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New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri

PART 1. NEW MEXICO (ROUTE 66)
PART 2. TEXAS (ROUTE 66)
PART 3 OKLAHOMA (ROUTE 66)
PART 4 KANSAS (ROUTE 66)
PART 5 MISSOURI (ROUTE 66)
PART 6. KANSAS (Not included Route 66)
PART 7  NEW MEXICO (Northen Region)

Part 1. NEW MEXICO, ROUTE 66.

Defiance to Glenrio (Arizona State Border till Texas State Border)

New Mexico claims 745 kilometres of Route 66’s Chicago to Los Angeles journey. The interstate (i40) runs over top of the old highway in many places. The desert landscape, the red cliffs, pine wooded hills and valleys, mixed with old route 66 motels, 1950s diners and lots of route 66 neon signs makes it a pleasure to cross the mother road in New Mexico.

Our first stop was defiance a tiny village that once was a coal-mining town on the Historic Route 66 west of Gallup.

Gallup is the First largest town in New Mexico after leaving Arizona on Route 66. Hotel Rancho literally and figuratively rolled out the red carpet for Hollywood stars of yesteryear, who came to the area to film Western Cowboy Movies. The names of the rooms recall the hotel’s former guest, including Ronald Regan, Katherine Hepburn.

We did visit Richardson Trading Co a Native American trading posts, to enter a genuine trading post that trades with local Native Americans is an experience in commerce that has its roots in the trade before the 1900s.

From here we passed a number of towns which were popular Route 66 stops but have since faded.

On the way we crossed The Continental Divide third time while in the USA and numerous times before in South and Central America. Last crossing was in Colorado when we crossed to the west. This is a geological spine running through much of North and South America. It marks the dividing point between water running toward the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

 

You cannot miss the arch in Grants and the many Routes 66 signs along the historic Route 66. a quick photo op at the Route 66 Neon Drive-Thru in Grants is a must. The idea was to park overnight at the Cracker Barrel and visit Albuquerque the following day. But we were told to move as Cracker Barrel no longer allows overnight camping.

 

Albuquerque also known as ABQ, Burque, and the Duke City, Founded in 1706 as La Villa de Alburquerque. It is a vibrant city of 500000 inhabitants who maintain the dynamic traditions and have helped shape our centuries-old story. Albuquerque is also the hot Air Ballooning capital of the world. The Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway’s 2.7-mile ascent to the just over 3000 meters peak of the Sandia Mountains is a thrilling way to see Albuquerque and the surrounding landscape. Waking up with minus 2 degrees, a gale blowing and snow on the mountains we decided to move on.

Heading west out of Albuquerque on Route 66, we enjoyed a scenic descent from Nine Mile Hill into the Rio Puerco Valley

As we headed further East we hit some snow just before our next stop at Clines Corners, where Roy Cline opened a rest stop in 1937 to serve Route 66 travellers.

The weather was getting worse hence we decided to camp at Santa Rosa State Lake Park. It was just 2 degrees, and a severe weather warning was in place with wind gust up to 100 kilometres per hour.

In Santa Rosa we visited its legendary Route 66 Auto Museum.

Santa Rosa’s stretch of Route 66 is forever memorialized in American film history in Steinbeck’s epic novel, Grapes of Wrath with a memorable train scene, as a freight train steams over the Pecos River railroad bridge in the centre of town.

Enroute to Tucumcari we passed a number of what are now largely ghost towns, many of which have abandoned Route 66 era buildings.

Tucumcari today it is home to more surviving Route 66 era motels than anywhere else on the Route. Including the Blue Swallow Motel, where the glowing neon sign is as iconic as the drive-in rooms. The hotel dates to 1939 and continues to be family-owned and operated today. Other historical motels are Motel Safari, and Pow Wow Inn. The Mother Road travels through the town centre, where it’s known as Tucumcari Boulevard. Teepee Curios is one of the most photogenic stops on the entire route. This used to be a former 1940’s petrol station. Other highlights in Tucumcari include the enormous amounts of neon signs that light up the streets at night, the beautiful 1930’s Art Deco theatre The Odeon and the route 66 museum.

Between San Jon and Glenrio, you take a dirt and gravel road which is part of the original Route 66 (pre-1950’s) Most of the towns through this stretch have few residents and most have become ghost towns. Last stop in New Mexico was the Russel Truck and Travel centre in the small town of Glenrio.

 

 

PART 2, TEXAS ( ROUTE 66)

This post will discuss Route 66 in Texas. In a few months we will travel a little more south in Texas the most populous state in the southern region of the United States, after we return from the Northern part of Mexico and the Baja California.

