Route 66, known as the Main Street of America, was once a bustling highway full of classic cars, drive ins, and motels with kitchy furnishings. Now, to be honest, it’s full of potholes and, in places, difficult to recognize as a road, let alone a highway. I’m headed west on Historic Route 66, which parallels Interstate 40 across Missouri, Oklahoma, the top of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
It’s been some time since I’ve posted, and I apologize, but there simply is no internet here. The internet lives and breathes in the 21st century, but it is solidly 20th century in these parts. In fact, I’m pretty sure I entered a live-action version of the movie Footloose somewhere east of here.
I started my journey in Carthage, MO, where Sakajewea had her u-joints worked on. (Unfortunately the Squeak-that-cannot-be-stopped continues despite the mechanics’ best efforts.) I traveled west into the bottom corner of Kansas, and into Oklahoma. The road was a bit iffy in places, but overall it was easy to follow. It was MUCH easier than the Interstate, which has a speed limit of 75, and is full of traffic. You wouldn’t know how much traffic there was unless you were being passed going 55 by every single car, truck, van and school bus going 90.
Since I’m traveling slowly anyhow, I decided to take in the sights, one tiny Oklahoma town at a time. Most of them look the same: a main street lined with various shops, their second story windows boarded up and unused, a set of railroad tracks, various advertisements for motels and CocaCola Classic, an old-timey gas station, and an ice cream shop or drive in. I would have had to get really creative to make these towns look like more than what they are. They’re slightly romantic, and have one or two cool old buildings to look at. But the hey-day of Route 66 lasted a decade, maybe two, and there wasn’t a TON of development that took place.
Oklahoma itself is vast and mostly empty farmland containing cows and tumbleweeds. One day I traveled during a typical “gusty” day. This is an artist’s rendering of how my drive was:
And the vast, empty stretches aren’t the only hard part. I’ve begun to think of major cities as video game bosses: they are big and difficult and exist only to be beaten. Tulsa and Oklahoma City were no exception. Tulsa in particular was a little bit like taking my life in my hands. People drive quickly and without regard to anyone, and there are a thousand lanes of traffic, all trying to merge or exit simultaneously. One time I accidentally got on the Turnpike! Yikes! (And who carries $1.75 in change? I’m going to have to mail that toll in later. ::grumble::) I literally drove AROUND Oklahoma City because Tulsa had given me such a hard time. Now I am sad, because I missed all the Waffle Houses. (More on that later.)
A nice spot in my otherwise fairly awful Oklahoma experience was Red Rock Canyon State Park, where I camped for two nights. It’s not as nice as a REAL canyon like, say, the Grand Canyon, but it’s clean and pretty and has nice hiking trails for beginners. Saturday was sunny and warm and I think Monty and Niko and I hiked four or five miles. Niko would like me to express his dislike for the goats’ head burrs that stuck in his footpads. Poor guy.
Side story: At night my imagination tends to run wild. I’ve heard hooting owls and TONS of yipping coyotes, and one or two noises I couldn’t recognize. Last night it was dark, about 11 o-clock, and Monty and Niko needed to go out for their nightly bathroom break. Thinking nothing of it, we stepped out of the trailer, and immediately something was wrong. Niko had his hackles up, Monty was lunging into the dark and there was a great scuffle going on somewhere BENEATH the trailer. My first thought: it’s a coyote. My second thought: it’s a bobcat. I had a picture in my mind of its glittering teeth snapping as Monty stuck his poor face right into its jaws. Somehow, I wrangled both dogs, shoved them back into the trailer, hopped aboard, and locked the door.
When my heartbeat returned to normal, I shined a flashlight out the window.
It was an armadillo.
I really am out of my element here, guys. I’m getting my kicks on Route 66, but mostly it’s kicking my ass.