Pat

Pat

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Christmas on Route 66 — Greetings from Stroud, Oklahoma!

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What a morning! Here in Stroud, Oklahoma, about 50 miles southwest of Tulsa, we’ve had a heck of a storm roll through here. It was 65 degrees this morning before the storm rolled through, and just 40 miles west of us it was 42. Tornado watches, thunder, lightning…we had it all! Right now it’s just raining here in Stroud at the the Skyliner Motel.

Had a nice drive on Friday from Amarillo. The National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma should be a must-stop for anyone traveling out this way. Passed Oklahoma City, we stopped by Jim Ross’ Arcadia pad for a couple of hours. He suggested we stop by a place up the road in Luther called “The Boundary on Route 66″, a newer BBQ joint on the route. Glad he did! The spare ribs there were fantastic…

and the owners, Donnie & Buffy Samara made you feel right at home.

I”ve tried a lot of BBQ in Oklahoma over the years and I have to say The Boundary is worth making a 700 mile trip for. Then again, I’ll take 200 mile trip for a corndog, so what’s that tell you? The Boundary on Route 66 is located at 16001 E. Hwy 66 in Luther, Oklahoma. If you find yourself out this way, make it a point to stop by for lunch or dinner. You won’t regret it!

We’re getting ready to shove out of Stroud, as the storms have blown through and the rain has diminished. I’ll have updates tonight or tomorrow on today’s journey. Until then…stay dry!

Christmas on Route 66 — Greetings from Amarillo!

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Just pulled into Amarillo, Texas about an hour ago and have set up at the Big Texan Steak Ranch & Motel. We’re here in the “Cattleman’s Hotel” wing of the Big Texan Motel.

The winds today in the Texas panhandle have been intense! Dad’s Impala only got 20mpg today after a tank of 22mpg on Wednesday. We should have the wind at our backs on the way home, so the mpg should improve. The Big Texan is packed right now, but it’s slowly starting to thin out.

We’re heading over there for some flame broiled goodness after I post this. More pics of dinner to follow!

Christmas on Route 66 — Greetings from Claremore!

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We made it from Indy to Claremore, Oklahoma today. The weather started off quite miserable, as it rained most of the trip through Indiana & Illinois. Once we got into Missouri, the clouds parted and the sun was shining throughout the afternoon, and provided one heck of a sunset as we entered Oklahoma.

We stopped for lunch at the Circle N in Bourbon, Missouri for a fine grilled ham & cheese and then in Phillipsburg for a stop at Redmon’s for a bag full of road food (candy). We pulled into the Will Rogers Inn in Claremore tonight following nearly 630 miles of travel today. By the time we got ourselves settled in, we went out to grab a bite to eat. Unfortunately just about everything was closed, so we ended up getting some chow at a convenience store.

We’ve got another nearly 400 miles to cover Thursday to get to the Big Texan and our Christmas steak. Hopefully we’ll have internet access in Amarillo.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas on Route 66

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As if the Thanksgiving on Route 66 trip wasn’t enough, now comes “Christmas on Route 66″. I’ve been wanting to get my dad out on the road with me for a couple of years & now he’s finally agreed.  Destination: A Christmas steak dinner at the Big Texan in Amarillo.

He’s picking me up Christmas Eve morning & we’re interstating Wednesday & Thursday and bunking up at the Big Texan Motel Christmas night after a steak dinner at the BT. Friday we’ll turn around and mosy on 66 Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Should be a cool father/son bonding thing. I’ve always been intrigued by the story he told me of his family’s trip out to California in ’49. On the way back home…on Route 66…my grandpa had to be admitted in the hospital in Tucumcari, NM with stomach ulcers. Being the stubborn German he was, he checked himself out of the hospital 3 days later and my dad drove he & my grandma home via 66. So, I’ll be taking him on some of those sections of 66 that had been bypassed, but were in use in ’49, mainly in Oklahoma. No, I don’t expect he’d remember much about those sections, but it’ll be cool to tell him that this abandoned stretch is the same road he would’ve driven 60 years prior when he was a teen.

Anywho, I’ll be bringing along the laptop to provide updates as internet connections allow.

Indiana State Road 236

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Not long ago, a fellow roadie from the Indy area (code name “mobilene”) had a post on his blog  about an end to end trip he took on Indiana State Road 42. I’ve admired his writings of his road logs and vowed to start documenting some routes in our home state as well. I figure together we should wrap up the entire state by the time we’re in our mid-late 110’s.