Route 66 has many names, The Mother Road, The Main Street of America, The Will Rogers Highway. When it comes to quirky roadside attractions, a small-town Americana feel, vintage charm, and a wide variety of things to do, you will find them along this route. Luckily, there is a short-but-sweet stretch of Route 66 in Texas!

Despite being, geographically speaking Texas is the largest state along Route 66, Texas is home to only 290 kilometres of Route 66. The road cuts straight across the Texas Panhandle in the far Northwest.

Crossing into Texas at the ghost town of Glenrio was disappointing, the town is full of abandoned buildings.

One of the most famous towns along the portion of Route 66 in Texas is Adrian, Midway Point along the historic Route 66, exact 1822 kilometres from Chicago, and 1822 kilometres from Los Angeles.

The Midpoint Cafe has had many names, owners, and iterations since it first opened in 1928, but today, it remains proudly in the centre of historic Route 66, with a slogan that reads “when you’re here, you’re halfway there.”

Just before Amarillo is Cadillac Ranch a classic Route 66 roadside attraction: it is colourful, kitsch, and more than a little ridiculous. Ten Cadillacs are lined up neatly in a row with their frontends buried in the desert and every inch of visible surface covered in thousands of layers of spray paint courtesy of the tourist visiting. The stall at the entrance sells the spray paint and of you go. From what we are told this is now one of the most famous stops along Route 66 in Texas. Bruce Springsteen named the song Cadillac Ranch in his 1980 album The River.

Just past Cadillac Ranch is the 2nd Amendment cowboy; this huge cowboy (statue) in yellow shirt that reads “2nd Amendment Cowboy” is placed in front of 3 classic Cadillacs.

Halfway the night we were woken by thunder, rain, and gale force winds, this did not get better for the rest of the day and in the neighbouring state Oklahoma, a tornado watch was in place.

Amarillo is the only city along Route 66 in Texas. (the Lone Star State) Route 66’s most famous restaurant is Big Texan Steak Ranch where you can get a 2KG steak plus vegetables, and chips and if you can eat the steak in 1 hour it is free. If you take the challenge, you will need to sit on a small stage-like table at the front of the restaurant. If not, prepare to cough up US $72.

Palo Duro Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the USA, nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Texas, is located just 30 minutes off Route 66 and is worth a detour. Unfortunately, due to atrocious weather, rain, hail, sleet and gale force winds, we decided against a visit and drove east towards Oklahoma. According to other overlanders Palo Duro Canyon is the most spectacular and scenic landscape feature in the Texas Panhandle, with a descent of some 800 feet to the canyon floor.

Combine City. when Orville Ladehoff did not know what he was going to do with a broken-down old combine, his wife said why do you not just bury it as a joke. That was the spark that ignited the farmer’s crazy idea — not to bury, but to “plant” combine harvesters on his two-acre plot of land.

Ozymandias on the Plains, two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the middle of no-where! Named for a 19th-century Percy Shelley poem that references an Egyptian King, Ozymandias on the Plains may look like a damaged statue, but it was built to look exactly as it does. Local self-taught artist Lightning built the sculpture McDuff, who specializes in altering found objects to make new pieces of art.

The VW Slug Bug Ranch just outside Amarillo is a copy to the more-famous Cadillac Ranch but done with five VW Slug Bugs.

 

McLean. Once a thriving town on Route 66. Boosted not only by Route 66 visitors, but by ranching and the oil boom, McLean’s entire Commercial District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a must-see when driving the route through Texas.

Groom is a small town on Historic Route 66 in Texas. It is famous for its 198 foot tall giant cross, and its leaning water tower. This leaning water tower may look like it’s on the brink of falling over, but it was put there as an advertisement for a truck stop (which no longer exists)

On our way to Oklahoma, we stopped at Shamrock which is known for its classic Art Deco architecture, the famous Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café. Built in 1936 at the cost of $23,000, this gem of a building got its start in the dust when the idea was written on the ground with an old nail.

 

Texola is located on the Oklahoma/Texas border; this town has been claimed by both Texas and Oklahoma due to the changes of the state border numerous times.

PART 3 OKLAHOMA (ROUTE 66) 

Oklahoma is a state in the central Region of the USA. The name Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw word Okla which means red. We are told 26 native American languages are spoken in Oklahoma and nearly 15% of Oklahomans are American Indians, which is the highest indigenous population of any State in the USA.

The weather is not improving, it’s pouring down rain. Despite descending to around 600 meters the temperature did not reach 7 degrees Celsius.

Oklahoma, is with more than 640 kilometres the longest stretch of Route 66 in any state. Time to get our Kicks on Route 66. We entered Oklahoma from Texas at the state border town of Texola in the west located on the Oklahoma/Texas border. This town has been claimed by both Texas and Oklahoma due to the changes of the state border numerous times. The historic U.S. Route 66 is sometimes known as the Will Rogers Highway after Oklahoma native Will Rogers.

