As the Route 66 Team traveled from Los Angeles to Chicago, celebrating Route 66 and the allure of the open road, we drove past a lot of reminders of the carnage that automobile travel entails.
If like us you travel Route 66 the wrong way round the vast majority of people take the trip west for the true highway experience then once you leave Los Angeles there are no major cities until you reach St. Louis in Missouri.
Less than 20 miles east of Lebanon, Missouri on old Route 66, there is a section of no more than a couple of miles that gives travellers a glimpse of the iconic highway as it once was.
If youre driving west along Route 66 and still do not feel satiated by the two museums dedicated to the highway in Oklahoma, you could do worse than stop in at the museum in Lebanon, Missouri.
It is smaller than the other two, so there is less to see. But there is a mock old-fashioned gas station, an old diner and a rather shabby looking fake motel room, plus two Route 66 armchairs that any true aficionado of Americas Main Street might eye with envy.
On the outside, Steve’s Sundry, Books & Magazines on South Harvard Avenue in Tulsa’s midtown neighborhood, doesn’t look like much. But just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, don’t write off Steve’s because of its modest curb appeal and its location in an aging strip mall.
Like a number of towns along what was Route 66, the motels here in Lebanon, Missouri thrived on the through traffic. And like many of those same towns, when Route 66 went away the motels were among the first to suffer.
Carlton Pearson doesn’t believe in hell. And he’s pretty uncertain about heaven as well. Which wouldn’t be all that exceptional, really — except Pearson is an ordained Pentecostal minister and a former protégé of Oral Roberts, the Tulsa-based televangelist. So when the Route 66 Team passed through Tulsa this week, we spent an hour with Pearson in his offices on the 29th floor of a downtown skyscraper.
There are, or were, only a few miles of old Route 66 in Kansas, down in the far south-eastern corner of the state, but this short stretch of road is considered by many fans to be about as close to the original state of the road as you can get.