Saturday, 23 April 2011

Day 4: Springfield to Tulsa

The thunder storms rumbled on for most of the night, but had cleared up by the morning, and it was dry again. The hotel I was at is an original Route 66 style motor court motel, where the rooms open out on to the car park, and you can park right outside your room. As it was so wet when I arrived last night I went straight in to get dry. This morning I had a better chance to look around. The hotel has been refurbished to a good standard and was fine for a nights stay.
 My room is the one on the right hand end

My riding gear had dried out overnight and so I got myself ready and headed out of Springfield. Once out of town the riding was, once again, very good. The landscape is very similar to home, lots of greenery and trees, and quite undulating. I could have been riding through Northumberland, except it was warm!

Along the way I came across another disused gas station, in the middle of nowhere. Someone must maintain these, as this is in good condition, although no longer dispensing gas.

After a while I reached Carthage, and stopped for breakfast at a little roadside cafe. It was now very warm, and I knew I shouldn't have bothered with layers today. I made use of the restroom to remove my base layer. I had a quick walk around town, taking some pictures, and ran across this building in the centre of town. They sure do like their fancy courthouses in Missouri!

I also came across this:
This tow truck is apparently the inspiration behind Mator, the tow trunk in the Cars movie. In fact it was called Mator, until Disney made them change the name once the film was released. What a cheek!
Carthage is clearly past its prime, like many towns along the Route, which were bypassed when the Interstate system was built. But it does still have a nice courthouse!
One thing that has been revived is the Drive-In movie theatre, still showing movies 3 days per week.

A little further on down the road after passing through Joplin I entered Kansas. Route 66 just clips its corner, and there's actually only a dozen or so miles until you leave and enter Oklahoma. However, there is a very active Route 66 Association of Kansas. Here are its headquarters:

 ... complete with pink flamingos out front, also available for sale inside!

The old fella in the shop chatted for a long time about his time in the war, and how he was on Omaha Beach during the Allied invasions. Quite a hero in his time.

By now the temperature had soared, and the gauge on my bike was showing almost 90F. The 'all-season' gloves I was wearing clearly weren't designed for all seasons in this part of the world, and I decided that I would leave them off for a while, as I was starting to overheat.

Pretty soon I crossed the state line into Oklahoma. I had taken a lot of time over the numerous stops I'd made, and so it was looking like I'd be in Tulsa just in time for the rush hour. None the less, I had to stop and take a picture of this, Chelsea, Oklahoma, population 2136. I wonder how often they update those signs?
Very different from West London!

It was now unbearably hot riding in my gore-tex jacket, that had protected me from the cold and wet in Chicago, but was too much for the improving weather, even with all the vents unzipped, and so at my next fuel stop I changed into my Airtex jacket to try too get some ventilation going. It did make a big difference over the next part of the journey.

Heading south-west, my next stop was the Galloway Totem Pole Park - home of the largest totem pole in the world:

It took Ed Galloway 11 tears to construct, is 90feet tall, and 54 inches in diameter at the base. It took over 130 tons of sand, rocks, cement and steel to complete.

Standing in the park I could hear rumbles of thunder in the distance, so after buying some postcards in the gift shop, it was time to move on - I didn't want a repeat of yesterday's experience!

However, about 30 miles from Tulsa the black clouds had moved overhead and it looked very murky in the distance. I knew that if it did start to rain again heavily I would be soaked in minutes, as my Airtex jack is anything but waterproof. I pulled over at a huge RV dealership to prepare for the worst. They had a BBQ going though, and invited me in for a drink and a hotdog - an offer I couldn't refuse. Hardy types, these RVers. I have now met a lot of different people over the past few days, but not one of them has been anything but friendly and helpful. It confirms my belief that, basically, people are good.

Today my luck was in, and the storm decided to inflict itself on someone else. My last stop of the day was at the Blue Whale water park, built by a man for his wife who collected whales. Go figure. Due to health and safety reasons, this no longer operates as a water park. I don't think Wet 'n' Wild would have much to worry about if it did though. It is however a Route 66 icon.

I had already booked a room for the night tonight, but driving into Tulsa I passed a the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and wished I was staying there. I'm sure Gillian would have been envious if I had.

Dinner tonight will be at the Blue Rose Bar by the riverside. A friendly bikers pub, I've been told. Let's hope it doesn't turn out to be a Wild Hogs type experience.

To see the route taken and more pictures click below:

Today's Mileage: 228
Total Trip Mileage: 794
Funniest place name seen today: Spunky Creek, (snigger, will I ever grow up?). Unfortunately I was unable to stop and photograph the sign.


  1. Nigel, So sorry you missed our Route 66 museum in Afton, OK. We were open that day, but it looks like you were rushing to get to Tulsa. Next time, please come visit us. We would love to have met you.

    Laurel Kane
    Afton Station, OK

  2. Hi Laurel, Yes I'm sorry I missed it too - there's just so much to see and do that it would take months to visit every thing. If I'm ever back doing the route again I'll be sure to call in.