July 8, 2019

Motoring Thru Missouri – Day 7

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.”

“Okay!” Charly enthusiastically said.

“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.

Dancing at Devil's Elbow while Motoring thru Missouri.
Dancing at Devil’s Elbow

Flood Damage

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.

Flood Damaged Barn with NO SHOES
Flood Damaged Barn with NO SHOES

“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.

Witmor Farms
Witmor Farms

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.

Buckhorn Grocery Store
Buckhorn Grocery Store

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.”

What's with this place?
What’s with this place?

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'm Hungry
I’m Hungry

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.

Chocolate Dipped Twinkie
Chocolate Dipped Twinkie

July 6, 2019

Uranus Fudge Day 7

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.

Oh, my.

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.

Charly's Perfect Dress - Uranus Fudge Day 7
Charly’s Perfect Dress

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.

So Pretty
So Pretty

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 on Route 66 in MIssouri
Charly on Route 66 in MIssouri

“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.

July 6, 2019

I Wanna Kiss You – Day 6

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.

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…

I wanna kiss you in Uranus... that doesn't sound right.
Uranus Fudge Factory

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.!!!

Closed
Closed

“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!”

I Wanna Kiss You!
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.

Back Turned to the Door
Back Turned to the Door

I had my back turned to the door when suddenly I heard Charly’s voice.

“Want to go swimming?” Charly asked.

Want to Go Swimming
Want to Go Swimming

“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.”

July 6, 2019

Elmer RIP

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.

Elmer R.I.P. my friend.
Elmer Long 1946-2019

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.

Bottle Trees

Stop Sign Bottle Tree

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.

Elmer RIP

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.

Action Figure on a Piece at the Bottle Tree Ranch
Action Figure on a Piece at the Bottle Tree Ranch
Little Critters on Bottles
Little Critters on Bottles

It’s too bad my grandchildren will never meet you in this life. They would have loved that.

2017 Tour

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.

Nursing Students We Met at Elmer's Ranch
Nursing Students We Met at Elmer’s Ranch

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?”

Elmer - September, 2017
Elmer – September, 2017

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.

Elmer RIP

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.

July 4, 2019

Day 6 – Bicycling

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.

Bicycling on Route 66
Bicycling on Route 66

“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.)

Across the street from the bicycles - bicycling!
The Fourway Restaurant

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.

Bicycling - Jesse James Wax Museum
Jesse James Wax Museum

“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.

One-Armed Bandit
One-Armed Bandit

“Fake,” she said as she picked up a slug from the machine’s hand.

Bicycling On

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.

Bicycling - Hick Chicks
Hick Chicks

“Ladies, this is Charly, you’re next Hick Chick,” I said before they could seat us.

Everyone laughed… except Charly.

A Missouri Hick
A Missouri Hick

After a nice lunch we were on our way again.

Boulevard Bicycling

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.

Making a Boulevard Stop
Making a Boulevard Stop

“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.

Stag Bar
Stag Bar
What’s Left of a Derby Service Station

With it growing late… and it’s almost dinner time now… we’re on to the next town.

July 3, 2019

Day 6 – Rocking It

Rocking It on Day 6 (read on and you'll see). After my little joke about tonight's motel, and grabbing a few photos, we moved on. Consequently, I probably won't be able to pull any more pranks today.

Rocking It on Day 6 (read on and you'll see). After my little joke about tonight's motel, and grabbing a few photos, we moved on. Consequently, I probably won't be able to pull any more pranks today.

Rocking It on Day 6 (read on and you’ll see). After my little joke about tonight’s motel, and grabbing a few photos, we moved on. Consequently, I probably won’t be able to pull any more pranks today.

Driving Route 66 you see a lot of similar stuff. As a result of the Interstate Freeway System you see a lot of nearly ghosts towns, and a lot of depressed areas. It’s too bad. I like small towns.

Soon I see an old service station (no pumps, however), but what’s parked there has my interest. It’s a midnight blue Pontiac!!! It’s the same color as my Grand Prix, only this one is an early model Pontiac.

Charly had already changed outfits. She donned a goth-looking purple and black outfit. Her shoes were almost electric.

“Hey, Charly, I want you to go pose by that beauty,” I said with excitement.

“What’s that? An old model-T?” she asked.

