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Kingman as a jumping-off point February 28, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Motels, Towns.
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An article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal about the Route 66 town of Kingman, Ariz., contains a lot of interesting material about tourism attractions in the town and in the surrounding area.

Not only does the article mention usual attractions such as Route 66 and the Route 66 Museum in the city’s Powerhouse Museum Center, but also the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, Little Red School, Bonelli House, Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area, Hualapai Mountain State Park, Grand Canyon Skywalk and the old Route 66 mining town of Oatman, famous for its wild burros.

One intriguing nugget is that the writer reports that the long-closed and historic Hotel Beale is being “renovated.” No other details were given.

The power of dedicated volunteers February 28, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Music, Preservation, Theaters.
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This story in the Tulsa World does a good job in explaining how a bunch of volunteers helped return the historic Coleman Theatre in Miami, Okla., to its original grandeur.

Barbara Smith, the executive director, once told me that the theater was very close to meeting the wrecking during the 1980s. The theater was eventually donated by the Coleman family to the city of Miami, but it was the group of dedicated volunteers who took the initiative on the financial and preservation responsibilities. And it wasn’t easy to do the latter:

The organ, which had been sold, was tracked down and re-purchased.

The magnificent theater house chandelier had been removed long ago and was discovered years later in a barn minus all the glass and crystals.

And the very identifiable carpet — the original carpet bore the Coleman family crest and was re-created from a surviving piece — the stage is back to presenting works.

I really recommend that you take one of the guided tours at the theater. For such a small town, Miami’s theater is much nicer than many historic theaters found in much-larger cities.

Better yet, check out a show at the Coleman if you have a chance. The next one is the “Route 66″ touring musical, which is performing there on Saturday, March 13. The Coleman’s calender of events is here.

A cake worth waiting for February 27, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.
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Urban Tulsa, a weekly newspaper, published a good article about Ann’s Bakery, a business that’s been cherished by Tulsans for more than 70 years at its location on North Harvard Avenue, just off the Admiral Place alignment of Route 66.

Ann’s Bakery was nearly destroyed by a fire in early 2007, and it took more than a year to reopen. Longtime customers didn’t abandon Ann’s during the hiatus, said owner Shannon Harris, granddaughter of the original owners:

Harris said there’s an undeniable loyalty to Ann’s among Tulsans. So much so, that while they were closed for repairs, they heard that some of those faithful followers refused to purchase even a birthday cake until it reopened.

“We had a few buying two cakes for the occasion, making up for the one they missed,” she said.

You can learn more about Ann’s Bakery from this Indie Tulsa posting.

“If I Had It Back” February 27, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Road trips.
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Here’s Mark Maysey, playing a moving song he wrote, titled “If I Had It Back.”

The song is basically a dedication. Maysey explains in the notes on the video, which have been lightly edited:

Dedicated to a lovely Mexican woman named Manueal Nellie Ramos Fyock, who raised me from a child and tragically lost her life to a very unkind act. RIP Nellie, I think of you often and really do miss you and my Grandpa. Love you always, Marcos.

I’ll never forget that winter day in 1964 when Nellie and I almost lost our life on old Route 66 on the way to Kansas City, Kan., in our new 1964 Chrysler Newport station wagon following my Grandpa in a 1963 Chevrolet Apache pickup truck with a camper on top. Nellie hit a patch of ice, slammed on the breaks, went into a horrific spin clear across the oncoming lanes, briefly straddling the edges of the bank which had quite a drop to some railroad tracks directly below that were being occupied at that time with a freight train. We must have spun that car around at least 10 times before coming to a rest on the opposite side of the road. Luggage and other small items were scattered throughout the car and Mexican music was blaring from the stock push-button radio, and then Nellie placed her hand on my leg, smiled and asked calmly, “Are you OK Marcos?” I smiled, shook my head up and down, and responded politely in a slightly quivering voice! Thanks for watching and sharing some good words; they truly mean a lot. And remember, never laugh at another one’s dream, for it may be the only hope they have. Peace and much love always, your friends, Mark and Noy.

