blink of an eye. It could start with a glitch on your phone, or a major outage at Instagram. You have zero control. At least with a postcard, it is something tangible.”
“My phone is tangible,” she said smugly.
“Your phone is tangible, what what is stored on it is intangible and could be gone in a flash,” I explained.
“How so?” she asked defiantly.
“Everything on electronic media is stored via electrons. While an electron is a small subatomic particle, it is one of the most unstable particles on the planet. An electron enters a wire only to force the an electron to hop off at the other end. Nature wants balance, and in order for electrons to be of any use, we have to create an imbalance,” as I dove in to my physics lecture.
Charly sat there with raised eyebrows as if to ask, ‘Are you finished yet?’ I could tell using intellect wouldn’t get me far, so I changed direction.
“It’s a tangible gift. Something your friend can hold, touch, pin on the wall, tape to the fridge, and pass down to her children,” I said.
Now her expression was as if she was thinking, ‘Okay, that makes sense.’
“Where’s the nearest Post Office?” Charly asked.
“There has to be one in this small town, we’ll just drive around and look for an American Flag,” I said.
The First Closed Post Offices
The first closed Post Offices (and I say that in the plural, because we found many) appeared to be open. The flag was flying and it was 2:30 in the afternoon. For all intents and purposes, it should have been open.
“Here, Charly. There’s a Post Office,” I said pointing to a red brick corner building.
Charly got out of the car, walked to the door diagonally across the street from where I stood taking pictures. She went to the door, turned around, and walked back to me.
Before I could ask why she didn’t go inside, she looked at me and said, “It’s closed!”
How could it be closed, I thought. Today isn’t a holiday. It’s a work day. It’s only 2:30 p.m.
“Closed?” I asked while thinking she didn’t even try the door.
“Yes, closed. The sign says the hours on weekdays is 10 a.m. to noon, and then 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.” she stated very matter-of-factly.
“That’s ridiculous!” I proclaimed like a disgruntled customer.
There wasn’t much we could do except to move on.
Other Closed Post Offices
Every stop we made at a post office yield the same results. They don’t all have the same hours. But it seemed that we were always about 15-30 minutes late. If we got there at 4 p.m., they closed at 3:30 p.m. If we got there at 4:45 p.m., they closed at 4:30 p.m.
And they wonder why people complain.
Fixing Her Hair
As I drove, Charly was fixing her hair. I noticed she hasn’t changed clothes yet today. She’s still wearing the same outfit, but obviously, today’s fuss is about her hair.
“I’m tired of the wind blowing this piece of hair in to my eyes,” she said holding a strand out.
I was too busy driving and paying attention to the road to look. We were in a rather rural area and Historic Route 66 had a few bends in the road.
“Can we go to the drive-in and see a movie?” Charly asked with excitement.
“They don’t start the movies until after dark,” I pointed out.
“Okay. I don’t mind waiting,” she said sitting back in her seat.
Looking at my watch and the position of the sun I found it necessary to say something.
“Charly, we’re going to have to wait about 3 and a half hours before sunset, and then another hour before the movie starts,” I explained.
“Oh,” she said with a lot of disappointment in her voice.
“I will tell you what,” I said to ease the disappointment, “since we really aren’t prepared right now, let’s go eat something, grab a few snacks, and return when it is dark.”
“But I want to eat at the drive-in,” she whined like a little child.
Seeing this could be a major disappointment and point of regret later on, I said, “Okay. But, let’s go get some provisions.”
We headed back to the car and started driving to find a store.
When going to the drive-in there are certain provisions one must bring. First, a blanket and pillow. Second, beverages. Yes, you can buy something at the snack bar, but at those costs, you’ll die of thirst or go broke, so you need an ice chest with some drinks. Third, your favorite snack. Again, the snack bar will break you and you need something to snack on during a movie.
We entered the convenience store and I instructed Charly to get one of her favorite candy, some other snack, and a couple of bottles of her favorite beverage. I looked around for a cheap ice chest.
I can’t recall the last time I went to the drive-in, and for Charly, this was a first. We slowly drove up to the ticket booth.
“Is it by the car or per person?” I asked the lady.
