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Baseball and Route 66 July 31, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Sports.
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Linda Campbell, a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, offered interesting thoughts from her family’s trips over the years to see America by visiting baseball parks, large and small.

My family takes baseball road trips to towns that would never have made our radar screen were it not for a love of baking on the bleachers while kids racing much too quickly toward adulthood play a game that’s still just a game and not yet a job. [...]

This year’s adventure in the southwestern-most corner of Missouri taught us that you can find fine sushi just five miles from an old-timey carousel and miniature golf park on the old Route 66 that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles before interstate highways connected the nation.

We concluded that this part of the country surely has more McDonald’s and fewer Starbucks per square mile than any other corner of the world.

I found myself talking with my daughter about wanderlust and the excitement of travel. About how some people never feel the urge to venture far from the place they were born. About towns that shrivel and die when all their young people move away and the old ones die off.

It was from a complete stranger at a Crowder College ladies room that I heard my husband’s high school had won last year’s Missouri state basketball championship. Who knew?

This trip was a reminder all over again that the leisurely pace of baseball that non-fans find excruciating makes for good visiting, that long miles in the car that teenagers find soooo borrrring provide priceless opportunities for insight that parents otherwise would miss.

And I think baseball’s long history or sense of family makes a nice match with Route 66, too. With the former, I’m reminded of that when I’m at a Tulsa Drillers minor-league game (professional baseball has been in Tulsa for more than 100 years). For the latter, I’m reminded of the time I briefly saw a Tee Ball game being played in Davenport, Okla., just off Route 66 and its brick Broadway street. It was small-town charm at its best.

Hello from Sweden July 31, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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Here is Charlotte Strandberg and a band that that really starts cooking on Bobby Troup’s most famous song after the first third or so. Nicely done.

Roadies on the radio July 30, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Radio.

Oklahoma Route 66 historian Jim Ross passes along word that an interview by KOSU, a National Public Radio affiliate, about Route 66 will air at 7:04 a.m. and 10:17 a.m. today.

Laurel Kane, co-owner of Afton Station, also was interviewed, but she wasn’t sure whether her comments made the final cut.

The frequency will be at 91.7 FM in Oklahoma City region and 107.5 FM in the Tulsa area.

If there’s a podcast or Internet listening spot, I’ll post it here later.

UPDATE: You can listen to the podcast of “Why Route 66 Still Matters” here:

More of a drizzle than a storm July 29, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Road trips, Television.
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Kim Schneider, a travel writer for Michigan Live, poses this question about NBC-TV’s dud of a reality series on Route 66, “The Great American Road Trip”:

Has the show done more to keep people off the road than on it?

Short answer from me: I doubt it.

First off, ratings for “Road Trip” have been terrible. NBC has been languishing in a distant fourth place among the four major networks in that time slot, and fewer than 4 million people have been tuning in every week. Route 66 News has seen a meager — to be charitable — bump in traffic since the series started. Simply put, few are getting negative Route 66 vibes — if there are indeed any.

Second, I think “Road Trip” sends impressions of Route 66 that are moderately positive at best and benign at worst. Host Reno Collier noted that the families were having a good time and still wanted to continue their trip even after they were eliminated from the competition. Sure, the show’s producers have made a truckload of bone-headed decisions. But that doesn’t dampen the allure of the places that have been featured, such as the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, Meramec Caverns, Wigwam Motel, Midpoint Cafe and Meteor Crater. If nothing else, the show will intrigue viewers enough so they’ll go online and see what else the Mother Road has to offer.

Third, I think Route 66 remains terrifically durable as a must-see destination. Comments that Route 66 historian Jim Ross made in a recent documentary by Tim Steil and Jim Luning crystallized a lot of my thoughts:

“I keep waiting for this whole craze to hit a plateau, level off and reach a point where people are sick of hearing the phrase ‘Route 66.’ But it’s not happening. I now believe it’s not going to happen. I believe people today look at Route 66 or regard Route 66 as they would a national park or national monument. It’s become so ingrained in our lexicon. People (say) ‘Someday I want to go to Yellowstone’ or ‘Someday I want to do Disney World.” It’s like that with Route 66 now. I think it’s here to stay.”

The furor in the Route 66 community about the show’s obvious shortcomings will eventually been seen as more of a light drizzle than a storm. Route 66 is too big for an unpopular TV show to mess it up.

Au natural July 29, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions.

