We left the current capital of Oklahoma for the original historic capital Guthrie. The creation and settlement of Guthrie occurred in less than one day. Less than one month after the infamous Oklahoma Land Rush Harper’s Weekly wrote: “Unlike Rome, the city of Guthrie was built in a day. To be strictly accurate in the matter, it might be said that it was built in an afternoon. At twelve o’clock on Monday, April 22nd, the resident population of Guthrie was nothing; before sundown it was at least ten thousand. In that time streets had been laid out, town lots staked off, and steps taken toward the formation of a municipal government. At twilight the camp-fires of ten thousand people gleamed on the grassy slopes of the Cimarron Valley, where, the night before, the coyote, the gray wolf, and the deer had roamed undisturbed.” Another interesting web site about this Land Rush is http://urbanplanning.library.cornell.edu/DOCS/landrush.htm. Apparently legal settlers could claim lots up to 160 acres (0.65 km2) in size. Provided a settler lived on the land and improved it, the settler could then receive the title to the land. On April 22 an estimated 50,000 people lined up for their piece of the available two million acres (8,000 km²). The two centres chosen for this Land Rush were Oklahoma City and Guthrie.
The architecture in Guthrie is lovely. There are many historic buildings and the city has done a good job of putting up plaques in front of many of the buildings. Mike and I had dinner in the historic district in a saloon called the Blue Belle. The Blue Bell was established in the same era as the Land Rush. What really surprised me was one comment on the plaque outside. It said “After prohibition (concurrent with statehood, 1907) various businesses occupied the lower floor. A bar was re-established when prohibition was repealed in 1959, and it was re-named “Blue Belle” in 1977. Much of the original interior is still in place.” I had no idea that prohibition lasted more than 50 years in some places. I am not sure why statehood would be the beginning of prohibition when much of the rest of the country didn’t enter prohibition until 1920. I guess that since even today there are some dry counties in the US you could say that prohibition is still ongoing in some areas. Still 50 years was a big surprise to me. That is multiple generations.
After dinner we wandered around the town. It was Mike’s favourite time to wander. All the stores were closed! We saw one store called Tipsy Artists. They were holding a painting class that combined wine drinking and painting. I have a good friend who takes painting and stained glass classes and I thought that she could get some ideas from this. Guthrie had a small theatre for live productions and a drive-in theatre that was playing a movie as we drove out of town.
We picked up a brochure in Oklahoma City that said that Oklahoma had more drivable miles of the original Route 66 than any other state. In talking about the new interstate system that replaced much of Route 66 in the 1980s the brochure had the quote “Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.” That is basically how I feel about the big highways. Route 66 originally went from LA to Chicago. Mike and I have decided to at least take it through Oklahoma. We may try and stay on it for much of the journey to Chicago but that isn’t cast in concrete. If there is somewhere else that strikes our fancy then our direction will simply change. Route 66 or “Americas Main Street” really became famous, at least to many of us, through television and radio. For those old enough to remember there was a TV series in the 60s called Route 66 about two men and a Corvette travelling across the open road and running into various situations all over the place. There was also an unrelated song called “Get your Kicks on Route 66” that was popular. All in all, the name brings back memories and since we want to avoid the big highways this is one way to do that.
Today we took Route 66 through Tulsa. We stopped in a park and took our bikes down for a nice ride along their river path. I really wish that my home town of Mississauga did a better job of bike and pedestrian trails. There was a big plan for the millennium to create a network of paths that stretched from Hamilton past Toronto but somehow most of that currently in our area is simply the existing major roads with no bike lanes. Since we live on one of the Great Lakes we could do a better job of making the shoreline accessible. City Hall are you listening!
Near the end of the day we stopped at the Will Rogers Museum that Mike had wanted to see. This part of the world is Will Rogers crazy. There are Will Rogers roads, highways, museums, state parks, homes and more. Even Route 66 was called the Will Rogers Highway. Mike isn’t particularly interested in Will Rogers as an actor but more for the quips and quotables that he always came up with.
Tonight we are staying just off Route 66 right on Grand Lake and next to a State Park. We will walk or bike through the park in the morning. When we were more than a third of the way through our trip I saw some inflatable boats advertised, some of which you could attach a small motor to. I am not talking about substantial Zodiacs but more like an inflatable canoes or kayaks that we could put in the trunk of the car. I really wish that we had thought of these before we left home. In so many campgrounds, particularly in Northern Ontario, we could have used a small canoe or something like that. Even here it would have been great. We walked along the edge of the lake this evening with the woman who runs this place. The lake looked so quiet and peaceful with the sun setting on it. It would have been great to get out on it. I am not going to publish this entry until tomorrow. I will see if we can get some nice pictures of the lake and our campsite setting in the morning.
OK it is now Sunday and our camera battery is dead so no pictures of Grand Lake or the state park. We continued to avoid highways today and have now crossed the state line and are camped this evening near Lebanon, Missouri.