“No, first, it’s NOT a FORD, and second Model-Ts had stamped fenders,” I said hoping to educate her, “While it does kind of look like a Model-A.”

“Huh? Model-As are newer than Model-Ts?” looking confused, Charly asks.

“Yes. Model-Ts came first,” I said just to watch her look more confused. “Go stand over there.”

Rocking it on Day 6 with this old Pontiac
1930 Pontiac

“Oh, look! It’s for sale!” I screamed.

Charly nearly jumped out of her purple platform shoes, “Dude, you scared me,” catching her breath, she adds, “Are you going to buy it?”

This would match my Grand Prix - now that would be rocking it.
This would match my Grand Prix

In My Dreams

After seeing that 1930 Pontiac I’m rocking it in my dreams. Wow, if I had $10,500 and a way to get that home I’d buy it. Imagine opening the garage door and seeing that on one side and my Grand Prix on the other side.

Brent and His 2007 Grand Prix on Route 66, April, 2008
Brent and His 2007 Grand Prix on Route 66, April, 2008

WAKE-UP BRENT!

Really Rocking It

“I’ve read about this. It’s the worlds largest rocking chair!” I said as I saw the red monstrosity as large as a big two-story house.

“I’m going to go use the boy’s room,” I said, “I’ll be right back.”

As I returned from the restroom I saw the car, but no sign of Charly. I wasn’t too alarmed. I didn’t hear any other vehicles pull up or anyone walking or talking.

“CHARLY!” I yelled.

Nothing.

“HEY, CHARLY! WHERE ARE YOU!” I cried out again.

Hearing giggling, I looked up and Charly said, “I’m up here.”

Really Rocking It in the Rocking Chair
Really Rocking It in the Rocking Chair

“How… How in the world,” I paused looking around trying to figure this out, “did you get up there?”

“Ha-ha… I’ll never tell,” Charly said with a devilish grin.

“And, in a skirt at that,” I commented.

“Hey, I’m wearing shorts under my skirt,” Charly’s tone was of disgust.

“That’s good, because at this angle,” I started to say.

Interrupting, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re always worried I’ll show too much.”

“Tomorrow’s headlines: PILE UP ON HISTORIC ROUTE 66,” I said laughing.

Charly just rolled her eyes.

June 29, 2019

Day 6 in St. Louis

Day 6 in St. Louis is off to a great start. I hit the hotel complementary breakfast. (I like complimentary breakfasts. Sometimes I go to hotels just for the complimentary breakfast.) Who knows what Charly is doing. I'm guessing her makeup.

Day 6 in St. Louis is off to a great start. I hit the hotel complementary breakfast. (I like complimentary breakfasts. Sometimes I go to hotels just for the complimentary breakfast.) Who knows what Charly is doing. I'm guessing her makeup.

Day 6 plan is for me is to go to church and then we’ll hit the road. Yes, even when traveling, I go to church. I goofed up and made reservations for a hotel in another city. For the rest of the trip my plan is to spend Saturday and Sunday night’s in the same place. You know what they say, “Seven days without God makes one weak.” A day of rest is good.

Day 6 in St. Louis is off to a great start. I hit the hotel complementary breakfast. (I like complimentary breakfasts. Sometimes I go to hotels just for the complimentary breakfast.) Who knows what Charly is doing. I’m guessing her makeup.

Day 6 in St. Louis and Where’s Charly?

Okay, I’m off to a local church, and I haven’t seen Charly all morning. I left a note under her door:

Gone to church. Back in time for lunch. Please be ready. — Brent

Back on the Road

I returned from church and saw Charly was all packed and ready to hit the road.

“I see you got my note,” I said.

She replied, “I was wondering where you went.”

“Let’s load the car,” I said as I grabbed the handles of my two roller bags.

We no sooner put stuff in the car and Charly says, “I forgot something, I’ll be right back.”

30-minutes later I decided I’d play a little prank. A few days ago a guy let us take some bricks. I’ll stuff them in her suitcase.

“Right back,” I said, “I was about to see if there was someone else who wanted to join me.”

“You wouldn’t leave me,” she said with a voice of confidence.

“Oh, get over yourself,” I retorted, “the rest of us have.”

That earned one dirty look.

Not Our Day 6 Motel

It was time for another road trip tick. I knew there was an abandoned motel coming up.

