By day five of our trip, the worst of the mechanical challenges were finally behind us, and we at last were free to really focus on the actual journey.
Jonathan Stein's only prerequisite for his participation during the trip was one meal that included corned beef hash, and he compiled a "hash list" of potential stops. The first restaurant we tried only served canned hash (the horror!), and photographer Ignacio Salas-Humara suggested Jimmy's Egg in Oklahoma City. Jonathan's hash dreams were again dashed, though the rest of the team thoroughly enjoyed hearty breakfasts and the company of our extremely opinionated waitress, Maeford.
After a quick fill-up and the purchase of some senseless souvenirs (e.g., a blowgun), we set our sights on Arcadia, Okla., home of POPS, a restaurant, "soda ranch" and shake shop that was highly recommended by readers. The building's interesting cantilever architecture and 66-foot soda bottle would have drawn us in either way. POPS offers more than 500 different types of colorful soda, which artfully line the windows, and nearly everyone left with a few to try.
Fueled by our soda-induced sugar rushes, we stopped briefly at the Arcadia Round Barn, a Route 66 landmark built in 1898 that has undergone a painstaking restoration after its 60-foot diameter roof collapsed in 1988. It now houses a gift shop.
Next up was an interview with famed customizer Darryl Starbird at his museum, The National Rod & Custom Hall of Fame Museum, in Afton, Okla. The massive facility features more than 50 of Starbird's custom-built exotic vehicles along with creations by other famous hot rod and custom car builders.
We pulled into the parking lot to be greeted by some modified monster trucks, one aptly named "Frankenstein." We also found a mini car show of sorts, featuring a '67 Olds (Kent Smith), a '50 Chevy (Ron Carder), a '65 GTO (Craig Cheek) and a '32 Ford Coupe (David Helms); members of a local car club had turned up to greet us after learning of our destination from a post on the Hagerty facebook page. The team enjoyed chatting with the group and learning what their club is doing to promote the classic car hobby in Afton.
The museum collection is impressive: We saw everything from a Pacer/El Camino hybrid to a 1956 Ford Thunderbird modified with a futuristic bubble top. At only $8 admission, it's a must-see for car guys and gals.
Our welcome committee suggested a quick stop in Miami (that's pronounced "My-a-mah") to check out the fully restored Coleman Theatre. Jeff and Jonathan spilled out of the Interceptor, nearly overcome by gasoline fumes that were leaking into the cabin. We'd discovered a day earlier that keeping the gas tank shy of full was the best way to mitigate this, combined with keeping the hatch propped open.
Next up were burgers and malts at another Route 66 landmark, Waylan's Ku-Ku Burger, well known for its giant fiberglass cuckoo bird and enormous neon sign.
We finally cruised into Carthage, Mo., at around 9:30 p.m. and decided to grab some quick photos of the cars in front of the Route 66 Drive-in Theatre. We were disappointed to find it closed, and were quickly asked to leave. (The owner referenced some suspicious "Europeans" who had been running amok in the area. We didn't stick around to learn the story behind that one.) We took our photo shoot to Iggy's Diner, instead, a vintage-looking stainless-steel structure.
Autoweek's Rory Carroll decided to install new speakers in the Datsun, and we unwound in our hotel parking lot before falling exhausted into our beds in another slightly sketchy motel sometime after midnight.
(Click here for Rory Carroll's account of the day.)