On Tour: Getting our kicks on Route 66

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the view from our storefrontThe view from our venue on Route 66

Our event in Tulsa was part of the second annual “Street Cred” — a weekend-long fair that breathes new life into a decrepit former main street. This year the event was on Route 66 itself, as it passes through the Red Fork neighborhood west of town on its way from Chicago to LA.

Our original venue was an outdoors space in a roofless old storefront, but due to rain and a tornado watch we made the last minute switch to the historic Crystal Mall, in an abandoned storefront right between the Auto Zone and the Family Dollar and down a ways from a spooky abandoned grocery store. We shared the storefront with a local t-shirt maker and the friendly owners of Archer Grocery, which, when it opens soon, will be *the only* grocery store serving downtown Tulsa’s 5,000 person and growing population.

In Tulsa, Route 66 is the focus of much economic revitalization energy. The route runs right through town, and there are efforts to make it tourist friendly once again. The bike community is working on joining this effort — apparently it is the Adventure Cycling Association’s most-requested route from foreign travelers who want to ride through the authentic Wild West. Unfortunately, much of the highway itself isn’t bike friendly, so their route mostly takes you down parallel roads.

Part of 66 through Tulsa is a bike route, though, at least according to the signs and sharrows we saw on the stretch including the bridge over the Arkansas River. I didn’t take any photos because we were busy discussing what a terrifying place this stretch of road would be to ride a bike, and then they were gone. But I did catch a shot of this evocative memorial to more prosperous times in the form of “Slim,” the last parking meter in West Tulsa:

the last parking meter in west tulsa

Though these blog dispatches might not adequately convey it, I liked Tulsa — there’s a spirit among the people we met there of laid back, confident hometown pride and genuine optimism about the city’s future, backed up by hard work to make it happen.

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