“Wow,” I said, “I didn’t realize we’d get to our next motel so quickly.”

I was driving, and I pulled in the the abandoned Gardenway Motel. The first giveaway should have been there were NO cars in front of the rooms.

Charly hopped out of the car before it came to a complete stop, and yelled, “Nooooooo!”

I was laughing so hard I couldn’t speak for a while. Finally getting it together I asked, “Why?”

“You can’t be serious! This place looks like a dump from the outside, I can’t imagine what the rooms look like inside,” she said without even thinking that I was pulling her leg.

Charly is obviously displeased with this motel for Day 6 in St. Louis
Nooooo!

“Wait, wait, wait,” I said both trying to calm Charly down and to keep from cracking up, “wait until you see inside the rooms.”

I widened my eyes as if to say, ‘They’re amazing.’

Charly cast a gaze my way as if to say, ‘You better not be pulling my leg.’

“Let’s go look,” I said while taking her by the hand.

She grabbed my hand like a scared child. As we drew closer, her grip got tighter and tighter. I began to be a little scared myself. Visions of drug-crazed squatters coming at us with broken beer bottles ran through my imagination.

There was no visual or audible indication that anyone else was around. As I turned and looked at this pale frightened girl, I thought it was time to let her in on the joke.

Letting Charly In on the Day 6 Prank

“You must realize, I’d never stay in a dump like this. Remember our motel in Normal? That was about as bad as I’m willing to put up with,” I explained.

As a result, her hand curled in to a fist as I thought, ‘This could hurt, so move!”

Dodging her jab towards my right bicep I grabbed her before she lost her balance and fell on the the filthy walkway under our feet. Because she was about to fall over, I steadied her with both hands and placed my hands on her shoulders.

“It was a joke, Charly,” I said realizing perhaps it was a little cruel.

Smiling, Charly says, “I knew you were. I wanted you to think I trusted you.”

“What? You don’t?” I asked.

“Heck no,” she laughed.

“What the heck are you doing on this trip? Riding a few thousand miles with an old man?” I said feeling a little under appreciated.

“Oh, no. I trust you in that way,” she said realizing she’s safe with me. “You’d never lay a hand on me. You’re the only guy I’ve ever met who hasn’t made me feel creepy in that way.”

“Thank you for telling me that,” I said comforted. “Let’s peak inside and see how bad this place really is.”

“Do we have to?” she said squeamishly.

“You’re perfectly welcome to go back and wait in the car,” I stated, “I just want to peak around and take a few pictures.”

“Nah, it’s okay, but if zombies come after us I’m throwing you at them so I can make my escape,” she said realizing she could outrun me.

We both slowly approached a broken window. Charly peeked inside and exclaimed, “GROSS!”

It seems like squatters had been there.

Day 6 Motel -- Just Kidding
Day 6 Motel — Just Kidding

June 20, 2019

Saint Louis – Day 5

Day 5 – Good morning Saint Louis. Let’s find somewhere to eat breakfast and then go see the St. Louis Arch.

I plugged in Saint Louis Arch and it wasn’t found. So, I had to do an Internet search and found at the GPS probably has it listed by it’s official name – Gateway Arch.

That did it. Off we go.

“Brent, check that out. It looks like an old movie theatre,” Charly says while pointing out the window.

“It sure does. Let’s stop and check it out,” I said.

We pulled in to the parking lot to discover inside it’s been converted in to offices. One of the things the Internet has destroyed is good, ol’ fashioned, movie houses. Just as the Interstate highway system turned many Route 66 towns in to shells of what they used to be, the Internet has had impact on theatres and retail shopping.

As we walked by the MOD Pizza shop in the corner of the building, the manager was opening and asked if we’d like to have a pizza.

Hey, I’m all for pizza for breakfast.

Saint Louis Train Station

Getting to the arch is going to take a little time. We didn’t get far before I saw an old train station. (It’s actually in Kirkwood, Mo.)

My grandpa was a Union Pacific Railroad man. He taught me respect for the tracks and trains. He’d say, “I don’t ever want to pick up your head off the tracks.” I was never afraid, I just knew trains and train tracks are nothing to be trifled with. You don’t pose people on the tracks and you get it in to your head that you cannot always hear a train. (It has to do with the doppler effect.)

“Brent, take a picture of me on the tracks,” Charly requests.