Another forgotten road in Oklahoma, an even older stretch of roadway than Route 66 is called the Ozark Trail that dates to 1913. it connected St Louis, Missouri to both El Paso, Texas and Santa Fe, New Mexico. There are still a few areas in northeast and central Oklahoma where you can drive along historical segments and spot the unique obelisk markers.

In Erick we visited the mural honouring Roger Miller, 11-time grammy winner and country music hall of fame member who wrote pop hits like “King of the road.” The Roger Miller Mural depicts the famous singer-songwriter in five poses and shows a Route 66 road sign in the background.

Elk City

The National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma is a fascinating tribute to the Legendary highway and its influence on American culture and travel. A must do is a photo of the largest Route 66 sign in the world and the Kachina doll outside the museum.

Hydro

Lucille’s Service Station in Hydro, Oklahoma is a cherished Route 66 landmark that reflects the nostalgia of the historic highway. This was run by the famous Lucille Hamons from 1941 till the day she died in 2000.

Calumet

In Calumet we followed the old Route 66 to El Reno, where three 18-feet-tall Muffler Men appear in mural form.

El Reno. We stopped in El Reno to visit the Mother Road Monument. After last night’s tornado warning we realized that we arrived in Tornado Alley. El Reno was struck by tornado’s in 2011 and 2013. Nearly 200 people were injured and 9 people were killed. The windspeed was measured at 472 kilometres per hour.

Arcadia is located 23kilomters north of Oklahoma City on Historic Route 66. And basically, is a suburb of Oklahoma City. For us the reason to stop was twofold: we were looking for a place to stay overnight in Arcadia, and POPS with its massive selection of over 700 varieties of soda pop, and the huge 33-meter-high soda bottle outside. It was a great place to stay overnight. Unfortunately, here we bumped into the streetlight in the carpark, while setting up for the night. The following morning, we visited the Round Barn built in 1898. This unique and magnificently restored historic round barn is a testament to the enduring spirit of America’s Mother Road.

Stroud. The town was devastated by the 1999 Tornado. It destroyed the town’s 53-store Tanger Outlet Center, as well as a distribution Center owned by foodservice company Sygma. Neither of these facilities were rebuilt; the resulting loss of 800 jobs caused a significant amount of economic distress to the small town.

Stroud is one of only two Oklahoma locations with an original Ozark Trail obelisk. Obelisks are tall, four-sided, narrow structures topped with a pyramid-shaped stone and display the nearest town name and distance to each.

The Rock Cafe in Stroud is constructed from local rock and bricks and is a historic Route 66 landmark renowned for its small-town charm and mouthwatering homemade food.

Sapulpa‘s history is steeped in a lively mix of Native American soul – the town is named after Chief Sapulpa, a Lower Creek Indian from Alabama – and the early days of oil. By now we had seen enough Car museums, so we stopped for lunch and continued.

Tulsa is the second most populous city in Oklahoma; this city was historically based on the oil economy. It used to have the nick name Oil Capital of the World. Today the city has diversified, and leading sectors include finance, aviation, telecommunications and technology. Big cities are not what we normally visit however Tulsa has a few attractions we wanted to visit.

The Golden Driller Statue is colossal. Standing proudly at 23 meters high, it represents Oklahoma’s rich oil heritage.

The retired Frisco locomotive travelled between Oklahoma City and St. Louis.

The Route 66 Half Archway when arriving in Tulsa is another impressive landmark that stands as a symbol of the enduring spirit of the Mother Road. And the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza commemorates the visionary leader and “Father of Route 66,” Cyrus Avery. He played an important role in the creation and development of Route 66.

The Blue Whale in Catoosa is worth the stop for a picture and a walk into the mouth of the whale. This area was controlled by the Cherokee Nation in the 19th century. Another town in the path of a tornado which left 7 people dead.

Cartoosa is one of the largest inland seaports in the USA, linking Tulsa to the Arkansas River and the Mississippi River and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Via Claremore we arrived in Oologah the town where Will Rogers was born in 1879. He was a Cherokee Indian, a cowboy and a movie star, an entertainer. He became a Broadway actor, a writer, philosopher, and comedian. During his career in the 1920s and 1930s he made 71 movies and wrote over 4,000 newspaper columns. He was a world-famous star. He died in an airplane crash in Alaska in 1935. Route 66 was dedicated to him.

This town, also part of Tornado Valley, was destroyed by a tornado in 1991. We spent 3 days on lake Oologah and enjoyed meeting many of the locals.

