Perhaps I have not mentioned why we needed to get such an early start today. We were looking to get to Liberal, Kansas, by 4 PM in order to see Dorothy's House and the Land of Oz. We could not mess around if we wanted to see it, because it didn't reopen until 1 PM on Sunday. While we were eating breakfast, we overheard our waitress telling some people about the tornado damage the place had received. That explained the TV set in the parking lot and the deserted look that part of the restaurant had. Once on the road, we saw lots of evidence of a tornado, although thankfully nothing like the one that hit Greenburg, Kansas. We passed another airplane, a building with a chicken coming out of the side of it (it was called the Squawk-N-Skoot), a church that advertised free weddings, lots of old drive-ins and gas stations, and a prison that we thought was a fort.
We took a side trip on a really old section of Route 66, and it was here we first passed our friends, the Irish policemen on Harleys. These oldest sections of the original road are so pretty - most are truly in the middle of nothing, passing only gorgeous countryside and ruins of once proud buildings that served the travelers on the Mother Road. We were all alone out there, except for the very occasional farm truck and the Irishmen. We saw several steel truss bridges and the famous Lucille's Historic Provine Service Station from 1927 (the year the road was certified). Lucille was considered the Mother of the Mother Road, and her station was frequently called "Lucille's Hydro" and we somehow went right past it without seeing it last year.
Passing Hydro, we started seeing many more of the gargantuan windmills that populate the Oklahoma countryside (why they are not covering Kansas I do not know!). In Weatherford, we stopped at a park that had one arm of one of these collosal machines, which are part of the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative. I would swear the Plains states could power the whole country if they could harness all that wind! Our next great giant of the day was another Muffler Man, Howe the Indian. His name is really not Howe, but he advertises for Howe Automotive. Clinton, OK, is home to the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, which we did not stop at last year. This year we barely did - a quick stop in the lobby and gift shop was all we had time for. We saw many of Jim Ross and Shellee Graham's excellent Route 66 photographs.
In Elk City, home of the National Route 66 Museum, we ran into our Irish friends again and saw Myrtle, the giant Kachina Doll - she is fifteen feet tall. We also saw the Parker Drilling Rig, which at 179 feet tall is the tallest non-working rig in the world. Peppy felt so insignificant! More bridges, more old ruins and we were in Sayre, which was re-enacting the Land Rush of Oklahoma this weekend. You'll be happy (I hope) to know that we were not stampeded, but we did get to see lots of the horses and people in period costume while we were at the city park looking at their pretty rock pool house. They also had a fine courthouse, but the place we had chosen for lunch, Owl Drugs, looked like Mom was having her sidewalk sale there. Are you noticing a theme here?
Moving right along, we drove past more old sections of the road. At one place, we were able to see the old section we were driving on as well as two other even older roadbeds, one with the old wooden guard rails still intact. We sped into Erick, home of both Roger Miller, Sheb Wooley (Purple People Eater), and the Sand Hills Curiousity Shop, which is a Roadside Attraction. It was getting really late and we were not at all sure we would make it to Dorothy's House, so we intended to just take a picture and leave. However, curiousity got the best of us and we were ushered into a scene straight from a movie you would not believe even if you were there with us. The shop is in the oldest brick building in the city and it used to be a meat market. Now it is home to lots of 66 stuff and is run by Harley and Annabelle Russell, who call themselves the Mediocre Music Makers. Harley and Annabelle are hospitable, friendly rednecks who are very familiar - Harley greeted us with a kiss as we came in. Harley has lots of hair and an almost dreadlocked beard and was fashionably underdressed in overalls. Period. We were serenaded by them (they both played guitars while Harley sang Route 66 - he's got a great voice) and Harley has quite the sense of humor. He had a special eye for Kim, who was less than thrilled to be the object of his affection - I mean attention! Perhaps if he had all of his teeth and wasn't married...among other things! Their website is a must-see at www.hometown.aol.com/route66sandhills Let's just say we weren't sorry that we hadn't showered that morning!