“Per person. Two adults?” she asked.
“Is there a senior discount?” I asked.
Bending down to get a better view inside the car, she looked at Charly, and then she looked at me. Being totally unaware, I hadn’t noticed Charly was playing with a curl of my hear behind my ear. Perhaps this earned the glare I received from the lady.
“Senior?” she asks, “Are you over 60?”
“Yes,” I answered.
Looking again past me and at Charly, it was about then I noticed what Charly was doing.
“Stop that!” I said pushing Charly’s hand away, “This lady is going to get the wrong idea.”
If looks could kill, this lady would have slayed me. I gave her the money, and we entered the lot.
“You had this cute curl of hair,” Charly said with a sheepish grin.
“Yeah, thanks to you this lady must think I’m some pervy old man,” I snapped.
“Oh, that’s what you think?” she asked, and then added, “I’ll stand up for anyone who thinks your pervy. I tell them, ‘He’s not pervy, in fact, he’s very prudish.'”
“So, I’m not the one extreme, but the other,” I said continuing, “That’s comforting to know.”
I pulled up to a spot and edged the car forward and backward until the viewing angle was just right. I then reached to the back seat and positioned the ice chest to form a wall between me and miss-hair-fetish.
“Eat your snacks,” I said.
“I thought you were going to get dinner at the snack bar,” she asked.
I drew a deep breath, “That’s right, I did. Come on, let’s get dinner. BUT, no more playing with my hair or anything else that might make people think we’re here for some hanky panky.”
Looking at me with a very confused look, Charly asked, “Hanky panky?”
I can tell I’ve got a lot of explaining about drive-in movies.
Corvair Heaven is how I’d describe this day. One of the most misunderstood cars ever made, and one of the greatest cars ever made. It was an example of how a mercenary man with the stroke of a pen could bring down an engineering marvel and erroneously get people believing it was a dangerous car. For that, Ralph Nader lost all credibility with me (and thousands of other Corvair owners.)
We’ll return to Corvair Heaven later…
Frozen custard, erroneously called ice cream, is good, but it isn’t ice cream. It seems to be quite popular in the heartland and along this stretch of Route 66.
We had barely finished breakfast when I saw this cool looking place. It’s a frozen custard place, and while it didn’t look open at this hour of the day, it WAS open. So, we stopped for a taste.
Charly took hers and went to sit on the hood of the car to eat it. I waited for mine, grabbed my camera and joined her. However, I couldn’t resist grabbing a picture.
“You didn’t!” Charly said as getting a dab of frozen custard on her nose.
“I did, and I’ll buy another one if I’m still hungry after this one,” I said.
“No, you didn’t take a picture of me just now,” she growled.
“Why? You don’t think this is flattering?” I said after pushing the play button and showing her the LCD screen.
“UHG!”, she exclaimed, “That better not end up on the blog or Renderosity.”
Well, done deal with that.
Leaving town I discovered where they store all those road pylons.
If you look closely, I swear it looks like my friend Paul Bardotz is hiding in there. Or, maybe it is just my imagination thinking he’s not happy I’m driving Route 66 with Charly this time.
Then, we came across these abandoned cottages.
They look like they would have been nice places to stay in their prime. Now, they are all boarded up. However, the good news is there were construction permit notices. Maybe in a a couple of years people will be able to lodge here again.
A Route 66 revival would be nice.
Plano Means Flat
The word plano means flat. We came across a place that was named Plano, Missouri.
“Not much left of the place,” I said.
“What do you think was here?” Charly asked.
Punching it in on my phone, I came up with this, “The tree-invested limestone building has even been alleged to have served as a casket factory and mortuary. Apparently all that is not true though, and the fact is, according to the Springfield News Leader, it was built in 1902 by the Jackson family, with the occasional help of neighbors, with two rooms becoming a general store where families would sell produce, eggs and baked goods. “
Towards Corvair Heaven
I didn’t know we were heading towards Corvair Heaven, but we stopped at an old service station called Gay Parita. We poked around and I found what Gary Busey has been doing these days…
Charly, remembering that first night in Illinois, saw the old police car there.
“Brent! Help! I’m being arrested,” she jokingly yelled.
