Photo Journal: Traveling Missouri’s Route 66

“Will Rogers Highway”, “Main Street America”, “the Mother Road”, …. No matter what you call it, historic Route 66 has etched itself in history and Americans for generations now. Movies like Thelma & Louise, The Grapes of Wrath, Easy Rider, and even Disney’s Cars have only added to the lore and mystique of this slice of Americana, even in 2019.

Missouri Route 66 / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

An original US highway, historic Route 66 officially became a highway in November 1926. Running 2,448 miles, Route 66 originates in Chicago, Illinois and runs through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California; ending first in LA and later on in Santa Monica.

If Route 66 could talk it would tell the stories of migrants with cars loaded down with families and as many possessions as possible headed west during the dust bowl looking for better opportunities. It would tell stories of families just after World War II as times had vastly improved, loading up to see all the sights across our beautiful nation. Mom and Pop hotels and restaurants flourished as did little towns along the route and they saw many prosperous days. When President Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway Act in 1956, newer routes began serving travelers with a more direct path, among other amenities, leaving the small towns who had been booming to fade away as they were bypassed. In 1985 the Mother Road was decommissioned and Route 66 lost its highway status along with its traffic.

It may be nostalgia, a longing for simpler times, and even a group or two that values and wants to preserve history, but a resurgence of travel has occurred along Route 66 in the past several years. You won’t find it marked on a map or even as a route anymore when traveling west, but there are plenty of ways to map it out yourself, merge of the interstate and discover some of the United States most scenic and historic byways.

Recently while traveling in Missouri we mapped out a part of our trip to drive a portion of Route 66. We turned off of I-44 E in Lebanon, Missouri and headed east to St Louis about 160 miles. Much of the Route is country roads, some of it has been completely closed off and other areas merged with the interstate, we still enjoyed many a vintage stop filled with a slice of Americana and photo ops you don’t want to miss.

What to See Route 66 Missouri / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Here are some of our favorite highlights mapped out for you!

Munger Moss Motel / oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Lebanon, Missouri’s Moss Munger Motel has been a fixture and serving guests since 1945.

Munger-Moss Motel Route 66 / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Sunset view on Route 66 / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

How fitting to see this sight as we were passing through the backroads of Route 66

Bowling Pin Route 66  / oh Fiddle Dee Dee

While not an original Route 66 fixture, this bowling pin has attracted plenty of attention and stood outside the Buckhorn Bowling Ally in Waynesville, Missouri for years!

Unlike today restaurants when traveling were a splurge and a treat for most families.  Roadside parks were plentiful along main travel routes and were perfect for picnicking and stretching your legs!  I loved seeing this park preserved in St Robert, Missouri.

George M Reed Roadside Park / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Route 66 Roadside Park / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Route 66 Diner in St Robert was built in the last 20 years, but designed as a throwback to the 50’s, where kids might have hung out or a family treated to hamburgers and fries.

Route 66 Diner

Also built more recently, the Uranus Fudge Factory uses nostalgia (and humor) to encourage weary travelers to venture off the interstate for a few moments on Route 66.

Uranus Fudge Factory / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Route 66 Uranus Fudge Factory / Oh Fiddle Dee DeeFudge Factory / Of Fiddle Dee Dee

Country Roads along Route 66 / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Country Views as we continued traveling along Route 66

Devil’s Elbow and its bridge crossing the Big Piney River in Pulaski County has had cars crossing since 1923.

Route 66 Devil's Elbow / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Devil's Elbow Pulaski County Missouri / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Historic 66 Pulaski County Missouri / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Cuba, Missouri has preserved a lot of it’s history, and added it’s own touches to keep visitors interested in passing through the quaint little town.  Known as mural city, there are murals painting on several businesses and buildings throughout the area that share some history of this little town.

Cuba Missouri / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Besides a gas station turned restaurant, Cuba has also preserved the old Wagon Wheel Motel.