Urban Tulsa posted a fascinating article about Oaklake Trails Naturist Park near Depew, Okla., off Route 66.

Simply put, it is a 400-acre resort for nudists.

At Oaklake, everyone is nude or nearly nude. Women and men wearing nothing but hats and sunglasses splash in the pool. A young woman sits outside her cabin in a lawn chair, with nothing on but a look of concentration, reading a book. She waves as fellow nudists ride by on golf carts. [...]

It’s not that the people at the resort are doing anything titillating, it’s that they have simply created their own community, one where anyone with an open mind is invited and bodily inhibitions are thrown out the window. (Privacy is a relative term here. Individuals or couples can rent their own cottage that comes with a view of the park’s grounds but without blinds. There are separate bathrooms for men and women but no doors.)

To be clear, Oaklake is not only for those going nude. It is a clothing-optional park, meaning, according to Duncan, nudity is “encouraged, but we also accept the fact that some people are shy and maybe a little reluctant to get into the lifestyle.”

Trees prevent people traveling the Mother Road from seeing anything. So put away the binoculars, ya perv.

Oaklake screens out potential customers of violence and sexual abuse charges. You also are screened at a front office before being allowed admittance on the grounds.

Oaklake is also hosting a nudist convention next month.

On a more practical matter, the article doesn’t mention at least one obvious drawback of nudity — mosquitos, ticks, chiggers and other biting insects. Then there’s sunburn, thorns and other hazards for the skin.

Thanks, but I’ll keep my clothes on.

Motorcycle trip raising money for fallen firefighters July 29, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, Events, Motorcycles, Road trips.
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A group of firefighters is riding motorcycles on Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif., to raise money for a foundation that benefits the families of firefighters who died in the line of duty, reports KSDK-TV in St. Louis.

The trip concludes Aug. 5. The group was in St. Louis on Tuesday.

From the report:

The primary purpose of this trip is to raise funds for the “IAFF Fallen Firefighters Foundation”. The riders will also be promoting a firehouse cookbook titled “Farmington Favorites”, with a portion of the sales being donated to the foundation as well.

The group will be stopping at firehouses along Route 66 and will prepare some of the recipes found within their cookbook for the firefighters.

More about the Route 66 trip can be found here. A tentative schedule is here, although it isn’t very detailed.

Notes from the “Road Trip” July 28, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Restaurants, Road trips, Television.

Some notes from the latest episode of the NBC reality series “The Great American Road Trip”:

The good. The Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas — along with its gift shop — got quite a bit of air time during Monday’s episode, even though the pie-eating contest in the restaurant was a bit repulsive.

The good. The show’s producers put up most of the families for a night at the historic Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Ariz. Even though the Coote family earned a night at a luxury spa by winning a challenge, one of members of the losing families noted that the Cootes lost out because “they don’t get to see the tepee.” Couldn’t agree more.

The good. The UFO memory test at Meteor Crater was the strangest — and best — challenge of the show’s run. Viewers shared the families’ varied reactions to the weirdness and absurdity of random objects flying through the air. And the final moments brimmed with tension.

The good. The Faverys’ distraught reaction to losing the “End of the Road Challenge” was genuinely heartrending. I strongly suspect the show’s producers used that scene to help sell the show to NBC.

The bad. I’m not sure why the King of the Road Challenge winners were treated to a night in a spa 140 miles away from Route 66 in Phoenix when there are plenty of luxury accommodations in Flagstaff. If the Hotel Monte Vista was good enough for a certain Beatle, it was good enough for the Cootes.

The bad. While driving by the big cattle feed lot near Wildorado, Texas, the Favery children were begging their dad to slow the RV so they could see the animals. “You’re going too fast!” the daughter screamed. Being on Interstate 40, the dad was forced to keep going. That 10-second moment largely encapsulates what has gone wrong with this show.

The bad. Zap2It.com reports that “Road Trip” continued to languish in a distant fourth place in the major networks’ ratings. Two of the networks’ reruns logged better numbers. Ouch.

The bad. Lest there be any doubts that Applebee’s purchased product placement for the show, those were dispelled Monday night. For a second consecutive episode, the families were treated to a meal at the chain restaurant, this time in Albuquerque. The Duke City boasts at least a dozen excellent mom-and-pop restaurants on the Mother Road, so this snub is all the more infuriating.

Monday’s show was the best since the premiere. But, it seems, for every good moment on an episode, the producers make an ill-advised decision to wreck whatever goodwill was being generated.

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