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“This used to be the place I ran to …” May 31, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Restaurants.
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Emily has put together a slide show, with music, showing the aftermath of the fire that gutted the Rock Cafe in Stroud, Okla. The slide show is here.

“Desert Flowers on Route 66″ May 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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This is a folk group called Sweet Wednesday, and this is a performance of its song, “Desert Flowers on Route 66.”

Guitarist David Falk says the song will appear on an album, “Escaping from the Pale Moonlight,” that will be released this fall.

Here are the lyrics, straight from the source:

It’s overcast today on Route 66
My stomach growls over the engine’s roar

Drove all night from Dallas to get away
From my boyfriend who’s just in jail
Spent my last two hundred to pay for his bail

And so I stopped at Phillips 66
When my car would go no more

Listen to my story
Before you walk out that door

“Hey Mister, I left my wallet at the last station
And I got no money for fuel

But I got friends in California
And you know we’re cool

So if you could spare just a little change
You know it will all add up

A dollar every hour
Puts some fuel in the tank
And some food in the glove,”

And so I stopped at Phillips 66
When my car would go no more

Listen to my story
Before you walk out that door

I was just a hundred miles from Orange County
When the clerk said he was on to my scam

He said, “You must leave this place
Save your sob stories
I don’t give a damn”

So I pulled over at the next rest stop
To pass the night

As the last tank of gas
Fell through engine
Like sand through an hourglass

And did you pass me on Route 66?

I was walking by the road
Picking desert flowers in the February cold

Because I’m always on Route 66
A shadow passing in the night

Yeah, I’m still out there looking for
That Violet Light

Wedding scheduled at Odell Station May 29, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events, People.
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Here’s a first for the historic Odell Station (above) on old Route 66 in Odell, Ill. — a couple is using it as a place to get married.

According to the news release:

Jennifer O’Dowd and Thomas Kowaczek, from Schaumberg, Illinois, became enchanted in 2007 by the mystique of the Mother Road when they began a Route 66 journey. They can’t quite explain why, but the lure of exchanging their wedding vows on the famous road became extremely important to them. After some discussion, they pictured this momentous occasion taking place at this little, preserved gas station.

They approached representatives of the station with apprehension. But it didn’t take long for the station operators to realize this young, happy couple was very serious about their decision. The folks at the historic gas station were honored to be chosen.

The bride’s father did not share the excitement of his daughter getting married at a gas station. But, shortly after he received the news, he saw a story about the station in the Chicago Tribune newspaper. That was enough to convince dad. Since the Tribune had a photo and story of the historic station, then it was acceptable for his daughter to exchange wedding vows with Tom. [...]

Following the brief ceremony, a convoy of cars, both classic and current, and the Pontiac Trolley will travel down Route 66 to Gardner, Illinois. Here they will recite a different set of vows scripted by the mayor while the bride and groom stand side by side in separate jail cells in the famous 1906 two-cell Jail.

Their final destination will be the historic Country Mansion Restaurant complex in Dwight for a Route 66-themed reception.

The wedding takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 8.

UPDATE 6/6/08: Here’s a story about the upcoming wedding by the Joliet Herald News.

(Information and photo courtesy of Lenore Weiss.)

Rock Cafe fire undetermined May 29, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.
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The cause of the blaze that gutted the historic Rock Cafe in Stroud, Okla., will probably remain forever a mystery, reports the Shawnee (Okla.) News-Star.

The state fire marshal’s office investigated the cause of the fire. JoAnn Sellars, operations chief, said Wednesday that investigation is now complete. She said case agents were not able to determine how the fire started, but she said the fire does not appear suspicious.

The newspaper goes on to report that owner Dawn Welch is in the process of shoring up the still-standing rock walls so she can rebuild.

Palm Springs Follies picks Route 66 as theme May 28, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events, Music.
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The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, a Broadway-style music and dance revue in Palm Springs, Calif., has chosen Route 66 as its theme for its upcoming 2008-09 season.

From the news release:

Beginning October 28, 2008, and playing through May 17, 2009, the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies will “travel” Route 66 via music, dance and comedy in its all-new show entitled Get Your Kicks!

“Here at the Follies, we’ve long celebrated the American Experience of the Early- to Mid-20th Century,” says Follies Man Riff Markowitz. “And nothing represents that era more perfectly than the legend and lore of Route 66. Whether the westward migration of Dust Bowl farmers, two young bachelors in a Corvette seeking adventure, easy riders looking for their own personal America, or Dinah telling us to ‘See the USA in your Chevrolet,’ Route 66 was the placeholder for all this and more.”

Guest stars during the production will be Freda Payne (Oct. 28 to Dec. 31), Susan Anton (Jan. 7 to March 7 and May 13-17), and John Davidson (March 10 to May 9).

Jim Conkle, general manager of the Route 66 Pulse and executive director of the Route 66 Preservation Foundation, had this to say about the Follies in an e-mail:

This is going to be a major attraction and another plus for the road. Over the next few months I will be sharing with you some of the great marketing ideas they will be using as well as the involvement with some of our authors/artists such as Bob Waldmire. They want to make the show and all merchandising/products/advertising hold true to the image of the road.

Ticket sales for the upcoming season begin in mid-July. The site to buy tickets is here.

High gas prices aren’t hurting tourism May 28, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Road trips.
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Here’s something to chew on from the Wayneville (Mo.) Daily Guide:

High gas prices don’t seem to be hurting Pulaski County tourism, according to Tourism Bureau Executive Director Andy Thiem, and may even help local venues as vacationers choose to stay closer to home.

Speaking at Thursday evening’s meeting of the Pulaski County Tourism Board, Thiem said national surveys indicate most Americans won’t give up their summer vacations regardless of gas prices.

The tourism bureau’s primary revenue source is a transient guest tax levied on hotel and motel visitors, and that revenue stream is running about $8,000 better than budget for the month of March — the last available revenue report — and $26,000 better than budget for the first quarter. That’s not a large increase, but it does indicate there isn’t a major problem caused by rising gas prices, Thiem said. [...]

“Vacations are a non-negotiable part of contemporary life, even in challenging economic times,” Thiem said, citing the survey results.

Thiem said only 41 percent of those who responded to the survey said their vacation plans would change if gas prices continue to rise, but the greatest percentage of those — 38 percent  — would simply drive a shorter distance for their vacations. About 36 percent say they’ll take fewer trips; 30 percent will spend less on surveys and shopping, and 27 percent would spend less on meals and entertainment.

“Gas continues to be a challenge, we’ll look at that, but right now the indicators are that everybody’s still traveling. They’re alternating where they’re traveling but they are still traveling,” Thiem said.

A prominent Route 66 business owner that I chatted with a few days ago concurred with Thiem’s assessment — that Route 66 travel would be the same or even increase this summer because it would gain more local travelers. The locals won’t be able to burn as much of that higher-priced fuel, so they’ll stick closer to home for vacations and weekend getaways.

Thanks to Thiem, there are solid numbers to support that notion.

Combine that with a weak U.S. dollar that’s spurring more spending by foreign travelers, and you could have a summer in which Route 66 tourism increases, despite the rising cost of oil.

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