June Book Tour – Day 2
Cuba, MO to Claremore, OK
[edit. note: Seriously did I mention how much wireless internet rules? It's sad that I'm so excited. Had to stay in a Super 8 tonight –wah wah chain-- but it's a long story and we'll get there, much like how we finally got to Claremore, OK.]
After a late night of light painting and blog writing, the morning came far too soon. But we were up and out quickly, touring the grounds of the Wagon Wheel before heading to our next destination. There’s a huge wall behind the motel where you can sign your name in chunky black marker. It’s filled to the brim as a testament to the popularity of Connie Echols’ newly renovated motel. On our way out of town, it was nice to see the murals in full clarity as the last time we traveled through, snow was coming down in buckets. We stopped at Fanning again for the giant rocking chair. We stopped at the Mule Trading Post. We stopped at the Totem Pole Trading Post where we bought a mule. We most assuredly stopped at the Rolla Waffle House. To us Milwaukee George Webb’s Kids, Waffle House is like an anomaly for some reason! I usually order the probably-awful-for-arteries Biscuits & Gravy, but actually took down a delicious pecan waffle instead.
When we got to John’s Modern Cabins Part 2: Daylight, we braced ourselves for tickmania and headed into the jungle for some photos. The place looked much different in the light of day. A police passer-by the night before mentioned how kids had been smashing and steeling artifacts and I had thought to myself: What artifacts? But sure enough, one seriously cool sign hung on in the weedy overgrown grass: not sure what some random kids would do with it, but any 66 collector might drool over it a bit.
After tick check points, we carried on through the gorgeous, lush, green undulations Route 66 travels through the Missouri Ozarks. We stopped at a curious spot completely overgrown by a beautiful but invasive species of vine called Kudzu, which was originally imported from Japan into Philadelphia in 1876. The blanket of green and bright, conical flowers reminded us both of the ultra creepfest movie The Ruins. We managed to get out of there without being infected though.
We had picked up on the famous Redmon’s Candy Factory signs miles and miles back and didn’t plan to stop. But of course 66 ran right past the huge building and we were both like moths to the flame. We picked out our various flavors of salt water taffy to equal ½ lb: Caramel Popcorn, Watermelon, Root Beer Float, Mint Julip, Cherry Cola and Pumpkin Pie, just to name a few. This taffy kept us well fed during the rest of our day’s journey!
The sun was falling lower and lower into the sky and our original motel plan of the Skyliner in Stroud, OK, seemed pretty far-fetched as we traveled through Springfield and Carthage and Webb City. We stopped at a humble little cafe, Norma’s Kitchen for their All You Can Eat Pizza Buffet. When in Rome? We attempted a game plan or two of where to stay for the night, but mostly just decided to land where-ever seemed safe and sound. We took a detour from 66 as we wrapped up Missouri in Joplin and found quite a few reminders of the massively destructive tornado that tore up the town in 2011: A “tent city” of sorts filled with bright white mobile homes, temporarily housing the victims of the disaster (temporarily we hope!)…and of course the path of the tornado itself, now marked by striped trees and partially constructed suburban homes, with the hauntingly hollow hospital looming in the distance. On a less somber note, we also happened upon the Biggest Motel Sign Not On Route 66: The Capris! Photos don’t do it justice…this thing is a monstrosity!! But gorgeous none the less at dusk. And as the sun set on both the Kansas-Missouri and Kansas-Oklahoma borders (this stretch of 66 is only 13 miles afterall), we embarked on a very, very long drive into Oklahoma night.