Route 66, Oklahoma: Part 1

Laura was here for a few days during Christmas week. She flew into Tulsa on Christmas Eve and then back out on Thursday evening. We decided to make Thursday a family adventure day as we took the long way to the airport.

Buc-ee’s Springfield

Buc-ee's Springfield

Our first detour took us to the new Buc-ee’s store in Springfield, Missouri. This was the first time any of us had been to a Buc-ee’s. Some of us were more impressed than others. It may have been that they had only been open a few days, or maybe because of the holidays, but it was way too crowded for my comfort.

Buc-ee's stuffies

Rebecca and Laura each got a Buc-ee stuffie to commemorate the day. It felt good to have both girls with us for a road trip again.

Route 66: Miami to Tulsa

The next part of our adventure was to travel a piece of Route 66. We headed over to Joplin and picked up the Mother Road there. We covered the Missouri portion of Route 66 over Labor Day weekend, so from Joplin down to Miami, Oklahoma was a repeat for us.


Miami, Oklahoma

The portion from Miami to Tulsa was a piece that we hadn’t yet covered. It was a gray and damp day, but warmish (for December) and not raining, so that was okay.

Route 66 Ribbon Road marker

We followed the nine-foot wide “ribbon road” for several miles between Miami and Afton.

Route 66 Ribbon Road

In 1922 a new nine-foot wide roadway was completed between Miami and Afton, OK. Because no standards existed and so few roads were paved, its width was not unusual for the era. It consisted of a concrete base and edges with a surface of rock asphalt. In 1926 the “Sidewalk Highway” as it would be known was adopted by US 66.

The wide gravel shoulders with a narrow strip of crumbling pavement down the middle of the road make it possible for cars to pass each other. We wondered if you were meant to drive with the left wheels on the pavement and the right on the gravel, or just drive on the pavement unless another car was coming toward you, or what the plan was.


Afton Station

This old service station in Afton is currently for sale. It was built in 1933. The little room off to the side was a restroom. There is one on the other side of the building as well. We learned that it was rare for gas stations of that era to offer restrooms for customers.

quirky roadside art

Laura was amused at this wacky roadside display of “clutter” art.

gas can totem pole

She pointed out that the totem pole was made of gas cans.

former Avon Court Motel

We passed several ruins of former businesses, such as the Avon Court Motel outside of Afton.


Will Rogers Archway

In Vinita, we detoured off the highway a few blocks to visit the Will Rogers Archway, which spans I-44. Lyle and I had been there a time or two years ago. It was the “biggest McDonald’s in the world” at one time.

inside Will Rogers Archway

It’s kinda cool to watch the Interstate traffic drive right into the building below you.

Big Bill Muffler Man

We were tickled to spot a Muffler Man in Vinita. We first started watching for them on our Big Adventure in 2021. I think we saw four on that trip and then a couple more on our recent Labor Day trip. This one is named Big Bill, and he has a giant suitcase.

Big Boy

There was a Big Boy around on the other side of the building. He’s another fun figure we spot occasionally, along with the Sinclair dinosaur.


pedestrian underpass

There’s a pedestrian underpass in Chelsea. We had seen another one on a quiet street in Illinois in 2021, but that one has been filled in. This one has been restored, so of course, we had to stop and go through it.

pedestrian underpass

With the much lighter traffic these days, it is completely unnecessary, but I’m glad someone cared enough to keep it open.

Chelsea, Oklahoma

I got my family to (sorta) pose for a picture with the directional sign on the other side of the highway.


Blue Whale of Catoosa

The last quirky photo op of the day was the Blue Whale of Catoosa. It was built in 1972, which is not exactly what I think of as the heyday of Route 66, but in any case, it’s something silly to gawk at. You can walk into the whale’s mouth and back to its tail. This used to be a swimming pond, and you could slide off the tail into the water. Signs posted now say “No Swimming,” so I guess that’s not a thing anymore.

Daylight was fading, and it was time to head for the airport. We’ll cover more of Route 66 in Oklahoma another time.

Related Posts

Previous Route 66 Adventures:

Other Oklahoma Stories and Adventures:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.