Town of The Large Canoes

Trip Start Mar 13, 2013
Trip End Apr 13, 2013

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Where I stayed
Best Budget Inn Carthage
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
Totem Pole Trading Post
Mule's Trading Post
Gay Parita Sinclair Gas Station
Devil's Elbow Bridge

Flag of United States  , Missouri
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fantastic driving day today; Missouri - or, Missoura - means town of the large canoes. We are lovin' it! Lot's of relics, great road. The folk in MO have a sense of humour akin to us Aussies - they know how to take the piss, so to speak.
East of Rolla we stopped at Mule's Trading Post which is full of memorabilia, Route 66 souvenirs and antiques. In Jerry's Book there was a Giant Alert here - the giant hillbilly that was originally located in Devil's Elbow. 
 In a stack of old books I came across were twenty or so old fund-raising type small cookbooks; I chose two: Treasured Recipes of The Eagles Auxiliary Rolla, Missouri, from 1985 - this gem has not only a full range of recipes but also 'Fillings For Fancy Sandwiches', hints on canning and getting stains out, how to soften sugar that's gone hard, to rub sliced potato on sunburn and how to make your own starch. There is also a page on 'Supper Quantity Cooking' if you need to make a hash supper for 100, chicken shortcake for 135 or cabbage salad for 175 people! And, Treasured Recipes of Poplar Bluff - clearly older than the Rolla one; maybe 60's judging by the ad's....but similar recipes and handy hints.

  Daryl served us - not the owner and a slightly taciturn but friendly enough fellow, although no stories were Tim Jones at The Totem Pole Trading Post just west of Rolla was a different matter, he loved a chat and managed to conduct an interview with a prospective waitress whilst talking with us. 
Above the counter hung a large photograph of his son, who had died several years before in a car smash. Tim said his wife had never been the same and he now looks after her physically and mentally. He cried a little as he shared this story and I was touched by the generosity of spirit and trust that the people we are meeting show us. The waitress cried too.

In 2007 Tim was all set to sell The Totem after owning it for 32 years, and having worked for his father in it for 10 years before that. However (thankfully) the sale fell through and Tim is still there with his friendly nature to greet travellers and give them a Route 66 root beer, as he did us over a discussion and perusal of the 66 map.

Again, in the shop are antiques and memorabilia, along with raccoon hats, wasp nests and fireworks. The old petrol pumps are still out front. (Along with new, working ones!) The original totem pole from 1933 is inside near the drinks fridge.

For lunch we pulled in to Sonic, a fast-food chain joint that we had seen a couple of times and fascinated all of us but particularly Rich. You pull in to a bay where there is a menu sign with loudspeaker, microphone and card facilities at the bottom. You say what you want, then a server brings out your food and you sit there and eat it in the bay. There were three rows of bays and they were well utilised. Rich's card didn't work in the slot so Brittany took it inside for him! You don't have to move yr arse at all or see other people any more than necessary, if you don't want. Sort of like the Facebook of the culinary world. 

A bit further west out of Rolla we came upon John Modern's Cabins, old roadside accommodations from the 30's, now completely decrepit. We drove over the old bridge at Devil's Elbow, past the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon and through Springfield to Paris Springs, stopping frequently to explore ruins or peer through the windows of stores closed until warmer weather brings enough tourists to make it worth opening.

At one such stop, as we were oohing and aaahing through the windows of an antique shop, a young boy on a bike rode up and introduced himself. Six year old Paul told us in a very manly fashion that he worked down at the service station. That he's had to go to the Doctor's because he kept waking up at night crying. After chatting for 5 or so minutes we said goodbye to this dear little creature and off he rode.

In Paris Springs we met Gary Turner, a well-known character on the road who owns the restored Gay Parita Sinclair Service Station. He showed us around the station, bottles of black cherry cola in hand. Photograph's were taken in various poses; next to a model of Bonnie Parker in the front seat of a T-Model Ford, in the office wearing Gary's hat, phone in hand. When Shell & Rich bought a pictorial Route 66 book, Gary signed it and counselled them thoroughly on having the book signed along the road. Not necessarily the obvious people should sign, he said, but the special ones - the people who engaged, talked and laughed with us. He played us some of the music he'd recorded and after taking more pics of us standing at his fence and out on the road, he gave us a single bottle of Route 66 root beer and told us that when we got to Santa Monica Pier we were to buy a tall glass of ice-cream with 3 straws, pour in the root beer and have a root beer spider. He actually said spider, and told us he knew that's what we call floats, in Australia.

Gary drew us a map on a piece of torn-off paper, to direct us to a good motel and eatery in Carthage and how to get to the old, relocated Red Oak village.

When we tore ourselves away, he stood out in the middle of the road and waved to us until he was just a speck, then the road dipped and he was out of sight.....
 We found the village just on dusk, and walked around the collection of restored period shops and homes on the u-shaped road - including a smith and jail - in an hour. A shaggy golden lab kept me company most of the way around. It was fascinating and we could've easily spent longer, but it was getting dark. After Red Oak we checked in to the Best Budget Inn, next to Kellogg Lake in Carthage - directly opposite the Kel-lake Motel; both Best Budget and Kel-lake are historic buildings. Then, we went searching for Gary's all-you-can-eat cafe, which for $10 or so a head was excellent value.

Wow, what a day! We're gettin' our kicks....
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