We still needed a bite to eat, and right across the street was a restaurant called "Sisters" - just like J and Kay, we took it as a sign and ran in. Mister Sister (sorry, we didn't get his name and this one works for us) fixed us up with a cheeseburger for Kim and a Philly steak for me. Although it was not your usual Philly steak (it was on Texas toast and the peppers and onions were diced in tiny pieces) it was delicious! Plenty of cheese and flavorful beef - Kim's burger was good, too. Anyway, we had a witch to see so we were out in a flash, laughing all the way to Texola and the state line. Once in Texas, we did a drive by of the totally cool U-Drop-Inn and Tower Conoco Station (1936). This art-deco building now houses the Chamber of Commerce and a gift shop. It has great neon and was one of my favorite places on the route - just wish it was still a functional soda fountain. See it at www.shamrocktx.net Sadly, this was as far as we were taking Route 66 this year, but now we can say we have done it all! I'm sure there's more to see, and we may be back someday.
Dorothy was waiting for us, so we hopped on US 83 (still a real highway - the road to nowhere) and were thrilled to see it was straight and had a 70 mph speed limit. We were off to see that wizard after all! Kim was so excited to be able to dump her lapful of maps, guidebooks, and other Rt. 66 stuff and just have one book and one map to look at. It did not appear that we would have many things of interest to see on the way to Kansas, as the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles are not very inhabited. We saw a giant dinosaur on top of a big rock outcropping just south of Canadian, TX, and we saw a big spur at a city park in Canadian. We called 911 to report a woman with car trouble (she broke down right in front of us but we were going too fast to stop safely!) It was almost 4 PM and we still had a ways to go, so Kim called ahead to see if we could still see Dorothy's
House even if we got there after the last tour started at 4:30. It didn't sound promising, but we were intent on seeing it! We passed the towns of Wheeler and Perryton in Texas and Gray and Turpin in Oklahoma, and at 4:40 we were racing out of our car into the museum in Liberal. After a short conversation, Dorothy agreed to take us on the complete tour (we just asked to see the house!) so off we went!
We started out walking on the yellow brick (really) road to Dorothy's house. Along the way we passed the scarecrow, the tin man, and the lion. The house itself was way more educational than we had expected - we learned all about what a typical day was like for a homesteader on the Kansas prairie, from work to leisure activities. Dorothy (complete with blue and white checked jumper, white top, white socks, and ruby red slippers) did a wonderful job being informative and entertaining. From the house, we entered the Land of Oz, and Dorothy got immediately into character and took us from her altercation with Miss Gulch to meeting Professor Marvel to the cyclone, Glinda, the Munchkins, the yellow brick road, and her meeting the scarecrow, tin man, and cowardly lion. We saw the witch watching us in her crystal ball, and we were almost attacked by flying monkeys. We watched the witch melt before our eyes, and then we entered the Emerald City. Everyone got a makeover, the witch's broom was presented to the wizard, Toto exposed the sham, and the balloon took off for Kansas without Dorothy! In a magic bubble, Glinda appeared to tell Dorothy she had had the power to go home all along, because we all know there is no place like home!!
We took a bit more time to see some memorabilia from the filming of the movie and then we let our nice Dorothy (aka Cheyenne) go home after thanking her profusely for staying late to accomodate us. We had time to take some pictures outdoors - you'll especially like the one of all three of us as munchkins. We couldn't find any local hot spots, so we resorted to McDonald's for ice cream (even breaking our "no eating at chains" rule - horrors!!!) and then set off for Garden City, where they actually have hotels.
We rolled into Garden City a little after 7 - an early night for us! We were not hungry, so we checked in to our Holiday Inn Express, answered emails, tried to catch up on these blogs, and did laundry. By the time we were hungry, it was 10 PM and we had very few choices for dinner, so it was Arby's take out. We had hit a gastronomic low!!
Jan (off to see the sandman!)