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.
After months of being stagnate, a moment of excitement bubbled inside. We had been mostly stationary for a little over three months as we wintered in Florida and South Carolina. My travel-day-anxiety reared its ugly head as we left Charleston to hit the road, but once the routine set in, it calmed down.
We traveled up Hwy 55 into Missouri, heading towards Hwy 44 and Route 66 on Sunday, March 6th. A storm was due in that evening so we wanted to travel while there was a break in the weather. Our first stop was in Pacific, Missouri for the night. Just a little west of St Louis, this is where we would start our trek west.
As we got closer to the St. Louis area, excitement washed away any cares. We were finally getting close to our journey on one of America’s nostalgic road trip treasures. I was very young when Route 66 was a big deal and I put it in the back of my mind to someday visit. The idea of doing Route 66 got lost over the years - family, jobs, life, all pushed it away. Then in 2021, the opportunity to hit the road happened. We divested ourselves of all our belongings and purchased an Airstream. Here it is a year later and we are finally adding the Mother Road to our lists of places we have traveled
Our blog is called, Stories from the Front Porch, so it only seemed fitting to start this adventure at the World’s Largest Rocking Chair on Route 66. Chairs, for me, represent stories passed on for generations and what better start to this story than the World’s Largest Rocking Chair on Route 66. The chair was erected on April Fool’s Day in 2008. It weighs 27,500 lbs and is 42’ 4” high. It was once the largest Rocking Chair in the World, but lost that honor to someone in Illinois in August of 2015. It is now the second largest in the world
We drove briefly through Cuba, Missouri on our way to the chair, captured a few photos but it was freezing cold so we didn’t make too many stops
Our next stop - the township of Uranus. A brief stop for some Uranus Fudge and a few photos.
There is a Route 66 Welcome Center just before Marshfield (if heading west, if eastbound it would be right past Marshfield.) They have a huge parking lot and invite visitors to rest.
Our last stop for the day was the town square in Marshfield, MO where a replica of the Hubble Telescope is displayed. Dr. Edwin Hubble's hometown.
We ended our first day at the RV Express RV park in Marshfield, MO, just off hwy 44.
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo