About Me

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Sao Bras De Alportel, Portugal
I am a 50 something retired lady living in The Algarve with my husband who is a representative for a travel company. We have been married for 39 years and have three Sons, one grandaughter and one grandson. This blog is about 3 fabulous weeks spent travelling Route 66 from Chicago to L.A with my husband and two of our dear friends on our millenium trip of a lifetime.

Welcome

The year 2000 was fast approaching and my husband and I along with two very good friends decided that we could not let it pass without doing something memorable.

We came up with the idea of a holiday of a lifetime to start of the new millenium with something that we would remember forever. We were to travel the Mother Road, Route 66 from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, Los Angeles, United States of America.

We started our journey on Saturday 26th August 2000 and travelled as much as possible along the old route and returned to the UK on Saturday 16th September 2000 after driving for three weeks taking in all the pleasures of this wonderful Route.

The following blog is the diary pages written each day of the trip, places we visited, miles we travelled, sights we saw. Things have changed quite a lot since writing this diary as you will read but to us this will always be our trip of a lifetime our millenium holiday along the Mother Road, Route 66.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Monday 4th September 2000



LABOUR DAY

AMARILLO


Had breakfast in room today, good coffee, juice and pastries, not so hot at the moment, cool breeze blowing and temp about 85° to 90° (or are we just getting used to this temp every morning). While checking out of the hotel we asked for a message to be left for Becky when she retuned to work on Tuesday. We asked if she could sort out those stairs to our rooms as we had worked out, that all 4 of us had tripped up over the past two days.

We soon found the route out of town on our day’s journey to our final destination of the day the Blue Swallow Motel, in New Mexico and the 6th State of the trip.

We stopped along the roadside to have a look at the famous Cadillac Ranch, what an amazing sight, 10 old Cadillac cars stood on their ends and buried halfway up and all covered in graffiti. This was in the middle of a farmer’s field: there wasn’t any shop or any fuss or bother, certainly no commercialism.












We carried on, staying on Route 66 as much as possible to the Midpoint of our whole journey, at this point we had travelled 1546.4 miles and were half way across Route 66 between Chicago and L.A. Here there was a café that we had earlier decided to have lunch; it was called The Midpoint Café.


While we were menu viewing and deciding what to eat the waitress came over and asked if we were Ken & Bev and Rob and Penny and looking at each other began to worry as no one here knew us and no one knew we were here, until she said that Becky had rung ahead and said we were lunching there today and she wanted to wish us one last farewell. As we eat lunch a young couple from Nottingham came in they were on their Honeymoon and travelling the route, but they were only taking 2 weeks and also stopping over in Las Vegas as we were. The Café owner was so pleased and surprised to have 6 English people in the café at one time so we all had our photograph taken together.


After an excellent lunch and some free goodies at Beck’s request we made our way along the route and at 1.35pm we crossed the border into New Mexico, but as we were also crossing another time zone we had to put our watches back one hour. Arrived in Tucumcari and our first visit was to the Tee Pee Curios, a shop selling all sorts of souvenirs including all manner of Route 66 ones. The shop doorway was in the shape of a Tee Pee and you entered as if you were going into a real Tee Pee and it is said that this is the last curio shop left in Tucumcari.

















We found the Blue Swallow Motel, another small mom & pop place, very quaint with old curio’s scattered around the office that was one out like a lounge room. Excellent rooms very clean and well decorated with Tiffany lamps (Ken’s favourite) and lovely pictures on the walls. No swim for us today though as no pool, so make do with an extra long shower.





As it was the middle of the afternoon and this was a small one horse town we found a bar and had a long awaited beer, it was so relaxing and very hot outside, we spent the rest of the afternoon in there drinking beers and eating chips and salsa, very friendly staff. We decided it was a good place for dinner as they boasted about the Catfish and the Salmon that they have flown in specially.

We went back later for dinner to find that the Salmon and Catfish were very peppery and the service was very slow. We were promised after dinner entertainment of live music, good we thought some entertainment, but as there was a very important ball game on the TV the music would be on later. So as 10.00 and still no sign of the game ending we decided to take a drive along the strip and take some video of the renowned Neon at night and check out where the museum was for tomorrow.