My first…and hopefully not last…entry is based on a route that goes all the way back to my very beginnings: State Road 236. It stretches from just north of Danville and makes a 41 mile trek through west central Indiana farmlands to its end at US 41, about 6 miles north of Rockville.

Most of you aren’t aware that we started “geocaching” last year and got hooked on it pretty good. For those of you who’ve never heard of it, in the simplest terms, geocaching can best be described as using multi million dollar government satellites to find Tupperware filled with toys hidden in the woods. To do it, you need a GPS and an account at http://geocaching.com. You get your tupperware (or other appropriate container), find a hiding place for it, mark the coordinates on your GPS, then enter it all on the geocaching web site. Then, other folks with GPS and a sense of adventure will take the coordinates and try to find your cache. When they do, they sign the log that’s in it, and put the cache back in its hiding place for the next geocacher to find. Simple enough, eh? I have two caches of my own out there. One near my office and the other in a cemetery in North Salem, Indiana where some of my mom’s side of the family are resting forever.

 I got word from someone who found my cache a few weeks back that it was in bad shape. An animal of some sort with sharp teeth had chewed on it and water had got inside and ruined the log. So, I disabled the cache on the web site and today part of my SR-236 trip was to replace the old container with a new one.

After I accomplished that mission, I was pulling over in “downtown” North Salem to snap a couple of shots when my oldest brother & his wife passed going the other way. He moved out there about 20 years ago. After a brief chat, we were on our separate ways. Not much going on in North Salem on this Sunday. The only thing open was the gas station. Everyone else was home for the day…most of its 591 population.

State Road 236 isn’t going to excite most two-lane roadies, but still, it’s got its charm. The largest town on the road is Roachdale with a population of 975. What’s unique about SR-236 is that there is not one stop light on its 41 mile length. And, the only stop between the two endpoints is at US 231, where SR-236 piggybacks it for a short distance.

Near Guion, which is little more than a handful of houses, 236 comes in contact with The Ben Hur Route. This was an auto trail within Indiana that stretched from Terre Haute up to Fort Wayne, beginning around 1918. The Ben Hur overlaps 236 at Guion for a mile or so. In this photo, the BH continues straight on the snow-covered gravel road, as 236 hooks to the right.

Marshall is the last “big” town (population 360) SR-236 cuts through on its trek west. Marshall resides in Parke County, which is famous not only for it’s 31 covered bridges , but it’s also rich in Amish residents. I happened to encounter one while exploring what there was to explore in Marshall.

Shortly after Marshall, SR-236 greets its western terminus at US 41, 6 miles north of Rockville, the Parke County seat. 236 isn’t a major state road through Indiana by any means, but the route…even prior to it being given a number…has a lengthy history dating back to the 1800’s, and is still important to the daily lives of those who live on & near it.

The rest of the slide show can be found here on Flickr.

Tourist Trap Hell

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It was a last second idea, but I wanted to finally see Gatlinburg, Tennessee. My second oldest brother, Scott, and his family go down there two or three times a year. Since it’s just a 6 hour trip on the interstate, we decided to go for it this weekend. We were on our way Friday afternoon after work, and procured a room at the Country Hearth Inn in Pigeon Forge via priceline.com for a modest $38/night, a savings of $20/night. Priceline has yet to fail our travel expenses in the 6+ years we’ve been using it.

We arrived at our motel at 11pm Friday night and headed straight for bed. We had no plan at all for Saturday, and that was just fine. Our first stop Saturday morning was to one of the many visitor’s centers in Pigeon Forge where we loaded up on brochures from the area. We took those and stopped for breakfast up the road in Sevierville at a place affectionately known as The Diner. After planning our attack over bacon, eggs, pancakes, and grits, we first headed to a “As Seen on TV” outlet store. It’s a place where you can buy all sorts of gadgets & crap that you see on late night infommercials. Everything from heel skin scrapers to pillows stuffed with buckwheat could be had there. I got a couple of things in the auto aisle for $.99, but Jennifer got a lot of other “stuff” that just had to be had.

From there we were on our way to Gatlinburg. The traffic through Pigeon Forge was heavy, and once we got to Gatlinburg, it was a logjam. After many “Lot Full” encounters, we finally found a parking garage charging “just” $8. The main drag through Gatlinburg was just about what I expected, full of fudge shops, t-shirt shops, and other various museums and attractions.

We went to the Hollywood Wax Museum after finding a parking spot. My review of this place is a little mixed. There were some really good ones and some absolute duds. This can best be epitomized with the “Men in Black” guys, Tommy Lee Jones on the left (Oh, it is??), and Will Smith on the right. TLJ looks like he’d be about 87!

