#259 - Rockwood Motor Court
Missouri Filling Station
Don and I got to experience our first overnight, in a Shell Oil filling station!
Back in the day, it was more than a gas station. This charming little building was a filling station, right on Route 66, just west of Springfield, Missouri.
Rockwood Motor Court
The old station along with a motor court, was built in 1929, just 3 years after The Mother Road opened.
Today, the buildings may be over 9 decades old, but the 2 signs are very new. Phyllis and Tim purchased the property a couple years ago and opened in 2020.
Tubby's Diner in 2016
This wasn't the first time Don and I visited the property. Five years ago, the gas station and house was a diner. The sign didn't exactly attract us, but we were intrigued with the old stone buildings.
I remember little about our lunch, but I have photos. I looked back at these photos when I read an article a year ago, about a couple renovating a motor court on Rt 66. I was giddy to recognize the sandstone buildings!
Arriving in June
I called and made reservations with Phyllis for a Thursday in June.
We avoided the weekend, since Route 66 attracts lots of motorcycles. The sweet cottages looked very inviting!
This sweet building held rooms 1 and 2. Was it once a cottage with garage? The red chairs and Dutch figures were pretty sweet! The brick building next door was part of a Baptist Church, so no worries of noise.
This photo shows off the Ozark sandstone and the red brick trim. I should have taken a close up, to show how the sawed sandstone gave a "wood grain" appearance.
House and Office
The cottage next to the green building was where we checked in with Phyllis. What a delight. She seemed as eager to have us and we were to be there!
The green building was Tubby's Diner, in 2016. Long before that, the rock and stucco building was home to the original owners, who operated "Rockwood Court" as a Tourist Camp.
After many changes in ownership, the business became Rockwood Motor Court, in 1948.
The term motor court came into use in the late 1930's. They were designed for people traveling by automobile. Motels don't have garages, but some motor courts do! Rockwood had some garages and one remains. Phyllis pointed it out.
Photo-time, Near the Garage
We had a great conversation with our host about the kinds of guests who appreciate the history of Route 66.
We also talked about the pandemic and our shared concerns about the spiking cases in Springfield. We were both happy to be vaccinated and hopeful that more would get the vaccine.
Don and I peeked around at the other cottages. All were a little different on the outside. The insides had different themes as well.
Had this one been a duplex, before renovation? I liked the sweet double glider and planters with flowers... and pillows!
This one had a bit of a garden in front. The rock pattern reminded me of a gingerbread house... or maybe one of those yummy windmill cookies.
Phyllis took us to our room in the old filling station. Our building was the only one that faced Rt 66. (now College Street)
The glassed-in entry, would have been nice on a chilly winter day. On a warm day in June it was just an extra door, that made us feel a little less vulnerable to the people who might try to walk in. I'm not sure if that ever happens, but some could think it was the motor court office.
Filling Station Theme
Phyllis showed us around and I asked lots of important questions. "Who's the deer?" "Oh, that's Stanley."
I didn't have to ask about the cost for a bottle of Coca-Cola. "Insert penny and nickel in slot" was written above the handle. No ICE COLD cokes were inside, but it brought back some memories.
Our comfy space luckily had more than a filling station interior. There were themed goodies in absolutely every nook and cranny, but there was a comfy sitting area and a nice TV, as well. The braided rug and most furniture had a vintage feel.
We could have gotten a themed guest room for $69. But, we went all out and paid $115. for our studio with kitchenette.
It felt wonderful to spread out after 5 days in small hotel/motel rooms.
So Many Beds
We had a lot of beds for 2 people.
The single beds made me wish it was 1995, traveling with our young kids. They would have loved the little desk and and games. The "Kid in Don" loved the hubcaps and Shell sign.
A Stage Play
The kitchen corner, reminded me of a set for a play. I think Phyllis and Tim had a fun time collecting the "props" and decor for this wonderful space.
The table just seemed to invite us to play cards into the night... with beers from the Philco fridge. Phyllis apologized for not defrosting the freezer. The frosty freezer was a funny sight. Should have snapped a pic.
Luckily the sign on the bathroom door was just for laughs. We didn't really have to obtain a key from the station attendant.
My photo with the black toilet seat and "automotive products" shelf, really looks like a gas station restroom. But in person, the bathroom looked absolutely fresh and spotless. I've never seen a station restroom this clean.
Phyllis didn't stay long, but I'm glad she saw some good reactions from us. Don and I both love a theme and they did it well.
Even the black tile floor seemed perfect. Don was amused by the fan belt and radiator guide.
I loved the use of red and yellow! The colors were perfect for matching the Shell Oil signs, but also good for making me crave a hotdog with catsup and mustard.
I asked Phyllis if she ever worried about people running off with some of the treasures. She said the Shell cigarette lighter from Tucumcari, was her favorite. She said they had such nice guests, she couldn't imagine... then she laughed. "But I do have addresses, to track people down!"
We only had one night, so we didn't get to spend much time looking through the "Filler Up" or the "Route 66" books.
