Start: Claremore, OK
Finish: Neosho, MO
Weather: 105 degrees, sunny
Bike Time: 8.5 hours
Distance to date: 1,156
Today presented a series of unexpected charms.
They began at the continental breakfast bar of the Will Rogers Inn, where I ran into Connie, whose husband runs and a tire shop and who insisted I take her number in case I hit any problems along the road. “He would love an excuse for a day trip to Missouri.”
With that insurance, I cycled through the town of Claremore, Will Rogers everywhere, and struck out on dear old ’66. I took a detour to visit the Tepee Park in Fiyol, a worthy excursion for anyone who loves folk art. There is a garden of teepee sculptures, and the main event, at over 40 feet tall, is quite spectacular. Not really a tepee as we think of it, more a vertical homage to all things Indian. A penchant for folk art must run through that area, within a mile of the tepee park I saw a chain link fence adorned with Styrofoam cups that spelled out ‘JESUS’ and a Mona Lisa painted on the side of a barn. The
return back to Route 66 was along a lovely country road with a full line of trees along one side, which kept the morning sun at bay.
Vinita was having a Saturday street fair with sidewalk booths and a fire hose sprinkler snaking down the middle of the pavement. After a serious breakfast with some scrumptious pancakes alongside my bacon and eggs (it is grand to be so hungry) I headed on to Afton where I came upon a Route 66
service station turned Packard Museum. They had an incredible array of beautiful Packard’s, including a 1917
jitney that had been customized to a motor home back in the day, a 1938 coupe that is the only one remaining, and the last Packard ever made, a 1958 sports coupe on a Studebaker chassis. The folks hanging around the shop were chatty and completely devoted to Route 66. One guy had 98 Route 66 tattoos on his body, including Mator from the movie Cars and the Pops bottle in Arcadia (which I featured in my blog of 8/4/2011). He is a big guy and not shy about shucking his shirt, so I saw quite a few of them. The Packard folks took my picture, which should be on their blog, www.aftonstationblog-laurel.blogspot.com. Check them out!
Unfortunately, shortly outside Afton I left route 66 behind. In Missouri it joins the Interstate in several portions, and I don’t
want to ride on any Interstates, so I am now on US 60, heading east through southern Missouri, in route to my next major stop, New Harmony, Indiana. US 60 is a better road with a good shoulder, but since it does not parallel an Interstate, it has many more trucks. Again, the topography changes at the state
line. The broad horizon and vast ranches of Oklahoma are behind me. Missouri is undulating straight stretches of shallow swales, up to three miles long.
Neosho, the first town of any size in Missouri, is hopping tonight. After stopping at several fully booked motels I found
a room in a clean but basic place (no Internet access, so I am borrowing from the Super 8 next door). Who knew, but there was a revival in town! Maybe it is taking place in the Cowboy Church and Arena I saw on my way in this afternoon.
You know that the place is for real; I could not make that up.
Tepee Park Fiyol OK
Packard Museum Afton, OK
Church and Arena Neosho, MO