“Nope. Those are live tracks,” I said while looking around for some signage.

“Here, read this Charly,” I said pointing to a sign that warns trespassers, “aside from trespassing, it is also extremely dangerous. Didn’t you hear about those three kids who were killed last summer as one of them was taking pictures of the other two standing on the tracks?”

“Didn’t they see it coming and HEAR it coming?” she said in disbelief.

“Nope. It was a blind corner. The train was doing about 70 miles per hour, and at that speed, you won’t hear the train until it is too late,” I explained.

“Really?” she said while looking at me as if to say, ‘Nah, that can’t be.’

“See the yellow line. Stay on this side of the line please,” I pleaded with Charly.

“Okay,” she said with the disbelief that goes along with the feeling of invincibility that accompanies youth.

“Here, stand here and look down the track like you’re looking for the train,” I instructed, “Too bad we don’t have a suitcase.”

Charly Waiting for a Train
Charly Waiting for a Train

The Gateway Arch

I’ve always wanted to see the Arch in St. Louis. I knew little about the arch before the trip. All I knew about it was from my college math days learning that it is built in the shape that a chain makes ( a catenary curve) when suspended at two ends — only inverted. As a result of this shape, the arch is very structurally sturdy.

Here’s what I learned:
The Arch was built as a monument to the westward expansion.
It is a National Park.
Inside are trams that take tourist to the top where they can look out windows at the scenes below. (Because of its hight, I always thought there were offices inside.)
It took over 30 years from conception to completion!!!
It is 630 feet wide and 630 feet tall.

Charly At the base of the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis
At the base of the Gateway Arch

“Charly, come stand here and act like a fashion model,” I called for her. “There… move a little to your left,” I said motioning for her to move in that direction.

“Perfect,” I said as clicked the shutter.

Framed by the Gateway Arch
Framed by the Gateway Arch

I looked at our tickets, and then my watch, “Hey, let’s go inside. We need to catch our tram ride to the top.”

Trotting towards the entrance with Charly following behind, we entered the building via a downward sloping ramp that took us to the basement.

We had to wait for our group to be called, so we looked around. Finally they called our number and marshalled is in to a line. It was like a popular line at Disneyland. Just when you think you’re almost there, it takes another turn and doubles back on itself.

They boarded us on a tram with a half dozen people and off we went to the top.

“Charly,” I started to ask as she looked at me knowing I was going to ask her to pose.

She walked over to one of the windows, “How’s this?”, she asked.

Looking out of the Arch on the River Side Saint Louis
Looking out of the Arch on the River Side

Chain of Rocks Bridge Saint Louis

Our next stop was this bridge all the books said is a “must see”. I had never heard of the Chain of Rocks Bridge, so we were off to see what all the fuss is about.

The GPS took us to the Missouri side of the bridge and I did not see ANYWHERE that I would want to park the car. Charly was thumbing through all my Route 66 books.

“Brent,” she said firmly, “this book says, ‘Do not leave your car unattended on the Missouri side. It is not safe.'”

“Not to worry, I don’t plan to park here,” I said, then added, “I can’t even see a place to park legally. Check the map, will you?”

Charly pulled out a AAA map and began to fiddle with the folds. I could tell this Millennial Child has never dealt with a road map before. So, I turned on the flashers and pulled to the shoulder of the road.

“Let me see that,” I said while tugging it from her hands. “Okay, I see where we need to go.”

Soon we found ourselves on the Kansas side of bridge. A large gravel parking lot looked clean and safe. It also had many other cars parked there, but no people in sight.

“Let’s go check it out,” I said hopping out of the car.

Chain of Rock Bridge Old Historic Route 66
Chain of Rock Bridge Old Historic Route 66 Saint Louis

Sadness on the Bridge

Julie and Robin Kerry - Saint Louis Chain of Rocks Bridge
Julie and Robin Kerry

We soon came across this plaque. The death dates made me wonder, “Was this a suicide pact? How did these two girls die? What happened?”

Well, you can read the sad story here.

Someone also put together this slideshow…

June 14, 2019

Website Updates

You may have noticed some website updates. We've switched to a new server and updated everything.

Hopefully in the process we haven't introduced any broken links, but our site health-check will alert us to those. We will fix them as they are discovered.

