The Bates Sisters on Route 66

Our thanks to our Association Recording Secretary, Emmy Bates, for writing up this travelogue of a trip she took with her sister, Debbie, along the Mother Road in April, 2012. Enjoy this firsthand account of their trip!

My sister, Debbie, and I decided that we’d like to take a road trip and since we are members of the association, maybe it would be fun to learn more about The Road. We planned to drive from Illinois to California, with a few side trips. I did some homework by looking on the internet (reading blogs), reading books, and talking to people in the association. Making a list of “must sees” and things that interested me, we were ready to go. Good reference books are by John Weiss (for Illinois) and Jerry McClanahan. Just remember that things have changed since Jerry’s book was written. Some places are no longer there.

We started off on a rainy Monday and headed south. Illinois signage is very good as is Missouri. However, if you miss a turn you may “see some VERY pretty scenery“ ( our code for getting lost). We saw some very pretty scenery until we found St. Claire, MO. Took picture of water tower in Bourbon, MO and saw the ghost murals in Cuba. Any walldog would love it. On down the road was Mr. C’s, the Munger Moss Motel, and the Devil’s Elbow. (Watch out for turtles and armadillos on the road.)

Of the 13.2 miles in Kansas, we traveled 23.4! Need I say more? You pass through 3 cities, but the wrong turn can miss everything. Thanks to the help of some shopkeepers in Baxter Springs we made it back to check out the sights. Galena has a Kan-O-Tex gas station, Mater and the Hudson Hornet, and 4 sisters by the road. Sadly we were there too early to visit their museum. Riverton has the rainbow bridge (named for the structure’s design), and Baxter Springs has Cafe on the Route and shops with helpful proprietors (visit Steve and Cathy at SACS 66).

Seeba Station.jpegThere was a LOT to see in Oklahoma! Some of our favorites were the Coleman Theatre in Miami (take the free tour). In Catoosa, see the Blue Whale and visit the Nut House in Claremore. Anyone interested in motorcycles MUST stop at Seaba Station in Warwick. There is no signage, so go slow. As you go around the corner it appears! Hang a hard right into the parking lot. Another free place with wonderful bikes and collections to see. Jerry was there when we visited. Arcadia has 3 spots we loved - John Hargrove’s OK County 66 Auto Trim & Mini Museum (he makes replicas of icons from the road - if the gate is open go in), the Round Barn, and POPS. POPS is a restaurant that has over 600 kinds of soda. The LARGE pop bottle sign out front is something to see. It lights up at night. Elk City has the National Rt. 66 Museum. It’s part of a complex and worth the ticket.

Texas midpoint.jpegTexas was harder to travel because there were few signs for Rt. 66 and much of the road was frontage road. In spite of it all, we made it to the Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo. Our names were added to the numerous ones already there. On our way home we visited the Bug Ranch (VWs) near Conway and added some names there. Adrian,TX is the midpoint for Rt. 66. There is a restaurant and gift shop, but get there before 3pm! There is a new owner, Kevin, but they only serve breakfast and lunch. Try the ugly crust pie.

New Mexico also had very little of the old road left, mostly in cities. We spent the night at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari. Visited with a lady from Germany and then had to go visit the WigWam Motel. Asked a couple sitting out how they liked it and they invited us in for a look. They were 2 lovely people from England and Scotland. Everyone there seemed to want visitors to have a good time.

Arizona was probably my favorite state. When you go there, pick up a PASSPORT BOOK in Albuquerque at the old train station/tourist center. This book lets you get stamps from places you will see. Keep your eyes open for Harvey House Restaurants. These are in many places and are wonderful buildings to visit. Each has a specific story that helped the area. One is even in the Painted Desert. It has a great history and was saved from destruction by the locals (sound familiar?). Winslow is full of sights - Standing on the Corner statue, their museum that has a fantastic display and a scary old jail, and La Posada (a fantastic hotel that was a Harvey House - you can sit in back and envision the trains coming in). (*If you aren’t familiar with Harvey Houses, rent the old movie “Harvey Girls” with Judy Garland.) In Seligman you MUST visit Angel Delgadillo. He fought/worked with the state for 10 years to get signs for Rt. 66. He saved his town. Also cross the street to visit the Snow Cap. Angel’s nephew runs it now and keeps up the same banter as his dad did. Hackberry (former home of Bob Waldmire) is down the road, but keep your eyes open for it (also a passport stop). The old cars and general store are great photo ops. Oatman! Checking the map made me very apprehensive, but up we went. And up. And up. If twisty turnys don’t bother you, you will have a good time. We were just glad to get there. Upon arrival we saw the attraction - Burrows. They rule the place, but “please don’t feed them”. Check out the hotel and its $80,000 “wallpaper”.

WigWams.jpegWe entered California at Needles and passed the agriculture inspection. Another highlight was at Helendale where we so enjoyed the creative Bottle Tree Ranch. Elmer Long has made the most wonderful bottle trees. The best part is the tops - each one different. On to Santa Monica Pier. The Rt. 66 Association of CA has a kiosk at the very front of the pier, by the End of the Road sign. The Bait Shop, at the end of the pier, has lots of stuff and a great view of the Ferris wheel - stay to see it light up at night.

We had a wonderful time!! and are still speaking to each other.( Ha! ) We didn’t see everything, but that just gives us a reason to go back and see some more sights. Even if you can’t make it to CA, try to visit some of the road. It has given us an enthusiasm and lots of memories.

And here are the rest of the photos from their adventure!

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