We all had an early night again as this driving and not doing much everyday is very tiring.


TRAVELLED TODAY 149 MILES

Sunday 3rd September 2000

AMARILLO


Just starting our 2nd week, time going nice and slowly, just how we needed it to. It was a little cooler this morning, temp around 80 to 85° at about 8.40am. Started today by visiting the laundry room, putting in the washing and then going for breakfast, can’t eat too much today as still full from last night, we had fresh doughnuts, apple/orange juice and coffee.

After completing the washing (the first opportunity we'd had to wash some smalls or bigs in my case!), we made our way to a small town called Canyon and then onto The Canyon, this would give us an insight into things yet to be seen. We drove around the Canyon road, but found it difficult to understand why the Visitors Centre was closed, especially as this was Labour Day weekend. (Labour Day is a United States Federal Holiday and always taken the first Monday in September so getting name of Labour Day weekend).





After leaving The Canyon we drove to a place called Old Tascosa, Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch being our venue for the afternoon. It originally was used as a place for wayward boys, but now takes girls and even whole families and now is used as a refuge while parent’s sort out their problems. It looks a fantastic place and some of them have been there for years, it looks like they get a fantastic education. Every year they have an Annual 2 day Rodeo performed by all the boys and girls, the oldest being about 17 to the youngest being about 5 years of age. It was very hot there with a hot breeze blowing: the temp must have reached about 100°.

We had a brilliant afternoon, the kids were great, even the drink and popcorn sellers were kids from the ranch, their manners were impeccable and everyone was very supportive. The afternoon started by the youngest children coming out on the backs of large sheep, jumping around the arena until unseated, great sight. Then as the animals got bigger so did the child until the 17 year olds lads were coming out on young bulls. Some of the girls completed some horse races, weaving around sticks and barrels, Rob and Ken found this section very enjoyable, as they were the older girls with all the right gear on, even down to the cowgirl hats. At the end of each session there was prize giving and all the contestants would be driven round the arena in a large cart showing off their medals. It was a brilliant afternoon, the entertainment value was fantastic, but it was so hot we were glad to get back into the van for the long drive home.

We returned to the Hotel, hot, tired and weary and couldn’t get in the swimming pool quick enough, very refreshing swim and just what we needed to wake us all up. We returned to our rooms and Bev tripped up the stairs. For dinner this evening we drove into Amarillo and after driving around for a while decided to go to The Olive Garden restaurant in the centre of Amarillo, great meal, bit expensive for what is was but later found out it is part of a chain, so not quite authentic America from what we were used to.


On our return to the Hotel, Ken & Bev decided that they wanted to go on a shopping trip to the local Wal-Mart, so they dropped Rob & I off as we were all shopped out and they went shopping while we went to the bar for a long cool beer. We noticed there was rather a lot of noise from the restaurant and gathered that someone was attempting to eat the 72oz steak. We did not stay to see how long it took him or if he finished it as he had only just started and this was around 9.30pm by then.

We returned to our room to find that my swimsuit had been stolen from the balcony where it had been hung to dry, the towel was still there, but after a long look around, no swimsuit. Good job I had packed my spare one or we would have to have gone back to the Wal-Mart were Ken & Bev had shopped until they dropped that night.



TRAVELLED TODAY 200 MILES



Saturday 2nd September 2000


OKLAHOMA – AMARILLO, TEXAS


At 8.30 we met Ken and Bev and went to find somewhere for breakfast, temp already in the 80’s, after a walk and drive around we could not find anywhere suitable so ended up back at the hotel.

After breakfast we visited the Route 66 museum that was just opposite our hotel, great place, we walked around with small personal stereo’s listening to the story of the route narrated by Michael Wallis, an expert on the route who is also the author of the book ‘The Mother Road’ that Ken has bought and is getting the people mentioned in it to sign when we come across them.

