In some sections, the Mother Road is as worn out as an old woman. Weathered. Wrinkled. Worried. With many years of experiences and stories to tell.
One may find sections that have recently been refreshed, giving the appearance of a younger mother. But most sections are as tired as a mother with a passel of children and a young one on her hip.
Unfortunately, we did not have the time to drive the whole true Route 66 through Oklahoma. We are traveling full-time with a 27’ Airstream and we don’t feel comfortable towing her on roads that may be fractured, bouncy, or narrow. As we have done so many times before (in 26 states so far), we leave Betty Jo (the Airstream) behind at RV Parks, such as the Mustang Run Rv Park in Yukon, OK while we explore. I saw a few travel trailers on the historic route and for the most part, most sections of the route are fine for towing. Finding gas stations (especially diesel) are few and far between. There were RV parks on the older route, but many of them looked as old as the route they were on.
We are traveling Route 66 from Cuba, MO to Barstow, CA. We hit the Mother Road on March 7th and arrived in Oklahoma City on March 15th. We travel mostly by Interstate Highway, the "newer Route 66," while towing. This allows us to park Betty Jo and travel as much of the original routes as we can with our truck, with a lot more flexibility and the ability to stop suddenly whenever something strikes our fancy - and needs to be photographed. The curse of being photographers is your creative eye is always on the lookout for that next shot.
In Missouri, we parked Betty Jo at the RV Express RV Park in Marshfield, MO. From there we ventured out on the older Route 66 in that area. We then stayed at the Coachlight Rv Park in Carthage, MO and explored Route 66 around Carthage, Joplin, Webb City and Galena, Kansas.
I found the Route in Missouri, confusing and discombobulated. There were so many versions of the Route; The original route (1926), newer routes (1958), while various byways of the route kept appearing. They all seemed to go in different directions - east/west, north/south. We often missed something because the old was mixed in with the new and so we would miss it. I often felt like it was going in circle. Ah, the fun of exploration.
In Oklahoma, the route seems more straight forward. I enjoyed this much more. There are still many of older sections (the Original), they are mostly short in length, while weathered and worn, which makes for a bumpy ride. We drove the main Historical Route from El Reno to Tulsa, seeing a lot of back country areas the Interstate misses. For the most part it was easy to follow, they have signs saying “Historical Route 66” about every 1/2 mile or so, also indicating if it's "original, addend or bypass," but I still relied on Google Maps to make sure we were on the route for I found it would often take turns without any warning.
What I enjoyed most about the route in Oklahoma was our ability to stay on the route. They really promote the route in Oklahoma and each town tries to stay somewhat authentic. It was a fun and easy-going ride, through small towns and bits of countryside, some of it weaving through the larger towns like Oklahoma City and Tulsa where you can still can find history mixed with urban development. There always seemed to be something new or unique around each turn, you just had to keep your eyes open. Traveling Route 66 is Okay in Oklahoma and worth the time, no matter how you do it.
As a child my fondest memories were road trips. And Route 66 is the Ultimate Road Trip.
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo