Road Trip 2014 – Route 66

In my last post about Tennessee and Arkansas, I mentioned the next part of our road trip to New Mexico would take us through Oklahoma along Route 66. We decided to drive into Oklahoma City, OK from Checotah, OK to get on Route 66 and begin our day long adventure from there, with our final Route 66 destination being Amarillo, TX before sundown! If we stayed on the highway the entire time, Checotah to Amarillo would be almost a 6 hour drive. This meant we had to be smart about which places we stopped at!!

Since Route 66 no longer exists, I had done a lot of research on how to follow the route. At the bottom of this post, I have some recommendations on books that we used. Honestly, we wouldn’t have made it through the day following the route without those books, so definitely take the time to read about them if you ever plan to travel Route 66! They included a bunch of sites and museums we could stop at along the route, but due to time constraints, we mostly stopped at places we could hop out of the car, snap a few pictures, and be on our way.

Oklahoma City has a ton of museums we could’ve visited, but we didn’t have the time, so the only site we saw was the Gold Dome. Leaving the city, the route followed alongside Route 40 (a major highway) and looked like the cover photo. The route would take us on a wide open road for a few miles, through a town, and then back on the open road. Towards the end of the day, we actually cheated a little and rode on Route 40 to get us to our next destination faster.

The route took us through El Reno, which is “famous” for grilling a 750 pound onion burger every May! We stopped at the Historic Fort Reno and walked around the museum and grounds for about an hour. The admission was only $2 and the woman working there was super nice. The museum has items that people have donated over the years including pictures, guns, uniforms, etc. Fort Reno raised horses for the US Army and Black Jack, the riderless horse in JFK’s funeral procession, was actually raised at the fort. Also, during WWII, the fort was a POW camp for German and Italian soldiers.

Fort Reno
Fort Reno
The German POW's built this church and you can actually get married in it today if you'd like. It's beautiful inside!
The German POW’s built this church and you can actually get married in it today if you’d like. It’s beautiful inside!
A flag with only 48 stars at Fort Reno!
A flag with only 48 stars at Fort Reno!

We had planned to check out the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, OK but when we got there, it was closed. Our next city was Canute where we saw this vintage motel sign:

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We drove through Elk City to check out the National Route 66 Museum, which was also closed. We were disappointed at the time, but it all worked out because if we had visited the museum, we may not have made it to Amarillo before sundown!

National Route 66 Museum
National Route 66 Museum

Route 66

We drove through Texola, which is on the border of Oklahoma and Texas and entered into the panhandle of Texas. Our first stop in Texas was to sneak a picture of the “Texas State Line” sign. This was the only state sign we got a picture of during our entire trip!

My first time ever in Texas!!!
My first time ever in Texas!!!

A few quick stops in the Texas panhandle included McLean where we saw a restored Phillips 66 Gas Station, Groom where you can find the Britten leaning tower, and Conway where we saw “Bug Ranch” (not to be confused with Cadillac Ranch!).

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They actually built it to lean on purpose!
IMG_5515
Bug Ranch

We then drove to Amarillo, TX and made it to Cadillac Ranch before sundown! This was definitely the highlight of our day AND Route 66 tour. We had bought spray paint before we left and set out for the long and very cold walk to the cars. We each took turns spray painting our own Cadillac wishing we had warmer clothes on!!!

Cadillac Ranch from the road
Cadillac Ranch from the road
Vandalism at its finest!!
Vandalism at its finest!!

This wasn’t the end of our day, but it was the end of our Route 66 drive. After this, we set out for Roswell, NM for a quick drive through. To be honest, I was half asleep in the back seat when we drove through Roswell, but my friends said there wasn’t much to see at night.

Check out my next post to read more about our New Mexico adventures!

Recommendations:

  • Historic Fort Reno – There is a lot of history at this fort and it was only $2 to visit. The woman working there informed us that she gets visitors from all over the world!
  • Oklahoma State Route 66 Museum or the National Route 66 Museum – I’m a little bummed we didn’t get to check either of these out, but I think anyone traveling along the route should try to visit at least one. If you ever go, let me know what you think!!
  • Cadillac Ranch – When else will you get to spray paint a Cadillac stuck in the ground of a cow pasture?!

Resources:

  • EZ 66 Guide For Travelers by Jerry McClanahan
    • This book has turn by turn directions on how to follow the route and a list of the different sites along the way. You really had to pay attention because it would say “after at mile, at the gas station, make a right” since some of the roads weren’t marked. There were a few times we got confused and made a wrong turn, but it was always easy to get back to where we messed up. I did some research before the trip and found there really isn’t a better option out there for directions.
  • Route 66 Adventure Handbook by Drew Knowles
    • We used this book for the descriptions of each of the sites that the EZ 66 book had listed. The Adventure Handbook provides a list of all the sites in a city along the route with history about each one. There are also some directions, but not enough detail was included to follow the entire route.
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