ARCADIA, Oklahoma — The rumble of motorcycles announces the arrival of a group of tourists on a bright, early May morning at the Round Barn in Arcadia.
“They’re here,” one of the barn’s staff members says aloud.
Within moments, the silence of an otherwise lazy morning is broken by the sounds of men and women clad in leather, jean jackets and bandannas speaking Czech. They sign the guest book, and circle the barn reading about its 120-year history. Stories about how a man named William Odor cut oak into boards, soaked them and secured them in jigs that bent the boards to form a structure that has become so iconic, it’s become a sort of unofficial second badge for Route 66.
These scenes are not uncommon for the Mother Road. Americans use the road to get from A to B, but to travelers from foreign countries it has become an exotic destination, a 2,448-mile ribbon of asphalt from Illinois to California that conjures up images of Wyatt and Billy from “Easy Rider,” conquering wide-open spaces of the American west on the backs of chrome horses.