Growing up in Texas, I have been a “road-trip” kind of gal my whole life. Unlike other states, Texas is so large and spread out that to get anywhere we would hop in the car and go. A six or eight hour drive was nothing to us since it probably wouldn’t get us out of the state anyway. As an adult, I have found the pure joy in road trips. There are many things just waiting to be discovered along our roadways by the curious and adventurous at heart.
The original Route 66, aka “The Mother Road” or “Main Street America”, is one of the first U.S. Highways and stretched across our great nation covering 2,448 miles. The historic significance of Route 66 cannot be undermined as it gave travelers unparalleled access to the west coast for the first time. Originally the road traveled from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and California.
Recently, my husband and I decided to take a two day road trip along historic Route 66 through Oklahoma. Neither of us had ever traveled the road but had always wanted to and found ourselves with a free weekend to try a short trip.
There are numerous maps, websites and books out there that show you the original route. We did our homework and found that by paying close attention it was fairly easy to find our way along the original route. Although, it is easy to get thrown off course by the twists and turns that occur in and around the small towns.
One of the first places we stopped was the Rock Cafe in Stroud, OK located right next door to Mamie’s General Store. Rock Cafe was made featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Unfortunately for us, we were not hungry when we got there so had to pass on what is said to be great home cooking.
Some of the historic buildings along Route 66 are no longer functional buildings but are historical remnants of days gone by. This gas station was one of those buildings we found along the way. It has long since seen a traveler stop for gas or directions but still holds historic significance on the Mother Road.
As we drove through the small towns of Oklahoma, we kept seeing murals everywhere. They were on the welcome signs and on the sides of buildings. Make no mistake, these small towns along Route 66, by-passed by the major thoroughfares of today, are proud of their heritage and advertise it for those who will wander off the beaten path.
Along the way are hidden gems that you will find if you are paying attention. We came across what looked like an old gas station with glass pumps that would be any picker’s dream. We actually made a u-turn on the highway to get a better look. You know how sometimes you think you see something and then have to do a double-take? That’s what happened to us. This place is actually a garage specializing in refurbishment of classic cars, has a party room for rent up stairs and a vast assortment of memorabilia.
Besides all the fun things to look at, the owner, J. was incredibly nice and happy to show us around. He told us stories about the things he had collected, showed us into the garage to look at the classic cars he had rebuilt and invited us back anytime. It always amazes me to run across people who not only don’t act like you have invaded them but are happy and hospitable.
On Saturday, as dusk was coming on, we stopped in Weatherford, OK to spend the night. We noticed a huge sign on our way in for Lucille’s Roadhouse. Well, the name alone made us want to check it out and we did need something for dinner. There was a large crowd in the parking lot which usually means good food. When we went in we saw that we had a choice of eating in the “steakhouse” on the left or the “diner” on the right. Tough decision, or so we thought. It was really all about atmosphere as the menu was identical on both sides. We chose the diner and had a wonderful time. 50’s style booths and bar make this place unforgettable and the food was just plain ‘ol good.
The next morning, we rose to rain and news reports of strong thunderstorms and snow coming right at us. Unfortunately, it was too miserable to get out and take pictures or explore the route and also very hard to see anything so we turned south and headed home.
Someday, I would like to start at the Eastern most point of the journey and make my way down to California. If you love road trips and looking back into our not so distant past, the journey down Route 66 is something you must try. If even a short weekend trip as we did here or a week long excursion, you will undoubtedly find new memories among the historic past. Need help knowing where to start? Let me know.