Tag Archives: transveteran

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 11 May 2016

May 11, 2016

I began my day by driving through the commercial section of Cottonwood, AZ toward Jerome. My first stop was a scenic overlook. This overlook is nice as I could see some of the old plumes from an abandoned gold mine up on the mountain.


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Driving on the twisting and winding roads back to Jerome I’m now looking for the Gold King Mine Ghost Town. Jerome itself is a quaint town filled with old buildings, narrow winding streets and lots of shops. I’m not a shopper as I don’t collect ‘stuff’ anymore so I don’t wander in and out of the antique/collectable shops nor the tourist shops.

When I get close to the Gold Mine Ghost Town I pull over to take this photo of a blooming plant and another car stops with a family that gets out with picks and shovels to mine for their own gold in all these rocks!


From the age of the vehicles scattered everywhere it looks like this mine and town were abandoned sometime in the 1940’s or 1950’s.





The Entrance to the Ghost Town makes you think that this is the 1880’s. This is actually an abandoned Gold Mine from the 1940’s or 1950’s but they did have a few interesting flyers on the wall.



I took special notice of the Politically Incorrect notice. So when I saw the fee schedule posted inside I asked for a military discount. Oops! They don’t offer military discounts. I asked about the notice outside that supported our troops and she said that they donate to Wounded Warriors each year and support a free day for wounded warriors in wheelchairs. I commented that the sign stated anyone in a wheelchair received free admission. I guess that the blatant sign out front inspired me to get my hackles up and I told her that because of the sign and the fact that no military discount (support) was offered that I was choosing to NOT pay admission for entrance to the Ghost Town. She said she understood and that several others had made a similar comment in the last couple of weeks.  I recommended they either take down the sign or provide ‘support’ to the troops, police and firefighters you purport to support.

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As I’m departing from Jerome I snap a photo of a couple of very large structures that appear to have awesome views.


On down the mountain I snapped photos of the other side of these structures.

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Clarksdale, AZ hosts its own old Gas Station.

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The Museum of Art building was impressive. There are many, many galleries scattered all over each town/city I have visited here in Arizona thus far. Much like Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM.

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Next up was a visit to the Tuzigoot National Monument. This is an Indian Pueblo that has been excavated to reveal the lower walls that had been buried and thus preserved as the ceiling and upper walls collapsed. I’ve included the signage from the trail to provide you with an educational and informative view as well as an entertaining experience.

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Next up was the Verde Canyon Railroad. For only $90 (less a 10% military discount) you can have a 4 hour ride through tunnels and canyons that are only accessible via the railroad. Tempting!



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Leaving Clarksdale I see this mural.

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I find that Sedona, AZ is only about 20 miles away and there is another scenic overlook recommended to me so off I go as it is still early in the afternoon.

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The drive toward Sedona is gorgeous! Beautiful and majestic red bluffs.

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On the way to the Scenic Overlook I saw a Historical Marker sign and stopped. Of course there was one of my favorite places just across the street.

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The drive through the Coconino National Forest was beautiful. I passed at least 5 campgrounds and multiple picnic areas to arrive at the Scenic Overlook.






This is the road I came up and will go down. Good thing I was in the Jeep instead of the RV. I did see several RV’s on this road though.




Coming back down the mountain I crossed this bridge at the Slides State Park. (Water Slides not Rock Slides)


Coming into Sedona again the captivating bluffs just catch my eye and want me to climb.


I fell in love with Sedona. The shops and homes have a backdrop of the rugged mountains and wide open skies.

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This is the Exposures Gallery. A very attractive building.

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The Chapel of the Holy Cross is built into the mountain itself and open to the public. The views from the chapel were awe inspiring.






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Apparently a water source keeps this vegetation growing.


The interior of the Chapel.

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Next door to the Chapel are homes with breathtaking views.


A Doctor’s home As seen from the Chapel. A caretaker states that a Doctor from New Jersey owns the home and visits once or twice a year.





Forgotten Historical Route 66 09 May 2016

May 9, 2016

A bittersweet start to the day as I bade Jeff and Berenika a fond farewell.

