Day 51: (63 miles) We woke early this morning as Mike and Robyn had plans to go to an Arts and Crafts fair in OKC, and we did not want to prolong their departure. Mike had set up the coffee the night before so the fresh brew fragranced the house. We all enjoyed a cup, a few more stories, and snapped some photos before we were off. We stopped at the grocery store down the road for breakfast. A delightful yogurt parfait bar grabbed our attention. Along with a hearty sandwich and another cup of coffee. We were ready to head for Chelsea- 48 miles away. Today was a bit warmer and a lot dryer than yesterday, however the traffic on the eastern side of the city were equally as unpleasant for cyclist as they were on the opposite side but soon we had reached Catoosa, where the shoulder opened up and traffic thinned out a little. Catoosa is also home to the Blue Whale, built in 1976 by Hugh Davis to surprise his wife Zelta, who collected whale figurines. Although in and out of disrepair, the Blue Whale of Catoosa has continually been a popular Route 66 attraction. The employee working the gift shop was very friendly and even asked to take our photo for The Blue Whale’s Facebook page. Pedaling out of Catoosa we crossed a couple of bridges and while safely inside the eight-foot shoulder, Chris nearly got side swiped by a Ford Ranger traveling at 60mph. After missing Chris by a few inches, we watched as the truck nearly slammed into the guard rail in front of us before the driver regained control. After this near miss, we enjoyed an uneventful ride to Foyil where we had lunch in a small pavilion and decided that with the weather in our favor today, we would push past Chelsea to a campsite outside of Vanita, an additional 18 miles beyond Chelsea. Continuing along the route, the fun really began when we passed the Chelsea Motel, where we had originally planned to call It a day. Not even three miles outside of town, Shayna learned that after nearly two months on a bike, she had yet to master steering with one hand, and quickly met the not so forgiving pavement. Chris instinctively abandoned his bike and came to the rescue. After being safely pulled to the side, we could assess the damages. Blood was running in every direction from the knee and the wound looked borderline stitch worthy. Luckily the bleeding subsided fairly quickly. There was some minor damage to the left elbow as well, which likely absorbed the brunt of the fall but that was at least covered by a long sleeve jersey. After bandaging up, and allowing the shock to wear off, we were back on the road. Five miles down the road our poor luck continued with a flat tire. This time someone was kind enough to stop and ask if we needed help, but we are masters at fixing flats at this point. After we were rolling again we made our way to White Oak convenient store where we hoped to find some more gauze, but found none. We did snag some tall boys and learned from the older couple that worked there that the motel we now planned to stay in (for sanitary needs) was only a few miles away. As we were leaving the women came out with gauze pads from their personal first aid kit. We thanked her immensely. We made our way to the motel. Despite the high online ratings, we would have been better off camping. The room was disgusting, smelled weird, and there were multiple holes and stains on the comforter and the carpet. We did enjoy a good and very reasonably priced meal at the Hi-Way Café- the “9th most unassuming restaurant in OK” and the “6th best hole in the wall restaurant in OK” (they had a banner that proclaimed both). After filling our bellies and tending to the wounded, we went to sleep.
Day 52: (74 miles) We quickly packed and headed into the town of Vanita for breakfast at Clantons. It had been on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives’. We had a typical egg, toast, and bacon breakfast and were on our way. We had quite the push ahead of us today but wanted to make it to Joplin before the big storm. Along the way we restocked on gauze, band aids, and alcohol pads at the Dollar General and stopped right outside of Commerce for lunch on an abandoned stoop without a building. While enjoying out PB&J wraps a white VW stopped by to say Hi. We learned the drivers name was Phillip and he was an avid cyclist. He was intrigued by our trip and shared some local info of his favorite routes. After lunch we headed for Kansas. Of all the states that Route 66 passes through, Kansas has the fewest miles. Fourteen to be exact, but they really take pride in their little piece of highway history. They have a Visitors Center in Baxter Springs, “Cars on the Route,” a café and gift shop in Galena (has the original ‘Mater truck), and the Old Riverton Store are all popular points of interest along the short stretch. Unfortunately, we were unaware that Kansas closes at 4:00pm on a Friday and were unable to explore any of them. After looking for and failing to obtain a Kansas post card, we continued on to Missouri- the “show me” state. By the time we reached the Super 8 we had logged 74 miles- our longest mileage to date so we went to Applebee’s and shared a 2 for $20 meal deal. It was delicious but to top off the night we stopped at Sonic on our way home for our typical milkshakes and fell asleep soon after.
Day 53: (0 miles) We watched the news and continued to receive flash flood warnings all day. This time the weather forecast did exactly as it said it would. It rained all day and the thunder and lightening were constant. There were times it looked as though lightning was striking right across the street! We were grateful to be safe and sound in our room. We did the typical rainy day things and watched movies and caught up on the blog. Tomorrow looks like a short day since we need to break up the distance from here to Springfield. After a dinner at Denny’s we came we came back to our dry room and continued to relax.
Day 54: (20 miles) It was raining when we started the day and knowing we just had a short distance to ride we took our time and didn’t get on the road until 10:00 am. Taking advantage of the commercial district we were riding through, we stopped at Target to make use of gift card and resupply on groceries. After packing up our goodies and hitting the road, we pedaled through a couple of small towns- Webb City and Carterville- that although they were essentially an extension of Joplin, still seemed to cling to the Route 66 vibe. Emerging from the east side of Carterville, we crossed over center creek only to find our path severely flooded from the heavy rains of the last 24 hours. After trying a couple ways around without succeeding we headed back towards town to pick up Highway 171. However, halfway back to town we found ourselves paralleling the highway in the opposite direction of progress so we decided to save ourselves a mile of pedaling by running our bikes across four lanes of traffic and the median to join back up with the highway in the correct direction. We weren’t on the highway for long, about a mile, before exiting at Brooklyn Springs to rejoin our route. Not far down this road we passed the Route 66 Drive-In. A drive in movie theatre that has been in operation since 1949. We had booked a hotel nearby with plans to see a movie at this historic theatre. We checked in, had lunch, caught up with our families, and realized the weather was not well suited to enjoy an outdoor movie. We knew it was supposed to be in the 40’s but going to the drive in, in the rain without being able to actually drive-in in the comfort of a car to see a move we didn’t really have an overwhelming desire to see (Boss Baby) seemed less enjoyable than the Harry Potter Marathon currently playing on the Freeform channel in our hotel room. Although we were disappointed to miss out on the drive in, which we had been looking forward to for a while, we were better off dry and warm.