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Route 66

About six miles east of the I-35 freeway through OKC, the main stop along this idyllic rural cruise is the old highway town of Arcadia (pop. 269), which holds a wonderfully restored, very large, red round barn (405/396-0824). The ground floor of this much-loved landmark, originally built way back in 1898, is now a mini museum and gift shop, selling some highly collectible original Route 66 memorabilia.

A half mile west of the round barn, Arcadia’s other Route 66 landmark is bright, shiny, and comparatively new: Pops (405/928-7677), a gas station and small café fronted by a giant (66-foot-tall) soda pop bottle-shaped sign (not neon, but multicolored, energy-efficient LEDs). Built by Aubrey McClendon, an Oklahoma-born natural gas billionaire, Pops opened in 2007 and sells over 500 different varieties of soda pop (including around 100 brands of root beer!) as well as the requisite burgers and fuel, plus silky milk shakes. Even if you’re not all that hungry or thirsty, the exuberant, bottle-shaped tower, with its rainbow of colors, makes it worth hanging around till nightfall.

Between Arcadia and Oklahoma City, Route 66 ran through the town of Edmond, the place where aviator Wiley Post is buried (he was the pilot killed in the same crash as Will Rogers). Edmond is also notorious for the fact that a disgruntled post office employee killed 14 of his coworkers here in 1986, inspiring the expression “going postal.”

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