Monday, June 04, 2018

Joplin Missouri to Amarillo Texas

Today was going to be a shorter day, so we slept in until after 6:00 AM. The Days Inn here looked a little worn outside, but the lobby and our room were in top shape. They also boasted a hot breakfast, unusual for this tier of accommodation. This will go on the list for future trips.

After filling our travel mugs (we skipped the breakfast), we left just after 7:00 AM. Rather than get right on the Interstate, we took a drive through part of town. Some of it is new development, but we did find part of what appeared to be some original Joplin, too. Then we took a winding two-lane road that brought us back to I-44 West.

One of the shacks in Joplin Missouri

Just down the road, we crossed the Oklahoma line. A sign informed us that we were on the Will Rogers Turnpike and that, at some point, they would be asking for $4.75 for the pleasure. The speed limit was 75 MPH so we settled into a comfortable 80. About forty miles ahead, there was a service area where we got some breakfast. The single toll plaza was right after that.

I couldn't figure out how they managed the exits along the way with just one toll booth. The lady said that, because we didn't have a ticket, they knew we got on at the Missouri line. At the other entrances, the drivers were given one. After this, if we got off before the end, we would show our receipt and get a partial refund.

where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain 

No E-ZPass here

Short lines

The nice lady explained the system to me

Oklahoma is prettier than I remember

Approaching Tulsa

Hard Rock has grown

I thought the No Tolerance was for the 50 - maybe they meant the 75?

The Turner Turnpike from Tulsa to Oklahoma City

No clouds, much green

A NAFTA truck

I mapped out a stop at Dick's Sporting Goods in Oklahoma City, more precisely Edmond. I know they are not popular in some quarters due to their firearms policy, but Google told me they had Skechers golf shoes. I zigged coming into town and accidentally got off the turnpike. The sign said it required exact change to get back on but did not say how much (we didn't have much con anyway), so we navigated street level to Dick's. Unfortunately, they had little in the way of Skechers. I take a size 10, while they had 9 1/2 (too tight) and 11 (too loose). The quest continues.

Dick's Sporting Goods - Edmond Oklahoma

At the adjacent Shell station, we saw that there were two prices for 87 octane. Zero percent ethanol was forty cents more per gallon than the usual 10% ethanol. It is good to have a choice. It would be better if this ethanol nonsense was done away with, but the lobbyists are too strong.

Let the buyer decide

Uncontaminated fuel is more expensive

The Shell and Mickey D's signs were small and unobtrusive. It made me think of Scottsdale, Arizona. The lady making the burgers at McDonald's was slow, confused and snappy at the manager. I see a career change in her future.

Small signs

I traded some paper money for coins at Dick's. The Kilpatrick Turnpike required $0.45 to get on. Unfortunately, it also required $1.35 (exact change) to get off. I hadn't bought enough coins. Luckily, there was a bill changer before the toll basket. Unlucky for me, it too a couple of minutes to figure out where to put the bill. By the time I got done. I know there were some people behind me who did not like me very much.

Just after we got off the turnpike, I-44 ended at I-40. The land flattened out and the trees disappeared. We saw a feedlot. This was the Oklahoma I remembered. Yukon Oklahoma, in Canadian County, was named in the 1890's in reference to the Klondike gold rush.



Now wind power

Someone in Clinton Oklahoma having a bad day

This looked like a 707 so I guess a KC-135 from Altus AFB

Do we feel guilty about our A/C? Not likely

Both Clinton and Elk City claimed Route 66 museums. This seemed to be a major industry along what was once The Mother Road. Museums, truck stops and churches.

Welcome to the Lone Star State

Crossing the Texas state line, a sign told us that the Texas Travel Information Center was 100 miles ahead. I guess the folks who worked there did not want to commute all the way out here.

We stopped for a bathroom break and coffee at the McDonald's in Shamrock, Texas. The fellow on the counter was personable, funny and competent, an unusual combination for a person in his position. I used their WiFi to book a room at a Microtel in Amarillo.

I also talked to a fellow towing a motorcycle camper trailer similar to a Lees-Ure-Lite behind a pickup truck. It was new and they were taking it home. He and his wife both have Can-Am Spyders. This unit looked stronger than our Lees-Ure-Lite did.

Motorcycle camper trailer

For old time's sake, we got off I-40 at McLean, Texas. When we rode through here in 1978, the freeway ended and proceeded through McLean before resuming the other side of town. This had been a big spot on Route 66 and they hung on as long as they could, but the Interstate finally bypassed the town in 1984. It was mostly empty and boarded up now but, in my mind's eye,  I could see it clearly it as it was in 1978.

Not much traffic in McLean Texas

Except for....

Empty buildings

Empty buildings with a story

Back on I-40, more wind farms

And still more

This can't end well

Groom Texas

It was over 90 F when we got to Amarillo. There was heavy construction on I-40 as I approached our motel, but we made it in. After we got our gear to the room, we decided that it was time to check out The Big Texan. Despite many trips through Amarillo, we have never stopped at this signature establishment where, if a customer can polish off a 72-ounce steak and all the fixin's in one hour, it is free.

Most Texans seem to have white vehicles - black ones get hotter

This sign is famous

Not sure what this is all about

Part of the attraction

The meat and the potatoes of the operation

Sandy and her new friend

Everything is about Route 66

I assume that concealed is OK

Arriving just before 5:30, we were seated upstairs right away. It was a Monday, but the main floor was already packed. We had a good overview of the operation. After sharing last night, we decided to continue splitting supper and ordered a BBQ combo between us. This gave us three back ribs, two large sausages, some BBQ beef, a slice of Texas toast, and onion ring, potato salad and coleslaw. Yes, Linda, there was no extra charge for the second plate:-)) Sandy had the ribs, coleslaw plus half the toast and onion ring. I ate the rest. The beef was OK, but the sausage was superb. Sandy said the ribs tasted good but didn't fall off the bone. Some fellow from Colorado challenged the Big Texan while we were there, but we left before his hour was up.

We had arrived at the right time because there was a line waiting to be seated when we left. On a Monday. This place continues to print money for its owners after all these years.

She has that infernal phone in her hand again:-))

Our combo has arrived

The man in the chair is starting his Big Texan experience

No one ate the pepper

We got back to the room where I posted my receipts for the day, downloaded and sorted photos from two cameras and transcribed 76 audio notes. Unfortunately, I couldn't finish the blog because someone was soaking up the limited hotel bandwidth, probably watching Netflix. They should have chilled instead because the WiFi quit completely. Oh well, there was still tomorrow morning. Kindle time.

Today's Route (481 Equinox miles):

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