You may have noticed some website updates. We've switched to a new server and updated everything.

Hopefully in the process we haven't introduced any broken links, but our site health-check will alert us to those. We will fix them as they are discovered.

You may have noticed some website updates. We’ve switched to a new server and updated everything.

Hopefully in the process we haven’t introduced any broken links, but our site health-check will alert us to those. We will fix them as they are discovered.

Route 66 Photographers Website Updates
Website Updates – Logo Still the Same

Website Updates In the Meantime

In the meantime we might not be posting. It’s taking a little more work than we expected.

But, that’s okay. With any website updates there are glitches and delays. And, since I’m fully disabled, I can only handle so much each day. So, be patient

If you’re new to our site, a few words of introduction…

Who We Are

In 2017 myself, Brent Walton, and Paul Bardotz drove Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. We were on the road for 30 days. It was an epic and awesome trip.

We were even interviewed for a magazine when we returned. We also gave a few presentations. It was really fun to tell others of our journey. It was a once in a lifetime trip and I’m glad I did it when we did it.

A little over a year after returning, I got seriously ill… and I haven’t got better. It started with a flu and turned in to a rare neuromuscular disease (which they suspect was triggered by the flu). As a result, had I NOT gone in 2017, I might not have ever made this trip.

That’s the bad part.

The Good Part

The good part is I can only handle about 45-90 minutes a day on my feet. That’s largely used for personal hygiene and meals. The rest of the day I have to rest.

I got tired of watching TV, and this disease affects my eyes, so reading is really difficult. My wife and I came up with a way I can sit at my computer and will minimal physical effort (and with the help of a VERY large monitor), I can do stuff on the computer. (Mostly stuff that doesn’t involve reading… and writing… so writing this is very difficult and time consuming.) Running out of things to do, I decided to create some art around my Route 66 photos.

I created a fictional character, Charly, who is accompanying me on a fictional Route 66 trip. She’s kind of a wild kid who’s accompany this older guy (the fictional me) on this trip. We’re as different as night and day. (I’ve already taken some ribbing about Charly being ‘trashy’ and ‘racy’. It might turn out to be kind of a Cinderella story.)

June 10, 2019

Day 4 – Near St. Louis

Day 4 – Near St. Louis and it’s starting to get dark. Some days we end up pushing dinner until it’s late, but time seems to get away when there is so much to see on Route 66.

“Brent? What’s that?”, Charly asks.

I look and see some sort of a monument. It says Illinois 181 at the top. My first thought is there’s no way this was around in 1818. It can’t be mile 1,818. Oh, wait… that’s the year Illinois became a state!!!

“I think that’s a monument to Illinois becoming a state,” I told Charly as I turned my back to do an Internet search. Whew! I was right.

Just think… we’re only a year off from Illinois’ bicentennial. But, we are here for Route 66… not Illinois.

Illinois 1818 Route 66 Monument
Illinois 1818 Route 66 Monument

It turns out this monument was put up by the people who live here. I think it is cool. I’d be tempted to do something like that, but there are so many places where code enforcement would jump down your throat.

Dusk Near St. Louis

It’s near dusk as we’re near St. Louis. We pulled over to take some photos.

Pointing to the Bel Air Drive In sign, Charly asked, “Have you ever been to one of those?”

“I grew up across the street from a drive in,” I proudly said.

“Can we go?” she asks.

“There’s nothing on the marquis. I doubt they are open,” I said.

Charly Points to Drive In
Charly Points to Drive In

“What is it like? How do you watch a movie?” Charly asks.

“You drove your car in, and parked next to a pole with a speaker. The speaker clipped to your window. You’d have to be careful when you left and made sure you put the speaker back else it would damage your window! You’d sit in your car and watch the movie on that big screen,” I said pointing to the screen, “and the sound came across the speaker.”

Drawing a breath, I continued, “If you got hungry, you could walk to a building in the center of where all the cars park. They also had carhops who came and brought food to you.”

Reminiscing

Here are some images I created of days gone by…

Reminiscing
Reminiscing

I started reminiscing about the days watching cartoons over the drive in fence. (After all, we lived across the street from a drive in. All I had to do is go out in the field with binoculars and watch — no sound.)

Where’s the Hotel?

Back in the car I plugged the address to the hotel in the GPS. It took us to some road with a chain link fence and barb wire.

