It's been a while since I've posted here! Truthfully, it's been a while since I've done much in the way of travel or had anything I felt was worthy enough to write about. Thankfully, over the extended 4th of July weekend I had thanks to a strategically-placed vacation day, I was able to get out of town for a day and take a trip I've been meaning to take for years: the section of Route 66 from Tulsa to the northeast corner of the state.
This old vaudeville theatre was built in 1929 by the guy that discovered the 2nd largest deposit of lead and zinc in the world, underneath what was once Pitcher, OK and is now the largest Superfund site in the country. This guy made over a million dollars a month (not adjusted for inflation!) and wanted a place for road acts to stop and entertain, so he built a beautiful Spanish Revival style theatre. In the last 20 years or so, the city has restored it and with good fortune they have it looking very close to how it appeared on opening night; they even found the original Mighty Wurlitzer organ and have silent film festivals with it! I marveled at the ornate work, both inside and out, as a volunteer toured me through the facility. I stood on the same stage that once hosted the Marx Brothers, Will Rogers, and even Tom Mix and his horse. I marveled at the elaborate rigging backstage and the intricate lighting system as I was regaled with story after story of discoveries, donations, and pure luck throughout the restoration process. The entire place felt magical.
After finishing my tour of the Coleman, I needed to eat...so I stopped at another Route 66 landmark, Waylan's Hamburgers...also affectionately known as the Ku-Ku Burger. It was a delicious roadside dive burger and was more than enough fuel to get me down the road. When I'd visited the tourist shop earlier, I was told about a small section of Route 66 nearby called 'Ribbon Road' or the Sidewalk Highway. Back in the day, Route 66 was a single lane because of how few cars were on the road. Builders assumed *IF* two cars happened to be traveling at once, it would be no big deal for one to pull off and let the other pass. I had to see this. The road was in deep disrepair, considering it's now very rarely traveled due to a bypass, and the only other vehicle I saw was a tractor. But I took the opportunity to stop and marvel at the landscape that was not unlike what it had to look like back when it was originally built. I felt really special, standing on the gravel and cracked asphalt and listening to the sounds of the world as it turned around me.
After re-entering Tulsa, I took care to ensure I stayed on the route until I got home, seeing familiar sights through the lens of the day's journey. I arrived at my house after a long day of driving and smiled, for I had seen a piece of Americana that I felt a real connection to. I am already planning the sights to see on the rest of Route 66, traveling southwest to the other corner of the state, and the many opportunities to experience the slower pace of yesteryear.