Snortin' "66" Norton

Snortin' "66" Norton
"Humpin' to Please!"

Sunday, May 13

Day 8: We ARE back in Kansas and Oklahoma is OK!

When we spoke to our innkeeper, Amy last night, we agreed on a breakfast time of 8:30. We had come in so tired and so late that we had paid no attention to our surroundings. Since we weren't quite sure where we would find breakfast, we stepped out of our suite and found we were just across the hall from a small kitchen and dining area that had two plates of hot food sitting on one of the tables. Assuming (hopefully correctly) that this was our breakfast, we devoured our ham and cheese omelettes and toast, took a few photos, and slipped out as quietly as we had come in. After all, we had major back-tracking to do! First we walked around this area of Baxter Springs, which is the third of three towns on Route 66 in Kansas.

The Little Brick Inn is located on the second floor of an old (1870) bank building above a restaurant called the Cafe on the Route. Both are Hampton Rt. 66 Roadside Attractions and the Crowell Bank was robbed by Jesse James on April 13, 1876. The short section of Route 66 that curves through the corner of Kansas was famous for high speed car chases of noted criminals like Jesse James and Bonnie and Clyde. One of the places we were hoping to visit in Baxter Springs was a restaurant in another old bank where the ladies room was in the bank vault and there were old checks under the glass tabletops. Alas, it too was closed. There were several businesses open downtown, and all of them had printed histories of the buildings posted outside. We were right next to the police station and of course, the jail. We're pretty sure all the popos know we are coming their way! We met a woman walking a dog who was looking for a place to eat breakfast (no luck here!). She was from Arkansas and was camping (!) and waiting for some estate sale to take place. Mom, don't even think about it!

We reversed our tracks and went in search of the Eisler Brothers Grocery and Deli in Riverton, the middle Kansas town. Last year we had detoured around Riverton to see the Rainbow Marsh Arch Bridge, which is the only bridge of this type left. When we found Eisler's we wondered how we could have missed it last year - it was right out in plain sight and there isn't much else there! The owner, Scott Nelson, was very nice. Check out his website at
On the way to Eislers, we passed what we thought was the same group of motorcyclists we had passed in the rain in Springfield the night before. They had just ridden past Eislers and were turning around to come see it. Turns out they were part of a group of fifty Irish policeman who were touring Route 66 on Harleys as a fundraiser for Unicef. One of them was filming a documentary and we had a good time talking to them. We were sure we would cross paths with them many more times before we left Route 66.

As we drove back through Galena, Kansas, on the state line with Missouri, we took note of things we would take pictures of as we drove back through, but first it was back to Joplin to see a giant coke bottle and a giant crayon we had missed the night before. As we drove into town, we passed a beautiful rock waterfall that looked terribly out of place, and then we realized it was on the grounds of this gargantuan estate we had been surprised by last year. Truly in the middle of nowhere, between Joplin and Galena, is a gorgeous HUGE private residence with massive gates guarded by big horse statues and the above mentioned man-made river and rock waterfall. Go figure. Anyway, we stopped to photograph 66 Carousel Park and Schifferdecker Park in Joplin and we found the giant coke bottle sign at a bbq place we had noticed the night before (clearly it is not a neon sign) and the giant crayon (and ruler) were on a sign at an elementary school (Go Joplin Eagles!)

Back in Galena, we saw a tank, a train, a helicopter, and a big gun at the volunteer fire department. Little did we know then that tanks and airplanes were to be the theme of the next two days. If there is a shortage of tanks in Iraq, it's because they are all in the heartland of America! Galena used to be a major lead and zinc mining town, and now we wonder what the people that live there do. It was like a ghost town that didn't know it was a ghost town.

Ready to move onward, if there had been an interstate to hop on, we would have, but Kansas boasts that it is the only Route 66 state entirely bypassed by an interstate. So we have now seen all of Route 66 on Kansas four times! Entering Oklahoma, we found the same chat pile (old mining leftovers) there that we saw last year. We had wanted to search out the Spooklight in Quapaw the night before, but given the rain we wimped out. Commerce (home of Mickey Mantle) is the next little town, and then we entered the relative metropolis of Miami (pronounced my-am-uh) and the awesome Waylon's KuKu Burger. Peppy got a new car (a yellow mustang) which is a good thing, since Kim sat on his 57 Chevy earlier. We stopped at the beautiful Coleman Theatre, which sort of looks like the Alamo from the outside. It was open this year and the nice man told us we could go anywhere we wanted (even the basement) and look around. It was built in 1929 and is being restored (it's in great shape and being used now) and it is home to the original "Mighty Wurlitzer" organ. It is a Spanish Mission Revival styling, gargoyles and all, seats 1600, has had some unbelievable talents showcased, and has a great red and green neon sign. Worth a look at The Boller Brothers Architects designed it, and I think they may have done the KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque NM, too. We had fun going on stage, backstage, and into the star's dressing room.

Kim wanted to revisit the 'sidewalk section' of Route 66, so we set off to find it. Unfortunately, our mapped route was blocked by high water. Let's just say that Riverview Park could pretty much have been called River today. The water was almost up to the top of the speed limit sign. Since we had to make our own way, we weren't sure we would pick the right farmland to drive down to see the really old road. Amazingly enough, we guessed right and soon found ourselves on the nine foot wide section of old Route 66. This road is situated on the original Ozark Trail and was first built in 1922 and was used as Route 66 from 1926 to 1937. It really is only nine feet wide on the straight sections and twelve feet on curves. Very hard to imagine traveling on it with a carful of hot and cranky kids with big trucks and oncoming cars sharing the same space!

Our next stop was Afton and a cool old gas station that has been turned into a Route 66 visitor's center, small museum, and home to a collection of fantastically restored vintage Packards. Were we ever bummed that it is not open on Fridays!!! Be sure and look at and see owner Laurel Kane's postcards and David Kane's cars.

As I write this, it's really Sunday, May 13, and it's time for us to hit the road, so I'll post now and finish when I can. Happy Mother's Day to all you moms!


No comments: