After a much more comfortable sleep in a proper bed, we packed up and hit the road. Today we were crossing into state number 45 – Missouri.
As we drove through the last of Arkansas, we were surrounded by the changing fall leaves, which made for a very scenic drive. Once we arrived in Missouri we drove straight up to Joplin where we were going to hit the Mother Road!
Before Joplin, we made a quick stop in Diamond, which was home to the George Washington Carver National Monument. He wasn’t someone I had heard of, but Barry told me he was the man responsible for Peanut Butter. Barry never remembers anything I tell him or any must know trivia, but he seems to have a knack for remembering the most random and useless facts! George Washington Carver was a man born into slavery whom later became a scientist and inventor. He wanted to find alternative crops for farmers to grow, one of which was the peanut. From here, he invented over 105 different products that the peanut could be used for including foods, cosmetics and dyes. There were all kinds of interactive exhibits for Barry and I to act like kids around. So we spent an hour or so trying them out. Barry even came up close and personal with his nemesis – the Rattler!
The monument is built on the land where Carver used to live, amongst some rolling hills and woodland. It was a beautiful setting.
Once we hit Joplin, we were on the famous road that we were going to follow all the way into Oklahoma City – Route 66. It was only a short distance from Joplin to the boarder into Kansas. So with state number 45 done, it was back into state number 14 for just 13 miles of the original route.
It’s pretty hard to follow this old road now as most of it is covered by new roads, or hidden behind rows of shops and houses. They do have signs, which try to keep you on track, but it can be very tough! Barry and I had done our best to plot the route on the sat nav but it wasn’t easy. Our first attraction was Rainbow Bridge or Marsh Arch Bridge to give it its proper name. As we approached, there was a couple of people taking pictures, clearly following the route themselves. They were driving an old vintage car, which made it seem even more authentic as we took our pictures.
We continued on and came across an old Phillips 66 gas station, which has now been preserved and turned into a visitor centre. There was no one there, so we entertained ourselves with a few snaps, laughed at how cheap the gas was back then and got on our way.
Next up, we crossed over another boarder into Oklahoma, taking us into state number 46. Every time we cross a boarder now, it makes us feel a little sad that our journey is nearly over! Can’t believe at this point, there are only 4 more states to go!
As we rolled on through Oklahoma, which has the longest original stretch of route 66 with over 400 miles worth of the road, we found ourselves taking a small detour off the track in Foyil. We followed a very rollercoaster like road that weaved up and down and ended up at Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park. The park is the artwork of a retired teacher who in 1948, after 11 years of work, completed his creation, the ‘Worlds Largest Concrete Totem Pole’. There were other smaller totems surrounding the large one, all of which were very impressive.
Our last attraction to see was the most famous of all route 66 attractions – the giant blue whale. Originally built as an anniversary present, it was later turned into a waterpark attraction by the man who built it, Hugh Davies. When the Davies’ were unable to continue it’s upkeep they closed the park down and when Hugh died it fell into disrepair. Years later residents of the town Catoosa, where it’s situated, paid to have it restored and it once again is a famous visiting spot for those road-tripping along route 66.
It was a very strange attraction. The water it was sat in looked awful, not where you want to go swimming like they used to do. I would think it was a lot cleaner then (at least I hope so!) But I can imagine it would’ve been a fun place to be with all it’s waterslides coming off of it.
Time was getting on and dusk was setting in, so we jumped back in the car and continued on. We tried to follow the old route 66, but we were both getting very tired. We’d been driving now for about 7 hours and still had another two hours before we reached our next motel in Oklahoma City. So with this in mind, we skipped out on following the rest of the Mother Road and continued on down the interstate.
We did get to watch the most amazing sunset happen right in front of us as we drove into Oklahoma City though, which more than made up for it!