The Fourway Cuba Missouri / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

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Mural City / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Wagon Wheel Motel Cuba Missouri / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Cuba Missouri / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Historic Wagon Wheel Motel / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

 When the Gateway Arch was completed in 1965, as a new a uniquely designed monument, the Arch would’ve been a huge stop for families as they made their way through St Louis.

Saint Louis Missouri / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Gateway Arch / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

St Louis / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Have you ever traveled Historic Route 66?  What unique things have you seen?  I would love to hear your adventures!

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Get Your Foodie Fix on Route 66

Happy Foodie Friday y’all!

A few weeks back as we traveled out to Missouri to see Bradley, we left plenty of time in our schedule for dawdling and meandering the back roads. Now traveling through the Ozark Mountains was beautiful, but as soon as it was possible we hopped over to travel the historic Route 66 for a little time travel.

We passed old signage and motels and roadside parks; remnants of an era that has been pushed aside in the name of progress, but we also passed trough towns where folks are trying to preserve this historic highway.

The FourWay Cuba Missouri / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Family owned and operated The FourWay is a former filling station on the Mother Road that has been turned into a local and absolutely delightful diner.

The FourWay Rote 66 / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

I’ll get to the food in a minute, but we must talk history first!

Historic Route 66 Marker / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

First built in 1932, the Phillips 66 station owned by Paul T Carr was in the ideal location right on Route 66 as people traveled from Chicago towards Cali. It would have been a full-service station back in the day where attendants would pump your gas, wash the windows and even grab you a map if you asked.

Via Google Images

A whole different experience than we have now.

After Mr Carr passed in the mid-1960’s, the station was bought by the Wallis family and turned into a Mobil gas station and the offices for their new oil company venture. The Wallis family outgrew the little filling station and it sat empty for a while after a brief stint as a bakery. In 2005 with the help of a preservation grant for Route 66 history and using resources from the archives of Phillips 66 oil company, the outside of the building was restored to its original cottage appearance. Despite the renovation It sat empty until 2015, when an interior restoration was started. This time the historic gas station became the home of The FourWay Restaurant; a Mediterranean themed restaurant with a Missouri twist owned by restaurant veteran, Joanie Weir.

The FourWay Mural / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

The FourWay Dining Room / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

We arrived to this cozy spot for a late lunch and a quiet restaurant, which is perfect when you’re wanting to pull your camera out at lunch and don’t want to feel judged. It was a weekday and 2:00 pm, so I didn’t expect a crowd. Our waitress was sweet as could be and seated us by the window where we could enjoy the gorgeous day while we dined.

The FourWay Menu / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

We started off our meal with the FourWay Fries… steak fries topped with feta, tzatziki and a house made hot sauce. Sounds weird, but it was just delicious!

FourWay Fries / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Since it was just lunchtime, and we still had traveling to do, we didn’t get too crazy with ordering.

Madeline and Audley both chose the Leroy burger, adding cheese and bacon, while I had a fantastic BLT sandwich.

The FourWay Leroy Burger / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

The FourWay Burger / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

The FourWay BLT / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

BLT / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

All of the ingredients are fresh and local when possible. BTW… the house pickles are fantastic!! We were so full from lunch we couldn’t order dessert. It was so hard to say no.

I loved the eclectic decor of the FourWay; the food pairs with it perfectly. A simple menu; a simply decorated restaurant. A meal that reminds you of home; cozy decor that doesn’t make you feel out of touch.

The FourWay Decor / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

 

Window Views from the FourWay / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

The FourWay / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

If you’re traveling through Missouri, venture off the interstate into Cuba and check out the FourWay. You’ll love the glimpse of history in this progressive world.

The FourWay

102 W. Washington Ave.

Cuba, Missouri

 

Road Trippin’: Itinerary & Photo Journal

Bags are unpacked, laundry is caught up, our young Marine has arrived in Cali, Madeline is back in school, and we are rested after a whirlwind seven day road trip through eight states last week!

Bradley graduated his MOS training and is now a Marine MP. We drove out to Ft Leonard Wood to enjoy time with him before he headed off to his PDS.

