It’s Groundhog Day. And Superbowl Sunday. Punxsatawny Phil, the groundhog of Punxsatawny, PA is on TV.
“He saw his shadow! 6 more weeks of cold!” the reporters report.
Every morning, we watch the same weather report over and over again, trying to decide on the day’s route, the trip’s direction. Superstorm Maximus is still wrecking havoc while the next one, Nika, gains strength. It’s dropping much needed rain in California now. Atlanta, GA is a mess. We are no longer considering a trip to the Deep South. The Highway 61 Tour is no longer. Maybe it will become the Route 66 to California Tour.
Today seems to be the worst yet.
The roads are dry as we leave frigid Joplin. It’s “21 degrees but feels like 7” according to the local weather report. 21…7…once again, who can tell the difference – it’s all bloody freezing to us. Tiny icicles drip from Sprockets’ side mirrors.
Oklahoma’s major highways are all toll roads. Something not OK about OK. Not enough revenue elsewhere? Being frugal travelers, we’ve already done a bit of homework on avoiding these tolls and at the Missouri-Oklahoma border jump off I-44 and follow signs for Old Route 66 to Baxter Springs. We’re in Kansas now. Baxter Springs is a teeny tiny town – but picturesque in a movie backdrop way.
“I think this is the birthplace of Mickey Mantle,” I point out. I’ve become the talking navigator, sharing interesting tidbits about the places we are driving through. I should sell the idea to car navigation systems companies. Or maybe they already have features like that. I am so out of it these days.
It starts to snow. By the time we enter Oklahoma, a few miles later, it is really snowing and there’s not enough traffic on Old Route 66 to keep the roads clear. I am starting to freak out.
“There’s supposed to be a place out there with the original pavement for Route 66 but forget it. The roads are too icy out here.”
“Let’s go find a motel and wait it out.”
We inch our way to Miami, which is nothing like Miami, FL. The road’s all white with dry snow flurries and there are frozen ice droplets across the windshield that won’t get wiped off. The mile or 2 through Downtown Miami to the motel zone feels like 10 miles.
“There’s an Econolodge!”
Big Dog send me in to ask prices. The motel is quite fancy. A handsome Native American receptionist informs me that the rate is $70. That’s too much for Frugal RVers.
Up ahead, there’s a Deluxe Inn and Suites, which don’t look deluxe at all. The staff here is Indian (not Native American but India-Indian.) I wonder if they came here because they heard that there are “many Indians” in Oklahoma.
Actually, there are more Native Americans in California, surprisingly. You’d think Oklahoma would have more because different tribes were driven here from their ancestral grounds (Trail of Tears.) Miami is the name of one of the tribes and people here pronounce it “my-am-uh.”
The main tribes that were chased into Oklahoma were the “Five Civilized Tribes” of Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole. The Seminoles were from Florida and came last, “devastated by years of resistance and grueling migration” according to National Geographic’s colorful map of the Central Plains.
Not-so-deluxe Inn is not so bad. It’s a good place to hang, watch Superbowl and wait to see what happens, weather-wise.