“Sorry officers,” I yelled back, “she’s been following me for days now. Please, lock her up and throw away the key.”
Charly stood up, putting both hands on her hips gave me a stern stare and said, “Really? That’s what you’d do for a damsel in distress?”
“If you’re being arrested, I’m sure they have good cause,” I said as I headed back to her car with keys in my hand.
She ran as fast is she could in heels on a gravel road to catch up.
Finally! Corvair Heaven!
I had just pulled on to Historic Route 66 when I noticed a blue Corvair Monza Station Wagon.
“I’m sorry, I’ve got to stop at this house,” I said as if it were urgent.
Charly glared at me as if to say, ‘Why didn’t you use the bathroom back there.’
Reading her mind, I said, “Sorry, I hate outhouses.”
I stopped the car, got out and started drooling over this perfectly restored 1961 Corvair Monza Station Wagon.
“I had one of these,” I said proudly.
Charly looked at me as if I had said I used to wear a dress.
“Seriously? You owned one of these?” Charly said condescendingly.
“Yes,” I did, “Is there a problem with that?”
“Brent! It’s a mom car,” she said.
About then a woman around my age walked out of the house and asked, “Can I help you?”
“I’m sorry, my name is Brent and this is my friend Charly, and we’re driving Route 66 from Chicago to L.A.” saying as I lead up to, “I used to own a 1961 Corvair Monza Wagon, and I saw yours in the driveway and had to stop.”
He told us the story behind her car and then asked, “Would you like to see the rest of them?”
“Would I? You have MORE?” I asked.
“Yes, we collect and restore Corvairs,” she said.
Looking at Charly, I mouthed the words, “I’ve died and gone to heaven.”
As we entered the back part of the property, I saw my first car – a Corvair Greenbriar “bus”. (They didn’t call it a van. It was a “bus”, like the “VW bus”.)
“Charly,” I said, “this was my first car. A 1961 Greenbriar bus. Mine got 25 miles per gallon and sat 9 people.”
“Now, that is cool,” Charly said.
“Yeah, but mine was cooler. It had curtains and was a real hippy van,” I explained.
Dowd’s Catfish is where we stopped to eat. I was craving some catfish and I figured with a name like that, they better have catfish. So, inside we went.
I looked around for a sign that said, “The catfish you ate today slept in the river last night”, and while I didn’t find one, there was plenty around to let you know this was a fresh-catch restaurant.
Charly and I were seated and we started looking at the menu. Both of us were quite hungry. I went for the blackened catfish, but Charly went for the mundane. (Obviously, she’s not a catfish fan.)
Dowd’s Catfish Tasty
Tasty is the best to describe blackened Dowd’s catfish. Charly leaned over and began the conversation. It felt like I was being interviewed, but I went along.
She started with, “What made you decide to drive all of Route 66?”
“I love nostalgia. I love the trip down memory lane. Route 66 reminds me of an era I’m old enough to remember, but not so old that I’ve forgot,” I answered.
Then came the real questions and objective for asking, “Why me? Why did you want me to come along?”
“I’m glad you asked.” I continued, “I knew you’d be adventurous, fun to be around, fun to photograph, and I enjoy being around you.”
“Really?” she asked with doubt in her tone.
“Really,” I answered.
“No, I mean, you really enjoy being around me?” she said exposing a lack of confidence.
“Of course,” I said as if anyone could doubt that, “you’re a fun person to be around.”
“I miss the days of being ‘Dad’. And, while you sometimes think I act like I’m your ‘Dad’, I don’t think of you as my daughter, but as a younger friend.” I began to explain, “it’s more of a discovery thing.”
“Huh?” she looked confused.
“I enjoy watching you discover this stuff for the first time,” I said. “Had I brought an old friend we both would have been like, ‘Been there. Done that.’ But with you, it’s like… YOU REALLY USED ONE OF THESE? Or, YOU REALLY REMEMBER WHEN…”
“Oh, I think I understand,” she said.
I realized then that history is sometimes lost on youth, and even more so with today’s technology. While one would think it is just the opposite, instant information has robbed them of true hands-on discovery.
