Best Buy To The Rescue
My room at the hotel is excellent. It’s very, very big with a kitchenette, seating area with large sofa, desk, large bed and a huge bathroom. A football team could live in it. Exceptional quality of fittings and furnishings as well. Overall, a good hotel. There’s the usual spread for breakfast, it’s just about OK. Before setting out on the drive to the City of Oklahoma City, often shortened to OKC, which is the capital of Oklahoma state, I need to buy a power point adapter.
So around 9.30 am I drive off to the QuikTrip – but no joy there. Another plan is needed. On the way back I remembered that Tulsa is noted for its art deco architecture and that I hadn’t seen any of it. So I just drive about randomly on nearly deserted streets and do see a lot of quite funky buildings in said style around the downtown area. The overcast but warm weather is not great but I’m still impressed by what I see.
I do an hour or so of diary catch-up before I depart the hotel, just before 12 noon. To start I use the app to get to a road junction on Rt 66, where I turn left and boot up Maps. I found a Best Buy that wasn’t too far off Rt 66 and in fact I’m in the lot after just 8 minutes. Inside the cavernous store, I’m asked on entry if I need help, so explain the problem and soon a sales guy is taking me to the phone charger section. They don’t sell any UK-to-US adapters, which I didn’t think they would.
So I select a charger with US plug that my USB cable will fit into, and 5 minutes later I’m on my way out of the store. I fire the app back up to get me back on Rt 66 but for some reason it takes me in the wrong direction, away from the way I came in. It does have a problem every now and again when re-starting. In Pontiac for example it kept me going around the town in a circle when trying to find the hotel. I ended up killing it and using Maps then.
A Wild Day On Route 66
Which I do again now. I eventually get back on Rt 66, turn the app back on and this time it’s fine. What follows during today is probably the most wild so far in terms of road and route variety. The number of really old 1930/40s sections that I keep getting diverted onto off good asphalt roads is just amazing. Sometimes a section is less than half a mile long, other times a few miles. For a while I’m almost constantly changing course. All I remember is that was a brilliant experience. I stop for lunch in the car park of the Boom Town BBQ just before Bristow.
And then… another app mess-up. Just after leaving Bristow I’m diverted onto another old alignment off a good section of Rt 66 and suddenly the lumpy, cracked road surface comes to halt. The app says go straight on for another two miles but I can see the road ahead becomes a dirt track. It probably is old 66 but one of the really old dirt track sections. That I’m not going to drive on, because I can’t take the car off paved roads.
I turn left and drive a bit to see if the app will re-route and maybe bypass the dirt section. But no, it goes haywire, telling me to turn round every 10 seconds. When this app fails it does so spectacularly. Also frustrating is that unlike Maps, the app will not let me widen its viewport to let me see a wider picture, such as if there’s another road option.
The road left is going nowhere, or at least my antenna tells me I’m going in the wrong direction, so I turn around. Back at the dirt track section, I drive a little way up it but can see that this section then stops and the ‘road’ becomes two parallel tracks across a field! I’m happy to blindly follow the app on paved roads but I’m not daft enough to go off-road.
I use a combination of Maps and the EZ Guide to extract me from a Rt 66 Hell and get back to where I need to be. On the way I take the Depew side-trip recommended by EZ. This all works out eventually and, pun intended, I’m soon back on track. I see more iconic roadside signs and buildings like the Rock Café in Stroud plus new stuff like Pops in Arcadia – all part of Rt 66’s rich tapestry.
Route 66 Interpretative Center
I’d highlighted the Route 66 Interpretative Center in Chandler pre-trip as a ‘sight to see’ but reading a Route 66 Guide last night I wasn’t sure about stopping there. It didn’t seem ‘wow’ or essential. However I’d made good progress time-wise so I decide to stop. This is what I love about doing these trips. I plan. I decide I’ll do this. Then when I get there on the day, I change it, if and when it suits. Or indeed if necessity calls. Part of it is that I’ll probably never come back this way again, so do it while you can.
