We’re heading into our third state on our Route 66 trip – Oklahoma! We did skip Kansas because it was too dark either time for us to see, however, we’ll do all 13 miles the next time we’re on our way to Oklahoma for vacation.
At 432 miles on the route, Oklahoma is the state with the longest stretch on this road, and we enjoyed almost all of them. I will say, that we had the most fun with attractions in the 46th state of the union. Between Miami (My-am-uh) Afton, Vinita, Catoosa, Tulsa, Arcadia, and Oklahoma City – we were in Route 66 heaven. I’m actually going to do you all a favor and break this post up into a couple of sections. While in the state capitol, we were invited to check out the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum & the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the write up for those will come later this week. You should tune back in for them because EVERYONE needs to visit them.
What We Saw
Would you believe that we’ve been to this city more than once? We own property with Worldmark and vacation in the Afton area as well as the Ozarks, and yet we still didn’t know all of the greatness that this tiny city packed. Between Ribbon Road and the longest stretch of Route 66 road that I had seen to date – WITH THINGS ON IT – it was a welcome outing while in the Northeastern corner of the state.
This road – called Ribbon Road or Sidewalk Highway – is a 15 mile section of the original Route that was constructed in 1921. It’s only 9 feet wide y’all. You can see me sitting on the original road above. This road ran between Miami and Afton and has 90 degree curves, the road was narrow because of lack of funding, or so sources say. It’s no longer part of the original Route because a new alignment was built, but you know that didn’t stop us right? We explored all of the road, and had a little photo shoot to celebrate.
When taking this back road from the city center, you get a lot of drive straight until you can’t drive any longer and then make a right, once you see the red barn make a left and keep going. It’s so much fun as long as you know your way back home. I suggest EVERYONE do this every now and again on a road trip. We first did it when we went to Indiana Dunes, and now we’ve discovered the back roads of Oklahoma!
Ribbon Road – Miami, OK
While you’re in Miami, you should make sure to visit the Visitor’s Center and the Coleman Theater – saved by Route 66 purists and open for tours and luncheons.
The Coleman Theater
While non of what we saw is on any Route 66 travel guide that I’ve studied, I did finally get a chance to photograph pelicans. Yes, you read that right. Pelicans. Ever since we discovered the Grand Lakes region of Oklahoma several years ago, we’ve been hearing about the pelicans migrating there in September. Well, our timing was perfect it seemed this year, and I was able to get this shot of them in the Bernice Area State Park (also one of our favorite spots in the area) before hitting the road.
I’m pretty proud of this shot. Full stop.
Home to several bridges and so many of these wonderful route markers (I took a photo of every single one that I could) Vinita is about 30 minutes west of Afton, and a straight drive down the old Route. If you’re driving after harvest time, you’ll also see plenty of fields with rolled bales of hay. They looked so much like paintings to me.
I was also told to stop and eat at Clanton’s Cafe by our favorite nature guide, Ms. Amanda – and I trust the locals when it comes to telling us the hot spots for their areas. Too bad we had already eaten at Braum’s and were full as ticks. Braum’s is an Oklahoma based ice cream and dairy store, and they just happen to sell burgers and other goodies.
Between bridges, a Totem Pole Park and a historical marker showing how someone ran from LA to NYC, the little things tickled our fancy. We turned off the beaten path to check out the 1926 Pryor Bridge, a 123-foot steel-truss structure that dates to the beginning of the highway and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This bridge is the only unaltered Pratt truss bridge left in Oklahoma. Today, it’s mostly open to foot traffic and those who wish to fish off the bridge.
1926 Pryor Creek Bridge
Sprawled over 14 acres, are 11 structures, including the world’s largest concrete totem pole. It’s made of 6 tons of steel and 100 tons of rock and sand. It was completed in 1948. The totem pole measures in at 90 feet tall and 30 feet wide at the base. We had fun entering the totem pole to see the painting inside, and we were surprised with how cool it was inside. This area would also be a great spot to have lunch as well.
Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park – Home of the world’s largest Totem Pole
The owl lover of our family was pleased as punch to see all of the owls represented in the totems throughout the park.
Fun story – if you were following our trip last month, you’ll know that I ran into someone on the Route who was tripping back from Arizona with her father. They had already completed some of the Route a couple of years prior and wanted to do a bit more to connect where they last left off. We got to talking and realized that we know a LOT of the same people in Iowa, and it reminded me that the world is indeed small, and we need to do a better job of seeing EVERYONE in it.
From there we hit Catoosa, where this beauty was waiting for us. One of the most recognizable and I’m sure photographed attractions on all of Route 66, the Blue Whale of Catoosa.
The Blue Whale of Catoosa – 2600 Rte 66
The blue whale of Catoosa is hard to miss. You see it as you’re driving down the Route, and you’re drawn to its whimsical nature just like you should be. Built over two years and completed in July of 1972 by Hugh S. Davis and his friend, Howard Thomas, the whale stands 20 feet tall and 80 feet long. It used to be a space for Davis’ grandchildren to come and swim, fish and play, but now it’s a space for a packed lunch and possible fishing. If you’re up for it, you can take a ladder up inside the whale’s head and look out of the peek holes over his eyes.
Arcadia Round Barn – 107 E. Highway 66
Built in 1898 by William Odor for the sheer reason of proving neighbors wrong, the Round Barn in Arcadia, OK was present before Route 66 was even established. Restored in 1988 by a group of retirees called the Over-the-Hill-Gang, the barn was returned to its former glory. The only truly round barn anywhere, the second floor is rented out for dances and events while the first floor is home to the gift shop.
Pop’s Soda Ranch – 660 W. Highway 66
Home to the 70 ft. color shifting pop bottle, Pop’s Soda Ranch is quite a sight! You can eat, gas up and take photos all in one spot. It’s a diner as well as a souvenir shop along Route 66. Research gives a number between 400 and 700 different flavors of pop, and while in there, I’m going to err on the side of 700. There were even soda-gusting flavors such as mustard and celery. Quite a find for those more adventurous carbonated beverage drinkers.
We ended up buying Mr. Houseful a variation of Root Beers – since those are his favorites – and he was quite happy. I had the pleasure of drinking the Ginger Root Beer by Anchor though. Not too bad, if I do say so myself.
We’ll continue our trip through Oklahoma tomorrow with part 2, which will include Oklahoma