Day 1 Miles: 150

Shawnee, Oklahoma to Clinton, Oklahoma

There are many maps and guidebooks about Route 66, but none of them really address driving “The Mother Road” in an RV. I knew there were stretches of the route I would not attempt in a motorhome. For example, outside Miami, Oklahoma, (pronounced “MiamUH”) there is a section called “The Ribbon Road.” It is one lane, nine feet wide. Some have dubbed it, “Sidewalk 66.” Uh, uh. Don’t think so.

But, I would not be driving through Miami, Oklahoma on this trip. I began my westward journey in Shawnee, Oklahoma, just east of Oklahoma City. I pondered for just a moment driving to Joplin, Missouri, then making my way westward across the entire state of Oklahoma. But when I arose that morning, the thought of driving east just to drive west did not appeal to me. Alas, I missed some choice Oklahoma sites, such as the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore, the big blue whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma, and the city of Tulsa. Next time!

From Shawnee, it was a short drive north on Highway 177, which intersected with Route 66. And I mean an actual, unadulterated, long stretch of Route 66!

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Oklahoma boasts the longest preserved sections of the road. An occupational hazard of driving the route in the RV, there was no place to pull over to view an abandoned gas station in Luther which has become an icon of Route 66. A short while later, I was in Arcadia, Oklahoma, home to a couple of Route 66 “biggees.”

Thankfully there was a turnout at the Arcadia round barn, built in 1898 and largely restored by the donations of Route 66 travelers.

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From the round barn you can see the 66 – foot (of course!) tall soda bottle at Pops, just up the road. I would love to see the bottle at night, which is dressed in changing colors of neon. Pops offers 700 different soda flavors and a lunch counter, not to mention some fun Route 66 memorabilia and gas pumps. I was like a kid in a candy store at Pops! And I guess I sort of was. Well, the candy store part anyway.

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Coming up next was Oklahoma City and a stretch of road that includes a bridge built in the 1920s. I had already toured OKC and I was concerned about driving Nellie across the bridge, even though my research indicated it was re-opened to traffic after refurbishment in 2011. I opted to take I-44 West around those locations.

I exited the highway in Yukon, Oklahoma, hometown of Garth Brooks! It is also the home of Yukon’s Best flour, and I am told the neon on the sign is striking at night.

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I continued west on Route 66 from Yukon to El Reno, Oklahoma, where I found this great old motel:

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Then, as quickly as it had come, the route petered out, and I turned a few turns thinking I was still on a westward trajectory.

Nope!

Almost 30 miles later, now north of Route 66 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, I discovered the birthplace of Sam Walton. Sorry, no photos.

And so it goes with Route 66. Before I began this journey I could find no computer program, no app, no pre-loaded GPS which would give turn-by-turn directions. The best I could do was a map, which I could not read while driving. So, I spent a little while lost in Oklahoma, until I joined I-40 west. I exited at Clinton, Oklahoma – home of a Route 66 museum. In Clinton I found another iconic mid-century motel:

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I spent the night in Clinton at the casino on the Cheyenne/Arapaho reservation and watched “The Grapes of Wrath,” anticipating the following day’s treasures: Two Route 66 museums, the Roger Miller Museum, the oldest Indian trading post in Oklahoma, and a ghost town.