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Walk in Confidence – The Paula Coffer Story


   Click image to order paperback book

Available on Amazon in kindle format: Walk in Confidence

Never a victim, always a winner.

BE HERE NOW! Live in just this moment, this day. When you walk out the door don’t look for acceptance, take for granted that you are accepted. Don’t live in a world where you are looking at a timeline that appears impossible. Live in the moment and relish, with gratitude, what you do have and recognize how far you have come. Make plans today for tomorrow but live in the today. Make your life now.

 Life is a series of journeys that take each of down separate paths. Sometimes the path intersects and sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless we must each own our own journey and make a positive difference in this world.

 This is Paula’s journey and the many paths she has traveled to succeed in making this life a positive experience.

 Be strong, be confident, be genuine

I served in Vietnam with the US Navy and retired from the US Army as a Finance Officer. I am traveling the US in a Motorhome towing a Jeep/Kayak and bicycle. I am an author maintaining a travel blog (paulacoffer.com) and have just published a trilogy of books called ‘Afghan Journals’ that are my daily journals while working with the DOD and DOS in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2011 – 2014. I am a parent of 4 adult children that I travel to see often. I transitioned in 1996 and have worked in multiple professions that include being a College Professor, Federal Examiner for NCUA, Anti-Money Laundering Revenue Agent with the IRS, Finance Director at Job Corps and as a Mentor/Advisor to the Ministry of Interior, Afghanistan. As a Soldier I was in the Finance Corps and served in Texas, Germany, Indiana, Korea, Baltimore/Wash DC and DFAS-IN. My hobbies are bicycling, Kayaking, Hiking, traveling, grilling and having fun with friends and family. My life story is published in a book ‘Walk in Confidence”.


Forgotten Historical Route 66 03 May 2016

May 1-3, 2016

So on May 1st it snows!  Brrr, but that gave me time to work on trying to repair the website and I spent a few hours with technical support to have the case referred to a senior technician. On the afternoon of May 3rd I received an email telling me that the problem had been resolved. Yay!

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The winds howled and the rain/snow mix fell over the weekend but Monday was nice enough for me to go to Kirkland Air Force Base and do a little shopping. On the way out of the Air Base I saw this museum.

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On Tuesday I was able to get out and about and explore part of the Turquois Trail. I made it up to Sandia Peak and enjoyed a hike and shopping. I know, the last thing I need is another t-shirt but check this out.

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The first stop on my trek today was the Tijeras Pueblo. In 1971 to 1976 this was an archaeological site for the University of New Mexico. Not much remains but the hike around the compound and the conversation with the Forest Rangers was interesting.

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Then onward on the Turquois Trail.  I took a detour from the main trail to drive to the Sandia Crest. A winding twisting road that has fantastic views. I’m not the best with heights anymore and some of the views were a little intimidating but I made it and enjoyed a hike also.

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And YES this is snow beside the road.






Much like the Aluminum Castle in Florida there is a ‘Tinker Town Museum’ here in Sandia.

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And finally I turned around to take this photo of a wall mural on wood, leaning against a stone wall.

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An interesting sign at an empty building in Tijeras.

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These are just some of the sights I’ve experienced on this Route 66 trip. I hope you are enjoying the photos and blog. Please comment.

Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 30, 2016

April 30, 2016

I chose to take the old Route 66 through Pecos to Santa Fe and then back to Albuquerque. I noticed this thing that looks like a building on a mountain top. I still don’t know what it is.

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Route 66 follows the Santa Fe trail for much of this trip to Santa Fe.

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 The Pecos National Park was a wonderful surprise and an educational experience for me.



I watched a video and then took a hike around the Pueblo ruins.




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As I turned off the interstate I found these items.

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Typical neighborhood of New Mexico style homes.

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I found this as I entered Albuquerque on old Route 66.

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Small statues in front of a school.

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Next stop the Leisure Mountain RV Park for a few days while I wait out the terrific wind and snow storms expected. Time to read a book and just chill out after driving so much.

Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 29, 2016

April 29, 2016

Being in Texas everything is bigger than life, to include the weather report that stated strong winds and tornados were in the area last night – NOT! But none the less, I hit Route 66 at the next exit.

