Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Route 66 & Wright, Mix, of Storms

We left OKC planning to drive a portion of Route 66 on our way to a stop in Bartlesville for a short stay at the Riverside RV Resort. We ended up extending our stay to let a line of threatening storms pass before moving into Kansas. In hindsight, this may not have been the best choice as we were surrounded by several tornadoes that were not as bad at our planned destination. We did weather the storm, but it did turn fatal east of us. We discovered that while you see tornado watches covering large areas the tornados are usually small, less than a mile wide, and short lived events.
We did "Get Our Kicks" on Route 66. Oklahoma has more drivable miles of the Mother Road than any other state and we passed several old landmarks. Left is the only wooden round barn in the state and an old Phillips 66 station. The pop bottle is at a store called Pops where they had a huge selection of pop. Bottom is one of the historical signs under a picture of the original pavement paralleling the newer road and right is an old motel sign. This was a great drive even though there were a few sections of the old road that were quite narrow in the motorhome. We came to Bartlesville to tour the Price Tower, the only skyscraper built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Over the years we have been to several Wright buildings including the Marin County Civic Center in California, Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, Taliesin West in Arizona, and Fallingwater, and Kentuck Knob in Pennsylvania. The tower was built in 1956 as a mixed use retail, office and apartment building by H.C. Price Pipeline Company. As with most Wright buildings everything from the building, to the furniture, to the trash cans were designed by Wright. The 19 story building was built with each floor being cantilevered from the center tower that held four very small elevators. There is no skeletal superstructure holding up the outside walls. Today it houses the Price Tower Arts Center, the Inn at Price Tower and a restaurant and bar on the 16th floor. There was a very good exhibit of the work of artist and architect Bruce Goff at the arts center. Goff was the person who recommended H. C. Price pursue Frank Lloyd Wright as architect for his new office building.
Left is one of the rooms at the inn. They go for $145 or you can stay in a two story suite for $245. The price includes a tour and breakfast so it's really not too steep for a chance to sleep in a museum. Center is the bar, Copper, that takes its name from all the copper Wright used on both the inside and the exterior. We had a drink and a snack at the bar. Right is one of the original apartments that were all two floors with a loft bedroom and a private elevator. As with most Wright designs the bath and kitchen were very small and there was only one closet which was very tiny and the one we saw had a window. Go figure?? Only five of the eight apartments were ever rented as the cost was $325 a month at a time when a house in town could be rented for $75.
This is the penthouse office of Mr. Price. A really small room for someone who had the money to have this unique building constructed. Because the rooms were all built with 30 and 60 degree angles, all the furniture had to be built to fit these unusual shapes. The tower was originally designed to be built in New York City but that project was never constructed. When it was built here Wright called it "The tree that escaped the crowded forest". If you are a Wright fan this building is a must see.
Across the street from the tower is the Bartlesville Community Center, designed by Wesley Peters, former Taliesin West chief architect. The center seats over 17,000 and along with the tower shows the wealth that oil has brought to this little city. Bartlesville was the home of Phillips 66 founder Frank Phillips. In driving around there are many very large expensive homes. There are buffalo statues located all over town painted with different themes. This one, with the famous Wright design, was located in the park between the Price Tower and Community Center.
In April 2009 while traveling in Arizona I saw a sign that marked the spot where cowboy movie star Tom Mix was killed in an automobile accident. Nanc's reaction was, "Who is Tom Mix?" Well, after our visit to Oklahoma, she now knows more about Mix than most people. We saw a display on Tom at the Cowboy Museum, we saw the Blue Belle Bar in Guthrie where he tended bar and here we visited the Tom Mix Museum in Dewey. Tom was once the sheriff here and made a local girl the third of his five wives. This is an excellent and extensive display as his entire collection of pictures and artifacts were acquired by the museum in the 1960's. Above left, his famous horse Tony he road in his movies and one of several saddles and some of his clothes. Center is the 2010 USPS stamp that honored Mix, William S. Hart, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry in the Cowboys of the Silver Screen series. Right is part of his gun collection and the entrance to the small theater where you can watch old Mix movies and watch a film on his very colorful life. The background is a mural on the museum. They even have a copy of the 1940 Dubois, Pennsylvania newspaper with the story of the state's native son's death. If you are into the old cowboy movies this is a worthwhile stop. They even have RV friendly parking. Auntie Em! Auntie Em! Wow, the weather here in Oklahoma sure can be scary. We stayed an extra day so we would not be driving through a line of storms going to Kansas. We then stayed another day because they were calling for west (cross) winds with 50 mph gusts. The t-shirt they sell at the park says it all. We did miss the worst of it and only got some hail and a lot of rain. That said, we did close the sides and when they reported a severe thunderstorm that could produce tornadoes was heading toward Bartlesville we went to the shelter, a block room in the center of the office. We were greeted by four other customers and the staff who showed me where the beer was on tap. Um, not too bad!! We have been under tornado warnings in Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas and now here. We have been luckier than our friends Wallace and Wanda who lost their rig to a storm in Georgia. We have enjoyed our stay in Oklahoma but we will be glad to get away from this crazy weather that seems to be following us.

1 comment:

Lori Harvey said...

CC n George just missed the tornado earlier this week in Tuscaloosa. They stayed in a walmart parking lot just a little north of there. When they woke up the next morning on the other side of Walmart half of the building was gone!! God was watching over both of you!!