Doing the Route 66 tour during the spring or summer season is an old national pastime that captivates nostalgia buffs worldwide. The Mother Road runs from Chicago to Santa Monica and this famous travel route is the gateway to adventures in the Southwest. Some folks plan an extended vacation so they can experience the entire length of the Mother Road, while others are content with just exploring the sections of Route 66 that interest them the most. Either way, Route 66 enables visitors to step back in time to a golden age when automobile touring was number one!
Touring sections of Route 66 is what most people do. Touring a section of old Route 66 that has a few unique points of interest can mean doing a long day trip or a just a short sunset cruise. The Route 66 section between Claremore and Catoosa, Oklahoma certainly is an interesting one with plenty to do, even though the total mileage is only about 20 miles. When going west, this section begins near Chelsea, Oklahoma, which is a great Route 66 destination in itself.
There are several old historic Route 66 alignments in this region of Oklahoma. One of the most famous is the very narrow Sidewalk Highway, which runs from Miami to Afton. Oklahoma was still considered to be part of the wild west when Route 66 was first built, so this territory saw many changes that affected the alignments of the Mother Road since then. A driver can backtrack to experience the various old Route 66 alignments or just stick with one of the main HWY 66 travel routes for the entire trip. Coming back at a later date to experience the rest is always an option when touring Route 66.
Touring sections of Route 66 during the summer season does present opportunities to participate in local events. All along the rural stretches of Oklahoma Route 66 are small towns that host annual barbecues, pie contests, car shows, rodeos and county fairs. These kinds of events are an added bonus for summer season Route 66 tourists, because these forms of entertainment nearly always present a good value for the dollar spent. Handcrafted local goods, weird trendy food and all sorts of neat stuff can found at the local events and these items are fun to share with folks back home.
I stayed in Claremore, Oklahoma a few years ago while traveling on Interstate 44 going west to Arizona, so the overnighter visit left me familiar with this old Route 66 town. During the first visit I showed up late in the evening and most of the good restaurants were already closed, so I just made a mental note of an interesting looking eatery to check out if I ever passed back through again. Oddly enough, when driving through Claremore the second time around, the sign for that same eatery I noticed a few years before stuck out like a sore thumb. Ron’s Hamburgers & Chili just looked like one of those places that had good eats written all over it, so it was worth giving a try. An old fashioned burger is as traditional as it gets on the Mother Road, so the lunch at Ron’s in Claremore really helped to boost the mood in a big way!
Claremore is a pretty good size city and there are a few local cultural attractions that have long been Route 66 destinations. The Will Rogers Memorial & Museum certainly is well worth checking out, especially if you have an interest in journalism. Just outside of town when heading southwest, Route 66 becomes a divided highway through some of the most picturesque pecan tree groves that can be imagined. These nut trees have always been a highly revered native food source and the shape of these trees seem to cast a presence of their own. The vast pecan groves near Claremore are an interesting sight to see!
Next to the Pecan Grove area is a Route 66 attraction that has been there for quite some time. The billboard sign for Route 66 RVs is easy to spot and this is where The Nut House is located. The Nut House is an old fashioned country store that markets everything from fresh cut local meats and cheese to hand crafted candies and a wide variety of locally harvested nuts. Of course, anything and everything that has to do with Oklahoma pecans can be found in this place! While there, I picked up a jar of hand crafted Pickled Sweet Jalapeño Peppers, a jar of Oklahoma grown Ancho Chile Powder and some drinks that had plenty of caffeine for the road. The Nut House definitely is the kind of Nut House that you really want to visit on your own accord!
There is plenty of wide open road between Claremore and Catoosa, so relax and enjoy the ride! Visitors passing through will see a few wilderness areas, plenty of ranches and farmland. There are a few old original Route 66 businesses that are still open along this country road section, but most have been abandoned in the past. Some of the rusty old classic Route 66 business signs are hidden by overgrown bushes and they do create good photo opportunities. Old bridges make for some great photos too and the one to look for along this section of the Mother Road is the historic Bird Cage Bridge, which is officially now called the H. Tom Kight, Jr, Bridge. This antique steel bridge has been moved to its present location as a roadside Route 66 tourist attraction.
Catoosa has a great Route 66 Museum and a few other nostalgic sites that dedicated fans of the Mother Road should be familiar with. The Blue Whale in one of the most famous Route 66 attractions of all time and this Mother Road masterpiece is also located in Catoosa! Long ago, the Blue Whale was originally designed to appeal to the constant flow of travelers touring Route 66 during the hot summer season. The Blue Whale actually was one of the very first waterpark theme businesses in this modern age. Folks could climb around inside the Blue Whale, get up on top near the spout or the tail and springboard into the cool refreshing lake water. The Blue Whale was the place for fun in the sun when traveling this section of the Mother Road in Oklahoma back then and it still draws thousands of visitors each week in modern times, although swimming is no longer recommended. The Blue Whale of Catoosa definitely is weird and unique, so this historic attraction simply must be placed high on the destination list!
As can be seen, even when just driving a 20 mile section of Oklahoma Route 66 there is plenty of fun packed adventure to be found during the summer season! When touring sections of old Route 66, it does not matter where the journey begins or ends, as long as you have a fun time in the world of the nostalgic past along the way. Route 66 truly is a time capsule of an age gone by that certainly has a lot to offer in this modern age!
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