Cruising along Route 66 will lead you to some unique destinations. While the names on the map roll by like tumbleweeds, the people found in the cities along the way will plant themselves in your memory for years to come. A prime example was our visit with Nedra, who was happy to share a slice of the past with us. We were about ready to get a lesson of history in the Heartland of America Museum. Actually, that is the name of this out-of-the-way museum that we found in Weatherford, Oklahoma.
Holder of the History
One thing we have learned during our years of traveling is that every visit is a little different. For each place that we find that is high-tech and up to date with technology, there is another that barely exists in the social media world. These are the ones that struggle to get recognized since they often have no one on staff to assist. When we run across one of these, it makes us a little more eager to get the word out about them. Especially when they have some interesting artifacts and exhibits.
Walk Down Memory Lane
The museum is broken into a series of rooms that each cover a segment of life. As we strolled from room to room, we spotted lots of items that we remembered from our youths. There were just as many that obviously predated our existence. Route 66 was officially designated in 1927. The timing ended up being useful for families heading west to escape the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. It would also serve as a major thoroughfare for Americans heading to Los Angeles for the 1932 Summer Olympics.
Honor in the Heartland
Although there are always a variety of items that are new to us, there are certain themes that play out in city after city. Exploring history in the Heartland of America Museum comes with a healthy dose of patriotism. Many of the museums, like this one in Weatherford, get their artifacts from locals. Proud military members and their families willingly donate pieces that have been collected by those who served. Fortunately, this means that there is plenty for all of us to see.
After looking over the artifacts inside, it was time to move out into the Oklahoma sunshine. A collection of smaller buildings is found on the museum grounds. Each has significance to the people of the region. We could tell that Nedra was finding pleasure in sharing the collection of memorabilia that the staff had amassed on this site. A blacksmith shop and old schoolhouse were first for us to visit.
Once the doors were opened, we found the interiors of each building to be filled with precious memories. Nedra told stories of her youth, which included experiences in places like these. While life was difficult in those days, it was simpler and just as fulfilling.
Route 66 Memories
There was one last exhibit that Nedra wanted to show us. She had saved the best for last. A small roadside diner sat on one end of the museum grounds. It didn’t look overly impressive and reminded us of many of the mom and pop shops that lined the route. We could almost envision the leather-tufted stools and smell the burgers cooking. The conversations of people discussing the best stops along The Mother Road filled our imaginations.
Cool Daddy was Here!
Once the door was opened, our visions became reality. The counter was just about what we had imagined. Sample plates of food lined the space and represented the stick-to-your-ribs meals that would be served up for hungry travelers. That is about the time that Nedra pointed out an interesting artifact sitting on the counter. A piece of ledger paper held the names of some of the travelers who had dined at this small eatery. Right in the middle was the signature of Elvis Presley. Not only had he stopped to eat here, but it was one of three visits that he made traveling back-and-forth on Route 66.
All that talk about dining on the route had certainly built up our appetites. We thanked Nedra for her wonderful tour of the Heartland of America Museum and headed to dinner. Back on Main Street, we located Luigi’s Italian Restaurant. Stepping through the door, we knew we were the only two here that weren’t locals. That was okay with us because the growing crowd signified a good meal to come.
Getting Our Italian On
A quick round of salads took the edge off of our appetites without destroying them. This was just enough to hold us for the main courses. I rarely pass up an opportunity to enjoy some Tortellini Alla Panna, and that evening’s dish was delightfully cheesy. The blend of marinara and alfredo sauces added a nice layer of flavor. Crystal chose the Luigi’s Special which features chicken, sausage, and ham. Then mix up some white wine cream sauce with a touch of marinara to add a pleasing edge to this interesting dish.
Heartland of America
Another successful day of exploring was in the books. We had once again been getting our kicks on Route 66, and discovering all of this history in the Heartland of America was fulfilling. Time to head to our hotel and do a little swimming before settling in for the night. We had another day of exploring ahead of us and the open road was calling our names. When was your last road trip?