Happy Groundhog Day, FaceSledders.
Remember – Steer with your feet, and if the hill is steep and the sled won’t slow down, pick a soft spot and bail BEFORE you reach the bottom. I haven’t been sledding in decades, but that might still be good advice, trust me. Ol’ Punxsutawney Phil probably didn’t his shadow around here on Groundhog Day. Maybe up in Pennsylvania. Oklahoma has Claremore Cletus. He’s a possum. He emerges from his possum house every Feb. 2 just before daylight and tries to make it across the highway. If he makes it, spring starts right away. If he gets shwacked by a mini-van, there’ll be winter at least till Tornado Season starts.
Big Winter Storm a’coming. “Landon” (Rolls eyes.) I covered my “Worst Winter” pretty well in a previous installment of Ramblin’ Joe, so we won’t go into all that, except to say that I no longer have an old VW snow car. However, Jean’s Highlander has a button on it that is simply labeled “SNOW.” If we have to go anywhere, you can bet I’ll push it. I don’t know what it does, but, hey. (Actually, I DO know what it does, so you experts don’t necessarily have to ‘splain it, OK? Unless you just can’t stand it, and you really, really have to tell us. Heaven forbid, don’t let me stop ya.) I will say that The Baxters are ready for whatever. We tend to take this stuff seriously. PLEASE – y’all adjust your plans for the next few days, travelers especially. Be careful, Don’t do anything dumb. You folks who have to get to work – God bless ya. I’ll say a heartfelt prayer for you.
Tear-out started this morning on Joe’s New Bathroom. Looking forward to being all swanky and luxurious in my shiny new facility. Seems like a real good outfit doing the work, some high-end artisans, wondering what the heck they’re doing over here on the wrong side of the tracks. My home remodel days were over back about the time Michael Jackson first moonwalked. I did a couple of massive projects and then ran out of steam and motivation. These days, my mantra is, “Hire it done.” Remodel schedule will suffer due to winter weather, but it’s A-OK. We’re good.
One really good thing about snow days is the cuisine. Put on a pot of something and smell it cooking all day. “Comfort food,” they call it. Honestly, to an old chowhound, ALL food is comfort food but when Jean asks, “What should I make during the snowstorm?” the list is automatic.
It pops into my head like the one-page menu at Chez Fat Boy. 1.) Chili 2.) Stew 3.) Beans 4.) Chicken & Noodles 5.) Meatloaf / Spuds. Bon appétit.
Certainly enjoying my volunteer work at the Round Barn, as I have for a number of years. I truly appreciate this little stretch of Route 66. Arcadia to Luther, Luther to Wellston, Wellston to Chandler – it’s a trail well-traveled for me. I don’t know about y’all, but I rarely drive the turnpike, unless I am forced to do so by some nefarious circumstance, usually someone in a hurry, either myself or a passenger. Here’s the deal, though; I mentally flip a coin to decide between the Turner and Route 66. As I said – in a hurry, so I opt for the Turner – and there’s a wreck. (This happens a lot since they raised the speed limit to 80 mph.) Inevitably, traffic stops for an hour, there’s no offramp, and I usually need to pee. It’s happened more than a few times over the years. I don’t think I’ve ever been hung up on 66 unless Farmer John is trundling the Farmall down the road, and even then, he’s usually only going to the next section and he’ll pull over on the shoulder to let you pass. Note: if you’re driving 66 on a Sunday morning, there WILL be slow-movers making their way to and from church. Bless ‘em.
On Route 66:Ramblin’ Joe
“I’m that guy who will tell travelers where the best omelet is, which hotels to stay in (or not), which areas in which towns to avoid, where the potholes and speed traps are, where the cool side trips are, what to look for on the Route and which drivable stretches of Old 66 aren’t marked anymore. I can tell them stories about homesteaders, about the Dust Bowl, about Oklahoma, and about my favorite subject, Oklahoma music.”
I’m at the Round Barn as I write this. I LOVE talking with travelers and visitors about 66. There are plenty of Route 66 experts out there. These are individuals who have made it their business to know as much as they possibly can about the Route. They’ve written books and travel guides, drawn maps, lectured, consulted, photographed, and made beautiful art. I’m not one of them. I’m that guy who will tell travelers where the best omelet is, which hotels to stay in (or not), which areas in which towns to avoid, where the potholes and speed traps are, where the cool side trips are, what to look for on the Route and which drivable stretches of Old 66 aren’t marked anymore. I can tell them stories about homesteaders, about the Dust Bowl, about Oklahoma, and about my favorite subject, Oklahoma music.
Something I regret as I greet visitors and work the Barn is that I never learned any other languages. A little Spanish and/or German would be very useful at times. One of the things I wanted to do when I retired was to learn to speak Chinese. Barn visitors aside, I figured that a smattering of Mandarin might come in REAL handy someday if you get my drift. Sadly, at one point, the Covid Pandemic literally halted our international visitor traffic. I don’t remember any European or Asian tourists in 2020. In ’21, things began to pick back up ever so slightly. We see a few overseas 66 travelers coming through, these days, but probably only about 10% of the seasonal foreign traffic we had before the Plague. Hopefully, things will get better. There’s always hope, right? After the bad Covid seasons ran their course, we saw a big jump in domestic tourism. We get lots of visitors, and I love ‘em. Some of my favorite Barn visitors are simply locals who lived here all their lives and never stopped in at the Round Barn!
As everyone should know by now, we play music at the Round Barn. This week, I will include a photo of the ever-elusive Barn Music cult band, “The Round Barn Ramblers.” Our buddy Tim Blake visited last Saturday and brought his camera. He caught us all out on the lawn and shot us, so to speak. I like this photo because we look so darn HAPPY! In the meantime, I am busy scheduling our Round Barn Sunday Elm Tree Concerts for this season. It’s going to be a great year. We’ll have fun or die trying. (Knock on wood.) Hey – y’all be good, and be weatherwise! – JB
RESIST – The urge to get in a danged ol’ HURRY all the time. Prioritize and plan. Be aware of traffic patterns and travel times. And the weather. Slow down; you’ll live longer. Hey, and it never hurts to leave a little early.
EDITOR’S NOTE. Joe Baxter is one of my favorite people. He loves music, the Arcadia Round Barn, his wife Jean, a club sandwich from Farmstead Cafe, Route 66 and America (not in that order). A songwriter and musician, he has a way with words and can turn a phrase such that you want to listen, or in this case, read for a while. If you are one of his “face friends” on social media, you know he can get you thinking with his posts and musings. He’s letting us post them here on The Luther Register! We’re trying something new. Find Joe at the Arcadia Round Barn where he is the head conversation aficionado catching stories from Route 66 travelers from all over the world, and getting the band together eight days a week! Thanks Ramblin’ Joe! ENJOY! – dawn