“It’s like this, Charly,” I explained, “when I go to Israel, I don’t just look at stuff. I read everything I can get my hands on before the trip, and take stuff to read while I’m on the trip. Then, while I’m there, I try to close my eyes and imagine what it was like 2000 years ago when Christ walked those roads.”
Continuing, I said, “Route 66 is even more personal. While there are sections of road I haven’t been on before this trip, there are little things here and there that remind me of similar items and locations during my childhood. My imagination is less involved and my memories and the emotions tied to those memories are involved. I find it fun sharing those things with you.”
Charly sat quietly for a while and just stared at my face.
If it were a movie, this would be the part where two lips would meet, but that would be totally inappropriate in this case. I felt a little awkward and uneasy wishing she would say something.
Finally, she broke her silence and said, “Thank you for inviting me. I’m learning a lot and having fun.”
I still felt a little uneasy given how she was still looking at me, and not knowing what to say to quell my uneasiness, she spoke up again.
“You know, I kid you about your acting like my dad, but you’re like the dad I never had. Thank you for never taking advantage of me and respecting me,” she said with tear filled eyes.
I was taken back. The rest of the trip is going to be different. Not so much different for me (because I know where my boundaries are drawn), but for Charly.
Red Corvair After Dowd’s Catfish
Shortly after eating we saw a red Corvair. I just had to stop.
“Charly, my first car was a Corvair van called the Greenbriar. A few years later I traded it for a red Corvair Monza, like this one, only mine was a station wagon,” I said.
“So, this is what you were talking about at the restaurant — about memories,” she said having an epiphany.
“Exactly!” I smiled.
“They were great cars and I’ll never forgive Ralph Nader,” I said.
“Who?” Charly asked.
“Ralph Nader. He erroneously wrote in a book that they were unsafe cars. He was later proven wrong, but it was too late. General Motors stopped making them and created the Camaro.”
“Camaro’s are cool cars,” she said mater-of-factly.
“Yes, and do you see the resemblance?” I asked.
“Yeah, I can see that,” she said and then asked, “What made the Corvair so great?”
“Rear engine, built for speed and gas economy, and built to compete against cars like the Porsche,” I explained.
“Were they fast?” as if I didn’t see that question coming.
“For their weight to horsepower ratio, yes,” I smugly answered.
I finished drooling over the car and off we went.
The Munger Moss Motel is quite iconic. It’s one of the better maintained iconic sights on Historic Route 66. We just stopped briefly to grab a picture of the mileage sign.
Biggest Gift Shop
This place claims to be the World’s Largest Gift Shop. Well, I don’t know about that, but they did have quite a collection of Cotton Candy. (I only thought it had one flavor – sugar.)
“Hey, you can’t eat that! You haven’t paid for it,” I said before I realized I’m sounding like a ‘dad’.
Charly giggles, “I’ll pay for it, I just want some NOW.”
Onward and westward as this day winds to an end.
Hmmm… One final note for the day — Charly wore the same outfit all day. That’s a first. That should keep the laundry bill down this week.
Motoring thru Missouri is pretty fun. It’s a beautiful state. There are rolling hills and lots of green trees.
I had read about a bridge that makes a turn mid-span and was the site of many wrecks. They call it the Devil’s Elbow for that reason. As we the GPS started telling us we were getting closer we began to encounter a lot of bikers on Harley Davidson motorcycles. It’s a beautiful day for riding.
Suddenly we saw many of them parked on the side of the road. As we came around the corner, there was the bridge… and a bunch of BIKERS. It turns out at this end of the bridge there was a biker-bar.
The bar was completely submerged a few years ago (2017) when the river rose during a storm. (Note, they also got some bad storms this year, 2019.) I guess even though the bar is closed and being rebuilt, the bikers still make a pilgrimage to it.
“Charly,” I said, “you took dance lessons. Show me your parents didn’t waste their money and go dance at the entrance to that bridge.”
“If I shout, ‘MOVE’, that means you need to get to the side of the road,” I instructed.
Charly just rolled her eyes, as usual.
“Hey, you never know how fast someone might be motoring thru Missouri!” I laughed.