I saw this full sized statue of a horse on the roadside and caught it quickly through the window. Sorry for it being fuzzy.

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As I get off of I-40 at Groom, TX I am able to get a photo of ‘leaning tower of Groom’. This tower was built this way to attract attention.

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A GIANT alert was issued for the ‘Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ’. This cross is billed as the ‘Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere’ at 190 foot tall (19 stories). Remember the other one from Edmond, OK? It was only 100 foot tall.

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This is a photo of the landscape of Texas! Along the route to Conway nothing much except the old concrete road and the cows.


Past Conway and then I came upon this odd peace display beside the road. Go figure.

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Views of Texas from Route 66

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Past Amarillo is the ‘Cadillac Ranch’.

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Bushland hosts the Cadillac RV resort

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Vega hosts a restored 1920’s Magnolia Gas Station near the courthouse.

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Another museum that was closed!

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 Another side attraction!

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Then I get to the midway of Route 66.


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 At the Midway Café David was very busy entertaining an Italian group that spoke broken English but were very friendly and nice.

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A cheese burger wrapped in waxed paper with applesauce.


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There is a defunct railroad that ran along side Route 66. The rails appear to be gone but the railroad ties are stacked in beside the road for miles.

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Glenerio is basically a ghost town today.

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Adios Texas and hello New Mexico!

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I finally stopped to take a few photos of the flowers beside the road.





This is what I kept seeing as I approached Tucumcari, NM.

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Tucumcari historical marker.

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Tucumcari provided more oddities. Notice the ?dinosaur?

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Modern wall murals.

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Nice wall mural on this curio shop.

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I first ran into a van with an advertisement for the Blue Swallow Motel when I stopped in Lebanon, MO. Now here it is in person.

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Big signs and big hats!

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Murals in Tucumcari.

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Leaving town I caught this station.

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The museum was of course closed. This is the pattern of my travels.

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But this guy was just beside the entry to the hotel and conference center next to the museum. What the heck is he?

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The Tucumcari trading post was an interesting photo opportunity.

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Past Newkirk and Cuervo comes Santa Rosa.

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I stayed the night here to be refreshed for my trip to Albuquerque via Pecos and Santa Fe.



Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 28, 2016

April 28, 2016

As always I admire the wall murals and El Reno didn’t let me down as I caught a few as I was leaving town.


As I turned toward Route 66 I noticed that the Chisholm Trail is an integral part of my trip now.

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Another historical marker along Route 66 concerning Fort Reno.DSC_0137

I did stop by the old Fort Reno for a photo opportunity.

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Traveling Route 66 brought me to this ¾ mile long pony bridge with 38 pony (small trusses) to span the South Canadian River. Getting here has been fun as the road is a 1933 curbed-concrete road. Going over it reminds me of being in a train with the ‘clippity clop’ of the tires clicking on the expansion joints. Much like the train rolling over the connecting points.


Yet another fun roadside historical marker sitting by Lucille’s.

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Weatherford must have a problem as the sign states local traffic only as you enter their downtown area. Maybe the sign is misplaced!

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The Cherokee Trading Post is the first I’ve seen in Oklahoma. I stopped to buy another pair of moccasins but they didn’t have anything different than what I already have. So I’ll wait until I get further west for a new pair.

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I wanted to eat at the White Dog Hill Restaurant but I didn’t trust that I could get out once I got up there. So I didn’t have lunch until later.

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Clinton, OK has an Oklahoma Route 66 Museum that boasts it is national in scope. The museum covers quite a bit of real-estate with a collection of windmills, village and the museum itself is glass brick with a neon sign.


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This is an actual piece of the curbed concrete road I’ve been driving on.


 Other buildings on the museum grounds.

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DSC_0168 (2)I wonder how long it will be before this ’66 Sweet Spot’ is a roadside relic?

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For much of my trip I’ve been following parallel to a major road, US Route 55, US Route 44 or US Route 40. I do get to pass over the old bridges and see other oddities that those traveling the main roads don’t. Sometimes there are no 66 markers and I have to double back because I’ve missed a turn. If it weren’t for the book ‘EZ66 Route 66 Guide for Travelers’ by Jerry McClanahan I would never have been able to stay on Route 66.

