… aka #IndyTrip with my father and me.
- Here Be Dragons
- 3 States
- Route 66
- Big Things
- … vs. Flying Tomato
- American Pickers
The trip held three different goals:
- For my father and me to visit my brother Stephen and his family in Tulsa, Oklahoma
- For me to visually document The Gables, a historic building in Bloomington, Indiana
- For Dad to explore Antique Archaeology, a store run by the American Pickers folks in Nashville, Tennesee
Because of health issues, I was not able to operate a vehicle, so Dad did all of the driving on this trip. I am very lucky to have a father who’s willing to do this kind of thing for me. Thank you, Dad!
Day 0: Friday, September 27
Round Rock, Texas
Here Be Dragons
On Friday, September 27, one day before the trip, Dad came down from Greenville, Texas to Round Rock, Texas to help us celebrate my daughter Julianne receiving her Round Rock High School senior jacket at Dragon Stadium.
Dad & Julianne at Dragon Stadium photo by Leslie
Day 1: Saturday, September 28
From Round Rock, Texas to Greenville, Texas
The objective of Day One of our journey was to make it from my home in Round Rock, Texas to Dad’s home in Greenville, Texas before sunset, which is a fairly easy goal.
This first leg of the trip would keep us inside Texas for the entire day. It was not a bad way to begin a road trip.
Cat Hollow Signs – Round Rock, Texas
At 9:45am on Saturday Dad and I waved goodbye to the Cat Hollow neighborhood signs and set our sights north.
Cracker Barrel – Temple, Texas
Our first stop was for lunch at Cracker Barrel where we hoped to find a jar of lemon drops to (1) enjoy as we traveled and (2) help with a minor medical condition of mine. Fortunately, our hopes were rewarded, and we procured a full supply of lemon drops for the trip.
Cotton Patch Cafe – Greenville, Texas
For dinner, we ate with Aunt Janice, Uncle Phil, and Philip, Jr. at the Cotton Patch Cafe in Greenville. After our meal, we gathered at Aunt Janice’s home to play cards until bedtime.
Mom and Me photo by me
I was happy to find this not-often-seen photograph of Mom and me waiting in my Dad’s guest room. At this age, I always seemed to be holding a small ball or some other toy. I sure do miss her.
Day 2: Sunday, September 29
From Greenville, Texas to Tulsa, Oklahoma
Day Two’s objective was to make it from Dad’s home to Stephen’s home before dinner so we could visit with him and his wife Kathleen and so I could meet the newest member of their family, my nephew Karson.
This second leg of the trip would take us from Texas to Oklahoma with significant emphasis on Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Due North on Johnson Street – Greenville, Texas
Driving Service with a Smile! photo by me
Relax. This guy is a professional.
City Limits – Paris, Texas
After arriving in Paris, Texas, we headed right for the replica Eiffel Tower near the Love Civic Center and the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial. Although he’d been through Paris before, Dad had never seen the tower, so we both experienced it for the first time.
Now that is one big cowboy hat.
Alex’s Mexican Tacos Menu photo by me
After visiting the Eiffel Tower, we headed over to Alex’s Mexican Tacos because Dad’s favorite seafood place was closed. Dad (rightfully) pointed out that I should order Mexican food in a Mexican restaurant, but I have a soft spot for chicken fried steak. I’m a Grandy’s kid at heart.
Red River – Texas/Oklahoma State Line
Crossing the Red River from Texas into Oklahoma began a troubling and unpleasant ride on the worst-maintained highway I have ever seen, the Indian Nation Turnpike. Dad’s truck shook so much that my smartwatch was convinced I was exercising.
Presumably, we are welcome.
McAlester Service Plaza – near McAlester, Oklahoma
I learned that along the 100+ mile Indian Nation Turnpike there is only one restaurant, a McDonald’s (of course). It’s part of a large travel center near McAlester, Oklahoma.
McAlester Service Plaza photo by me
And it’s a popular stop. Opened in 2014, the plaza includes a gas station and an EZ GO convenience store.