Chelsea. The town was the site of the Chelsea-Alluwe Oil Field, which produced a significant amount of oil from 1910 until the early 1920s, before it played out. Will Rogers attended a subscription school on Cherokee Land in Chelsea. Our interest in the town was Ed Galloways Totem Pole Park. This park boosts a collection of giant concrete totem poles created by Ed Galloway. It is home to the world’s largest Concrete Totem pole. Totem Pole Park has been a Route 66 landmark since 1948 and is an important example of post-WW2 folk art.

Vinita. This is the second oldest town in Oklahoma and shows lots of history and heritage. The historic downtown district has lots of antique and specialty shops and boutiques. Stop at the iconic Clanton’s Café, a Route 66 institution since 1927. Another must stop is the Hi-Way Cafe situated along historic Route 66; this charming diner has been a favorite gathering spot for residents and travellers alike over the years.

Miami is located on the route of the Jefferson Highway. Established in 1915, this road covered more than 3,700 km from Winnipeg in Canada to New Orleans crossing Route 66 in Miami. An important attraction is that Route 66 runs directly through the heart of Miami. The iconic Gateway Sign in Miami standing tall on the Main Street, serves as a visual landmark.

With a deep history as America’s most beloved highway, Route 66 has played a large part in the history of Oklahoma. Miami boasts the longest Main Street on all of Route 66 and is proud to serve as the Gateway into Oklahoma for all those traveling from the East into Miami. Miami is also home of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma which is named the Modoc Tribe. Just outside of Miami is the last section of the original nine foot wide “Ribbon Road” that is listed as an Oklahoma National Historic Landmark. Although a part of the Historic Highway, this section predates Route 66, having been built in the early 1920s. Legend has it that when the road was built, Oklahoma’s budget was tight, so rather than covering half the mileage, they covered half the width. So, you will understand why they sing, “Life is a Highway.”

 

Commerce is on Route 66. When that highway was commissioned in 1926, it is the first town or the last when travelling into or out of Oklahoma, or to or from Kansas. Commerce was the site of two notable events. In April 1934, Bonnie and Clyde killed Commerce Constable William C. Campbell and kidnapped police chief Percy Boyd. By May Bonnie and Clyde would both be dead. Allen’s Conoco Fillin’ Station in Commerce is a charming and nostalgic roadside stop that reminded us of a bygone era. Featuring vibrant colours and retro styling It also has several classic vintage Route 66 service stations i.e. the famous Dairy King which use to be the Marathon Oil station.

PART 4 KANSAS (ROUTE 66)

ROUTE 66 In the South East corner of Kansas.

Kansas is in the Central USA.  Kansas is named after the Kansas River and the capital city is Topeka. More about Kansas once we return West towards Colorado.

Since we arrived in Texas, we arrived in Tornado Alley.  We have been on Tornado watch already 4 times with 2 small tornado’s touching ground in towns not that far from us.

Tornados happen all year round but in the period March to June most likely. And they happen mostly during the hottest part of the day between 4 and 7PM during severe thunderstorms and hailstorms.  Tornados rate EF 1 to 5, an EF 5 tornado has winds over 350 kilometres per hour, doing incredible damage to buildings and infrastructure.

The Kansas section of Route 66 is just 20 kilometres long before it enters Missouri. 

Baxter Springs is one of only three towns through which Route 66 passes in Kansas. It is a city in Cherokee County. For some this is the American Frontier. In 1835 the Cherokee people were part of 5 civilized tribes forced from the Southeast of the USA to West of the Mississippi River. A trading post was established at the springs. Some Native Americans and European-American settlers began to develop a community around the post. The 19th-century settlers eventually named the city and nearby springs after early settler A. Baxter. He had claimed land about 1850 and built a frontier Pub. In 1926, Baxter Spring downtown main street was designated as part of the Route 66 transcontinental highway connecting Chicago and Los Angeles. The area of Baxter Springs, Kansas, has been inhabited by indigenous peoples since the early 1700s.

Just before entering Riverton from the west, we passed the Rainbow Bridge constructed in 1923. The bridge is still accessible by car even though a newer bridge also runs over Brush Creek. the Route 66 Visitor’s Center unfortunately was closed. The building was built in 1930, the gas station was originally owned by the Independent Oil and Gas Company. The other interesting stop is at the Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store, open since the 1920s. the owner, also the president of the Kansas Route 66 Association, displays his memorabilia.