Not far away was a park where a barn had some sever flood damage. It’s hard to imagine how high the water was. In a few places are markers people have placed to show the water height. You can also see how high up the water was from the bark on the trees (they trap the silt).
“Gosh, Charly, don’t you ever wear shoes?” I yell out.
“You’ve seen me wearing shoes,” she grumbles thinking I can’t hear her.
I just snapped the picture anyway. We’ll see how many times she’s barefoot in my photos.
Motoring Thru Missouri – the Plains
Well, not all of MIssouri is rolling hills. Part of Missouri is in the Great Plains. It’s rather flat. When you look at the map of the U.S.A. you can think of a big circle that takes in parts of Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri… and a few other states where it is FLAT.
So it was with some of our driving today.
“Hey, that big sign looks like it used to be quite the place,” I said while pointing the Witmor Farms sign.
It was an uneventful stop. I grabbed a photo of Charly as she ran by me.
Then there’s a building looked like it could use some TLC. Inside, like a ghost town, looked like it had been suddenly abandoned. I really couldn’t tell if it is open seasonally, or if they just left everything.
It was about then when I spotted a walking stick bug on the wall.
“Charly, ever see a twig stuck to a wall like this?” I asked her.
“No. That’s cool,” she said getting in closer for a look.
I reached out and touched my finger to it’s butt, and it went in to an attack position. Charly let out a scream as she wasn’t expecting it to move.
“It’s okay. It’s a harmless insect,” I said.
“Keep it away from me. Does it bite?” she screamed.
“No, it doesn’t bite. Did you miss the part about harmless?” I said.
What’s With This Place?
“What’s with this place?” Charly asks.
“What do you mean?” unsure of what she’s talking about.
“It seems like everything is abandoned,” she said discouragingly.
“A lot of people don’t travel Route 66,” I explained, “and those, like us, who do expect to see some abandoned places. That said, I plan to spend something whenever we go inside a business. They need the business, and that’s what will keep Route 66 alive.”
We stopped at Gascozark Cafe (another place not in business). I’m thinking Charly wishes more places were open so she could look at trinkets and not wait for me to wander around taking pictures.
I could tell she was getting bored with the abandoned places, and before I could ask she said, “I’m hungry. Let’s find a place to eat.”
We hit the road, and our first stop wasn’t exactly our idea of a meal, but I just had to try a chocolate dipped Twinkie.
Uranus Fudge Day 7 begins. A few short stops looking at interesting things, and then on towards that place the billboards were advertising – Uranus Fudge Factory.
We found it, pulled in to the parking lot and I began to think, “What in the world???”
Standing in the parking lot I did a 360-degree turn as I surveyed the surroundings. I saw something about a strip club and a billboard about the evils of strip clubs. What am I missing here?
Axe Hole at Uranus Fudge Day 7
The first stop was an open barn-like structure that appeared to be under construction. It is called the Axe Hole.
Before I could say anything, Charly says, “That’s just gross. Just gross.”
“Yeah, I’m seeing we might be in for some puns based on the name Uranus,” I said.
The owner greets us, and welcomes us to Uranus. He’s the self-proclaimed Mayor of Uranus. (Uranus isn’t actually a city, but what he’s named this complex that’s like a hodge-podge strip mall… including a strip club. Okay, now I’m going with the puns.)
He explained how he wants to make this something for everyone.
WAIT… Bring your kids to a place where in the center of it all is a strip club?
Yeah. If it weren’t for that one issue I’d say it could be a fun family place… if you don’t mind your children telling anal jokes for the rest of your trip.
Mexican Villa at Uranus Fudge Day 7
It’s a small theme park. There’s a little courtyard that makes you feel like you’re in a Northern Mexico Villa.
I turned and looked at Charly’s outfit, and imagined a Mexican dancer with her off-the-shoulder peasant dress. Plus, the colors harmonized with the pink stucco and red brick patio.
“Wow,” my brain was distracted by her lack of shoes, “where the heck are your shoes?”
“In the car,” she says as if that’s the norm.
“Okay, well… ” thinking of a fatherly, protective, thing to say, but realizing I was distracted, I continued, “go stand over there with your back towards me and flip your hair and twist and look out in to the courtyard.”