But in a way that doesn’t apply to Rt 66. Every guide you read to the Mother Road says you’ll never see everything on a single trip, so don’t even try. My view so far in is to make decisions about the next day the night before, and based on if I have time, to be flexible. I try not to miss things I’ve planned or researched, and of course there’s loads of other stuff to see. As it happens, the Center is OK. There are a few snippets I pick up about Rt 66 here and there, and it was probably worth the stop.
The drive into Oklahoma City is as bizarre as anything on Rt 66 to date. 15 miles out I’m in mall-city land on a 4 lane perfect asphalt highway. With loads of traffic lights that are stopping me every 10 seconds or so, in heavy traffic as well. I hate roads like this in America. Minutes later, Rt 66 is still a perfect 4 lane highway but now going through countryside with no traffic at all.
Then, after a traffic light junction, I’m on a 1960s two lane knackered concrete roadway for a few miles. True Old 66! Then back onto a modern 4 lane highway for a while on the outskirts of the city. Then it’s onto the Interstate for about 400 yards, then back onto a 2 lane road with a decent surface, and then… I’m still 5 miles away from the hotel!
Anyway, you get the drift I hope. I do eventually arrive at the Hampton Inn & Suites Oklahoma City Bricktown around 5 pm. The sky has nearly cleared and it’s hot, around 88º F. I get checked in, and park in the attached garage. Up in my room I do my admin for tomorrow then check out options for dinner. I discover the place I’d initially identified doesn’t serve food. Oversight on my part.
But I find somewhere interesting – Bricktown has loads of food and drink places, that’s why I chose a hotel there. So at 7.45 pm I walk down the street to TapWerks Ale House & Café (which permanently closed in 2021). It’s pretty much empty, although it is a Sunday night. I perch up at the bar and peruse the beer and food menus, and order. I have never seen as many draft beer taps as this bar has. There must be 50 plus.
Craft beer in America has become a bewildering experience. There is too much choice, too much diversity. You actually can’t buy a ‘normal’ beer anymore (Bud and Coors aren’t normal beers to my mind). All the craft beers are increasingly niche, sometimes to the point of ‘undrinkability’.
So I drink my beer and eat my food, and am about to start on my diary, when the guy to my left, who was there when I sat down and said nothing so far, suddenly says, “Are you from the UK?” Patrick is his name and he has amused himself on his phone since I arrived. But after I ate my Pastrami Reuben sandwich and fries (very good), he decides he wants to talk.
He turns out to be good company, and we have a good chat. About an hour later I say I’m leaving to go to Mojo’s Blues Club down the street. Now Patrick claimed to have been to OKC many times before, and had passed opinions on other bars, but does not know Mojo’s.
Some More Music
The bartender confirms it’s a good place and I ask Patrick if he wants to come along. He replies, “Yes, I like the blues.” We can hear the band as we walk up to the bar. When we arrive there is an audience of one guy watching the band on the outside terrace… who are Otis Watkins and the Bushdoctors.
Inside there are a few more people. Patrick buys me a beer and we go outside under the covered patio to watch the band. It is still very warm as 10 pm comes around. The band seems good, Patrick commented. He says they did a good cover of a Stevie Ray Vaughn song I didn’t know. Watch Otis and the band play Blue Suede Shoes on YouTube.
But then it starts to go wrong. The band start and stop a song twice, then start to discuss it between themselves. This then happens a few times. After we had tripled the audience, the other guy left. So Patrick and I surmise that given there is no audience to speak of, the band are now treating the gig as a rehearsal session, trying out new songs and arrangements.
But after a while this becomes a bit tiresome for us, the ‘audience’. So we leave. Patrick is in the hotel next door to mine, which is first, so we bid each other goodnight and safe travels, as another good night draws to a close.
It was another great day on Rt 66. And I’m still trying to take in everything that I saw…