By 11.00 am that day we were back on the route and on our way to our final destination of the day the Big Texan Hotel, Amarillo Texas. We went thru very small town Elk City, outside temp was 100°. We stopped to have a look and photograph some of the original Route 66 and when on road again passed a dead skunk in road. Drove thru town called Eric, temp outside at 12.31, was 102°, it seemed a little old and run down so decided not to stop for lunch but carry on.

At 1.05 we crossed from Oklahoma to Texas our 5th State of the trip so far. Texas is very oldie, worldy. America. We lunched at Westerns Diner in small town Shammrock and after lunch visited the Barbed Wire Museum in McLean, very interesting, did not know there were so many different types of Barbed Wire. We carried along the route and to our amazement saw a field of Cotton growing by the side of the road, we pulled over and went in the field to get a closer look and take some pictures, never seen anything like that before. Photographed the old Phillips 66 petrol station, so named as it was especially sold along the old Route 66















Passed thru a small town call Groom and saw the leaning Water tower, about the only thing to see in this town not even any people. Arrived at our 2 night stop in Amarillo, The Big Texan Motel, excellent venue all done out like a Western Town and the front of the motel rooms looked like an old western street. We checked in and found our rooms, Ken tripped up the stairs. The walls of the rooms were all wood covered, it looked fantastic, lovely and cool as still very hot outside. The hotel outdoor pool was in the shape of Texas so we took a long well earned dip, very refreshing as it was still 90°. After our swim we returned to our rooms and Rob tripped up the stairs.


After showing and changing we went to the Big Texan restaurant, where you can have a 72oz beef steak, free, it you can eat the whole thing in one sitting, in an hour and ensure it stays down. Some have done it as the list on the bar shows, date, time, name and age of each person and how long it took them; some have even done it more than once. Made our way to the bar at last for a long cool pint of Bud while we waited for Becky Ransom, another of the Internet friends that Ken made while researching this trip, she is the Human Resource manager for the hotel. She came straight over to us as we looked like tourists, hanging around the bar; apparently the Texan’s don’t do that.




Becky was a lovely lady, great personality and very bubbly. We all went into dinner and boy what a room, it was done out like an old western Saloon with wooden floors and a big old wooden spiral staircase in the corner and huge chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. There was live music coming from a group of wandering musicians. We ordered our food and while waiting the wandering minstrels came over and gave us a rendition of some old English folk songs (or so they called and thought they were). We all joined in singing “England Swings”, “Home, Home on the Range” and “The Yellow rose of Texas” which Bev sang the whole way thru. The food was fantastic; we had Rattle Snake, Buffalo Balls, Roast Rabbit and Texas Caviar (Black Eyed Peas) for our starter and another pint of beer each.

The steaks arrived with all the trimmings: we ate well and drank a couple of bottles of wine while chatting to Becky, but we could not manage a dessert, they were enormous, a large pile of strawberries and cream on a biscuit base. We took a quick look around the gift shop and paid a visit to see George the shops pet: a rattle snake, Becky woke him by blowing on his back, he moved a little and so did we and then he went back to sleep. Finally made our way back to our rooms, collecting Ken & Bev’s laundry on the way and I fell up the stairs, but I had the worst injury so far, I broke my fingernail.



TRAVELLED TODAY 185 MILES

Friday 1st September 2000

OKLAHOMA


Woke early after very hot and restless night, Bev had not been very well in the night, so Ken, Rob and I went to find breakfast on our own. We found a McDonalds at the local Wal-Mart, fine we thought, can’t beat a McD’s breakfast. Oh how wrong we were, the service was terrible even though there was three people serving and we were the only customers and the worst McDonalds food we have ever eaten.

After leaving the hotel and travelling for a few miles along the route we stopped at the Hillbillies Bed & Breakfast in Arcadia. All wood buildings just like in the westerns, went to have a look in a couple of the rooms, they were fantastic, very authentic, four poster beds and even coffee making facilities. We all wished we had stayed there as they even had a spa bath and the host and hostess were extremely friendly.







