At 8 AM, we woke up after a good night’s sleep in the car at Amarillo Travel Information Center. Ahead of us was a short day with only four hours of driving and a few stops along the historical Route 66 before getting to Oklahoma City.
It soon became evident that we had officially entered the Bible Belt area of southeastern and south-central USA, as we saw several large crosses on the highway.
We first drove to the tiny village of Mclean, where we saw the oldest gas station in Texas, a vintage Phillips 66 station, which was built in 1927 in Tudor Revival style. The gas station is very tiny and extremely cute! It has been closed since 1977, but is still a popular stop for Route 66 travellers.
There wasn’t much Route 66 to be followed on the next stretch, so most of the driving was on Highway 40. It wasn’t until we crossed into the state of Oklahoma, that we got back on the original route.
We were headed to Oklahoma City, the state capital of Oklahoma, where my friend Alexandria lives with her husband and dog. I met Alexandria last year in April, on top of Mt Hallasan on Jeju Island. We bonded as we climbed down the mountain together, and Alex invited me to Oklahoma, which I of course couldn’t say no to!
Before getting to Oklahoma City, we made two stops, one in Clinton and one in El Reno.
In Clinton, we spent some hours at the great Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, which was very informative on the history of the Mother Road. I had read online that this was one of the best museums on the entire route, and since we didn’t have much time, we chose to only visit one, and I feel like we made a good choice with this one!
In El Reno we made a short stop to take a photo of a Route 66 painting, but were stopped by a local guy, who was restoring a house that had recently burned down. Since we were near a Dollar General store, he made a joke saying that we had to pay him a dollar to get past him. Once we understood that he was only joking, we got talking about everything and nothing. He told us about El Reno and how they make the world’s largest hamburger at their yearly festival in June! Oh, wouldn’t I love to see that!
At 4.30 PM, we finally arrived at Alexandria’s house in Edmond, a suburb to Oklahoma City. She lives in a huge, beautiful house in a nice and quiet neighbourhood. She and her dog Kevin made us feel very welcome in their home, where we stayed for the following two nights.
Alexandria cooked a lovely meal for us, and then we went for an adventurous drive. First we went shopping at Target, all Americans’ favourite supermarket, where they literally go nuts! Then we drove to Chicfila, a Christian based fast-food restaurant, where we got the world’s best (pancake) fries with six different sauces.
Next up was a famous sight on the Route 66, located just outside Edmond; the Arcadia Round Barn. This is one of Oklahoma’s most famous landmarks on the route, and it’s actually the only truly round barn in America (where the other ’round barns’ are hexagonal or octagonal). It was built by a local farmer in 1898 using native bur oak boards. Over time, the barn has become the most photographed landmark on the entire Route 66!
Next to the Arcadia Round Barn is a huge Pops shop, where you can buy all sorts of sodas in so many different weird flavours. It was hard to choose one, but we all ended up choosing pink! Amanda got a raspberry one, Alex got a bubblegum one and I got a watermelon one – and they were all lovely! We drank them while we sat on the lawn and watched the sun go down.
When we got back to the house, Alexandria showed us her gun and let us hold it (first time holding a gun, guys!). That was the perfect way to end a very American evening 😉
Even though we were short on time driving the Route 66, we still made time to have one free day in Oklahoma City to spend with Alex. She had work in the day time, so Amanda and I spent some hours exploring Oklahoma City after a lovely breakfast.
We first drove to Lake Hefner, which is a reservoir in the northwestern part of the city, built in 1947 to expand the city’s water supply. The lake serves as a recreational place and is great for birdwatching, sunbathing or long walks along the shoreline!
We went down to the boathouses, where there are a lot of fun activities to do such as ziplining, trampolines, exercise games etc. We tried a few of the games, before we got completely warn out by the overwhelming heat – or maybe we’re just out of shape 😉
Oklahoma City is a beautiful, green city with many city parks. Our favourite park was the Meridian Botanical Gardens, where we sat for a while, playing with the ducks and enjoying being in shade since the sun was so hot (over 40 degrees that day!). We had planned on walking about 4 kilometres through the city center and back, but the heat was too much, so we gave up halfway and decided to drive around instead. The air conditioner was a life-saver that day!
My favourite area in the city was the Bricktown District, an entertainment district with a navigable canal that flows through its very center.
The last sight for the day was the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which honors the victims, survivors and rescuers of the city bombing on April 19th 1995. The memorial is located on ground zero, where a building, which was completely destroyed in the bombing, once stood.
There is a museum as well, which would’ve been an interesting thing to do, if we had more time.
The memorial is a prominent piece of art, which reminds the citizens every day of the horrors of terrorism, and just why something like that should never happen again.
When we got back home, we rested for a while until Alex got home. She cooked us another one of her delicious meals, and then we went out to a Life Group come-together with some of her friends from her church.
Oklahoma, like Texas, is one of the so-called “Bible Belt” countries, and it was interesting to be part of the Christian community for an evening. We had a fun time with her lovely friends, who were all very curious about Denmark and our US travel plans.
When we got back home, Alex introduced us to s’mores, a traditional campfire treat, which is very popular in the US. It’s this delicious goody consisting of a fire-roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate, sandwiched between two pieces of graham crackers – I’m telling you, I really want “some more” of those 😉
So with a trip to Target, eating fries at Chicfila, seeing the Arcadia Round Barn on Route 66, drinking sodas at Pops, going to a Christian Life Group in the Bible Belt and eating s’mores, Alexandria definitely gave us the true American experience. I’ll be forever thankful to her for having us and making us feel so at home, and I can’t wait for the day she’ll visit us in Denmark!
The next day, it was time to say our goodbyes to Alex and Kevin and hit the road again, back on Route 66 en route to Kansas and Missouri!