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DSC_0175 (2)If you’ve ever wondered what the old Route 66 actually looks like I am showing you now. Route 66 was a 4-lane road and only 2 are being used now. I’ve been running beside it all along and some communities in Missouri and Illinois made walking/biking trails out of the unused 2 lanes. But here in Oklahoma in the ‘wide open spaces’ the road has been completely abandoned. It reminds me of a movie set after some apocalyptic event.


DSC_0179The last watering hole before you leave Oklahoma and enter Texas. I actually had illusions of staying in Texola but there is nothing there!DSC_0180 (2)

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It is indeed a small world. I pulled into a RV Park only to find it closed down and empty. As I was leaving a pickup stopped and I mentioned that the Park appeared closed. The man said he was a broker and was supposed to be meeting the owner to view the property. As we talked he asked me where I was from. I mentioned Indianapolis but that I had grown up in Lovington, NM. He said that Shamrock was home to the Purcell family that had ties to Lovington. As he talked it became apparent that Becky was in my graduating class and he had dated her younger sister Sarah. What a small world.

Shamrock, TX boasts a 1936 Conoco station that has been restored, U-Drop Inn/Tower Conoco!

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I began to see the posted quips and the resulting Burma Shave signs.


Another oddity spotted is these welded art items


More murals to appreciate.




This was the first Phillips 66 station in Texas. Located in McLean

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At this point I had to jump on I-40 and stayed the night at an accommodating Texas rest stop because it had a storm shelter.

Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 27, 2016

April 27, 2016

Saying goodbye to Tulsa I traveled further across Oklahoma.

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Sapulpa had a Route 66 option that I couldn’t take as it had a bridge with a 7’2” height. So I stayed on the main Route 66 and caught a glimpse of the Trolley and Train museum and a few wall murals.

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I have been seeing these flowers that look like orange balls for hundreds of miles now. I stopped to see what they were to satisfy my curiosity. I still don’t know what they are but they are nice beside the road.


Chandler, OK has an interpretive center located in an old National Guard armory that has been refurbished. The guide provided me with a grand tour of the facility and explained much of its history.

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At the Arcadia Barn I met with 2 news reporters, sans storm chasers that were evaluating the storm damage from the tornados that made landfall last night. They were interesting to talk to. Only minor damage to the barn occurred from the high winds.




I stopped by the Overholser Lake for lunch. I met a wonderful Vietnamese woman that graciously offered a spot on her property for me to stay and visit the area. I declined as I wanted to continue on the mother road. The Bridge was too short for me to go over so I had to choose the highway instead.



I made it to El Reno where I was able to stay at the VFW where they had multiple RV hookups available. With a need for revenue I can’t imagine why they are not using these as a money generator. Unless the other RV Parks in town don’t want the competition.


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Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 26, 2016

April 26, 2016

I met up with Andrea as my tour guide and missed spending the day with Irene as she was feeling bad. We started our journey in Tulsa to experience the spots she found interesting. First up was the ‘Center of the Universe’ This item is located at the Jazz Museum in downtown Tulsa. There is a huge monolithic spire reaching up with airplanes on one side and people on the other. Once you get to the ‘center’ you can talk and there is an echo. Once you move from this location the echo no longer exists. Strange!




Andrea standing at the Center of the Universe


The Cyrus Avery Bridge is said to be the final piece putting Route 66 together. Here the original road exists across the bridge that is no longer used.  While access to the area is difficult there are a couple of large statue pieces and the sign over the road.


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While downtown we also drove around the Catholic cathedral and a church with a large domed roof that rises to allow for ventilation.



On our way to visit the Totem Pole Park we stopped by an Amish bakery where I picked up some honey, pulled chicken and a HUGE cinnamon roll.


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This is the largest totem in the park.


This next totem makes a nice chimney for this oven.


Of course you can’t visit Tulsa and not go to the Will Rogers Museum and Memorial. From the life size statue of Will Rogers to the movie theater showing clips from his many movies this is an interesting and educational adventure. Not only did Will Rogers ‘Never meet a man he didn’t like’ he was also a most accomplished man of many talents.

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A replica of his study in California.




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The view from the veranda towards the lake reminds me of the view from the veranda at Mount Vernon looking toward the Potomac River.