The boy did not have as many days off as we did, so we arranged a little mini-vacation around Madeline’s spring break and our travels. I love planning road trips, and this one was no different!

I have never let others plan for us; the goal is always to try to pick activities that fit our interests, see as much as we can to get a feel for so many fabulous things our beautiful nation offers, and we leave plenty of time to be spontaneous.

To begin planning I always put our destination into the GPS and look at all our routes; this time we were shown two distinct ways to travel to Ft Leonard Wood. Our entire little family has a goal of visiting all fifty states (hubby has visited 49 of them; I’m at 29 & it’s become quite a contest between our 4 kiddos), and airports don’t count. With two routes showing Madeline pointed out she could add two new states to her list so we decided to loop this trip.

We would leave Atlanta and head west through Alabama, Mississippi, skirt Tennessee with a pass through Memphis into Arkansas and head up into Missouri as we drove out to see Bradley. Coming home we would go through St Louis into Illinois, Kentucky, back through Nashville, Tennessee and back into Georgia.

With our route chosen we had an idea of places we wanted to see along the way and we set out to see what we could see! I thought our itinerary was a lot of fun, and had a couple of requests from social media to share it, so here we go!  Of course some of this was tailored to visiting Bradley, but you should find plenty of ideas for planning your own trip!

Day one we left about four in the afternoon after Audley had gotten off work. We love driving backroads, especially during rush hour, so we when we left on Thursday afternoon we took 2- lane roads from Cartersville, Georgia into Gadsden, Alabama before hitting I-59 into Birmingham. With spring really starting to show up it was a beautiful drive past farms and flowing rivers and creeks as we’ve been blessed with a lot of rain this year.

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Our first stop was for supper just outside Birmingham. We chose a quirky little sushi restaurant called Rock-N-Roll Sushi. We absolutely loved the classic rock theme of both the decor & sushi rolls!

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Madonna & Tommy Lee Rolls

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Journey & Motely Crue Roll

With our bellies full we drove through downtown Birmingham and headed west on I-22 into Mississippi.  Once in Tupelo we stopped for the night at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Day two began nice and early (7:15 am) as we wanted to make a stop by Elvis Presley’s birthplace (we were in Tupelo after all), which has been made into a public park as well as museum. We stopped by before they opened for a morning stroll through the park. While we didn’t get to see the inside of the home, no crowds and the peacefulness of the early morning was worth the stop. It’s a park that’s been tastefully created and quite lovely.

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We left Tupelo and passed through Memphis where we stopped at Elvis’s Graceland, a last minute decision since we had visited the birthplace early that morning.

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Graceland has changed a whole lot since I visited 24 years ago which meant we only viewed the house from a distance. We didn’t want extra museums and planes, we only wanted to walk the grounds; see the memorials and the gravesite. We were not paying $70/each to do so!

We paid $10 to park; Madeline bought a T-shirt, we walked to the wall by the gates (that looks so trashy since they allow people to draw graffiti all over it), took a few photos and was back on the road in 45 mins. I’m not a tourist trap/circus fan when it comes to historic or cultural locations.

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We crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas where we hit backroads through the Ozark Mountains into Missouri to Mansfield.

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Y’all, it’s a stunningly beautiful drive, and you never know what unique towns you might pass through.

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Mansfield was the final home of Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was so excited for this planned stop! It’s not a huge tourist trap like Graceland was (thank goodness), but a tastefully done memorial to recall a fascinating life! Admission was $12/each for both the Rock House their daughter designed and had built for them and the Rocky Ridge House, Almanzo constructed. We spent a couple of hours here, and made it our last stop of the day.

Everyone was so knowledgeable, friendly and just lovely to be around!

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despite the rain, this was such a memorable destination!

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I’ll share more of this beautiful and historic location in another post!

At the recommendation of one of the girls at the Wilder Museum, we hit the backroads (make sure your gas tank is topped off) out of Mansfield and stopped in a little Amish community for an all-you-can-eat Friday night fried fish and chicken supper.