Our next stop was The Round Barn, an enormous painted Red round barn, it even matched the colour of the soil and inside the barn on the lower floor was another small museum and shop, all to do with Route 66. On the upper floor of the barn was an enormous function room, with long curved benches around the wall and it was written that because of the shape of the barn you could even hear what a person was saying on the other side of the room even when whispering.








When we reached Oklahoma City we visited the Cowboy Hall of Fame, it was a cross between a museum and art gallery. Part of it was set out just like an old western town with smells and sounds of the bars, doctors’ surgery and school, when you walked into the church the wedding march started up. There was hay all over the floor and horses naying every now and then, very interesting couple of hours spent in there, some fantastic works of art; we went into a small gallery that had some oil paintings of the old film and television cowboy hero’s. We decided that we must be getting old as we knew quite a lot of the names of the cowboys. Shame Bev was feeling so rough; she sat in the lobby on some comfy chairs as she did not feel good enough to walk around.

When we left the museum and went back outside, the heat hit you, the temperature was 109º, still only the middle of the day and we had not noticed it as we had been in the air con of the museum. We drove o n and stopped at a small town called Bethany for lunch at a diner called City Bites, sort of a themed sandwich shop, great food, even had fun loo’s two very large, two way mirrors lined the walls and it made it very spooky to be able to see out while trying to pee. After lunch we carried on along the route, but found to our disappointment that the signposting was not very good and we had missed the Route 66 Trading Post and Big 8 Motel, two very famous landmarks of the Route 66 trail.


However, the highlight of the day was upon us when we came to Lucille’s, a gas station come café, famous with Route 66 travellers with a reputation they preceded her. She was a legend of the route, she served cold drinks, old stories and chatted with passers by for many years and was as Ken found out while mailing her regularly on the internet, the fountain of knowledge where Route 66 was concerned, a well-respected lady by everyone who travelled the route. Sadly Lucille died on 16th August 2000 about 10 days before we left for our trip, so we felt very humbled when we arrived at the site of her old gas station and on the fence outside her house was all the flowers that had been taken to her funeral, they had been bought back to her house and placed outside for Route 66 lovers to see. I think there was a little tear in each of our eyes. A plaque on the door said that she is buried in Hydro, just outside Clinton, but unfortunately we did not have time to take a detour.





TRAVELLED TODAY 165.2 MILES

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday 31at August 2000

Carthage - Chandler, Oklahoma

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO KEN & BEV, MARRIED 9 YRS TODAY

After congratulating Ken and Bev and deciding that Ken and Bev should do the daily diary together that day, we left the hotel at approx 9am and made our way to breakfast at the Gooseberry Diner, this was a typical small American 50’s style diner, silver in colour with a rounded roof. We were slightly concerned as the waitress’s were very busy cleaning everything in sight, only to realise a little later that the health inspector was visiting. No complaints, food was good and waitress’s very friendly and the coffee cup was never empty.

We then drove to the Carthage Drive-In movie theatre and another Route 66 souvenir shop very hot already. Carried along the route towards Joplin and then across the border to Kansas, we at last saw our first dead critter, could not make up our minds what it was, may have been a Possum. We did not stay overnight in Kansas as the Route only takes in a very small part of this State, but we did visit another Route 66 souvenir shop and Ken struck up a conversation with a guy about the Second World War.

We carried on driving the Mother road, across into another state, to our final destination of the day, The Lincoln Hotel, Chandler, Oklahoma. Another very hot day and this state is also having a heat wave. Most of the morning was spent driving the Freeway as not too many sites to see and as we had quite a long distance to travel today we thought it better. Turned off the Freeway to visit The Blue Whale at Catoosa, but after driving round the state for about half and hour we gave up as it was not quite where our nap said it was. We realised at this point that this state is very poorly signposted with reference to the route.

After stopping at ‘Subway’ in Tulsa for lunch and then we carried on through Tulsa and stopped at the Rock Café, another site to see along the Mother Road, had coffee and looked a more route memorabilia. Next stop was a look at a section of the original Route 66, still in sight, that runs next to the road now used. Bev and I had a walk along while Rob and Ken took picture and did some videoing. Passed a dead Armadillo and saw a live Possum running across the road.