Galena is a town located on the short, 20 odd kilometres stretch of Route 66 in Kansas. It is a town with mining roots that boomed during the early 1900s. Route 66 crosses the railway using the old viaduct built in 1923. It is over 200 ft. long and meets the town’s Main Street. The bridge predates Route 66 by three years and was built to carry the Jefferson Highway. At the base of the bridge, to your left is the Muffler Man. This 19-foot tall “muffler man” (which, of course isn’t a muffler man) is called “Frecs”, short for Freckles, after his miner grandfather. It is really big! The building next to it has quite a few eye-catchers like the “Sheriff Car on a Pole”. The car on the top of the pole is a replica of one of Disney-Pixar’s Cars franchise characters, “Sheriff”. The original movie character is a 1949 2-door police car with siren, speaker, and a red rotating gumball light (that lights up at night).

Haunted Staffleback Bordello, in the 1880 was a brothel owned by the Staffleback family. The gabled building which had fallen in disrepair was recently restored. Old Kan-O-Tex service station is the famous “Kan-O-Tex” service station at 119 North Main St. The service station dates to 1934. At one time it was “Little’s Service Station”. It sold a regional brand of gasoline in the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and this gave it its name: Kan-O-Tex.

After 20 kilometres we entered Missouri

PART 5 MISSOURI (ROUTE 66) 

Missouri is in the Central Region of the USA; Missouri played a major role in the Westward expansion of the USA. This is memorialized by the Gateway Arch in St Louis.

Coming from the East, Missouri earned the nickname Gateway to the West because it served as a significant departure point for expeditions and settlers heading to the West during the 19th century.

Many other trails began in Missouri, including the Pony Express, Oregon Trail, Santa Fe Trail, and the California Trail. And so the first planning meeting for Route 66 was held in Missouri in April 1926. We also learned that some well-known people are born in Missouri i.e. Chuck Berry, Walt Disney, Brad Pitt, Sheryl Crow, Harry Truman, and Mark Twain. Missouri is also called the Mother of the West and with more than 6,000 caves, it’s no surprise that Missouri is also known as “The Cave State.”

Kansas City and St. Louis are two of the most vibrant cities in the Midwest, with unbeatable music and dining scenes, and plenty of things to do, while road-trip enthusiasts cross the heart of the Show Me State on Route 66 to experience bygone America.

Route 66 is the ultimate American road trip, with lots of roadside attractions, historical buildings, vintage roadside diners, museums, and quirky Route 66 memobirlia. Route 66, known by many as the Mother Road runs the historic road for 3665 kilometres from Santa Monica to Chicago.

ROUTE 66

Carthage is located within the infamous “Tornado Alley” and Japer County has an average of 6 tornado strikes per year. And today yet another Tornado warning.

Not my photo

In Cartage it was time to stock up and visit the Walmart store. It was warm and thunderstorms were looming, there was a tornado watch and possible hail. In Australia we are warned in the event of cyclones but here tornados appear from nowhere

The name: Carthage comes from the stone bluffs along the river that were of a pale colour that reminded the founders of the fabled stone quarries at the North African city of Carthage.

at the Conoco gas station we spotted a sculpture of a weird flying machine. It is the “Crap Duster” created by Lowel Davis. It is based on a manure spreader built by John Deere around 1910-1930.

Like so many Hamburger places on Route 66 the Whistler was famous. So are the many murals and old gas stations.

We found a nice spot in the Robert Talbot Conservation area not far from Springfield.

Springfield, Missouri we are told is the official birthplace of Route 66. As we travelled around Springfield, we did see markers and memorials commemorating Route 66. In April 1926, representatives from various states and communities gathered in Springfield for the first ever planning conference for a national highway system called Route 66. While Springfield’s claim as the birthplace of Route 66 doesn’t mean that the road physically started there, the city’s hosting of this conference marked a pivotal moment in the highway’s inception and planning. Springfield’s vintage Route 66 establishments are preserved along  downtown streets and St. Louis Street, east of downtown. The Route 66 Car Museum is the big attraction here, thanks to its collection of more than 70 rare and collectible vintage cars. Nearby are several other route 66 items to check out including an old gas station and a sculpture made from hubcaps.

 

Red’s Giant Hamburger has its roots trace back to the 1940s when the original establishment opened along Route 66, pioneering the concept of the drive-thru restaurant. While it’s not situated on Route 66 anymore, these days, the place is adorned with vintage photos that whisk you back in time, all while exuding the timeless charm of a 1950s diner. They serve Americas and Route 66 favourite food hot dogs, hamburgers, frito pie, milkshakes, and other diner favourites.

There are over 6000 Caves in Missouri, some even a few miles apart, all with different formations and histories.

