2015 USA Road Trip Day 6: Joplin MO to Elk City OK
I tried to hit route 66 this morning which would have taken me through a few miles of Kansas, but I went in the wrong direction and I ended up on East 100 Road going through Shawnee land instead and then through the Wyandotte nation and over the Neosho river. I didn't get a chance to take many photos as the signs were small and I wasn't in each nation for too long. My favourite was definitely the Kickapoo nation.
I drove a fair amount on Route 66 today, going through towns such as Afton, Vinita and Chelsea. It's frightening to see how many homes and businesses are closed down but the buildings remain, getting more and more dilapidated - hundreds and hundreds of them. Some are still there but the majority have suffered from the interstates which replaced Route 66 as a main highway.
First detour of the day was to Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park, about 4 miles off the road. Like many of the attractions, I had the place to myself - it was still about -5C and there was about 6 inches of snow covering anything, which just made the place look fantastic.
A little bit further on for another thing on my list - the Blue Whale of Catoosa. You used to be able to swim in the pool (when it was warm) but they stopped that a while ago. It was built in 1972 as an anniversary gift, which seems a bit ostentatious.
I drove through Tulsa and then to Arcadia, on the outskirts of Oklahoma City - about 100 miles, and from several inches of snow on the ground, it has now disappeared completely.
I stopped for lunch at Pops in Arcadia. This is another famous landmark along Route 66 and you can't miss it because of the enormous soda bottle sculpture which is - appropriately - 66 feet high. It's basically an enormous petrol station with a diner-style restaurant inside and a souvenir area, and hundreds upon hundreds of different flavour sodas which line the windows (and you can buy some too). I had a hot dog and my first milk shake of the week - but the milk shake turned out to be a real let down as it was basically ice cream and had to be eaten with a spoon.
I really wish I'd found out what the "chicken fried chicken" was.
I needed to stretch my legs a bit and walk off the ice cream that I didn't really want, so I drove into Oklahoma City. This was an incredible place - it has a population of about 600,000, so more than Sheffield - it would be the 5th biggest city if it was in England. I'm used to American cities being more spread out with wider roads, better ways in and out, grid systems - but at no point did I feel like I was driving into a city at all. I went straight in to the city centre on a Thursday afternoon, almost without stopping, and with very little traffic about. And I managed to park the car at the side of the road at a parking meter which cost just 50 cents an hour!
I walked around what's now known as the Oklahoma City National Memorial - it's the site of the old Alfred P Murrah building that was destroyed by an enormous bomb in 1995. It's amazing to think that a 9 storey building once stood on the site. It's now a very peaceful and comtemplative place with a reflecting pool and a series of empty chairs - one for each of the 168 people who died in the blast. It was an incredibly quiet place and I can't think of another city that has something like that in its centre.
I was originally planning to stay in Oklahoma City but I decided this morning that since I'm not really going out into the cities at night (and who can blame me), there's no real point in paying the extra money for the privilege and I should just as well be finding the same hotels in smaller places. So I hit the interstate for another 100 miles and bedded down in Elk City for the night - mainly because if I'd had the option of visiting a place called Elk City, I would have almost definitely said yes. Sadly there wasn't much in the way of eating options so I ended up at the Pizza Hut, which is probably the healthiest option available to me. The meal cost me a whopping $20 which included about a 20% tip. I stayed at the Comfort Inn again, and for about £50-£60 they're actually getting better and better, and I can't see much difference between this and the Hampton Inns which cost almost twice as much.
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Last updated 20 February 2015 14:06
I think I'm meant to do an "About" here but I think you'd be more interested in seeing a random seagull.