The "Filler 'er Up!" game was probably for kiddos, but I'd have played if we had more time. The Sinclair puzzle hadn't even been opened, but it was 1000 pieces, so I wasn't tempted. I smiled to recognize the very Sinclair station, that we've seen in Missouri.
Don and I love a little Hotel Happy Hour, on a porch or deck. We had lots of options on Rockwood's property.
It was a little too warm with hot evening sun, to sit in front of our station. The yellow Adirondack chairs were also in the sun, but there was a bubbling fountain nearby.
Earlier we had chatted with some older travelers, playing cards under the patio roof.
The tables were empty at 6. It seemed that all the other guests had gone off for dinner.
Don and I took the prize table, in the shade. Cushions and pillows made our bamboo swivel chairs, pretty festive!
We raised our wine for a toast, just as Phyllis stepped out of the office. She greeted us, then handed us a sealed bag of Kettle Corn. Oh Lord! I was in heaven!
Don and I sat in the shade with a nice breeze and studied the cozy cottages... and the creative light fixtures above our heads. Were they upside down, plastic planters?
Eventually, we saw a few other guests and chatted a bit. A cyclist prepared her bike and headed off on a ride. One woman was traveling home from her 103 year old mother's funeral. A nurse was doing temporary work at a Springfield hospital... treating Covid patients. Such nice people, staying nearby.
When the sun got lower, we moved to the wooden seating in front.
We never want to ignore a chance to sit on old Route 66. There weren't many cars or people, but we waved to a few. The highlight was when we spotted 2 men crossing the road, in their motorized wheelchairs. They puffed on cigarettes as they traveled on down the road.
The lights came on and temps dropped. We decided to stay put, instead of heading out for dinner. After the sun was down, we made sandwiches in our kitchenette and watched a little TV. It seemed just right.
Breakfast Down the Road
In the morning we walked down 66, before 8:00. We had some fun people encounters, while eating breakfast at the College Street Cafe.
The photos above show some of the curious buildings within a half mile of the motor court. Some might not find this as fun as me, but I was a happy tourist!
Don and I have stayed in about 10 motels on Route 66. Some of them have been renovated and some have become sad and worn. This property was brought back to life with new paint and tons of treasures. None of the old charm has been scrubbed away.
Our timing was perfect at Rockwood Motor Court. It hasn't been open for very long, so the enthusiasm and renovations are fresh! I'm predicting that before long, it might be hard to book our special studio room. Glad we got to spend our very first night in a filling station!
#258 - Basin Park Hotel
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Don and I have had eyes on this hotel for years. We finally spent a night!
We've stayed in this picturesque Ozark town a few times, but never in the center of town. I was excited when we pulled up to the grand hotel, on Father's Day.
Beside the Spring
Our hotel got its name from Basin Spring... the healing spring waters, that began attracting visitors in the 1800's. The spring was just 100 feet from our hotel.
The 7-story limestone fortress was built into the side of the mountain, in 1905. It went up on the very spot where a wooden hotel opened, in 1881. It only stood for a few years, before it burned to the ground.
Curves and Arches
We parked and headed over, admiring the curves that crowned the top of the hotel. I was amused to spot the Sailor's Luck Tattoo Studio, on the street level. We could make it a truly notable night, if we got some tattoos as souvenirs.
We followed the arched walkway towards the entrance. There were no pumpkins and and fall decor, in June. But, back when visited in October of 2014, there was a big spotlight on Halloween and the hotel's ghostly history!
Lobby in June
The lobby felt cramped for such a large hotel. I love an old hotel lobby with cozy sitting areas, where you can watch people come and go. Maybe there were some, back in the day.
There was an impressive stone fireplace with an equally impressive mirror. The dark woodwork and lobby desk, took me back in time to 1905. The hotel clerk's masked face, reminded me that it was June 2021.
The hotel was considered quite modern, with its elevator in 1905. The one we used was so small and slow, that I wondered if it was the original.
Since we were on the 4th floor and had bags, we were happy to have an elevator period. Our room was just to the right of the elevator door, so we didn't have to wander down halls.
But, I did some wandering anyway. I so love walls and floors and stairways, especially when they have odd shapes and bends and angles.
Our king room had a fun shape, too. It was fairly spacious for an old hotel.
The bed was comfy, with decent linens. I always appreciate a ceiling fan and bedside tables, with lamps.
The high ceiling, big windows and a large wall mirror, made the room feel even larger.
Chocolate Bar Doors
I was especially fond of the doors. The decorative hardware was fun and the brown paint made the doors look edible! Our bathroom door was attached to the widest doorframe I've ever seen. It must have been one of the original bathrooms. Only half of the rooms in 1905, had one.
The little storage space above the closet door, was curious. Was that to store luggage if you stayed a week? There was no way I could reach that area on my own.
This wasn't our view, but some rooms could look out over the park.
I found this view at the end of a hallway.
Our room was at the "bottom" of the U-shaped building. My eyes went directly to the lush landscape, then down to the patio deck. If we'd had a room on the side, my eyes might have met up with the eyes of a guest straight across. No worries. Everyone seemed to keep their blinds down. That meant I got to study the stone and brickwork, without looking like a spy.