McAlester Service Plaza Plaque photo by me
City Limits – Tulsa, Oklahoma
After arriving at Hancock Outpost Tulsa we relaxed for a bit, and I met my nephew Karson for the first time. He is as smart as he is cute, so he learned the word “uncle” in short order. It’s worth noting that he hadn’t mastered “Granddad” yet. Just sayin’.
Life! Liberty! Lettuce! photo by Dad
When we were ready for dinner, we headed over to Red Robin for hamburgers and high-concept comedy.
Stephen Takes Charge photo by me
My brother understands the importance of charging the mountain of devices I carry around. Thus ended Day Two of our trip.
Day 3: Monday, September 31
From Tulsa, Oklahoma to Greenville, Illinois
The loose objectives for Day Three were to discover some interesting Route 66 roadside attractions and to find a place to spend the night along the way to our second destination, The Gables in Bloomington, Indiana.
This third leg of the trip would take us through Oklahoma and the tip of southeast Kansas, across Missouri, and well into Illinois. Though we hadn’t really planned a Route 66 road trip, Day Three kept us on or near the Mother Road.
Braum’s Breakfast Burrito photo by me
The Braum’s restaurant chain doesn’t seem to extend south enough to cover the Austin area, so it had been a while since I’d enjoyed their food. I decided to try something from their breakfast selection, and it was pretty good.
Center of the Universe
Center of the Universe – Tulsa, Oklahoma
My friend Cheryl’s daughter Alyssa first alerted me to this odd spot in downtown Tulsa. Known locally as “The Center of the Universe,” it’s a completely unmarked location that allows you to experience an unusual acoustic anomaly. While you’re inside the spot you can speak and hear an echo of your voice, while anyone outside the spot only hears normal speech. The auditory effect might be due to the way the surrounding architecture bounces sounds waves back towards their source.
It’s quite a strange phenomenon and worth a visit if you’re in the area. Dad and I took our first selfie of the trip while standing inside it.
Dad & Me at the Center of the Universe photo by me
- Atlas Obscura
- TulsaWorld - What is Tulsa’s Center of the Universe landmark?
Blue Whale – Catoosa, Oklahoma
Northeast of Tulsa lies a great aquatic beast that cannot be missed. Once part of a family-run roadside waterpark, the Blue Whale of Catoosa is one of the largest and most iconic attractions along Route 66.
If you look very carefully, you can find a familiar figure stuck in the whale’s ear-chute.
The Blue Whale of Catoosa photo by me
Will Rogers Archway – Vinita, Oklahoma
Nicknamed “The Glass House,” the Will Rogers Archway opened in 1958 and was the first “over-the-road” travel center in the world. Dad and I stopped here to fuel up, wander around, and pick up a couple of touristy T-shirts.
The Will Rogers Archway photo by me
JD’s Route 66 T-shirt photo by Jay
- News On 6 - Vinita Service Plaza On I-44 Renamed ‘Will Rogers Archway’
- Tulsa World - Iconic arch over Will Rogers Turnpike reopens
Tri-State Marker – Kansas/Missouri/Oklahoma State Lines
At the end of an old gravel road near the Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw, Oklahoma you can find two different markers that indicate you are three different states: Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Dad and I stopped here to rest, learn about the markers, and admire the local rocks.
We read the history of the stone structure on a nearby sign (with some minor spelling and grammar issues).
The cartographical marker on the ground near the stone structure was also interesting. It was placed on the exact three-state corner location in 2004 by the Missouri Association of County Surveyors.
JD’s Triangular Rock photo by Jay
I found a triangular rock near the stone structure that I may or may not have forgotten to drop back on the ground when we left. Oops!
Ozarkland – Sarcoxie, Missouri
Ozarkland General Store photo by me
We stopped at Ozarkland, a cross between a dessert stand and an old five-and-dime store. Here we stretched our legs and put some ice cream in Dad’s personal fuel tank. We didn’t venture across the parking lot into the Antique Mall, though I was tempted.
Cimarron Antique Mall photo by me
Whole Hog Cafe – Springfield, Missouri
At the Whole Hog Cafe in Springfield, Missouri, I decided the #5 sauce was the best blend of flavors. For a barbeque chain, the food here was tasty and satisfying.