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Y’all.

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Amish peanut butter …. you MUST try it!

It was amazing.

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And we didn’t eat again until around 1:00pm on day three.

We rolled into St Robert, Missouri around 8:00 and checked into the Hampton Inn on historic Route 66.

Day three allowed us to enjoy a little extra sleep as our Marine and adopted Marine were sleeping in themselves. We picked the boys up from the base and headed west again towards Branson; an hour and a half drive. Lunch at Steak and Shake, shopping at the Tanger outlets was the perfect way to spend an afternoon with teenagers. Branson has so many shows and activities to choose from, We wanted something where we could have fun interacting and savoring time together, so the Branson Murder Mystery dinner theater was definitely the best choice!

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Our kids volunteered for the roles of the James brothers and Kay Marte (the local town gossip). With dinner and an interactive show we had a crazy fun evening filled with a lot of laughs!

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Day four we worshiped with a little congregation just off of base in Waynesville. Everyone there was so welcoming, sweet and friendly. We won’t forget our visit anytime soon.

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After lunch, Bradley let us know he had to return to base earlier since it was Sunday, so he suggested we make a stop at Uranus Fudge Factory, a quirky little tourist stop on Historic Route 66.

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And if the truth be known I probably was not mature enough for this general store and fudge factory, especially when the guy behind the counter at Uranus asked how I wanted my “fudge packed”.

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Y’all all I have to say is you have to have a warped sense of humor to make this stop which is why Bradley wanted to stop I’m sure.

After we dropped Bradley back off at the base we had plenty of daylight left so we ventured out to drive a little of Route 66. We drove over to Devil’s Elbow Bridge, and stopped by the George M Reed roadside park. Roadside parks were common back when people traveled Route 66 as they made great places for picnics and stretching your legs while on your road trip!

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Roadside parks would be fabulous now as we travel, but unfortunately we live in a society where people would rather abuse and destroy than appreciate and preserve.

Day five was partially spent on the military base for Family Day as we were given insight to our Marine’s career path and an opportunity to see the kinds of equipment he’s been trained to use.

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After the ceremonies we took our adopted Marines out for the afternoon for an entertaining lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and an adventure at Ft Wood Escape Room. Thank goodness for my Submariner, because the Marines really struggled with this one!

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We also went bowling. 🎳 Thats all I have to say about that one adventure.

It was bad.

The boys had to be back in the barracks by 1730, so Audley, Madeline and I hit Route 66 a different direction for some colorfully fun backroad highlights.

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Once back in St. Robert we stopped in at the Route 66 Diner for burgers and fries. Service was phenomenal, and the food, although simple was delicious!

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Day Six started off with MOS graduation. Followed by a tearful goodbye, our Marine boarded a bus headed to the airport.

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After he left Audley, Madeline and I hit Route 66 towards St. Louis. We passed through Cuba where we had a fabulous lunch at The FOURWAY Diner and drove through this historic little town.

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Cuba, Missouri is known as Mural City

We arrived in St Louis in time to take the last car up to the top of the Gateway Arch. It was the perfect way to end our Route 66 travels.

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After supper, and moving on down the interstate we stopped in Mt. Vernon, Illinois for the night at the Doubletree. There we caught the end of my Alma Mater’s basketball game that put them in the NIT finals.

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Day seven we finally made it back home, but not before stopping at at a fantastic little western store in Marion, Illinois (McKinney’s) for some boot and hat shopping.

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We also made a swing by Lipscomb University (my alma mater) in Nashville to catch a little basketball fever. So much has changed in that part of the city ( in a positive way), and I enjoyed the pass through off of the interstate. Lipscomb holds a lot of precious memories for me!

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My old dorm

 

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The tradition of the painted mascot continues on…

While this was a lengthy post, I hope you found some inspiration for your own vacation plans as summer is right around the corner! I plan to detail our visit to Mansfield, St. Louis and a little glimpse of our short drive on Route 66! Hope you’ll stop back by!