But overall, it was a nice visit. We got a combo ticket for the wax museum and the Hollywood Star Cars Museum across the street. 

It too was a decent exhibit. They had various machines from TV, movies, as well as some personal cars from stars such as Elvis, Bob Hope, and Frank Sinatra. We were looking forward to going to “Earthquake: The Ride”, but were soundly disappointed. Save your $7.99! Would’ve much rather paid $20 for a better ride than losing the $8 each we lost!

We then started our walk on both sides of the main drag through Gatlinburg, hitting all the fudge shops, novelty shops, and one place I could have stayed at all afternoon that had samples of various dips & salsas.

After leaving as much $$$ as we could in Gatlinburg, we decided to head back towards Pigeon Forge at 5pm so we could see a show. We drove up into the hills and found a good vantage point overlooking Gatlinburg.

We meandered our way through the Smokies and back onto US 441 and got back to Pigeon Forge for dinner at Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que. BBQ is some of my favorite food, so I was eager to give their’s a try. We started off with a plate of deep fried pickle chips, served with a side of Ranch dressing. Seasoned well and worth another helping the next time we’re there.

I finally settled on the “Smokehouse Combo”, which consisted of a quarter chicken, pork spare ribs, and beef brisket. The potato salad I got with it was rather flat, however.

Jennifer got the “B-L-FGT” (Bacon, Lettuce, Fried Green Tomato), and we topped off dinner with a piece of pecan pie ala mode.

Overall, I give Bennett’s 3 moist towlettes out of 4! ;-)

Following dinner, we decided to head over to the Memories Theatre to see the “Elvis & Friends” tribute show. The show opened with a stand-up routine by “Barney Fife”. Honestly, his act started out a little slow, but I found myself laughing at the end. The first act to come out was “Conway Twitty”. From the songs I knew of from him, this guy did really well on them. Then came “Loretta Lynn” to sing a few with “Conway”, then some on her own. Again, not bad. Then out came “Buddy Holly”, who we realized was also the guy who did “Barney”. I’d say he was probably the best out of all of them. After intermission, out came “Elvis”, portrayed by Lou Vuto. He started out as late 60’s Elvis and I wasn’t too impressed. After a wardrobe change into “Jump Suit Elvis” from the early-mid 1970’s, he seemed to do much better with those songs. We’d probably go back the next time down there, but only if we have discount tickets again.

Sunday we started our way back home and took some various state & US highways through Tennessee & Kentucky, and picked up the interstate in Crestwood, KY for the remainder of the trip home. More pics of the weekend are here.

Road Trip!!!

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There won’t be any updates for a few days. We’re heading to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, TN this afternoon for the weekend. We’ve never been there, so it’ll be interesting to see if it lives up to the hype I’ve heard over the years. Details next week…..

Running to Madison

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We had a nice Saturday afternoon trip down to Madison, Indiana for some fudge and burgers. Due to some time constraints, we had to jump on the interstate heading down, but got off onto US 31 in Columbus and took IN-7 into Madison.

 

Due to the fact the Madison Fudge Factory closed at 5pm, we had less than a half hour to get in and get our fix of sugary goodness. The Factory’s HIGHLY recommended by us, as we’ve tried all the fudge shops in Madison….but we still buy from all of them anyway!

Next up was dinner at Hinkle’s Hamburgers on Main Street, an institution in Madison dating back to 1933. We were taken aback when our order arrived and the burgers were rather on the smallish side, but that did not deter from the quality of the meal. We’ll just know to order TWO each next time, as their prices are more than reasonable. They were maybe a tick larger than a White Castle burger, but without the side effects. ;-)

After our grub at Hinkle’s, we strolled to the east end of Main at US 421, then crossed over to the south side of Main and walked it back to the west end of Main. We took a lot of photos so we can, sometime in the future, compare them to some scenes in the 1958 film “Some Came Running”, with Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin, which was filmed in Madison.

We ended up back at the car near the Broadway Hotel, built in 1834.

The lady behind the front desk was kind enough to give us a key so we could look at the only vacant room of the ten they have, and it was like stepping back in time. It definitely had an 1800’s feel to it….all for $109/night on weekends & $85/night throughout the week.

From there, we loaded in the car and made our way towards the Ohio River for a couple of photos before making the 100 mile journey back home on US 421

The rest of my pics can be found on my flickr site, and Jennifer’s can be found here on her site.

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