Whole Hog Cafe photo by me
The Gateway Arch
I-44 – St. Louis, Missouri
We didn’t have time in our schedule to devote to the Gateway Arch, a structure I’d never seen before, but we did enjoy watching it slowly slide through the cityscape as we drove through St. Louis, Missouri.
St. Louis Gateway Arch photo by me
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Gateway Arch
Mississippi River – Missouri/Illinois State Line
With a quick hop over the Mississippi River, we found ourselves in Illinois.
Super 8 – Greenville, Illinois
It was with a sense of irony that we bedded down for the night in a town with a familiar name, “Greenville,” Illinois. Like some kind of ancient prophecy, before our journey was over we would sleep three times in a Greenville.
Super 8 Mat in Greenville, Illinois photo by me
Huddle House photo by me
The Super 8 hotel was a great choice for us, and we took full advantage of the Huddle House next door. After having breakfast for dinner we returned to our room where I did a little roadside attraction research before relaxing into a restful sleep.
Day 4: Tuesday, October 1
From Greenville, Illinois to Joelton, Tennessee
Day Four’s objectives were to take photos of our second destination, The Gables in Bloomington, Indiana, and to find suitable lodging near our third destination, Nashville, Tennessee.
This fourth leg of the trip would take us through Illinois, into Indiana, across the western part of Kentucky, and into Tennessee. We would discover big things in Casey, Illinois and buffalo wings in Bloomington, Indiana.
Greetings from Greenville, Illinois photo by me
We woke to a fine (free) hotel breakfast and then hit the road once again.
Cross at the Crossroads – Effingham, Illinois
If you ever find yourself, “feeling very cross,” Effingham, Illinois has a roadside attraction that might be right for you, the awe-inspiring Cross at the Crossroads.
America’s Largest Cross photo by me
City Limits – Casey, Illinois
Filled with a prodigious list of roadside attractions, Casey, Illinois is known as “the small town with the big things.” The Guinness World Record representatives occasionally come here to find the newest “world’s largest” stuff created by the local residents. It’s a genuinely charming place that I wish we’d had more time to explore. Even so, what we did see was impressive.
World’s Largest Golf Club photo by me
At one end of the main street, we found an over-sized golf club, pencil, mailbox, mousetrap, and barber’s pole.
Giant Pencil photo by me
At the other end of the street, we found gigantic wind chimes, a huge teeter-totter, and a massive rocking chair.
World’s Largest Wind Chimes photo by me
Giant Teeter-Totter photo by me
World’s Largest Rocking Chair photo by me
We quickly made our way out to the country club to find the world’s largest golf tee before heading out of town.
World’s Largest Golf Tee photo by me
At the time of our trip, Guinness World Records officially recognized these “world’s largest” objects in Casey, Illinois:
- Largest mailbox
- Largest clogs / wooden shoes
- Largest golf tee
- Largest pitchfork
- Largest rocking chair
- Largest wind chime
- Largest gavel
- Largest bar/swizzle spoon (entry not yet posted)
- Largest golf club (entry not yet posted)
- Atlas Obscura
- City of Casey
- Guinness World Records - Big Things in a Small Town: US businessman gets Casey into record books with eight giant inventions - 2016
- Herald&Review - Casey Big Things achieve 6 world records in one day - 2019
- IllinoisTimes - Big attractions in the small town of Casey - 2019
- RoadsideAmerica.com - World’s Largest Golf Club
- Wikipedia - Casey, Illinois
- Wikipedia - World’s largest windchime
- Yelp - The World’s Largest Wind Chime
US-40 – Illinois/Indiana State Line
Still thinking of all those “big things” we found in little Casey, Illinois, we entered the land of Indiana.
Welcome to Indiana photo by me
Indiana Avenue – Bloomington, Indiana
BuffaLouie’s at The Gables photo by me
The Gables building across from Indiana University Bloomington has been in popular use since the 1910s. Designed by a local architect in 1914, over the decades it has served as a book store (“The Book Nook”), a music parlor, an unofficial student union, a restaurant (“The Gables”), a pizza joint (“Garcia’s Pizza”), a sandwich shop (“Roly Poly”), and finally a beer and wings place called “BuffaLouie’s.”
