Boy did we ever “Get our kicks on Route 66!!”
After our adventures in Tulsa, we headed for home via Route 66. Tulsa to Chicago following as much of Route 66 as possible, stopping at as many roadside attractions as we could along the way. Over 700 miles! It was a great adventure and the PERFECT way to finish our Wild Women Weekend!
Our bodies were a bit sore from our other running adventures over the past couple of days, and sitting in a car for ten hours (at a time) would have just made our bodies more stiff. So, with every stop we made, we logged some miles…walking was more our speed, but regardless of how we did it, we still managed to put in over 5 kilometers, in 4 states, at 12 historic stops along the way. Earning our last and final medal of Wild Women weekend… “The Route 66 Road Trip Medal!!”
Tulsa, Oklahoma … The Golden Driller – This guy is a 75-foot-tall, 43,500-pound statue of an oil worker. It is the sixth-tallest statue in the United States.
Laurie and I were completely shocked at just how tall this guys was! The pictures online really didn’t do it justice. To give you a idea of just how tall 75 feet is… I am actually sitting on his left foot, can you see me?! 🙂
Catoosa, Oklahoma … The Blue Whale – This was a great stop! The whale was built by Hugh Davis in the early 1970’s as a surprise anniversary gift to his wife Zelta, who collected whale figurines. Originally it was intended only for his family to use, however, over the years it became a favorite swimming spot for locals and travelers.
There were large mushrooms, that at one point actually light up, next to a large A.R.K. which stands for “Animal Reptile Kingdom”. It looked like it used to be a pretty happening place for families… sadly by 1988 the couple could no longer manage it and had closed the attraction. The town of Catoosa, re-opened the whale a decade later, but it is no longer a swimming spot. It is however a pretty cool roadside attraction and a must see in my books.
We walked around the entire property, we investigated the large mushrooms and the A.R.K. and we even walked through the whale imagining its glory days when locals and travelers would stop to swim. The small picnic area was cute with little tables for families to have a picnic.
Don’t Miss the Gift Hut!! Its located right next to the parking lot, but we almost left before we noticed a small open sign on the door … Once inside we met a wonderful women who told us many stories about the Whale back in the glory days. She was very knowledgeable and a great story teller 🙂 They also had a ton of Route 66 keepsakes…so I was in my glory. Totally worth the stop!
Caremore, Oklahoma … The Nuthouse – This wasn’t really a roadside attraction, but an excellent place to stop! Homemade fudge, sandwiches and soups along with Christmas decor items and of course Route 66 items 🙂 We spent a bit of time here, there was so much to see and it was a huge building! This was a great little spot, fun things to see, great gift shop and perfect place for lunch. We purchased some fudge and jumped back on the highway.
Chelsea, Oklahoma … Pedestrian Underpass – This cool little stop is a small tunnel that actually dates back from a time when there was more traffic on the Mother Road and more people in Chelsea. Built so the people of Chelsea could safely cross the street.
The underpass had been abandoned for years but in 2016 the town revived it as a Route 66 attraction and a local artist was hired to cover one wall with a mural, while the other was left blank so Route 66 travelers could sign their names leaving their mark on Route 66.
Laurie and I walked from one end to the other taking in the beautiful mural, and reading some of the messages left by other travelers. This was a very cool stop and a great place to stretching out our legs. We made sure we left our mark on the wall before heading back. I would recommend bringing a sharpie because the texture of the wall made using a pen difficult. We were also able to log a geocache while we were here 🙂
Also in Chelsea, Oklahoma was the Pryor Creek Bridge – it was built in 1926 and carried Route 66 traffic from 1926 to 1932, when a new alignment of Route 66 bypassed the bridge. The bridge is 123 feet in length and is the last Truss Designed bridge in the state of Oklahoma.
White Oak, Oklahoma … Old Cars – While travelling Route 66, you will see a bunch of old cars along the highway, but when we arrived in White Oaks, there was an old car scrapyard. They had a Pontiac Indian head sign out front, and Laurie actually has an old Pontiac! We had to stop to take some pics! What a cool stop…This is the type of thing I was expecting to see on Route 66 🙂
Vinita, Oklahoma … Breezeway – This is the cutest little town! The Breeseway is a small alley between two buildings where the town has created a picnic area. It is a new addition but I can already see Route 66 travelers stopping here with a picnic lunch and visiting.
66 Apparel – Right next to the Breezeway is the BEST Route 66 store!! Laurie and I spent a bit of time in this amazing store! 66 Apparel has a ton of selection, any style you can think of, they will screen print a custom shirt to commemorate your trip, and it only takes a few minutes! The staff was amazing!! Very patient with us crazy Canadians 🙂 and really made us feel welcomed and appreciated for stopping in.
