Giant Whales and Cadillacs on Route 66 in Oklahoma and Texas

The Desert Hills Motel on Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Desert Hills Motel on Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma

The road trip continues. Leaving the desolate stretch of Route 66 in Kansas behind, I paid a visit to the World’s Largest Totem pole before spent a night in a classic Route 66 motel in Oklahoma. From there my journey west continued as I watched the scenery morph from mountains lined with fall foliage to the flat desert of northern Texas. Along the way I talked to countless shop owners, heard tales of years gone by, gasped in awe of the red rocks in Texas, spray painted NYC onto a Cadillac sticking out of the desert and stood atop a giant blue whale.

Full Highlights:

In front of the world's largest totum pole in Oklahoma
In front of the world’s largest totum pole in Oklahoma

World’s Largest Totem Pole, Foyil, OK: located in the creator’s back yard, I made it in time for the tail end of dusk and barely had enough time to set up my tripod to take a photo in front of it.

Claremore Motor Inn, Claremore, OK: another classic Route 66 motel that I spent the night in. This one was remodeled recently and was nicer than any of the chains I have stayed in so far. And…no bedbugs!

Blue Whale, Catoosa, OK: a giant, life-sized wooden blue whale sitting over a lake with a dry water slide. Though the slide was closed years ago, the place is under new ownership and this team of seven local men is committed to keeping it as a tourist destination and Route 66 staple.

Click here to see more photos of ‘Blue’

Erick, Oklahoma: this entire town was sight in itself. The main street looks just as it did 50 years ago and as it was Sunday and a big town-wide event had just finished, I pretty much had the place to myself.

Route 66 in Erick, Oklahoma
Route 66 in Erick, Oklahoma

Original Road Segments, Bristow, OK: Alongside the new four-lane Route 66, segments of the original road still exist and are drivable for a mile or two at a time. This is strictly for nostalgia purposes and man did I eat it up!

Route 66 Museum, Clinton, OK: advertised as the best Route 66 museum on The Mother Road, my guide book did not lie. It was filled with old signs, recreated diners and gas stations, classic souvenirs, videos and a detailed history of Route 66.

Tulsa, Oklahoma: another town that gets its own entry. It seemed that every two storefronts still had a sign of some sort outside or was a sample of beautiful architecture.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX: someone stuck 10 classic Cadillacs face-down into the desert outside Amarillo. In the years since, spray paint bottles are left there for visitors to add their own bit of art to the roadside attraction. I painted a “NYC” on one.

The view as you approach Cadillac Ranch on Route 66 in  Amarillo, Texas
The view as you approach Cadillac Ranch on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon, TX: my first meeting with the awe inspiring red rock deserts of the South, I spent the morning driving through the park taking it all in.

On Route 66 in Oklahoma
On Route 66 in Oklahoma

Tex Randall – The Biggest Texan, Canyon, TX: a giant cowboy that used to be the icon of a roadside steak house now is all that remains of the business.

Route 66 Midpoint, Adrian, TX: the midway point of Route 66 where it is the same distance from Chicago as it is to Santa Monica…1139 miles…

First or Last Motel in Texas, Glenrio, TX: depending on which way you are driving, this dilapidated old shell of a motel and gas station sits on an abandoned stretch of Route 66. This sight was a real glimpse into what happened to towns when the interstate passed The Mother Road by.

Me at the Cadillac Ranch in Armarillo, Texas A restored Phillips 66 gas station in McLean, Texas

Tex Randall, the biggest Texan, in Canyon, Texas_03 An old gas pump at the restored Conoco service station in Shamrock, Texas The Skyliner Motel in Stroud, Oklahoma on Route 66