Drove on through Davenport to Chandler, small, one horse town and arrived at our Hotel late afternoon, typical small town American Motel and on the wall outside each room was a fairy light and a small flag; Stars & Stripes of course. Rooms very small but neat, clean and a bit stuffy but we soon cranked up the air con. As we walked round we noticed that we were the only people walking, everyone else was driving, bit as the temperature was still about 30º, who were the mad ones.

We found Grannies Country Kitchen, ordered dinner and to our surprise could not even get a beer, what a way to celebrate your friends Anniversary, no alcohol. Rob had a roast beef dinner and Ken had liver and Bacon, they both said how good the food was and very traditional. Bev and I both had Chicken Salad. We did not linger too long after dinner as a local chap turned up and told us that the Lord had determined the weather conditions, but he would look after us, we did not make eye contact and made a hasty retreat, or we would have never got out of there. The time was then 8.30pm and the temperature was still a hot 93º.

We then cruised, the area looking for some action, not even a bar in the town, so decided to go back to the hotel have some drinks of our own and catch the weather forecast for the next few days.

After a few beers to celebrate we thought it a good idea to have an early night, bearing in mind that it was Ken & Bev’s Wedding Anniversary.

TRAVELLED TODAY 207 MILES

Wednesday 30th August 2000

St. Louis – Carthage, Missouri

We left the hotel and St Louis at approx 10am heading through St Louis to our next destination Carthage, Missouri and the Boots Motel. Another very hot day today, bright blue sky again and even hot in the van as the whole area is having a hear wave, there are even heat warnings every morning on the weather station.

We stopped at a place call Times beach, this was a 1920’s tourist area that was used for weekend and holiday retreats. In those days they used to spray oil onto the road surface to keep the dust down but it polluted the whole area as the oil contained Dioxins. They moved everyone out of the area and it was left deserted. In the early 1990’s they decided to burn off the oil and make the whole area into a nature reserve, which is what it is today and you follow a long winding road all around the park. It is mostly used for picnics and Bar-B-Q’s today especially in the summer.

We visited an excellent Route 66 museum, it had been open less than a year and so far the best we have seen, very hospitable ranger in the centre, she even have us a packet of chocolate cookies, we all bought some excellent route souvenirs. We carried along the route to a place called St. Clair: a quaint, typical American small town, we had lunch with the locals in a diner called Lewis Café. Just as we left the diner a train came through the centre of town, it must have been about 11/2 miles long and took 2 mins and 17 seconds to go past, yes, I even timed it as we had heard that the trains went on forever and boy this one did (well it seems like it when you are timing it).

We then visited the tomb of Abraham Lincoln, very quiet and restful place, on the outside it was like a stone monument, it was extremely hot that day and stone seemed to give off so much heat. But when you went inside it was lovely and cool, this was the most historical place we have visited so far. The guide waited for a bit of a crowd and then gave some background on Abraham and explained why this tomb had been placed here in Missouri. You were then directed in a large square block with pictures and statues placed on all the walls, until we came to a large lead plaque on the wall and this is where Abraham Lincoln is buried, encased in a thick wall of lead. A fascinating place very sombre but also well worth a visit.

We eventually left town and continued on Route 66 to St. James winery, bought some excellent wine. We stopped off in a small town called Springfield at a McDonalds for some coffee and a rest. The young waitress asked where we were from and could not understand why we would want to visit her little town and drive along a long road!! She was telling us that because it was so hot they had been let out of school and would not be going back until next week at least and not then if the heat wave did not break.

After our coffee and rest we carried on along the route to Carthage and arrived at the Boots Motel, this was to be our stop for the night, it was very quaint, a bit Art Deco, very pleasant. It was rumoured that Clark Gable had stayed in room 6. We had room 14 and Ken & Bev had room 10. Very nice, not very big but all we needed for our 1 night stop, at least the rooms had air conditioning.