I began the journey today by taking the Pre-1937 Route 66 out of town. This is also the Original El Camino Real dating back to the 1500s.

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This route sent me down Isleta Blvd into Isleta where there is the ancient Isleta Pueblo.

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Route 6 and 66 are the same through to mix of farmland and residences to Los Lunas. There is a beautiful 1881 historical ‘Luna Mansion’ that appears open for business as a hotel/restaurant. The older pre-1937 Route 66 ends at Mesita where it joins post-1937 routing of Route 66. 

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One really nice thing I like about taking Route 66 is the lack of traffic. It seems that I have the road to myself the majority of the time to let my imagination run wild. The sign states that ‘Dead Man’s Curve’ is ahead and then I see a painted rock on the side before entering the curve.



I looked into the hills and could just imagine the Indians hunting, gathering food and building a village. Such a beautiful and rugged terrain, one that inspires my imagination as I pass through small towns like Laguna, Paraje, Villa De Cubero and San Fidel on my way to Grants and Gallup before leaving New Mexico and entering Arizona.


This is referred to as the ‘Owl Rock’


On the Indian Reservation I took this photo. Notice the church?

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Providing a background is Mt Taylor and then a side trip that I did not take would have taken me to Acoma Mesa and ‘Sky City’ termed the oldest continuously inhabited city in the country, perched hundreds of feet above the valley floor and the site of the San Esteban Del Rey Mission.

In Grants I found this Church for a photo op but I elected not to visit the NM Mining Museum where a typical uranium mine had been recreated one story underground.

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Next along the route was more rough territory where my imagination again got caught up in what kind of earthquake or volcano or ?? caused the upheaval of the earth this way.

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I had an unusual shopping experience at the Continental Divide. Exit 47 was closed for the folks on I40 to exit so only the Route 66 travelers could access these shops. I did say that I hardly ever encounter fellow travelers on 66. So I was quite alone as were the two store clerks.

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Gallup appeared to be a town catering to the tourist with many downtown trading posts to lure you away from your vacation money.

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Gallup even sports a historical museum.

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And of course another oddity to be seen along the way is the car perched high at a junk yard.

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The Tee Pee Trading Post near the Arizona state line.

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The Yellowhorse shop. Look on the cliffs to see the plastic animals that are pretty much out of place and out of reality!

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I was looking for a place to sleep for the night and thought that the Petrified Forest National Park might have a camping ground. I was wrong there but once I left the interstate I-40/Rte 66 at exit 311 I was provided a map to traverse the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest to have camping provided on the other end by a museum and gift shop. So off I go on the adventure!

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First up is the Painted Desert. Mary Eileen this will remind you of the Bad Lands in South Dakota. The geograhpy isn’t restricted to the Painted Desert Park. The entire area of Northern Arizona is a painted desert and there are ample amounts of petrified wood on both public and private lands. Of course some of these pieces are exceptionally heavy!

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Views of the Painted Desert from various overlooks.

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I think this crow was checking me out as I saw a crow several times.


This is the Pained Desert Inn now a National Historic Landmark.

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 A 1932 Studebaker sits where route 66 once cut through the park.





There is just so much to see in the park. The Puerco Pueblo and petroglyphs like Newspaper Rock. The Blue Mesa has more colorful geology.

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This large rock formation just juts up from the ground. What caused this formation to remain when all else has disappeared?

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There are many dramatic rock formations throughout the park that caught my eye.

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A petrified log spanning a gully. I found it amazing that in 1917 concrete was used to help support this petrified log.


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This is Jasper Forest, an area within the park that has a high concentration of petrified wood.


A large petrified log.


Crystal Forest.


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I was able to spend the night at this campground. Notice the petrified wood just laying around. Trust me, no one is going to haul it away without a backhoe or something similar.



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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On the same corner I found this chicken coming out of the wall.DSC_0136

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.




On the way to the Will Rogers childhood home I saw these oddities by the road.DSC_0066 (2)

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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.