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“Yamashita Tomohisa Route 66,” Episode 5 January 31, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Television.
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Here’s the fifth installment of Japanese television’s “Yamashita Tomohisa Route 66,” which chronicles a singer and actor’s trip down the Mother Road last fall.

He goes from Oklahoma City to Amarillo, Texas. I’m glad he got to see wild turkeys in western Oklahoma. And he didn’t attempt the Big Texan 72-ounce steak challenge, but close.

http://vimeo.com/35942955

Looking forward to the next episode. He’s going to be a cowboy, albeit briefly.

Driving the Mother Road the hard way January 30, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Vehicles.
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In 2004, Brian McKay decided to re-create the Okies’ exodus from the Dust Bowl by driving his 1930 Nash automobile on Route 66.

The key difference was that McKay didn’t start in Oklahoma — he started at Route 66’s eastern starting point in Chicago. He was determined to accomplish the 2,400-mile journey without any modern conveniences. And he planned to drive 35 mph, a typical speed during that era.

Here’s a video from that time that recently surfaced about McKay and his Nash:

It took 50 days, but McKay made it to the end of Route 66 in Santa Monica. Probably the most trying time of the journey was in the California and Arizona deserts. The dry air made the Nash’s wooden spokes shrink, and the tires wobbled dangerously. At one point, McKay soaked the wheels overnight in the Colorado River before departing for the Mojave Desert.

A day-by-day accounting of McKay’s trip can be found here and here.

I was saddened to learn from the video that McKay died of cancer in 2010. He was a true road warrior — one who tried (and succeeded) in something that few of us would even attempt.

His 1930 Nash is on display at the Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Off to the bed races January 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events, Towns.
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The Mojave Daily News posted a humorous account of the annual Oatman Great Bed Races in Oatman, Ariz., on Saturday.

It’s not so much a competition as a fun-filled farce. To wit:

 In accordance to contest rules, teams must first push one teammate in a bed the length of the course, park the team’s bed with the passenger still aboard while the other four members put the sheets and pillowcases on a stationary bed and then push the team bed back to the finish line. While each of the four pushing team members carries a roll of toilet paper between their knees. Oh, and this year, each team member also had to put on a pair of granny panties after completing the bed-making portion. A few of the teams struggled getting the elastic-banded undergarment on over their legs, so adapted by pulling them on like a shirt. Others took a cue and wore them as a hat, bracelet or scarf.

“Guess there’s nothing in the rules about that,” noted one of the judges, shrugging his shoulders.

The Super Country team won the 18-team event this year with a time of 54.7 seconds, after being disqualified for a rules violation the previous year.

Here’s a video from last year’s races:

“Route 66: Return to the Road” January 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Road trips, Television.
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Here’s something I haven’t seen in a few years … the first few minutes of “Route 66: Return to the Road with Martin Milner.” Someone posted this segment on Vimeo in recent days; you’ll have to click on the screen shot to see the clip:

The 1998 film, which was more than 2 1/2 hours long, was released on DVD 10 years ago this week. It featured a vintage Corvette and Martin Milner, both whom starred with George Maharis in the “Route 66″ television drama of the early 1960s. Plus there were all the real-world attractions of the Mother Road itself at that time.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen “Return to the Road,” and undoubtedly changes have occurred in the nearly 15 years since. That includes Milner, who was regularly attending Route 66 gatherings for a few years after that, but reportedly now is in poor health and has gone into seclusion.

“Return to the Road” was skillfully directed by John Paget, who also helmed “Route 66: An American Odyssey.” Both are terrific films that I recommend unequivocally.

The Sooner State’s best BBQ January 28, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants.
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I’m sticking my neck out, but I’m going to say it anyway — Burn Co. BBQ in Tulsa serves the best barbecue I’ve had in Oklahoma.

I’ve visited great places in the Sooner State, including Van’s Pig Stand in Shawnee and The Boundary on 66 near Luther. But I’ve eaten three times at Burn Co. BBQ — which is right on Tulsa’s 11th Street alignment of Route 66 — in the past few weeks, and have sampled something different each time. I’m ready to declare Burn Co. my personal champ of Okie barbecue.

Amazingly, Burn Co. has been open only about a year, and it’s already got quite a following.

This well-produced video by This Land Press a few weeks ago shows the restaurant (and its critical Hasty Bake connection) very well:

The catch is this: Burn Co. BBQ is open only for lunch, and only from Tuesday through Saturday. And if you don’t get there early, it tends to run out of its most popular entrees, especially ribs.

But if you happen to be cruising through Tulsa about lunchtime, I highly recommend that you stop there.

Another ride on Oatman Road January 28, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motorcycles, Road trips.
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Here’s the best-quality video I’ve seen yet of two motorcycling buddies driving on Oatman Road, aka Route 66, in western Arizona’s Black Mountains.

These guys were going at speeds that would make me uncomfortable; don’t try it yourself.

The clip shows the capabilities of the GoPro Hero 2, a high-definition video camera that’s finding favor among bikers, snowboarders, surfers, and other daredevils.

A good example to those along the Mother Road January 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Museums, People, Road trips.
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Paul Chassey, a volunteer for the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville, Calif., wrote an interesting piece in the Victorville Daily Press about a fellow volunteer’s experience with a Chinese couple.

Go here to read it first.

Read it? If so, here are my observations about the article:

  1. Although the volunteer’s behavior was exemplary, such conduct should be fairly routine at the museums, businesses, and attractions along Route 66. Such hospitality has proven hugely beneficial to Pontiac, Ill., and the Mother Road in general.
  2. The story cements my hunch that China is going to become a huge, mostly untapped market for Route 66 tourism. As the Chinese gain more wealth and travel abroad, it’s logical to assume a number of its 1.3 billion citizens will want to get their kicks on the legendary Route 66.
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