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Georgia Backroads: Watson Mill Bridge State Park

Audley and I have been making plans for weekend adventures this summer since it’s mostly just the two of us.  Unfortunately there are people who were not blessed with the gift of common sense who insist on bending the rules, so Audley doesn’t always get the days off he is expecting.  The plus side to this is he always has a job when it comes to construction safety which has now run into most of our weekends.

Being ever the spontaneous people that we are, we turned our recent two days of plans into just one as we threw our empty picnic basket and a blanket into the car, made a stop at The Fresh Market, and continued with a road trip heading up Hwy 78 through Athens, Georgia to a sweet little state park.

Now, when most people think of Georgia, the traffic bogged city of Atlanta filled with people that do not know how to savor the simple things, who would rather run over you than accommodate you, mostly ignore you rather than speak, where people seem so angry and bitter and a town that seems to have forgotten its southern graces immediately comes to mind.

Y’all, I spent most of my youth here, and Southern charm and hospitality are not what comes to mind when I think of Atlanta these days!

Truth is, there is so much more to Georgia than Atlanta and it’s metro counties, and you don’t have to venture too far away to discover it! Just hit those Georgia backroads and start exploring!

Just two hours northeast of the city are beautiful farms and quaint little towns.  This is Georgia.  It is here you can escape the hustle and bustle of Atlanta and where you will find Watson Mill Bridge State Park; a 1018 acre park in Comer, Georgia.

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When Audley and I arrived at the park it was so peaceful and quiet, a true break from the craziness of metro-Atlanta!  The park attendant was probably one of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered and was eager to share this historic and picturesque piece of Georgia with us.

{Small towns y’all; that’s where that Southern hospitality thrives!}

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Watson Mill Bridge State Park is home the longest covered bridge in the state of Georgia, a bridge that spans 229 feet across the South Fork of the Broad River in 1885.  It’s one of twenty covered bridges left in Georgia, but unlike the majority of the remainder, this one sits in its original location.  The bridge is well maintained and you can walk or drive across it.  It is truly a beautiful setting!

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According to the Georgia State Parks website the bridge was built in 1885 by Washington (W.W.) King, the son of freed slave and famous covered-bridge builder Horace King.  It is supported by a “town lattice truss system held firmly together with wooden pins.”  Originally there was a mill in the area, but there are no signs of it remaining.

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Although the park is small there is plenty to do for a relaxing day away from the city.  If you are into camping, there are sites available for both tent and RV camping.  Hiking is relatively easy as you can walk down to the old power house built in 1905, but long since abandoned.   There are also trails for riding bikes and horseback riding as well.  There is a stable for boarding, but you have to bring your own horses though.

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We watched families and adults alike play on the rocks and in the water of the falls.  We even witnessed a baptism!  For the kiddos there is a nice playground, but we stayed away from those areas since the focus of the day was on us without kids. While there are plenty of tables and shelters to picnic,  Audley and I were more than content to throw our blanket down under the trees and enjoy the beauty of the falls and the covered bridge away from the small crowds that were arriving as the morning turned into afternoon.

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There is also the option to rent kayaks and canoes, or you can bring your own and put in above the covered bridge.  Rental for the park owned canoes and kayaks is just $10 for an hour and they do provide life jackets.

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Audley and I rented one of the canoes and had the upper branch of the river to ourselves for paddling.  It was quite lovely, peaceful, and quiet enough to hear so many different sounds of nature the city tends to mask!

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We truly enjoyed this piece of Georgia and Audley has already decided a weekend camping here is just what we need …. when this heat and humidity lay off!

Oh my it’s hot down here y’all!

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Sometimes you just have to sit back and let someone else do the paddling!

If you are looking to escape the city or just want to discover some of Georgia’s backroads definitely add Watson Mill Bridge State Park to your agenda.

Watson Mill Bridge State Park

650 Watson Mill Rd, Comer, GA 30629

706-783-5349

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