“Your destination is on the right,” the woman’s British voice announced. (British because the other voices sounded too boring.)

“Charly,” I said, “that does NOT look like our hotel.”

“Maybe it was torn down… like so many other places on Route 66,” Charly said with a sound of disgust.

“I doubt that. I just made the reservations at lunch time,” I said. “Here,” I continued handing her my phone, “call the number and tell them we’re lost.”

Charly makes the call, explains the situation, and hangs up.

“Well? That was short,” I said.

“He said they get that a lot. We need to specify St. Louis,” she says.

“I thought it would take us to the closest matching address… in St. Louis,” I began to get a little perturbed.

“I’m just sayin'”, she says.

How I hate that phrase. ‘I’m just sayin”.

“Well, punch it in,” I snapped.

“Turn around. Your destination is 2 miles back,” says the GPS.

“SEE. It’s NOT me. It’s taking us back to that… I don’t know… It looked like an AREA 51, but we’re not in the Southwest U.S.,” I responded more angrily.

“Calm down,” Charly says, “I’ll try again. Nope, it’s taking us right back there.”

“Okay,” I said as I had an epiphany, “put in downtown St. Louis and we’ll just drive there. When we get downtown we will enter the hotel again.”

“Dang, you’re smart,” Charly said stroking my ego, but rolling her eyes as if SHE had thought of doing that.

Seeing the St. Louis Arch for the First Time

Seeing the St. Louis Arch for the first time was pretty impressive. I did not realize it was so BIG. We could see the city in the background against the dimming sky and the Arch dwarfed everything else around it.

“Okay, we’re getting closer to St. Louis. I didn’t realize back there we had so much further to go,” I said with a calm sound of reassurance. “Stupid GPS.”

Entering St. Louis on Route 66
Entering St. Louis on Route 66

Charly and I switched driving. I grabbed a shot through the windshield, but I couldn’t see the arch when I did.

Once in the city, the GPS took us right to the hotel. I let the front desk know they might be losing business if the GPS takes people to destinations unknown. They agreed.

A Dip in the Pool

“I’m going to go for a dip in the pool,” Charly announced she took the key card and headed to her room.

“Go ahead,” exhaustedly I said, “I’m calling it a day. Oh, and don’t forget to take a robe or a towel. I’m not sure…”

“I’m not stupid, you know,” Charly said like a defiant teenager.

“I’m not saying you are… just not as modest as most people,” I said with a wink.

There I sat in my room. Wired from all the driving we did today, or what seemed like a lot of driving. I broke out my laptop, and began downloading images.

Seeing it would take a while to copy, I decided to go down to the lobby and ask the lady at the front desk about places to eat breakfast. Or, at least see what they offer for breakfast in the hotel. I can’t remember if it comes with a continental breakfast or not.

Back at the Room

I’m walking down the hall as I’m heading back to my room and what do I see? Charly is standing in the hall, wrapped in a towel, pounding on my door.

Knock, knock.
Knock, knock.

“Looking for me?” I asked.

“I thought you were in for the night,” she says surprised to see me.

“And, I wasn’t expecting to open my hotel door to see a young lady dressed only in a towel,” was my response.

“I’ve got my swimsuit on underneath”, Charly informs me as she opens the towel enough to show she’s got a one-piece on under the towel.

“Thank goodness for that,” I said, relieved.

“I locked my key in my room,” she said thinking nothing of what she had done.

“And, so… you’re knocking on my door to ask me if you could have my room? Is that it?” I asked because I wasn’t sure what she was getting to.

“No, I was going to ask if you know how I can get in my room,” she nievely said.

“Yeah, you go down to the front desk, tell them you locked yourself out of your room… ” I started to say.

“But what if they ask for ID?” she inquired.

“This happens often. If they want ID they can always come up, open your door, and ask you to produce ID before they call the cops and have you arrested and thrown in jail for imitating Char… “, I was on a roll before she cut in.

“Okay, I get it. They aren’t going to arrest me,” she says as she scampered off towards the elevator.

Once safely in my room I thought of leaving a note on her door. In fact, I even wrote it out:

“DON’T BUG ME. I’M TIRED AND I HAVE GONE TO BED.”

But then, I reconsidered. If I put that note on her door she’d definitely be waking me 5 minutes in to my slumber.