Route 66: Carthage, MO to Cuba, MO
Day 6 – 1983 Miles from Home
CARTHAGE, MO to CUBA, MO – 239 Miles
What a bizarre day. I mean, no individual event stood out as bizarre… Simply the culmination of the day’s events–a day of countless U-turns and backtracking to find the elusive Mother Road. Yes, we could have hopped on the Interstate and avoided the hassle, but that’s not what this trip is about.
We left the fabulous Boots Motel (did I mention how much I love the place??) and headed east on 66. This is where lost-in-Missouri-number-one bit us. 66 follows 96 east out of Carthage and then just after Lake Kellogg, the old 66 breaks off. Our plan was to follow that exact route since we like the old alignments, but we didn’t count on the detour. Instead of driving 66, we ended up on some random road for what seemed like forever before it rejoined the real 96–well beyond where 66 veered off.
So how to find 66 again?
The challenge on a motorcycle is not being able to follow a map to keep on track. The nice guy’s Brian mentioned in yesterday’s blog (who we’ve had a parallel journey with) told us about this great app that shows the exact route and all its fragments. Terrific! If you’re in a car. On a bike you have to pull over, turn off the motor, take the gloves off, and study the app while baking in a jacket and helmet. BUT… The experience riding through some of the places we found today wouldn’t be the same in a car so I’ll gladly deal with all the u-turns it takes to get there.
One of our u-turns took us to a short alignment that went through tiny Spencer which consists of a Phillips 66 and a cluster of other business, including a barber shop and a garage, all long since closed and now in a restoration process. The community first became a ghost town in 1912 and was revived by the building of route 66 then died again after the highway was realigned. It’s a lovely slice of history worth stopping for, plus there’s a great truss bridge on the way out.
I’d like to tell you where we went from there, but we lost the road so many times it’s now a blur. We did find another fantastic alignment by accident. Near Waynesville (?) we stopped for gas and the locals recommended we take cover. The ominous black clouds we’d been eyeballing were headed our way and they figured it was a mighty bad storm. We put rain gear on and pushed another 30 miles to Rolla via the Interstate. After a bit, Brian’s bag cover started to flap, so he pulled off to fix it… And guess what? I saw a sign indicating Route 66. So we followed it. Wow. I mean WOW! One of the prettiest sections to date with a huge rusty truss over a river and thick foliage with trees canopying the road. We think it was called Devil’s Elbow but we’re not certain. The two-laner then split to a divided, but not like the modern divideds we know. It was concrete and cracked and so very very cool.
Once in Rolla, and having only been sprinkled on, we decided to push on again. The only historic motel of note in Rolla closed last year. Using the app the guys told us about, we discovered we were just twenty miles from the legendary Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba! Come on! What’s another half hour in a storm, right??
But I tell ya…. It was so worth it. The Wagon Wheel is fantastic. Gorgeous grounds, nicely restored rooms with good linens and beds, and great neon.
Hopefully my boots and slicks will dry by morning for Day 7 of our Route 66 Motorcycle Adventure!
It might be a wet one. It’s dumping right now! Oops! Power just went out.