Nodding knowing the routine as I assumed the photographer role and she became my muse.
Click – Click-click
“Okay, I got it,” I said as I pressed play so she could come look.
“Ahhh… that’s pretty,” she sighed.
“Good thing you died your hair red last night else this wouldn’t have worked,” I pointed out.
Leaving Uranus Fudge
After buying some fudge, and being told, as we completed our purchase, “Thank you for picking Uranus,” we hit the road.
Winding through the Ozarks was beautiful. Perfect time of year too. Sunflowers were in bloom all over.
I finally found a place to stop. Charly hopped out and went running over to a sunflower, and I grabbed my trusty camera.
The road was narrow so I put on a safety vest. Charly’s outfit sparkled in the sunlight and I figured she’d stand out more than my gray shirt and pants. Aside from that, there’s no way I could get her to put on a dayglo orange vest over that dress.
“Hey, buddy, can you tell me where…” a guy in a construction truck started to ask.
“I’m not from around here. I’m just a crazy tourist stopping to take pictures,” I quickly responded.
“Oh, I thought,” pointing to my vest, “you were a highway worker.”
I guess he didn’t see Charly.
“Charly, go grab my Route 66 sign from the back deck,” I asked.
She returned and sat it on the post of the bridge and then rested on the post. Of course I was going to grab a photo.
About the 66 Sign
The 66 sign you will see has been on every bit of Route 66 I can find. When I stop I take it out, lay it face down on the ground, and kick it around. As a result, molecules of it scrape off on rocks, whey it picks up dust and dirt from Route 66.
It’s part of Route 66 now, and Route 66 is part of it. Someday I’ll auction it off, but for now, it’s aging.
I wanna kiss you - Yeah, that's what Charly said when she saw our hotel for tonight. I guess I really traumatized her when we stopped at the Gardenway Motel and she believed that WAS our hotel.
I Wanna Kiss You!
Yeah, that’s what Charly said when she saw our hotel for tonight. I guess I really traumatized her when we stopped at the Gardenway Motel and she believed that WAS our hotel.
Before we got to the hotel (yes, we’re staying in a hotel, not a motel, tonight) I saw this sign…
Who in the world names a fudge company Uranus?
This has my curiosity. But, you know what they say curiosity did to the cat!!!
Late in the Day
Traveling Route 66 late in the day, after Labor Day, seems a little lonely. Lots of places are closed. It is hard to tell if they are closed for the season, or simply closed for the day.
Keep that in mind when traveling Route 66. Some of these small towns roll up the sidewalk around dinner time. Heck, we’ve had a hard time finding post offices that are open. Some close as early as 2 p.m.!!!
“Brent, I know it says it is closed, but do you think we’ll get in trouble if we go inside?” Charly asks.
“My rule is if it is posted that we should keep out, we should keep out,” I answered.
Rolling her eyes again, Charly knew I was right, but it didn’t stop her mouth, “You can be such a fuddy-dud.”
“I’ll just blame you and say I was just driving by and this crazy girl said it was okay,” I said.
“See, let’s go,” she said tugging on my arm.
“Noooo, I’m not crossing the chain,” I said.
Charly’s hands went to her hips and she spun about on one heel and walked towards an area where there was no fence and chain.
Off to the side was an open grassy area with an old billboard. Below sat an early model Mustang – perhaps a 1964 or thereabouts.
Laughing, I said, “Like anyone would like to steal that old Ford.”
“That’s a Ford?” Charly asked.
“It’s a Mustang. I owned a 1967. Complete piece of junk. Pot metal parts that were manufactured to fall apart and it handled horribly,” I explained.
“I didn’t know you owned a Ford?” Charly said with complete surprise.
“Yeah, we’re all entitled to make mistakes. Unfortunately, I made that mistake again when I bought a Ford Taurus,” I said looking down and kicking the dirt.
“YOU! YOU owned a Taurus,” Charly started to laugh uncontrollably.
“Hey, I learned my lesson,” I said trying to cover my embarrassment. “Let’s move on. It’s going to be dark soon and I don’t want to be finding our hotel in the dark.”
As we got back in the car I noticed Charly had changed out of her Daisy Dukes and tank top and back in to her goth outfit.