One just outside Springfield are the Fantastic Caverns,.The cave was found in 1862 by a farmer whose dog chased a rabbit into a small opening in a bluff. There’s no sign of humans ever being in Fantastic Caverns cave prior to that, though it’s been used extensively since then — as a speakeasy in the 20s, a country music performance venue in the 50s and 60s and a tour cave. Despite its size, the original cave opening is so small, crawling is required to enter. However, a highlight of the cave is that due to its size inside, Jeep-drawn trams will take you through. Today it is America’s only “ride-through” cave. Following the path of an ancient underground river, saves long walks, steep climbs, and stairs.

Conway is small town in the southwestern corner of Laclede County, in south central Missouri. Route 66 was created in 1926, and passed through the western part of the town and brought a flow of tourists which were served by the locals.

Conway is named after the first storekeeper back in the 1870s. It is an Irish surname which was converted from different gaelic names into this English variant “Conway”:

After Route 66 bypassed Conway in the early 1950s, business fell drastically at the original Harris stations and cabins on Conway’s Old Route 66 junction.

Rolla. The Mule Trading Post is one of the major attractions in town. The city of Rolla is the county seat of Phelps County, it is located on Route 66, in central Missouri next to the Ozarks Region. Frank Ebling opened the original “Mule Trading Post” back in 1946 but when Route 66 was replaced by I-44 and bypassed his store, he moved west to Rolla in 1957 and opened a store on the frontage road. It is also home to the Hillbilly sign in front of the store.

Cuba is called the mural city and home to the world largest rocking chair.

 

Cuba has many classic and famous Murals, that earned it the moniker of “Mural City”. Cuba is the largest city in Crawford County, is located on Old Route 66, in the central Missouri Ozarks foothills.

From 1926 to 1969, while Route 66 went through Cuba, the travellers gave the local economy a boost, and motels, cafes and gas stations were built to cater to them. In 1969, Route 66 became a full-fledged divided highway and bypassed the town.

The “Uptown Cuba Historic District” is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; and the Missouri legislature designated Cuba as the Route 66 Mural City

At Cuba Visitor’s Center grounds, you will find the sculpture of a family of Osage natives trekking west after they were removed from their homeland in Missouri by the U.S. Government. It is 35 feet tall and 80 feet long, it includes an Osage warrior, his wife and daughter, and a domesticated red fox pulling a sled.

 

Amelia Ehrhard who was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, had to make an emergency landing in Cuba in 1928 where she repaired her Avro airplane and continued her flight. She disappeared while flying around the world alone, in the Pacific Ocean and was never seen again.

Other interesting facts

Cuba has a shoe store which has on display the shoes of the worlds tallest man. A size 37AA and 35AA. Robert Wadlow was the World’s Tallest Man, so maybe he wore the 35AA while he was still growing. The outside of the shoe store is also covered by one large mural of what the corner looked like in the early 1900s.

In Bourbon, the town named after the liquor, you notice the 2 bourbon tanks in town, one is the New Bourbon tank and the other the Old Bourbon tank. The Kentucky settlers of the late 1700s, Scots, Irish, Welsh, English and some French and Germans, produced a spirit distilled from corn, which later became known as Bourbon because it originated in this area.

Route 66 was aligned through the town in 1926, and several new stores opened to cater to the travellers: garages, service stations and cabins. This continued until 1953 when the new four-lane alignment of US 66 bypassed the old business district.

Just south of Bourbon you find the Onondaga Caves, a National Natural Landmark and State Park. This cave is looking after tourist since 1904. In those days people arrived by train followed by horse drawn carriages.

Other interesting sights: Just outside Fanning the world’s largest rocking chair,42-feet-4-inches high on rockers each 31.5 feet long that weighed a ton apiece. Assembled out of steel pipe, the chair weighed 27,500 pounds. To be certified by Guinness as the World’s Largest Rocking Chair, the chair had to rock, which it did when first built. But the massive, multi-ton chair was so terrifying in motion, everyone was worried that tourists might flip it over and kill themselves, the chair was permanently welded to its base.

Once we arrived just before St Louis we turned north and said goodbye to Route 66.

We spent 3 weeks covering the area between Flagstaff to St Louis when most Americans do the complete Route 66 in 1-week (3600 kilometers PFFFFF). Hamburgers, fried chicken, meatloaf, hot dogs, French fries, corndogs, burritos, chili, steaks, fruit pies, milkshakes, and the like are common Route 66 road foods. But we gave up after a few days. We crossed 3 time zones, and the days became longer courtesy of the clock going forward and summer on the way.

