route66Sign.gif (1966 bytes)
route66Sign.gif (1961 bytes)Route 66 Trip '99        Alex, Baker, John, and Rachel
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   e-mail us on our trip!
   shandel66@yahoo.com
Day 1 - Illinois
Day 2 - Missouri
Day 3 - Kansas/ Oklahoma
Day 4 - Oklahoma
Day 5 - Oklahoma/Texas/New Mexico
Day 6 - New Mexico
Day 7 - New Mexico/Arizona
Day 8 - Arizona/California
Day 9 - California
Day 10 - California
Day 11 - California
Day 12 - California
Day 13 - California / Nevada / Utah / Wyoming
Day 14 - Wyoming / Colorado
Day 15 - Colorado / Nebraska / Iowa / Illinois


Day 4  [7/24/99]
From: El Reno, OK
To: Elk City, OK
Total Miles: approx. 97 
Sites Seen: Lucilles, Pop Hicks', Route 66 Museum, Old 66, the National "Museum"
Today's Entry By: Baker Franke

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The van exits a Tree Tunnel in Oklahoma
We weren’t quite sure what to expect. We’d heard good. We’d heard bad. We first discovered Lucille on the Internet. The web page featuring her old gas station reported that she had just gotten back from the hospital, suffering from various things having to do with old age.  Our books report that Lucille is a sweet little lady who, for some reason kept her little store open over the years, and had countless stories to regale you with. A recent account of a Rt. 66 trip that we read, however, said that Lucille had turned into a somewhat rude, money hungry woman, and that this "Mother of the Mother Road, is not to fond of her child or its friends." Basically, we did not know what to expect. Quite frankly, we were a little scared.
route66Sign.gif (1961 bytes) We pulled up the old building, which is basically nowhere in the middle of nowhere somewhere between El Reno, OK and Elk City, OK. We recognized it immediately from the pictures on the web. We got out and saw that the store had two signs: One, a that said "OPEN" and another, handwritten, in a very shaky hand that said, "If you want, buy, or look at anything, knock on house door." We all kind of looked at eachother, and then Rachel headed up to the "house," a trailer conversion that sat behind and to the left of the old store. Rachel knocked as we all followed to the door. Alex noticed several very small kittens roaming the premises. After a good two minutes with no reply, we were about to turn around and leave, when a very small woman with thin, orange-brown hair opened the door. She didn’t really say anything but acknowledged that we wantroed to see the store. She walked out her door, straight past us, and into the backdoor of her store. Expecting to follow her through the back door, I was a bit startled to have the door slammed in my face. At this point we were expecting the worst.
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The van parked at Lucille's and 3/4 of us smiling at her side.
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Rachel and John try to blend in at Pop Hicks' in Clinton, OK.
We walked around to the front of the store and found that Lucille had unlocked it. We entered a rather dirty-looking and small old "store." The candy on the shelves looked very old, and all of the t-shirts on the hangers had accumulated dust on the shoulders. But Lucille was nice. Very nice. She willingly signed post-cards for us and we traded pleasantries. We explained that we were from Chicago and we were "doing the road." She asked us to sign her guestbook, and we entered our names among the annuls of countless others who had visited Lucille’s. Personally, I think she liked us because we were just kids who wanted to experience the road, and we didn’t really want anything from Lucille. The men who wrote the somewhat discouraging account of a visit with her were trying to write a book, and wanted to set up photography lights in her store to get pictures. Seeing as Lucille is mentioned, and interviewed in almost every book, brochure, flyer, and documentary about Route 66, I can see why she would be apprehensive to oblige another want-to-be author. She was perfectly nice to us. So, we bought some postcards and t-shirts and got a few pictures with Lucille and went on our way. We all chalked it up to a good road experience.
route66Sign.gif (1961 bytes) This ended up being our shortest day in terms of mileage, about 97 miles, but it was full of long stops. From Lucille’s we proceeded on to Clinton, OK where we had lunch at Pop Hicks’ restaurant. Pop Hicks’ was definitely a genuine Route 66 joint. The menu featured everything from cheesburgers to BBQ Beef on a hamburger roll. The experience definitely felt authentic (notice the locals in the lunch photo). After lunch we made an attempt to play miniature golf. Even though we found a suitable course we decided that on a day when the temperature ranged from 101 degrees in the morning to 110 in the afternoon, that we would at least pass out, if not die, if we tried to play a full 18. So, we proceeded on to the Route 66 Museum in Clinton. Let me say right off the bat that this is a delightful museum and it was definitely worth my $1 entrance fee. The museum looks brand new. Everything is shiny, and all of the glass is clean. It was definitely a change from what we had been used to. The $1 entrance fee included an audio tape tour and a free bumper sticker. The museum is well laid out and easy to use. It’s also a lot of fun because unlike most museums where everything that moves is cemented shut, you could freely touch and play with everything here. You could flip all the levers and twist all the knobs on an old Phillips 66 Gas Pump, you could turn the neon sign in the vintage restaurant on and off. What can I say? I’m still a little boy at heart. After our hour long walk around the museum we had a delightful talk with Forrest Tenant, the old man working the souvenir counter. I am already forgetting what we talked about, but it was everything from the disappearance of Latin in public high schools in Oklahoma (apparently the Clinton High School had recently taken out Latin and added wrestling) to things we should do on the road. But it didn’t really matter what was said. It was just nice to have another great conversation with someone who really appreciates what we’re doing, is genuinely happy to listen to our tales of the road so far, and is willing to bestow us with some of their own road wisdom. Cheers to Forrest Tenant.
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above: The facade of the new fangled Route 66 Museum in Clinton, OK.  below: Rachel looks over at two suspicious looking characters in a mock 66 dinner at the museum. 
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A Rt. 66 shield painted a portion of the old 66.
Then we headed out to Elk City. The stretch of Old 66 between Clinton and Elk City is one of the best stretches that we’ve seen yet, at least in my opinion. The road is built of the old approximately 20ft. Square concrete blocks and the shrubs along the sides of the road creep in about a foot on each side. It looks like the road hasn’t been touched for about 50 years…beautiful. We finally reached Elk City (a 3-exit town). Before we attempted to find our hotel we wanted to get to the self-proclaimed, National Route 66 Museum. Now, having been to the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, let me just say, from the bottom of my heart, that the "National" museum in Elk City SUCKED. This entrance fee was $5 dollars and all they really had were some fancy models of cars that may have, at some point, been like the cars that traveled route 66. No real information; no real history; no nothing. If you didn’t know one single thing about Route 66 you might be able to take this museum as an introduction to the road, but why the hell else would you find yourself in Elk City, OK if you weren’t either doing the road, or you didn’t know anything about it? I really hope this "museum" fixes itself. The "museum" is actually broken into three parts, the Route 66 being one of the three. One of the others is an even crapier "Farm and Ranch Museum" which appears to be a working barn with the tractors roped off so you can’t touch them that you have to pay to get into. There was also a display every kind of barbwire that has been produced since the stuff was invented. It all pretty much looked the same. It all was pretty stupid. Thoroughly disappointed with our experience here, we found resolve in the fact that at least the lady behind the front desk was really nice.

We then went down the road the Holiday Inn, which turned out to be our best hotel deal yet. We had a big room, with an Internet compliant phone, swimming pool, hot tub, free mini-golf, free ping-pong, and free breakfast. Not bad. John and rachel spent most of the night writing post cards, while Alex and I chipped golf balls out on the back lawn. Like most evenings we stayed up too late getting the web site all fixed up, and then the movie Sneakers had to come on the T.V. So we had to watch that. Basically we went to bed too late. I’m now approaching John’s space, so I will end here.


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