Although we realised by the end of our first day on Route 66 that we had overestimated how much ground we could cover in a day, it wasn’t until today that we were really able to slow our pace, since we had been organised enough to book our accommodation for the first 3 nights on the route. From today, we set out not knowing where we will spend the night, but with a list of motels along the route that we have checked out online and that seem ok, we’ll see how this goes. After a lazy morning, we set out from Carthage at about 11am and drove the remaining 20 or so miles of Missouri and entered Kansas. Although only 13.2 miles of Route 66 runs through Kansas, it is an enjoyable stretch of road, far removed from the interstate that looms in the distance when driving most of the route.

Tow Tater (inspiration for Tow Mater in Cars)

A couple of miles over the Kansas border we spotted the first attraction on our list, “Four Women on the Route” a restored KanoTex gas station, which now houses a diner and gift shop, but that is not its main attraction, at least not for us anyway. The main attraction for us was the truck that inspired Tow Mater in Cars, complete with eyes put into the windscreen. This particular truck is called Tow Tater due to copyright issues with Disney, but it is the real deal. One of the four women was in the shop and told us all about the history of the place, the truck and anything else she could think of. She was really friendly and had lots of interesting things to say, but spoke at a hundred miles an hour and hardly stopped to breathe, no surprise that she is known as “The Mouth”. Some more Route 66ers arrived and she went over to talk to them, which gave us a chance to go outside to take some photos, as we were doing so, an old man came driving along in a 1919 Ford Model T, he waved as he drove past and to our surprise parked outside Four Women on the Route, right next to the old style petrol pumps.

1919 Ford Model T

He was very friendly and let us both sit in the car and take lots of photos, as well as telling us about the Galena History museum downtown where the car “lived”. After speaking to him we went back inside for lunch, in their 50’s style diner, where we sat at the counter. Lunch was both delicious and cheap and after signing the guestbook we got back into the car. Our next stop was less than a mile further on at theGalenaHistoryMuseum, which we couldn’t really not stop at having spoken to the Model T man. He wasn’t there, but the guy he worked with was expecting us, and gave us a personal tour of the museum, which was quite interesting, especially the 1930’s Ford truck which they have recently acquired and are doing up in the warehouse out the back. The truck is rumoured to have belonged to Al Capone and was allegedly used to smuggle moonshine during the Prohibition. Returning to the car, we popped into the Eisler Brothers Store in Riverton, but ignored our travel guide and bought sweets rather than the Route 66 souvenirs or Pink Flamingos that he had recommended.

Rainbow Arch Bridge

Our final stop inKansaswas at theRainbowArchBridge, requiring a minor detour to cross it and take photos. We then leftKansas, “I don’t think we’re inKansasanymore Toto.” And entered Oklahoma (sings, “Ooooooklahoma…”), we actually did this twice, since Liz missed the state line while reading directions so we turned around and did it again so that she could get a photo. Entering Quapaw, we admired the pretty murals, but didn’t take any pictures and then followed a slight detour to follow the famous “Sidewalk Highway” section of Route 66 betweenMiamiandAfton. This stretch of road is only 9 feet wide, since when it was builtOklahomacould not afford to make it more than one lane wide. This stretch was really bumpy, but some of the old Route 66 shields were still visible, painted on the surface of the road.

The "Sidewalk Highway", the car and some poser.

It was quiet enough that we were able to get out and take photos, as well as sitting on the road itself! Although we had planned to stop for the night in Afton, with no reviews at all on the Route 66 Motel, we decided to press on to Claremore, where there was an independent motel with decent reviews. Our final stopping point of the day involved a slight detour, but we were rewarded with a garden of totem poles, including the largest in the world. After this we called it a day (it was about 4pm) and finding the Claremore Motor Inn settled down for a relaxing evening. I much prefer route 66 at this pace, there is more time to enjoy it.

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