Day 2, I looking forward to this day as one of the highly anticipated highlights of this vacation lies ahead. Off on our journey to visit the Route 66 Museum in Clinton OK, and then to the Roger Miller Museum which I have been looking forward too along with the additional sights unseen on Route 66 to Amarillo Texas.
The day starts off early, I have a great breakfast at The Hampton Inn. Most motels have a continental breakfast. Sometimes one gets lucky and you get a waffle maker to go with the toast, muffins and coffee. This one is different though, from Biscuits and Gravy to fried bacon, yogurt, eggs and more. There are enough items for a diabetic to have a good breakfast and have a few items to take along the remaining day’s journey.
It isn’t long before we stop in Clinton Oklahoma to visit the Route 66 Museum. I passed this on my way to Mexico for my college graduation trip but that was many years ago. Back then we drove by late in the evening and didn’t stop. I remember my mother, wife and daughter was with me on that trip. The memories cause me to recall the last year or so, the upcoming release of my book and the truth behind what one person has challenged regarding the book. I won’t let those things bother me much though. I am with my wife, taking a vacation to enjoy some of the time we have left of our life together.
The Route 66 museum is quite nice and well worth the small fee. To think of America’s history, to think of the value of this highway and a time when people lived a simpler life is quite refreshing, and at times, sad. I don’t know, call me crazy, but I think of the animated movie Cars while at the museum. So many small towns, businesses and people’s lives were changed with the interstate highway system, all for convenience, but at a cost. Much like the song I wrote several years ago, America’s Highway, Route 66, this is and was for many, a spiritual journey.
We leave Clinton and head towards Erick Oklahoma. Erick is a small town in western Oklahoma not far from the Texas Panhandle. Erick is the home of former country music great Roger Miller, and Sheb Wooley. Without the luxury of even a red light, on the corner of Sheb Wooley Avenue and Roger Miller Boulevard sits a small museum in tribute to Roger Miller.
Roger Miller was an incredible performer, likely best known for his song King of the Road. He died from lung cancer, due in part to his heavy smoking habits. The museum was a gem of Americana. From the incredibly nice lady who welcomed us to the small but significant nature of the items in the museum.
I found out a lot about Roger Miller, he suffered from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD). He never finished high school and yet he won more Grammy Awards in a single year than any artist up until Michael Jackson. Miller had numerous top-40 songs, many of which crossed over, and the song King of the Road beat out the Beatles Yesterday for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year. All of his success came at the height of the British invasion, and yet so few knew of the things this man had to overcome. In many ways, his ability to persevere, and endure is a tribute to the people of Western Oklahoma, and Erick in particular.
The museum was great, we had the opportunity to watch a one hour video documentary on the life of Roger Miller and the lady at the museum is kind enough to offer us a coke while watching. We spend time speaking with her; we purchase a few souvenirs and leave out. I can’t help but think about Roger Miller and his example.
Roger Miller had what many consider a disability, but he was a terrific song writer and performer and made a good living doing what he loved. In many ways, especially if you listen to some of his songs, he used his so called disability to turn around and advance his career. So many of us, including myself at times, focus on the negative and make excuses as to why something can’t be done. That wasn’t the case for Roger Miller. He took full advantage of his life and opportunities, despite his so called disability. He gave much to his fans. I am reminded, don’t quit, persevere, and keep on going for my dreams.
We leave the museum shortly after noon and head west; we drive on the original Route 66 for much of the afternoon. It runs parallel with Interstate 40 for much of the journey. There are cracks in the road, grass growing through the pavement, and the narrow, curving road reminds me of history once again. I can’t help but wonder, if the road was rebuilt, reestablished, not as an interstate but much like the original Route 66 would there be people like me who would prefer to travel it instead of the rush on the Interstate. Are there those that enjoy meeting the people of America, seeing her sites, and enjoying the landscape? What would a rebuilding of this historical road do for the towns and businesses along the journey? I can’t help but think, it may be a financial burden initially, but in the long run, it would pay incredible benefits for those along the route, either living or traveling the road. For me, the benefits would far outweigh the cost.
It wasn’t long and we are approaching Groom Texas. This is a town that likely most haven’t heard of, but it is popular on Route 66 for its Leaning Water Tower. While we may never visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we have visited the Leaning Water Tower of Britten. What can one say at such as a significant moment in life?
We are hungry and decide to stop in Shamrock Texas. Shamrock is one of those towns I wish I had known about before the trip. They have a stay and play golf package. It would have been great for my wife and me to enjoy a game we both love. We enjoy some of the scenery in Shamrock including Texas Largest Water Tower. Something about the day seemed to center on water towers. We enjoy a decent meal at one of the towns’ highly publicized restaurants Big Vern’s. My wife has a hamburger and I have Barbeque. While my wife says the hamburger was good, the Barbeque was only average as it resembles Barbeque out of a can. The price was a little high which prevents us from eating steak. We know we are on a budget.
After Shamrock we see signs for the 2nd largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere. This is a must stop.
This 19 –story cross is impressive. We see it from miles away. After exiting in the middle of nowhere, we are surprised. It isn’t just a giant cross; it is a large complex with multitudes of statues and a gift shop/ministry center.
As I walk around the complex, I have mixed emotions. I can’t help but think of that graven images thing in the Bible. I am not saying this is the intent of the complex, but I can’t get over everything I am taking in. There are many people taking photos of various angles of the cross, various statues around the cross and more. I also can’t help but notice people at certain points of the attraction praying. I love my faith, I love my God but there was something unsettling about all of this.
It isn’t long and I decide to go into the gift shop. I begin to feel uncomfortable in a matter of seconds. The first thing I notice is a picture for sale of an American soldier in full military garb, complete with a rifle. He had angle wings that were painted like the American Flag. I want to take a photo, but the shop requests no photos. If this isn’t confusing or disturbing enough, it isn’t long before I see another picture that bothers me. It is a picture of the Mother Mary holding the Baby Jesus. I have seen similar pictures before, that didn’t bother me, but the fact that she is draped in an American Flag bothers me. I can’t help but think, what does Jesus think of this nationalization of faith, and what do people from other countries think when they see this?
As we are leaving the Giant Cross we notice a restaurant that commercializes faith once more, it is a sign to eat at the Blessed Mary’s Restaurant. I wonder, is the commercialization of faith appropriate?
We leave and before long are in Amarillo Texas. We check in to another Priceline Bid room, The Extended Stay Inn in West Amarillo on Interstate 40. There is a movie theater and plenty of commercial property around us, restaurants, a mall, and more. We have a mini suite but the room isn’t quite as nice as the night before. There is Wi-Fi internet access for $10 a week which I splurge for. We have a small kitchen so a trip to the grocery store helps us save money. It’s getting late and close to bed time. We look forward to the next morning which will be rooted in faith.
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