We look forward to Part 3 of Route 66 from Saint Louis to Chicago with highlights such as:

  1. The symbolic start of Route 66 is Buckingham Fountain in Chicago’s Grant Park.  B. Route 66 Welcome Center at the Joliet Area Historical Museum, with its excellent exhibit on the Muffler Men, huge fiberglass statues that were used to advertise car repair shops.
  2. Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket, specializing in fried chicken served under the slogan, “Get Your Chicks on Route 66.” D. The perfectly preserved Ambler’s Texaco Gas Station in Dwight, where the gas pumps are painted gleaming red. E. Pontiac’s pride in its Mother Road heritage can be seen in its 23 colourful outdoor murals and its two museums dedicated to America’s love affair with the automobile.                                                                                                                                                                 F. The Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum showcases vintage ads, signs and a classic Volkswagen hippie bus housed in an old fire station.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                G. The uber-retro Ariston Cafe is one of the oldest continuously operating Route 66 establishments, serving up a melting pot of American, Southern, Greek, and Italian fare since 1924.

TIME TO EXPLORE MORE OF MISSOURI

First stop Lake of the Ozarks, to do some R&R. Lake Ozark is Missouri’s most popular lake destination and with more than 1760 kilometres of shoreline the lake has more shoreline than the coast of California. The lake has a surface area of approximately 220 square kilometres.  Located on the northern edge of the Ozark Mountains in central Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks was created by an impoundment of the Osage River in 1931. In its over-90-year history, this long and winding lake has grown into Missouri’s premiere vacation destination, with over 70,000 homes along the lake, many of which are vacation homes and with more than 5 million visitors per year.

At the time of construction, Lake of the Ozarks was the largest manmade lake in the United States and one of the largest in the world (1931) Long and winding in shape, the lake consists of the main, 150 km Osage River channel and many arms each feeding different tributaries.

With more severe weather in the forecast (Thunderstorms, 2-inch hailstones and possible tornados around Lake Ozarks) we decided to leave. Instead of using the highways we decided to travel inland towards Kansas City. Driving through historic towns, with cobblestone streets and rolling hills enroute to Independence the city which was the home of Harry Truman for over 60 years including when he was President of the United States between 1945 and 1953. Once we crossed the city Kansas City, we crossed the State border into the State of Kansas. (Funny Kansas City is in Missouri)

PART 6. KANSAS, Not included Route 66.

Kansas is located halfway between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. It also is home to the geographic centre of 48 states in the USA, near the town of Lebanon. (Not included Alaska and other outlaying states). Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado border Kansas. The State gradually rises from east to west. At around 200 meters along the Verdigris River at Coffeyville to 1230 meters at Mount Sunflower near the border with Colorado. While it is the highest point in Kansas, it is the lowest point in Colorado just 800 meters away.

Like Oklahoma and Missouri Kansas is also prone to severe weather, especially in the spring and the early summer. Due to its location at a climatic boundary prone to intrusions of multiple air masses, the state is vulnerable to strong and severe thunderstorms. Some of these storms become severe thunderstorms and these can produce tornadoes. Kansas averages more than 50 tornadoes every year. Not just severe thunderstorms but also large hailstorms are common. Picture below not mine

 

After Kansas City we stopped briefly in Manhattan, the university city of Kansas followed by the hometown of General Dwight (Ike) Eisenhower, Abilene. Eisenhower grew up in Abilene and became a five-star army general, commander of the World War 2 D-Day operation in Europe (the largest amphibious invasion in history) and later became president of the United States.

With weather becoming poor and cold we decided to continue west and took the I 70 interstate. Today we did Overlanding the American way, (full speed and a long day driving) a quick stop in Colby a western, prairie town full of history, and the city of Hays, larger than Colby but still interesting, before getting of the highway at Oakley.

Oakley has a slogan ” STOP FOR THE LEGEND, STAY FOR THE DAY”. The Birthplace of the Legend of Buffalo Bill, Cody is celebrated with a huge bronze sculpture of Buffalo Bill on his favourite horse aiming at a buffalo.

After leaving Oakley we travelled south towards Scott City stopping at various places of interest. Leaving Oakley, we realized we now entered the wild west country, wide open spaces, small towns, nice little main streets and friendly people who wave at you when passing. This part is called the heartland of America, hardworking farmers, and fun loving people.

Monument Rocks is a series of large chalk formations, rich in fossils, formed approximately 80 million years ago. We did get lost as after 6 kilometres on the well-maintained dirt road we arrived at an T junction without any signs, we turned left, should have turned right. Anyway, the GPS location is N 38º 44.578′ W 100º 76.236′ Monument Rocks was the first landmark chosen by the United States Department of the Interior as a National Natural Landmark in Kansas in 1968. Please note this is privately owned land. The owners allow visitors to visit this wonderful landmark. Please look after the property and please note NO CAMPING. The magnificent large monoliths rise as high as 18 meters high. It was created when the sea receded, and left behind the chalk deposits which, over time, have been eroded by the once much larger Smoky Hill River, wind, and rain. Monument Rocks is part of an area called the Badlands of Kansas with numerous chalk outcroppings in the vicinity including Little Jerusalem area, today collectively known as the “Badlands of Kansas.”

