In Tulsa, restaurants have signs that say,'Sorry, we're open.'
Baggers' Guide to Route 66, Part 4: Oklahoma
I learned a good lesson as a child from my bearded elementary school lunch lady. Her breath always smelled like rubbery, green hotdogs and stale cigars. While spitting food fragments from her whiskered face, she told me, "Boredom is for boring people." She also told me, "Drain cleaner is also good for cleaning little boys' pipes," as I picked a gray, tight and curly hair out of my chili. It took me many years and her being incarcerated until I truly understood (I am still trying to figure out the Drano part).
If this were a story about touring across Oklahoma I-44 and I-40, the story would stop right about ... here! For those who are forced to stay on the interstate, Oklahoma is a vast and barren road with only miles and miles of nothingness sprinkled with just enough fast-food restaurants to annoy your corneas. Staying on Route 66 is not much better. Long stretches of barren road have been asphalted as a test to see how much boredom one can take. Before any of you Oakies post my face on a wanted poster, please, read on.
For the true adventurer and Route 66 fan, Oklahoma has a cornucopia of glorious and bizarre attractions. You just need to open your eyes.
The 396-mile stretch of Oklahoma is considered the birthplace of Route 66. The state has more in-use original sections than any other and has lots of signs to keep you on path. Stash your map and enjoy the freedom of the road. Getting lost in Oklahoma is part of the fun. The farther you head west, the harder it is to stay on track. With some effort, you will be awarded long stretches of the original, pinkish-hued concrete that was poured during her birth.
Throughout my world travels, I have heard from many kings and wise men about a resort in Arcadia, Oklahoma, where weary travelers can stop for a hillbilly buffet, stay in a hillbilly hotel and even have a hillbilly wedding. Upon my arrival, everything at Hillbillee's Bed & Breakfast was closed. My dream of watching toothless women eating corn on the cob was pulverized. I stammered across the street and got the 411 from Rhonda, owner of the Route 66 Biker Shak. Rhonda gently told me the news that the hillbilly mecca had closed its doors for good and was sold to the owner of the huge roadside attraction down the road (more on that in a few paragraphs). Before I left Arcadia, Rhonda insisted that I talk to her neighbor, Butch, the caretaker of the famous Route 66 Round Barn.
The Round Barn is a world-famous Route 66 landmark. Butch, the weathered caretaker of the barn, explained that it is round to prevent it from being blown down by tornadoes. He also informed me that I could rent out the upstairs of the barn for special events. This sparked my imagination, and I begged for more details. Butch rents the upstairs for all weddings, graduations, bar mitzvahs and just about anything else. He looked straight into my eyes and sternly said that he will "never rent the upstairs of the Round Barn to square dancers. Never!" Square dancing is pretty stupid, but I couldn't figure out why Butch hated it so much. After a few minutes of thinking, I realized he didn't hate the stupid dancers. It's just hard to hold a square dance in a round room.
Down the road from the barn is a 66-foot soda pop bottle bursting out of the earth like a fresh sapling illuminated by colorful LEDs. Pops (Pops66.com) is the newest landmark on historic Route 66 and proof that the economically struggling Mother Road is coming back. Pops is a gas station, ultra-modern building, place to eat and a place to get your sugar fix with over 400 kinds of soda to drink. I am excited to see what the owner does with the ol' Hillbillee's resort. Hot Bike Baggers Land, I hope.