Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Route 66 V: The under-written conclusion!

I’m just about ready to wrap up this whole Route 66 thing, not because I’m running out of stories, but because as we progressed further north, and I became more and more anxious about getting to Chicago in time to pick up my house keys, we ventured outside of the car less and less.

The first major exception was in Catoosa, Oklahoma. This is the home of one of the most famous of Route 66’s landmarks, the Catoosa Whale. Essentially, the whale was a homemade waterpark built by a man named Hugh Davis, as an anniversary gift for his wife Zelta. The whale served as a slide and diving platform for the surrounding pond.

Am I the only one that find this creepy?
On its own, this would be a charming story, but what made it fascinating, for me, was the guidebook’s deadpan description of how this community waterhole had previously been used by the Davis’s – Zelta specifically – as an alligator farm. Why would one farm alligators? How does one keep alligators alive in Oklahoma for most of the year? How does any parent let their children swim in a pond owned by a known alligator enthusiast? I do not know, and cannot guess at the answers.

Our second major stop was a late lunch in Baxter Springs, a town situated on a small segment of Route 66 that cuts across the southeast corner of Kansas. There, we were fed and entertained by one of the two Sue’s who are the proprietor’s and presumable eponyms of “Angels on the Route.” A restaurant and gift shop located in a small and – judging by the “To Rent” signs on the storefronts – shrinking town, “Angels on the Route” represented a real gamble on Sue’s part: she renovated a wonderful century-old pharmacy, returning it to it’s wood-beamed, brick-walled, high-ceilinged glory, and filling it with a kind of service (“Your coffee’s ready! Get it yourself, because I’m making your sandwiches”) that made you feel instantly at home.

Sue also took the trouble to direct us to the local sights – the Rainbow Bridge, whose architectural significance I should probably be able to relate but can’t – and the tow truck that was the inspiration for Mater in the movie “Cars.” Apparently, there was a local gentleman named Dean in the area who could turn his feet backwards (we saw pictures) and was the reason Mater tended to run away in reverse – we didn’t get a chance to meet him, unfortunately.

Looking back over these posts, I realize that I’ve failed to capture, at all, what it is like to travel with four old friends in a small car for five straight days. We talked a lot of crap, of course, but also absurdist role-playing games  (ours devised a town in which the copper miners, copper smelters and copper thieves can created a self-sustaining, entirely enclosed economy). We only got lost once (not when I was at the wheel) and almost crashed once (when I was). We listened to a lot of each other’s music and drank a lot of local beers. We discovered that Tim has some weird ideas about Wisconsin. But most of all, we sang:

1 comment:

The Sperm said...

Nicely done sir... given the limited time for writing you get every day... I'm impressed you got this much done.
I have audio from the meteor crater radio station somewhere... I'll see if can get it to you for the meteor crater post.