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Tulsa also boasts the ‘Blue Whale’. Refurbished and the center of a small park.

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Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 25, 2016

April 25, 2016

Kansas! Here I am. The old bridge going from Missouri to Galena, Kansas using Route 66 was pretty cool. It was like I was driving into another time and place.


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 Remember that I keep looking for those oddities that attract my attention as I’m driving by!


And then there is this house. I can only hope that not all Kansas Citizens are so meticulous as these people.

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As my luck would have it the Baxter Springs, KS Heritage Center and Museum was closed but I walked around the outside taking photos.

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 The folks at the Visitor Center in town were so excited to have me as a visitor that they even made a call to have the Heritage Center and Museum opened up for me. I declined the offer as the guy to open had just finished mowing the lawn. Wow, that is customer service though. The visitor center is located in a 1930’s era Phillips 66 station.




Kansas only has 13.5 miles of Route 66 and as I entered Oklahoma I stopped at this historical marker beside the road.

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The first town I passed through was Quapaw. Commerce was next and I missed the photo opportunity for Mickey Mantle’s statue as I passed at the Commerce High School.

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Miami, OK is home to the Coleman Theatre. This is a restored 1929 Spanish mission-styled showplace.

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I began following Route 66 out of town when it turned ROUGH! After a ½ mile or so I was able to turn around and backtrack to find another version of Route 66. At the other end of the stretch I was on I found this monument.

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DSC_0028 (2)As oddities go this was cool. An old police car and traveling jail cell advertising a Bail Bond company in front of what used to be a motel.DSC_0045 (2)



Oops, my Rig is about 6 tons and my Jeep is 1.5 tons. But hey, I can’t back up and I was already committed. Surely the 3 ton weight limit was a loose estimate!

My next stop was a KOA RV park at the Will Rogers Casino and track in Claremore, OK. My cousin Irene and her daughter Andrea live here and I get to spend a day with them.


Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 24, 2016

April 24, 2016

The motel I parked my RV behind had several RV hookups. The waste water sewer drains were misplaced and I could not use it but the space was mostly level, had water and electricity. Only one other RV was present and it looked like it was permanently located at the end of the park. All is good. Somewhere in the middle of the open area there was a bonfire during the night. Kinda creepy as it must’ve been the motel residents, which appeared to be long term. When a door opened I could see rooms that didn’t look like they had been cleaned – ever! I tried to pay three times before the young father of two clinging youngsters told me that his wife was the only one that knew how to register me and she wouldn’t be home from her other job until after 2200. On my way out I again tried to pay for the space but the doors were locked and no one answered my knock. I would have left some money in an envelope for them but one of the room occupants was sitting outside of his room with his shirt off. I didn’t have any faith that the money would ever get to the manager of the complex. Thank you Passport America for the free night. Needless to say I slept with my hand gun readily available.

As I left the motel and began traveling on Route 66 again I was immediately in rural Missouri. I loved the look of the old rock built houses but all of the abandoned buildings saddened me. It is amazing what a ‘change for the better’ can do to the lives of the people depending on the income derived from the Route 66 travelers. But then again as I drove along the ‘Mother Road’ I let my imagination run wild. I was a little child riding in the family car. The windows are down, the radio is on and the family is playing games. How many different state license plate can you see? Who can spot a rail road crossing sign first? Rail Road Crossing Look out for Cars, can you spell that without any R’s? I can just see the people waving back to us as we cruise 66!

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I never expected to come upon a certifiable ghost town in Missouri though. New Mexico and Arizona maybe but not Missouri.

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Then I come upon the 1930 Sinclair Gas Station named Gay Parita in Paris Springs, MO. The gentleman who lovingly restored this gas station and obtained the artifacts died a year ago and his wife recently passed on.  As of three weeks ago the daughter has assumed the privilege of maintaining the Gas Station and she is truly excited to be doing it. I was lucky enough to listen in while an old-timer explained where some of the artifacts came from.

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Just a short distance away I found these vintage Chevrolet Corvair cars and an old travel trailer.

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No one was home at this gas station in Spencer, MO but it appears to be in the states of restoration.


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Passing through the countryside on the winding picturesque road brought me through this 1926 thru-truss bridge.

