New frontier (for us anyway)

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My oldest son just turned ten, and to celebrate, I took him for an overnight trip to Oklahoma City.

Saturday morning, we drove most of the way down the old highway, 66, and part of the way down some very old highway. I got off the turnpike at Kellyville. Just west of the 66-33 junction you can see what's left of the native stone tourist cabins that Max Meyer built.

About seven miles east of Bristow, on a whim, I turned back on an older 66 alignment, which rejoined the main road from the southeast. Turned out that this was the dead end segment that has an impressive native stone tourist court -- a single building with multiple units. It's less than a mile from the main road.

As we drove my son was telling me all about the Pixar movie Cars and the old Route 66 town of Radiator Springs where most of the action takes place.

We stopped at the Rock Cafe in Stroud for a cold drink. The cafe's souvenir stand next door had an impressive array of merchandise from the movie Cars. My son picked up the issue of Route 66 Magazine that featured the movie (he pored over it while drinking his root beer at the cafe's counter), and I bought a guidebook to 66 in Oklahoma, showing all the alignments and the years they were part of the highway.

That book led us to an old '20s alignment which had originally been part of the Ozark Trail, a named auto route that predated the U. S. numbered highway system. There's a tall obelisk (20 feet perhaps?) a few miles west of Stroud; apparently it had been a marker for the route.

We drove down Davenport's brick Broadway, got turned around trying to get back to the main road, and found ourselves going through an interesting arch railway viaduct southwest of town.

In Arcadia we stopped at the Round Barn. I remember visiting when renovation was barely started back in 1990. The loft, which has amazing acoustics, is used for dances and other events, as it was back in the day. Downstairs is a museum about the Round Barn and the town of Arcadia. Butch, the curator, is a local native, and has posted birds' eye view sketches of the town as he remembers it from his childhood.

One of Butch's displays is from the diary of the original barn owner, about a trip in the 'teens from Arcadia to California. It took three hours to get as far as Oklahoma City. It took from Thursday morning to Monday night to make it to Amarillo, with occasional stops to pull the car out of a mud hole or to wait for a ferry.

In Oklahoma City, we headed for the 45th Infantry Museum. The Thunderbirds have an illustrious history, fighting their way from Sicily to Munich during WW II and on Pork Chop Hill and Heartbreak
Ridge in the Korean Conflict. My son has been reading a lot of books about World War II lately, and he drank it all in. A highlight of the museum is the collection of over 200 "Willie and Joe" cartoons from the war which Bill Mauldin donated to this museum dedicated to his old outfit. It was the 45th that liberated Dachau Concentration Camp, and there is a special exhibit about the horrors they found when they entered.

Outside there are land and air vehicles from WW II and Korea on display. We spent over two hours at the museum and didn't have time to explore the place fully.

We went to Bricktown. I gave my son a choice between a movie and a ballgame, and given the temperature at the time, he opted for a movie. We got a bite at the Bricktown Sonic, then saw Monster House, a Dreamworks SKG computer animation done using the same methods that were used to such impressive effect in The Polar Express. Monster House has its scary and thrilling moments, deserving of its PG rating. My son really enjoyed it, and I have to say that it kept my attention, too.

Today we went to Frontier City, after a hearty breakfast (him) / lunch (me) at Cracker Barrel. Despite driving past it for nearly four decades, I had never been to Frontier City. We had a great time. Great thrill rides, a terrific magic show, and bumper cars that I was allowed to ride. I'll save details for another entry.

We had planned to stay 'til closing, but my son wanted to eat at the Rock Cafe on the way back to Tulsa, so we left early enough to make it there by 8:20. He had nachos, I had a guacamole burger -- both quite good. He was amused by the glass bottle that his Coke came in. "Where can you get these?"

We were home at ten, about 36 hours after we left, both exhausted and hot. (My car's AC stopped working, and I hadn't had time to get it fixed.)


W. Author Profile Page said:

Did you son get to meet owner Dawn Welch of the Rock Cafe? She's the inspiration to Sally in the movie "Cars."

She's been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger since the movie came out, so it wouldn't surprise me if she was getting some sleep.

Tom Elmore said:

Did you happen to note Oklahoma Railway Museum while you were near the 45th Infantry Museum? Check


W., I may have met Dawn -- someone looking like the photos on the website (but with glasses) came in about 8:45, but we were ready to get home and they were getting ready to close up, so we didn't stop to talk.

I thought it was neat that my son wanted to stop at the Rock Cafe on the way home, enough to be willing to leave the amusement park a little early. It's a very comfortable, homey place.

Tom, I had read about the railway museum, but couldn't work it into the schedule. That would be fun to do sometime.

dawn aka sally said:

Yes that was me and I do remember our brief conversation. I am happy your son enjoyed his visit. (twice) and feel honored he would leave the park early as well. I try to stay on the low key about Sally. Who wants to be a bragger?? I'm glad you found old pieces of the road. The movie has all 1st alignment concrete in Radiator Springs. Hope to formally meet you and your cute son one day soon!! As I remember, he was as cute as Lightening McQueen and much nicer!!

Glad you guys made the trip. Did the guy at the Round barn tell you about the ghost? When I took my boys there years ago, he started telling a tale about the ghost of the Round Barn. My youngest was enthralled and wondered how the Ghost came to be. The guide said that the guy starved to death in the barn because someone told him to take a leak in the corner.

My son wasn't amused but the guide almost dropped his teeth laughing at his own joke.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 6, 2006 11:19 PM.

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