We've had mountain views before, but not like this. For the first time I could see how the hotel was truly built into the mountainside. What a patchwork of textures.
A Better Look
To enjoy a more interesting view of the mountainside, I went down to the park and headed up the stairs.
At the top of the stairs, I found a gazebo to the left. To the right I found an odd display of metal, connecting the hotel to the rock, behind.
A catwalk is a term I associate with theatre. The catwalks I found behind the hotel, gave a great "behind the scenes" glimpse, of what we'd have to deal with if we had a hotel fire! That would be quite movie scene!
These crazy metal stairs and walkways, offered escapes from all levels of the hotel. Mr. Ripley (as in Believe It or Not) evidently found this hotel amusing. Back in the day, he claimed it was the only building where, "every floor is the ground floor."
The Lounging Deck
After I snapped the catwalk photos, I tried to figure out how to get to the "patio" space we'd seen from our window. Don and I finally found the door on the second floor. I was able to strike up a pose, with the natural rock wall, behind me.
Don struck a pose between the gas fire pit and the hot tub. (beneath the umbrella) Don's observant eye, noticed a sign on the wall, reminding us that skinny dipping was not allowed.
Below the Glass Roof
Also behind Don was a skylight, that we'd noticed from our window.
We found a lounge/game room below the glass. If we'd had more time, we could have played a little chess or foosball or Jenga. I did find time to examine the history exhibits, in the glassed in cases. So many vintage photos and pieces of hotel memorabilia!
Jack Rabbett's Whisky Bar
We took a peek inside the Whisky Bar on the second floor. It was named for Jack, the manager who worked the hotel bar in 1951, when it was raided by the local sheriff.
For many decades, Eureka Springs had quite a bootlegging industry. Saloons thrived throughout Prohibition. Besides booze, there was a live-in "hostess" in the hotel and lots of gambling. I guess the sheriff got tired of it and made a few arrests, in 1951. Jack was one of them. Slot machines and liquor was destroyed in the street.
We passed another bar on the way to the Balcony Restaurant.
Just looking at that wavy wall, you could think you'd had one too many whiskeys.
Lunch and View
We were happy to find that Eureka Springs was not being overrun with tourists, on Father's Day. That meant we were able to get seated on the balcony, with no wait.
The food was good and the scenery was even better. My view of the narrow flatiron building was the best. I love how the skinny building sits like a tall piece of pie, in the split between Spring and Center Street.
We came back in the evening for a drink before dinner. The same guitarist had returned and the atmosphere was pleasant and relaxed.
I have no photos from our evening on the balcony, but I have this one from 2014. Pretty funny that we were seated in the same spot.
Looking back seven years ago, we also have memories of wandering up to the top floor and discovering the Barefoot Ballroom.
We could hear music as we headed up the stairs. First we stepped into a lobby area, with a cash bar. Then we moved into the next room, with a musical show in progress.
We hit the jackpot of entertainment. The talented musicians kept us happy and the guests kept us totally amused. We spotted at least one top hat and a few pairs of long, white gloves in the crowd. There were overalls and pigtails and lots of plaid shirts. My photos reveal no bare feet, so I'm not sure if we really happened upon the Barefoot Ball or just the room named after it.
Back at the Ballroom
There was nothing happening on the top floor, during our Sunday night stay. I'm guessing that was because of Covid.
I was glad the area was unlocked so I could peek during the day. The curved stained glass and wonderful wood floors were much more evident in daylight.
The First Barefoot Ball
The Barefoot Ball began in 1948. I believe it's been a yearly event since, except for these 2 Covid years. Who knows what was going on with these socially distanced tables, in the room with the stage?
The shoeless ball, began when a newly married couple was awarded a 2-week hotel stay, in 1948. They won the prize, on the radio show "Truth or Consequences". There was a catch. They had to go barefoot for the entire stay. They did and the hotel owner had a Ball in honor of them. "Check your shoes at the door!" Those were the days, when people would go along with whimsical contests and gimmicks.
One of the best parts of our stay, was wandering on foot... in shoes. If you don't mind steep hills, the town is very walkable. We wound our way up the curvy-steep streets, to the top of the hill. We had drinks and dinner at The Crescent Hotel, with gorgeous views.
Later we wandered back down, tripping along the dark stairways. We found the charming streets around our hotel, very quiet by 10. We also found a few other hotels to try in the future.
We woke to crashing storms in the morning. It was a little tricky getting our luggage to the parking area in the rain. (We were too impatient to wait for the shuttle)
The rain made me appreciate that we'd walked so much the day before. I'm glad I didn't wait until morning to take pictures!
Our timing was good for our stay at Basin Park. The town and hotel could have been jammed with tourists, but it was pleasantly quiet... day and night.
I'll remember that our room was spacious and our balcony dining was pleasant. The location was ideal for exploring. The hotel building itself was remarkable, especially how it connected to the mountainside.
Next time when the pandemic is far behind, I'll be game for more activity and music and maybe some curious people encounters.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!