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This is a Lowell Davis sculpture on the side of the road. It is too bad I missed Red Oak II as there were many sights to see there.

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I really liked Carthage and would like to have spent more time there but it was getting late and I wanted to stop in Joplin, MO for the night.


Webb City, MO had more photo ops with wall murals.

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Joplin, MO was a different sight. I hated to see this abandoned factory or whatever it was.



Just think, someday this may be just a roadside attraction too!

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This is actually a drive thru window


I stayed at the tribal casino 14 miles out of Joplin. There were Buffalo grazing beside and behind the parking area. I signed up for their free player card and received free RV parking for the night (water and electricity). I also received a $10 food coupon and a $10 credit to play the slots or gamble with. I used the $10 credit at a slot machine. I had to ask an attendant how to do it but then – well I used up their credits and earned $10.60 in cash. I used the $10 food coupon for a $10 breakfast meal so the only cost I had was my coffee. All in all I received free lodging, food and transportation to and from the RV parking lot and walked away with $4!  I love traveling Route 66.


Forgotten Historical Route 66 April 23, 2016

April 23, 2016

After spending the night in Edwardsville, IL I was determined to see the ‘Chain of Rocks Bridge’ constructed in 1927 (abandoned in 1968) and one of the few bridges in the world with a radical bend (22 degree) in the middle. This turned out to be challenge as my GPS yelled at me that I was too tall to go the direction on the Illinois side so I took a chance on the Missouri side of the Mississippi. The signs and GPS turned me around just as I crossed the river and then stated that I was there while on the middle of the bridge. I stopped for directions back on the Missouri side only to be more knowledgeable than the attendant at the gas station. So I chose to travel toward downtown St Louis – not my best choice – and found the parking area for the Chain of Rocks Bridge blocked off. I pulled over on the side of the road and walked back to get these photos. This bridge is now a link in a hike/bike trail

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After reading the safety warnings about traveling on the old Route 66 through St Louis – narrow road winding thru a decayed region of empty lots and boarded-up row houses, churches and stores – I chose to travel I270 to catch 66 again on the west side of St Louis.

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A typical City Hall along this route.

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Missouri hosts visitors at the Route 66 State Park with a small museum and gift shop. You are warned not to follow Route 66 across the bridge!

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I spoke at length with a woman at the information desk. She recommended several stops along the way and gave me maps and brochures. She is the second person to mention a woman from Tucumcari, NM that is traveling a day ahead of me. I wonder if I’ll catch up to her?

The Cedar Inn was recommended but there was no parking for me and I had to move on. The view from the back is supposed to be worth seeing.

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I found the remnants of businesses all along the Missouri roadside.  There are also many Armadillos and Skunks scattered about as ‘Roadkill’.

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I tried to catch photos of some of the oddities along the way. Below is a market – not open of course.

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Meramec Caverns is a must see. Unfortunately it is closed too!

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At the Route 66 Park I was also advised to visit the 1934 Wagon Wheel Motel. Connie maintains a nice gift shop and the motel is built from rocks. My battle buddy Christy grew up around Cuba and also recommended the area for extended sightseeing.

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Next door is the Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q

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Cuba also hosts the GIANT Red Rocker at the Outpost General Store.

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I found this innovative lawnmower at the side of the General Store. I wonder if my battle buddy Mark in Kentucky could use it?

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Next stop along the route is Uranus, MO.

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This stop along the roadside was designed to attract the family in for a break off the road with entertainment for the kids and adults as well. Food and gifts are also available.







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I had stopped by Fort Leonardwood but there was no campground on Post and the office at the recreation area in the Lake of the Ozarks was already closed. So I kept going for another hour enjoying the quiet ride through the Missouri countryside.

It was time to stop for the night. I used my Passport America App and found a RV park on Route 66 in Lebanon, MO. Well, it was almost an RV park as behind a rundown motel was several RV hookups. But across the street was a surprise gathering of Route 66 enthusiasts.

Jess McEntire was performing on stage. I purchased his double CD set titled ‘Man on a Mission’ and ‘Take a Trip on 66’. Loretta Lynn wrote and donated a song called ‘Ole Route 66’ for the CD. Many old cars were present and here are photos of some of them.DSC_0941 (2) - Copy

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