After we had rested we decided that we needed some exercise and would take a walk round the town before dinner, we had noticed when we drove into the town earlier that afternoon the famous Clock Tower that was the inspiration for the one in the film ‘Back to the Future’ and very pretty it was too, the lighting around it glowed a very soft purple. It was 8.00pm by then and the temperature was still about 85°

We made for the local Chinese, lovely and cool inside, but we did get a shock when we ordered 4 long cool beers, sorry the waitress said we do not sell alcohol. Food was not too bad, tested better, but the waitress was very friendly and chatted and she could not understand why we wanted to travel the route and stay at the Boots Motel. After dinner we decided to go shopping at the local Wal-Mart super centre, (this is the part of the trip Ken had been waiting for), we bought some goodies for the trip, a few more tee shirts and shorts for both Rob and I and some long awaited beers and wine coolers. (These are native to the USA and are like half bottles of wine but mixed with either lemonade or fruit juices, very refreshing when served straight out of the fridge).

It was about 11pm when we left the Wal-Mart and made our way back to the Motel to enjoy a long awaited beer, it was still very hot so after a nightcap and chat we all made our way to bed.

TRAVELLED TODAY: 328 MILES

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tuesday 29th August 2000

CHICAGO – ST LOUIS, MISSOURI

Well today is the day we have been waiting and planning for and Ken has worked so hard on for the past two years. Here we are just leaving Chicago on our trip along Route 66. We left the hotel about 9am and made our way to Interstate 55 heading towards St. Louis, Missouri, our 1st overnight stop. A perfect day bright and sunny, blue sky not a cloud to been seen for miles and as it got hotter we stayed cool in our air-conditioned people carrier, all packed up with our bags for our adventure.

When we got out of the van at our first sightseeing stop of the trip the heat hit us, it must have been about 90ºf and that was at 10.30am. We had arrived at Funks Grove the home where the original maple sirup was first made and is still being made to this day. We met Mrs Funk who served us our sirup and souvenirs. She gave us some history of Route 66 and sirup making and advised of a couple of good maps to buy, so with sirup, souvenirs and a few more stories of the ‘Mother Road’ off we went.

We continued along the road, staying on the original route as much as possible. We stopped at Dixie Truckers Home diner in MacLean for lunch and a look at the first of many Route 66 museums, not much to look at and we had to wait ages for our lunch.

After 320 miles on and off of the Mother Road, as it is not always visible anymore and some of the maps do not even show it, we came to the Best Western Hotel in Pontoon Beach near the border of Illinois and Missouri (our next state of the journey). We went for a quick swim in the hotel pool, not to bad but a bit small just enough room for 4 of us, we were glad as we had it to ourselves. We then drove into the centre of St. Louis to find the great arch called ‘Gateway Arch’ where we were to meet Bob and Kitty Harmon, another couple who are well travelled on Route 66 that Ken had again met on the internet and arranged a meeting.

The Arch, a rather large, silver coloured thick arch shaped building was erected in the late 30’s for a State exhibition. It had a viewing gallery at the very top and this was our destination for the start of this evening. I can tell you I was a little scared as we rode up inside the arch in a little egg shaped pod just big enough for 5 people and were carried up about 630ft to the centre of the top of the arch.


The view from the top was awesome: we could see the whole of St. Louis all lit up, nothing to be scared about at all.








We went to dinner with Bob & Kitty in the ‘Old Spaghetti House’ an old converted dockside warehouse. The meal was excellent very Italian as the name suggests and fantastic value, the company was excellent too, Bob and Kitty are a lovely couple and had travelled about 70 miles to join us that evening. Bob gave us some gifts of maps and Route 66 information and Ken gave him one of his small Union Jack pins that he had bought specially for such occasions.

We then said our good byes and made our way back to the van, we went through part of the national park and as it was very humid we had to avoid the small midges that were all over the park. We returned to the hotel to ready ourselves for our next day on the road.


TRAVELLED TODAY 320 MILES