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Hello from England January 31, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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We’ve put sound clips of British singer Charlese performing “Route 66″ in a studio. Here she is, doing the same song at a recent show in Chester, England.

The Blue Whale’s magical mushrooms January 30, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation, Web sites.
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I’ve visited the Blue Whale in Catoosa, Okla., literally dozens of times. But I’d never known about the existence of these things on the grounds until I saw this photo Saturday on the Blue Whale’s Twitter account:

That’s Ron Edwards John Davis taking a break, one of the many Fins of the Blue Whale volunteers who are cleaning up the Blue Whale property, including the Ark.

Behind the Ark are 16 mushrooms in a circle, ranging from 3 to 5  feet tall, that Hugh Davis apparently built during the 1970s. Because it’s in a spot away from the Blue Whale and has been choked by underbrush for years, I didn’t know those mushrooms existed. Not many others knew about them, either.

According to volunteer Ron Edwards in an e-mail:

We’ve known about the shrooms since about September when Blaine and John gave me some photos to scan.

Naturally I asked about them and Blaine went and showed them to me and a couple of the Fins. From that point it was our goal to get them where people could at least see them from a distance until we got them refurbished. We intentionally waited until the ticks and snakes were not an issue to clear things out.

We’re also working toward clearing around the old snake corral and starting the clean out of the ARK. As well as trying to finish the Souvenir Shack by May 1st.

Our curiosity piqued, Emily (aka Redforkhippie) and I drove Sunday to the Blue Whale site to check out those mushrooms and see whether there were other obscure things for us to discover.

It’s a good thing the vegetation is winter-killed, or else traipsing through much of the grounds would have been nearly impossible. Going into thorny brush on uneven terrain isn’t recommended. Much of what we saw also is fenced off. We explored this so you wouldn’t have to.

First, we found this concrete octopus that was uncovered in the pond just behind the Blue Whale:

Then we found the mushrooms behind the Ark, many of which are still concealed by brush:

Near the mushrooms is the old snake pit, where Davis kept his scaly pets:

Then, of course, is the Ark. You can see the turnstile that once was used:

Edwards said a website dedicated to the Blue Whale, bluewhalecatoosa.com, should go live in the coming days.

Emily also blogged about the mushroom-hunting expedition on Sunday.

A word from our sponsor … January 30, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.
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If you’re traveling in Poland, you might do a double-take when you encounter this restaurant:

Help requested in re-creating Riviera Roadhouse January 30, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Restaurants.
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Willem Bor of the Netherlands plans to build a miniature of the historic Riviera Roadhouse, which was destroyed by fire in June 2010.

Bor is planning on building the former Gardner, Ill., tavern to 1/50th scale. Here are samples of his work:

Bor hopes to donate this future work to the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac.

However, he is having trouble tracking down good images of the Riviera. If you have quality images or other information about that roadhouse, you can e-mail him at bordesign(at)planet(dot)nl .

Primitive roads January 29, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, History, Road trips, Web sites.
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Here’s something fun: A two-part video about the primitive alignment of Route 66 at La Bajada Hill in New Mexico by a brave soul to drove it in an SUV.

Here’s a short clip on the Cuervo Cut-off of Route 66, near Cuervo, N.M.

A drive on Oatman Road (aka Route 66) to Sitgreaves Pass in western Arizona’s Black Mountains:

And here’s a short clip of driving up Tucumcari Mountain near Tucumcari, N.M. We hiked the mountain by foot a few years ago.

These videos will be part of Richard Dinkela’s website HookedonRoute66.com, which should launch sometime next week, he said.

Right now I am building a Route 66 virtual tour based off google maps and my own photography. I have a lot of exciting things to bring to the people of 66 this year.

I’m looking forward to seeing it.

UPDATE: New video was posted on the Tucumcari Mountain drive.

A history of bottle trees January 29, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, History, People.
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I thought the dozens of bottle trees erected by Elmer Long along Route 66 in Oro Grande, Calif., were a one-of-a-kind.

But apparently not, according to an article by Virginia Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Bottle trees are a long-standing Southern thing, embedded in the life tapestries of African Americans, especially in the Mississippi Delta. Traditionally, live or dead crape myrtle and cedar trees were decorated with bottles – often blue Milk of Magnesia ones – intended to trap evil spirits and prevent them from entering the house.

In recent decades, however, bottle trees have been popping up around the country as decorative items. Most now are made of metal instead of wood.

That includes the many creations in Long’s Bottletree Ranch:

Elmer Long calls himself “the bottle tree man,” too, and he likely holds the record for sheer numbers of trees. He says he has more than 400 on his bottle-tree ranch, on Route 66 in Oro Grande, Calif., in the Mojave Desert. Long says he gets more than 200 visitors a day in spring and summer, including motorcycle clubs, artists, photographers, professors, and busloads of tourists. He scavenges through old, unofficial trash dumps in the desert for bottles, often adding funky items such as parking meters and wagon wheels to the unusual “trees” on his 2.4-acre property. Long has been making bottle trees since 2002, when he retired, after 31 years, from his job at a cement factory. “I think about bottle trees 24/7. It’s crazy,” he says.

Here are dozens of photos of Long’s property on Flickr. And here’s a great video about him and his ranch:

If I had to make a short list of must-see attractions on Route 66, Elmer Long’s Bottletree Ranch would be way up there.

Hello from Oregon January 28, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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The Mixers Band, based in Oregon, says its sound is a bit hard to define, although I hear jazz, blues and soul. This arrangement of “Route 66″ owes a bit to the arrangement of the Brian Setzer Orchestra‘s version. But The Mixer Band’s piano player is pretty special.

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