Prices, service and selection made this a MUST do in my books! If this little store represents the people of Vinita … Then I can safely say this is the most hospitable place on Route 66! I’m just sad that we didn’t get to take in more of Vinita 😦 I guess that means we will have to come back again 🙂
Afton, Oklahoma … Afton Station – The small “blink and then its gone” town of Afton, was a very cool place to stop even though the visitor center was closed and the rest of the town looked like an abandoned ghost town.
The Afton Station, with bright red and white gas pumps, looked like something you would expect to see on the Old Route 66 Highway. We explored the area on foot and discovered a Geocache hidden close by. It was really cool because you needed the combination in order to open the cache. This was a great stop!
Baxter Springs, Kansas … Rainbow Bridge – This would mark our only stop in the state of Kansas, but what a nice stop it was. The bridge itself is small but has been well maintained and has Route 66 markers painted on the road.
While we were walking the bridge an owl took flight from a nearby tree. He flew right in front of me, scared me half to death, but was beautiful to see. The bridge was constructed in 1923, it’s a single-span concrete Marsh arch bridge and is the sole surviving bridge of this type on the entire length of the former highway.
St. Robert, Missouri … Uranus Fudge Factory – Obviously someone with a great sense of humor thought of this FUN stop!! Unfortunately for us, we arrived a little past closing time so we were not able to go inside and see all the yummy fudge and treats they had inside, but we stopped anyway to check out the area.
The grounds were pretty cool to walk around, even though the pace was closed. They had lots to see on the outside. They even had a Zolton fortune teller machine, like the one from the movie “Big” and they had a cool mural where you can take funny photos, with your head in animals butts! LOL! We officially added this to our bucket list for our next trip, because we really didn’t get the full Uranus experience on this trip! LOL!!
After a long day of driving we finally arrived at our hotel and crashed for the night… tomorrow was another full day of driving so getting our sleep was extremely important, besides we had more stops to make on Route 66 before heading for home.
Pontiac, Illinois … Route 66 Mural – When researching for this trip, we discovered that Pontiac was the home to a beautifully painted Route 66 mural, and had to find it!
It looked like a cool place in photos so we ventured into Pontiac to take a look… We didn’t find only one mural, but several murals. The small town had lots of beautiful murals on the sides of their buildings. It was really beautiful!
This mural was huge and bright…and to our surprise, the brick road in front of the mural is actual bricks from the original route 66 Mother road! They restored them for this mural! So freaking cool!!!
The wall the mural is on belongs to a Route 66 museum, but sadly it was closed. Right next to that was an old homemade School Bus. With a plaque outside that explained this bus traveled the entire route multiple times from California to Chicago. Very interesting. I wish we had more time to spend here but like everything else, we will need to add it to our Route 66 bucket list and come back when we have more time to explore the entire area. 🙂
Wilmington, Illinois … Gemini Giant – From what I understand this amazing Giant was made specifically for the Launching Pad Diner which is located in the same parking lot. When the rest of the world was ordering giant Muffler Men to have outside their stores the owners of the Launching Pad wanted something unique and different.
Hence the 30 foot tall, Gemini Giant was made. We were also told that his name was actually a contest and local boys and girls filled out a ballet to choose his name.
The Launching Pad – When we arrived, we quickly discovered that the Launching pad is no longer a Diner, or at least not at the moment. We were greeted by the new owners who were days away from opening it back up as a diner! They had purchased the business and building in the hopes of restoring it back to its glory days. The inside is coming along nicely and I could totally envision the diner and what it will look like once it opens.
However for now, it’s a pretty cool souvenir shop, with a spectacular statue out front. Noticing all the little details of the restoration, it was clear to me that the new owners are passionate about restoring this business, and keeping the integrity of what the Launching Pad has meant to so many people over the years. I can’t wait to come back when it has been full restored and have a thick old fashion milk shake!
Chicago Illinois … Cloud Gate – WOW!!! I am so glad we stopped! It was dark before we got there which worried me a little, not knowing if it would be lit up or if it would be too dark to see anything. Actually it was the exact opposite. The reflection of the city landscape was spectacular! It sparkled off the shinny surface.
This 110 ton statue is in the center of downtown Chicago and stands 42 feet tall by 66 feet wide. Its made of 168 stainless steel plates all welded together, then polished so no seams can be seen. Locals have nicknamed it “The Bean” due to the shape.
It’s hard to put into words the amazement of this statue, but it was breathtaking. I couldn’t even imagine seeing it in the day light, I am not sure it would be as spectacular.
Check out the picture below…you can hardly tell where the sky begins…Breathtaking!
Route 66 Sign – Where it all “BEGIN” or “END”… depending on which way you travel. 🙂
Travelling Route 66 from Tulsa to Chicago, stopping at 12 Road side attractions and logging over 5 KM, earned us the “Route 66 Road Trip” Medal!
Laurie and I drove over 32 hours, between 2 countries, through 6 States…Logging over 57.6 running kilometers….Earning us 4 Medals, 2 coins and a life time of memories.
That’s what I call… A Wild Women Weekend!!!
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