“Getting chilly?”, I asked.
“Shut up,” she snapped.
I Wanna Kiss You
We pulled in to the hotel which was in an odd location in Rolla, Missouri. It was near a big traffic circle, and old Route 66 was split in two lanes either side of I-40.
We entered the lobby and Charly, turned, and with outstretched arms exclaimed, “I Wanna Kiss You!”
“Whoa,” I said backing up.
I don’t mind a friendly hello or good-bye embrace, but this was a bit forward.
Charly started laughing, and said, “This is so much nicer than that place you stopped at this morning.”
“I thought you knew I was joking?” I asked.
“Well, sort of,” she said looking off to the side to cover her blushing face.
“I guess after that experience at the Motel 6 in Normal, you figured we might end up in another dive?” I inquired.
“Well, yes. That place was gross with a capital G,” she answered.
“From now on, only nice places,” I said hoping I wouldn’t have to eat these words later on.
In My Room
In my room I noticed it was a little warm and muggy, but the hall was cool, so I propped my door open. I also cranked the thermostat down hoping the air conditioning would remove some of the humidity.
I grabbed my tabled and began to prepare a blog post.
I had my back turned to the door when suddenly I heard Charly’s voice.
“Want to go swimming?” Charly asked.
“I knew I should have kept my door shut. Don’t you believe in knocking?” I said in a firm tone, but my expression must not have been stern enough.
“Oh, come on. Like you’re going to be doing anything that would require me to knock,” Charly says.
“What if I had slipped those Hick Chicks back there a not telling them to meet me here?” I said trying to keep a straight face.
“Yeah, right. YOU? Never. You get freaked out when I walk in to your room when the door is OPEN,” she said knowing she had me there.
Distracting her I said, “Hey, you dyed your hair!”
“You actually noticed?” she said with surprise in her voice.
“Of course, you go from blonde with dark roots,” drawing a glare from her when I said ‘dark roots’, “to a redhead. Actually, your complexion goes better with red hair.”
“I am a redhead,” she stated confidently, “you’ve seen my hair red before.”
“Yeah, but you’re always changing it. Who knows what color it will be next week. Now, go ahead and go swimming,” I said. “I want to catch up on some blogging. And, DON’T FORGET YOUR KEY.”
“I won’t. I stuck it right here,” she said as she began to reach for it.
“No, that’s okay. I don’t need to know where you keep your key,” I said turning my back to go back to what I was doing, “Oh, and please shut my door on your way out.”
Elmer RIP my friend. I loved meeting you back in the winter of 2010 when my wife and I did a California-Arizona Route 66 trip. I was very excited to see the Bottle Tree Forest, buy didn't realize I'd meet the genius behind it.
Elmer RIP my friend. I loved meeting you back in the winter of 2010 when my wife and I did a California-Arizona Route 66 trip. I was very excited to see the Bottle Tree Forest, buy didn't realize I'd meet the genius behind it.
Elmer RIP my friend. I loved meeting you back in the winter of 2010 when my wife and I did a California-Arizona Route 66 trip. I was very excited to see the Bottle Tree Forest, buy didn’t realize I’d meet the genius behind it. I was saddened to hear of your passing.
I was exploring your creations when I saw smoke coming from a small shack. I approached the shake wondering if someone actually lived here. As I got real close you came in to view with your arms full of scrounged wood.
You gave me a friendly greeting and we dove in to conversation. I learned you love the Bible and were quite well versed. We then talked about your creation.
I was impressed when you told me that most of these bottles came from your hikes through the desert. In my mind I could see you going on treasure hunting treks and coming back to your property with your booty.
As I looked around I could see your welding equipment, and envisioned you welding up a rack. Eventually, the rack would hold dozens of bottles arranged to look like a makeshift Christmas Tree. After all, everyday is Christmas at the Bottle Tree Ranch.
I Came Prepared
I came prepared with some toys I was going to photograph for my grandchildren, and then I would give them the toys along with pictures of their toy. When I told Elmer of my plans he smiled and thought that was a neat idea.
It’s too bad my grandchildren will never meet you in this life. They would have loved that.