Book Nook 1916-1932 and The Gables 1932 photo by me
… vs. Flying Tomato
The interior of BuffaLouie’s today bears a striking resemblance to the Flying Tomato pizza place from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas during the 80s. I imagine that the Flying Tomato brothers could have been inspired by The Gables when designing and expanding their network of pizza places.
- BuffaLouie’s at The Gables
- The National Herald - The Book Nook: Yet Another Important Building in Greek American History - 2016
As we headed south toward our next major destination — Nashville, Tennessee — we looked for a “Welcome to Kentucky” kind of sign but never saw one. Where’s the love, Kentucky?
US-24 – Kentucky/Tennesee State Line
Welcome to Tennesee photo by me
Days Inn – Joelton, Tennesee
We ended a busy Day Four just north of Nashville at a Days Inn that shared a parking lot with The Country Junction Restaurant. We had a homestyle meal at the restaurant and drifted to sleep at the hotel.
The Country Junction Restaurant Menu photo by me
- Days Inn by Wyndham Joelton/Nashville
- TripAdvisor - Country Junction Restaurant
- TripAdvisor - Days Inn
- Yelp - Country Junction Restaurant
- Yelp - Days Inn
Day 5: Wednesday, October 2
From Joelton, Tennessee to Greenville, Texas
The objectives on Day Five were to explore our third destination, Antique Archaeology in Nashville, Tennessee, and to make it back to Dad’s home in Greenville, Texas.
This fifth leg of the trip would take us through Tennessee, across the middle of Arkansas, and back into Texas. At Marathon Motor Works we would pick from the pickers.
Daybreak Breakfast photo by me
We woke to another fine (free) hotel breakfast and then hit the road once again.
I-40 near Marathon Motor Works – Nashville, Tennesee
The Marathon Motor Works campus is impressive. Once a fully-operating automobile factory, today it’s a mix of open-to-the-public stores and private offices. I could have spent hours just gawking at all of the neat equipment preserved from the site’s industrial heyday.
Marathon Motor Works photo by me
My wife Leslie has an affinity for metal roosters and large (or small) moose, so I took this photo for her in a shop inside Marathon Motor Works. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the shop.
Moose and Chicken photo by me
The Antique Archaeology store was a mix of antiques from all different eras, touristy paraphernalia, and display-only items from the American Pickers show. Dad purchased some old lights as his souvenir. Wolfboy was not available for sale.
- Antique Archaeology
- Marathon Village
- TripAdvisor - Antique Archaeology
- TripAdvisor - Marathon Village
Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid – Memphis, Tennesee
We did not stop at the huge Bass Pro Shops in Memphis. I’m not exactly the target demographic for that sort of place, but even I was tempted to go in there just to see what it was like.
Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid photo by me
Mississippi River – Tennessee/Arkansas State Line
For much of our ride through Arkansas Dad and I listened to Lum and Abner, an old comedy radio show based in the fictional town of Pine Ridge, Arkansas that aired from 1931 to 1954.
I-30 – Arkansas/Texas State Line
“Come back to Texas!” It was nice to be in our home state again.
As we arrived again at Dad’s place, it seemed that my camera was as tired as we were, because it captured this strange lighting effect. Other than being cropped, this photo has not been altered.
Dad’s Home photo by me
Day 6: Thursday, October 3
From Greenville, Texas to Round Rock, Texas
Day Six’s objective was to get me back home to Round Rock, Texas and then to get Dad back home (again) to Greenville, Texas.
This final leg of the trip would keep us inside Texas for the entire day. It was not a bad way to end a road trip.
Braum’s Lunch photo by me
We stopped again at Braum’s, this time for lunch, and we weren’t disappointed.
Safety Rest Area photo by me
I had never visited one of these emergency shelter rest areas designed to help people in extreme weather and other dangerous situations. I was glad to discover their existence.
Ear Cleaning photo by me
Upon returning home, I found three furry friends all waiting to lick my ears.
Dad’s Chicken Socks photo by Dad
After returning home, Dad found some time to put his (bird) legs up and relax.