Wednesday, 3 August 2005. Springfield,
MO to Elk City, Oklahoma, with a stop at the Oklahoma City Memorial.
Left Springfield a little after 9 a.m., continuing west on I-44, then on
to I-40 at Oklahoma City, OK. I-44 in eastern Oklahoma is a toll
road (the Will Rogers Turnpike). Weather continues hot, 90-100 in
the afternoon. After Joplin, MO, the old Route 66 cut across the southeast
corner of Kansas -- for 13 miles. I-44 skips this little
excursion and directly enters Oklahoma. I think if I had realized
that we could have added another state to our trip roster, I would have
suggested that we take the detour through Kansas on the old Route 66 --
c'est la vie.
While the state boundaries in the West are apparently mostly arbitrary
lines on the landscape, as we crossed over into Oklahoma, we were struck by how quickly both the terrain and
flora changed from the generally green lushness of Missouri to the
semi-arid lands of the Southwest. Of course, Oklahoma was
originally the "Indian Territories" -- wouldn't want to give them anything
too good to live on! Especially since we forcible moved many of them off of their productive lands in the
East to Oklahoma and other less productive sites -- the
Trail of Tears, for example.
The smaller chair represents a child.
On the way through Oklahoma City, we stopped at the
Oklahoma City National Memorial site. I expected more of an
emotional reaction -- perhaps something like the Vietnam War Memorial in
But somehow the architectural design did not quite make
it with me. The "symbolic chairs" seemed as if it should have been a
good idea, but they lacked any sense of connection with real people (their
names were on a separate wall, not on the chairs). Perhaps, if one were allowed to walk
among them and read their names and occupations, it might have been more
personal. It was all very distant and sterile. I also suspect
that the oppressive heat in Oklahoma City also may have affected my reaction.
After about a three-quarter hour stay, we continued on west switching to
I-40, arriving in Elk City, OK
about 6 p.m. As in Missouri, there were long stretches where
the local roads adjacent to the Interstate appeared "old;" and I later
confirmed that they were indeed sections of the old Route 66.
In Elk City, we stayed at an Econolodge, without doubt the worst
accommodation of our trip. All the rooms opened to the outside, and
the door to our room was open when we
arrived, and did not fit tightly. The room was crowded including a full
sized refrigerator (not very clean at that), and had the appearance of a
welfare hotel. But the bed and bedding appeared clean, and I, for
one, was too tired to work at relocating. An example, though, of
were even if your rely on national brands you're not always sure of what
After showering and decompressing from the ride, we putted
about looking for a place to eat. And found "the Pig Trough --
Slop In and See Us." Immediately thought "this means us!" And
had an excellent traditional barbecue dinner including fried okra.
Um. Um. The waitress -- who talked funny -- said we sounded
"cultured." My, my. But it was one of the best meals
of our trip. Highly recommended.
Elk City has a "Route 66 Museum"
and we set out to see if it was, by chance, open in the evening. No
luck. But the old Route 66 is well marked in Oklahoma with
historical route markers, so we took a short ride into the country on the
highway. In this neck of the southern plains, it does not take long
to get into the country. The heat of the day was quickly fading, and
so was the light. After a half-hour or so we returned to town, and
stopped at the local ice cream joint.
On returning to the motel,
immediately checked for my notebook, bolted the door, and crawled into