In 2017 I was nearing the end of a 30-day tour of Route 66 with my friend Paul Bardotz. We met a young couple, nursing students, who we had fun photographing.
While we were talking to them and taking pictures, I caught you out of the corner of my eye.
“Hey, you two,” I said to the young couple, “come over here I want you to meet the mastermind behind all of this.”
I then introduced them to you. It wasn’t difficult to remember your name because Elmer is what Ham Radio Operators call a mentor who teaches them about radios. You struck me as a wise old man whom someone could learn a lot.
When the couple wandered off, you and I got talking about God’s commandments. I knew from previous visits you were a Bible reader. We exchanged scriptures we had memorized. You said something about the importance of memorizing verses from the bible.
Paraphrasing a line I once heard, and applying it to you, I said, “You know Elmer, there are only two scriptures you need to memorize.”
You looked at me very perplexed as if you were thinking, “What does this young man (comparably) know that I don’t know?”
I smiled and said, “That’s right. Only two — The old and new testaments.”
You laughed with a twinkle in your eye and I knew even though we’ve only met a couple of times that we were friends.
Paul Gets to Meet Elmer
I was excited that my friend Paul would get to meet you. Our Route 66 trip was more about the people we were meeting, and you were no exception. We talked quite a bit about your having seen you. It was a highlight of our trip.
Yes, Elmer RIP My Friend
Yes, Elmer RIP my friend. There’s no doubt in my mind you were greeted by loved ones and our Saviour when you passed through the veil of death.
Bicycling would be fun along Route 66. We came to this little plaza where they used old bicycles to decorate. It’s a cool idea for re-purposing old bicycles. Each one painted a different color.
The village is Cuba, Missouri. That’s right, Cuba. (There’s a Cuba, New York, too. It’s where they invented Cuba Cheese. Seriously.)
“Oh, how fun,” Charly exclaimed as she ran to jump on one of the bicycles.
“Whoa! I don’t think they mean for you to climb on those,” I yelled, but too late.
I figured if the police come along, I don’t know this girl.
Across the street was a quaint little cottage. Unfortunately, it was closed and we couldn’t go in and check things out. In fact, the entire little village seemed to have rolled up the sidewalks. (We ran in to that a lot. I’m not sure if it was because the season had ended, or if it was just too late in the day.)
One Armed Bandits
This was Charly’s first run-in with a one-armed bandit. We stopped at this Wax Museum. It was rundown on the outside, but it had a nice gift shop. I stocked up on postcards.
“Look at this cowboy thingy,” Charly said looking quizzically.
“That’s a one-armed bandit,” I said.
“Huh? What does it do? Does it shoot you?” she asked.
“No, it takes your money and you willingly give it up without any duress,” I explained further, “it’s called a slot-machine.”
“Oh, like those things in the casinos?” she asked.
“Exactly,” I punctuated.
“Fake,” she said as she picked up a slug from the machine’s hand.
Well, I wish we were bicycling. The weather is perfect. But, back to the car and we’re on down the road looking for a place to eat.
Now, when I think of BBQ, I think of Texas, Carolina, and Chicago. I don’t often think of Missouri. But, we came across this place where they called the waitresses “Hick Chicks”. Afterall, we were on the Ozarks.
“Ladies, this is Charly, you’re next Hick Chick,” I said before they could seat us.
Everyone laughed… except Charly.
After a nice lunch we were on our way again.
Wow, I have bicycling on my mind today. Much of Route 66 in the central states is rather flat. It would be fun to bicycle.
It was warming up so Charly changed… again.
“Hey, what happened to the goth outfit?” I said rolling my eyes.
“It’s too hot,” she said striking a pose while lifting her hair.
“Yeah, those guys over at the bar are staring,” I said hoping to make the point, “well… they’d probably stare anyway.”
“Maybe I’ll ask one of them to drive my car the rest of the way,” she said in a tone letting me know my comments about our revealing outfits weren’t welcome.
Here in St. James, Missouri, Old Route 66 turns in to a nice boulevard with a sidewalk down the center.
Evidently this place has a population of 91. It appears that at one time the economy of Route 66 treated them better.
With it growing late… and it’s almost dinner time now… we’re on to the next town.