• Gareth Owens

Route 66 - Day 7 - Lebanon, MO to Tulsa, OK


Google mileage: 231

Actual mileage: 262

Total trip miles: 787


After the stresses of the clutch yesterday, the frantic ride on the busy highway to make the Meramec Caverns, and the dash to make it to the motel before dark it's no wonder we slept well last night (though it might also have something to do with the Corona's we drank).


We woke up at 7am and had the bikes packed before 8. As expected, Tropical Storm Irene had arrived and the rain was lashing down outside our motel room. Luckily the wind had died down by morning and despite the rain it wasn't too cold. Neither of us had brought waterproofs with us so we resigned ourselves to getting wet today.

As there was no breakfast on offer at the Munger Moss Motel we pushed on to Springfield Misouri where we sampled the delights of a Waffle House. I'm a fan of the TV show "dead like me" and as the waffle house features in the show a lot, I've always wondered what they were like. It a basic cheap diner, but it served our need providing breakfast, hot coffee and a break from the rain.

 

On the way out off Springfield there was a business which, had it not been raining, I would have taken a photo of as we laughed about it over our bike to bike intercom. The "redneck trailer rental company" - you couldn't make this stuff up.


In Paris Springs, MO we pulled into a well known Route 66 attraction Gary's Gay Parita service station. As we pulled it there was a Honda Goldwing just about to pull out. We chatted to the rider and pillion who turned our to be Brits who live only a few miles from us in the UK. After 5 minutes we waved them off and went to look around the service station.


On the site you can find an original stone built garage from the 1920's and a modern re-creation of a long lost gas station, the 'Gay Parita'. We soon got talking to Gary the owner who offered us a route 66 root beer and showed us around the place. Gary is a real character and can talk and talk so be prepared to stay here a while if you visit, and visit you should. We chatted, took some pictures and Gary had us pose for some photos - which we promised to send to him after our trip.




The rain started to ease off over the next 35 miles and had almost stopped by the time we pulled in to Carthage. Carthage is a small sleepy town full of antique stores and has a town hall in the main square, much like the one from Back to the Future. We stopped in at a local diner for lunch and wandered around a couple of antique stores. One store owner kindly gave us an American flag patch, something they do for tourists who stop in the town. We would have loved to have bought a few things there, but the limitations of what we can carry on the bikes saved our wallets.


We soon left Missouri behind and entered into Kansas where Route 66 cuts through the corner of the state. Though there is only a 12 miles stretch of the road in Kansas, it's worth doing as in the small rundown town of Galena you can find another service station / cafe which has a local personality parked outside, a rusting tow truck which is the inspiration for Tow Mater in Disney's 'Cars'. Melba, the owner (who according to Gary can out talk him) was leaving for the day but did't mind us hanging around to take pictures.


Soon after our stop we were "not in Kansas anymore". Across the border in Oklahoma, between the towns of Miami and Narcissa is a stretch of the original Route 66 known as the 'Sidewalk highway', 'Ribbon Road' or the '9 foot highway', named because it's only nine feet wide. Just wide enough for a single car. 


Here our guidebook said that the road was "rough" and mentioned that we should take caution driving this section of road. However, by now we were on it. It's less of a road and more of a farm track passing through some fields near some homesteads. Unfortunately while it may normally be rough, today it was extremely muddy. It was far from ideal on two large motorcycles as we slithered and slipped our way along a 6 mile section. We stopped several times to plan our route through the mud and feared dropping the bikes.



Finally we saw the opportunity to get on a real road again and we followed this to the nearest highway to make up the time lost crawling along in 2nd gear.


An hour or so later the rain stops the sun comes out and the temperature climbs - hopefully we'll be leaving the rain behind us for good. 


Our final tourist stop of the day is the Blue Whale at Catoosa. A curious road side attraction made by Hugh Davis in the 1970's and restored by the local community a few years ago. We stopped and took a break in the shade, sipped a coke and explored the attraction. Our muddy ride and blast on the highway had us feeling frazzled, but the break here put us both in a better state of mind for the last 20 miles or so to Tulsa, OK.



The ride into Tulsa was steady as we hit rush hour, but it gave us the opportunity to see the many 1950's neon signs (some of which still work) that remain in the city. 


After staying at a motel and eating nachos for supper last night, we decided to check into more luxurious accommodation and found The Campbell Hotel on east 11th street.


After we showered and settled in, the girl on the desk recommended a local restaurant on Cherry Street called Smoke for some of the steak which Oklahoma is rightly famous for. Alisa ordered a 6oz fillet and I thought I'd get some practice in before Texas and opted for an 18oz Ribeye. The steaks were great and I just about finished mine. It was a lovely evening and we both feel like we are getting into our stride as far as the trip is concerned.



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