Little Jerusalem Badlands National Park was disappointing and does not look anything like the Badlands National Park we visited in South Dakota. But okay to had a lunch stop overlooking the Niobrara Chalk formation.

At Lake Scott fierce winds, and a mix of rain and snow was enough reason to stop for a few days till the weather system from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado cleared, hence we parked on the shore of the lake. The 1020-acre Scott State Park is a stunning oasis of natural springs and canyons. This state park also includes a 160-acre wildlife area. In all a beautiful setting. Around the park we saw lots of Bisons. All we need now is the weather to clear.

Scott City is a town of just 4000 people, you find several historical sites, one of them being Battle Canyon, the last Indian battle in Kansas.

Dodge City is nicknamed “Queen of the Cow towns”. The town was once considered the Wickedest Little City in America. The city is known for its history as a wild frontier town of the old West. It had saloons, gambling halls, and brothels, including the famous Long Branch Saloon (still operating) and China Doll brothel. Today the city’s pride and heritage bleed into the atmosphere no matter where you go. Fortunately, the hospitality these days is friendlier than it was when gunslingers were frequenting the saloons. The Dodge City Roundup Rodeo is held throughout the year and a major event for the locals. The town blends old with new while keeping with the character of its legendary history. Hit up Dodge City Brewing if you prefer beer to whiskey. Dodge City, Kansas, was once a bustling frontier town where visiting cowboys and locals could get away with just about anything.

We did not visit Greenburg, south east of Dodge City, but on May 4 2007, a 2.7 kilometre wide tornado with winds of 330 kilometres per hour killed 11 people and injured 63 more in Greensburg. The complete city was reduced to rubble.

Syracuse, just 26 kilometres from the Colorado border and just north of the Arkansas River.

The Syracuse Sand Dunes Park is the largest sand dunes park in Kansas and one of the largest in the Midwest. This Sand Park offers 1,300 acres of amazing dunes, rolling hills, bowls, and some fast flat areas that will appeal to those who love to drive in sand. Sand trails have been expanded through the park.

This was the last stop for us in Kansas, and we loved the many small prairie towns all holding so much history. Despite the bad weather we still enjoyed Kansas and if it wasn’t for the weather we would also have visited Atchison the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, the world’s most famous woman aviator. This history-making woman has 2 museums bearing her name. Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum and the Amelia Earhart Hanger Museum. The other museum we missed was that of the great daredevil Robbie Knievel and Eval Knievel in Topeka. I think the most famous jump Robbie ever did was the jump above the Grand Canyon during a successful 80 meters world record jump in Arizona, on May 20, 1999.

Kansas is a dose of classic America, with its rugged cowboy culture and wide-open prairies.

 

PART 7 New Mexico (Northern Region)

NEW MEXICO, also known as the land of enchantment.

After we explored Route 66 in Central New Mexico this time we entered New Mexico from Colorado in the North to explore the Northern Part of New Mexico. New Mexico is defined by both culture and adventure and scenic landscape, New Mexico is home to 23 Native American Tribes, Pueblos, and the Navajo Nation, which each have their own languages, cultures, and ways of life.

In Aztec we visited The UNESCO World Heritage Aztec Ruins National Monument, The Ancient Pueblo people lived and flourished at this very sacred and spiritual place. This national monument allows visitors to respectfully enter some of these dwellings to experience a glimpse into the history of the land,

Aztec’s history of human habitation goes back a thousand years, when Native Americans settled along the Animas River. The remains of buildings they constructed have become Aztec Ruins National Monument.

Farmington, the gateway to the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, amazing culture and indigenous culture enroute. The rugged beauty of the high desert terrain around Farmington is very unusual.

The other feature is the Shiprock Pinnacle. Native culture in Farmington, located in the heart of the Four Corners region, which has been home to Pueblo, Navajo, Hopi, and other Native people for centuries

Leaving Farmington, we followed part of the Grand Circle like we did last year. This amazingly scenic road full of natural wonders, including National parks, monuments, scenic byways and native American culture sites.

 

New Mexico Northern Part is amazing (except the road to the Arizona border) We are looking forward to our next visit in June/July when we will explore the southern part of New Mexico.

3. VIDEO CLIPS 2024

  1. ROUTE 66 COMPILATION

2. ROUTE 66 New Mexico

3. ROUTE 66 TEXAS

4. ROUTE 66 OKLAHOMA

5. Kansas and Missouri