Tulsa Time

I woke up early to heavy rain and thunder. Unable to get back to sleep, I made coffee and got to work early. Birgit and Tom chose to depart early, while I worked for a few hours until the rain stopped, then lazily made my way out of town. One might say I was leaving on Tulsa time.

Having a whale of a time.

Tulsa was, in fact, our destination today. But not before visiting the Blue Whale of Catoosa. It makes no sense, but that’s irrelevant. It’s Route 66, so I pretty much expect the wacky, ridiculous, and unexpected. Also unexpected was to meet up with Birgit and Tom, still here despite hitting the road hours earlier. We talked a bit, then went our separate ways to “every van for itself” around Tulsa.

This whale was clearly set up to be a swimming platform back in the day, with platforms and slides out the sides to play on. In today’s age of lawyers, however, this doesn’t fly, hence the very Oklahoma sign “No Swimmin.”

Another sign that caught my eye was a list of mileages to other Route 66 destinations. I’ve traveled 665 miles from our starting point in Joliet. That’s a significant distance in just 13 days, not to mention just how many sights we’ve taken in along the way. Only 1,505 miles to Santa Monica, California.

Entering Tulsa on Route 66.

Soon enough, I rolled into Tulsa. I prepared for the dense city hustle and bustle of places like Joliet and St. Louis. I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that Tulsa is a very easy city to drive around, despite being the second biggest city in Oklahoma. While I still think splitting up was a good idea to avoid getting separated in traffic, it wasn’t as crucial as it was in, say, St. Louis.

Tally’s Cafe.

Every local we talked to highly recommended Tally’s Cafe. This place lights up like Las Vegas at night, but even during the day it’s pretty impressive. It was lunchtime, so I sat down at the bar and had their Four-Way Chili. It was yummy.

The Golden Driller, featured at the top of this post, was my next stop, another famous site. I had to leave Route 66 (actually 11th Street through Tulsa) to find it. This was fine, since it was close to the UPS Store from which I shipped my router back to WiFiRanger for repair.

Back on 66, I had to check out Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios. Yet another muffler man stands out front, this one holding a rocket, rather like the Gemini Giant from the beginning of our journey. He also wore a mask, since it’s almost Halloween. The shop itself is tiny, but has a great deal of local art with a quirky 1950s sci-fi theme that really appeals to me. I especially liked the robot figures made out of electronic devices — items that I, being into electronics, could actually identify. This only made me appreciate even more the art that was made out of them.

The Route 66 Historical Village was disappointing, but only because it was closed for construction. I still got to walk around and check out the vehicles and train stuff on display, including the massive steam locomotive. Those large drive wheels are as tall as me!

Because race car.

The Heart of Route 66 Auto Museum, on the other hand, was very much worth the visit. Though small, it packs a lot of great cars into a small space. One way they do this is by not putting ropes up around the cars as many museums do. You can’t touch, of course, but you can walk all around these cars and look at them up close from every angle. There’s a wide selection of cars, from those you’d expect to see on Route 66, to a number of oddballs, and a couple of military Jeeps in honor of the building’s previous life as a National Guard outpost. There are other interesting bits and pieces, too, including the last LT5 engine GM ever built (the engine in the ZR1 Corvette, one of the fastest cars of its time). I’d go into more detail about this museum, but FIXD might want an article on this, and since they pay me, they’ve got dibs. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever anywhere near Tulsa.

It’s On the List

I don’t know what I’m doing after Route 66. I may continue life on the road. I might get a camper, find some land to use as a home base, and keep traveling part time. Or I might move back into sticks and bricks. I really don’t know. But one reason for this entire west coast journey is to see more of the country, and try to figure out if anywhere calls to me as a potential future home.

Tulsa is the first place that’s done this.

I really like the vibe of the place. It has a strong history, yet is pretty laid back, too. It embraces its Route 66 heritage. It’s also a rather artsy place, full of creative people. I knew nothing about the place before rolling in on Route 66, but I like what I’m seeing.

Don’t worry, Smokey Coast to Coast will continue. I’m determined to make it across the country. I’m not going to bail at the first place I like and move in. I will, however, likely come back here sometime, and probably spend some time in the area. I’m on a mission right now, but Tulsa is somewhere I want to revisit, along with other places I vibe with along the way. I’m also fully aware that Tulsa isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, with events like the Tulsa Race Massacre in it’s not too distant past. My glasses are clear, not rose colored.

But, Tulsa is definitely on the list to revisit.

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