Campgrounds updates February 26, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Web sites.
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On the suggestion of a reader, I updated the Campgrounds listings page on Route 66 News today. Most of the ones listed from the last update in December 2008 are still operating.

However, I found a few had gone out of business, and I added new ones as well. Google, I discovered, is getting better at finding such businesses than when I first compiled this list in 2006.

I do not go camping, so I cannot vouch for these campgrounds’ quality. However, I do try to include campgrounds that are on Route 66 or within a mile or so (thank you, Google Maps).

I first compiled the campgrounds list after a few suggestions from readers. I was surprised how well it was received and still is. Apparently, the page filled a niche that had been long neglected.

Also, I’ve trimmed a few blogs from the Blogroll that have gone inactive, and added a few. Drop me a line if you think there are others that should be included.

Skating rink on Route 66 will be converted into a church February 25, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Preservation, Signs.
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The closed Starlite Skate Rink on Route 66 north of Sapulpa, Okla., will be converted into the new home of Sapulpa Life Church effective Sunday, reported the Sapulpa Daily Herald.

The church is tailored more to young people, so it’s possible the Skate Rink could be used at times for the purpose for which it was intended.

Roller skating could even make a comeback to the building as an activity.

“The rink’s wood floor is still in pretty good shape, we corrected some damage and it could be used for skating again,” Cichon said with an eye towards a teen activity the site is being designed to address.

And don’t worry about the historic sign near the property. Pastor Bart Kelly told me by phone Thursday that the church has no intentions of removing it.

“Everyone’s who’s grown up around Sapulpa has been at the skating rink at one time or another. It’s a local landmark,” he said. “So we’re going to leave (the sign) there.”

Best of the burgers in St. Louis February 25, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants.
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch writers Joe “Life Sherpa” Holleman and Evan S. “Beer Guy” Benn picked the four best hamburgers in the St. Louis area, and two of them are on Route 66.

One burger shack with a Mother Road connection is Carl’s Drive-In at 9033 Manchester Road in Brentwood, Mo.:

Beer Guy says: This stripped-down burger is delightful in its simplicity: a few ounces of meat smashed onto a flattop griddle, rendering it almost crispy and paper thin. A couple of bites into my double cheeseburger (Sherpa was wise enough to get a triple), I was seriously contemplating ordering a second one. The caramelized beef, oozy cheese and Wonder Bread bun provide a harmonious mix of texture and flavor. It hits the spot in a major way.

Life Sherpa says: While I normally prefer a thick burger, every so often my body cries out for a spatula-smashed patty from a diner. And simply put, there is no better place to get one of those than at this Route 66 shack. Sitting on a stool, watching and listening to the fresh-tasting beef patties sizzle away makes you wish you had ordered two. And with a big mug of homemade root beer, it’s a perfect lunch.

The other is Newstead Tower Public House at 4533 Manchester Ave. in St. Louis:

Beer Guy says: This was the only burger I ordered medium-rare. Newstead Pub’s menu makes a point of telling you where the meat came from (Fruitland, Mo.), what the cow ate (grass) and what its name was (Sally). I kid about the name, of course, but the point is, I felt comfortable having it a little bloody. Served with house-made ketchup, mustard and a pickle, this eco-friendly burger is truly one of the area’s best despite being slightly over-seasoned on our visit.

Life Sherpa says: This is a superior burger, even after I wondered about the wisdom of paying close to $10 or more (if you get cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms, it’s $14). The local, grass-fed protein had a wonderfully beefy and fresh flavor, and a pleasing and solid steaklike texture. Also, it was cooked to the right doneness. Nits to pick: I love salt, but the meat was a bit too salty even for me. Also, I like the outside to have a bit more of a sear.

The other two restaurants were Fast Eddie’s Bon Air in Alton, Ill., and O’Connell’s Pub in St. Louis.

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