Buck Atom’s Crash Pad among Airbnb’s ‘Quirkiest Roadside Attractions’ | Home & Garden

Mary Beth Babcock had her eye on the house occupying the lot behind her business for quite some time. She just didn’t know what she would do with it should it ever become available.

Babcock is the owner of Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios, 1347 E. 11th St., an emporium devoted to all things uniquely, and often quirkily, Tulsa, as well as items associated with Route 66.

The shop has become something of a mecca for travelers exploring the “Mother Road,” especially since its namesake, a 21-foot-tall muffler man-turned-space cowboy, first planted his big black boots on the parking lot.

“I would see this house whenever I would come to work,” Babcock said, “and I’d think how cool it would be to have it. I thought maybe I could turn it into an extension of the shop, which is pretty small, or maybe I could turn it into an art gallery. But it was really just wishful thinking.”

Until a fateful day when Babcock decided to go home via a slightly different route — and saw the family that lived there loading their possessions into a moving van.

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“Long story short,” Babcock said, “I worked out a deal to be able to use it. I still wasn’t sure what to do with it, until it hit me — an Airbnb spot right on Route 66. I thought that was exactly what was needed, and this house was the perfect place for it.”







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The dining area of Buck Atom’s Crash Pad is shown. The home was decorated with artwork that is for sale.




So Babcock began transforming the modest single-story, three-bedroom bungalow at 1024 S. Quincy Ave. into Buck Atom’s Crash Pad, which opened to the public in October 2020.

“It took us a lot of time to get it in shape and decorated,” Babcock said. “I knew I didn’t want it to be a regular old home. It’s really like an extension of the shop, really — like a version of Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios that you can spend the night in.”

One measure of Babcock’s success in achieving that goal was made manifest this week, when Airbnb included Buck Atom’s Crash Pad on its listing of “Quirkiest Roadside Attractions” to inspire summer traveling.

According to the Airbnb website, the list was compiled after the company had conducted a survey that found “nearly 70 percent of respondents … want to be able to filter (their choices of possible destinations) for unique stays.”

Buck Atom’s Crash Pad is one of what Airbnb describes as “16 wacky roadside Americana stays … from an out-of-the-ordinary tree house in Florida, to a luxury dome in North Carolina.” (For the complete list: news.airbnb.com/roadside-curiosities)







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A treehouse at Danville, Florida, was also named to Airbnb’s list of quirky stays.




Becoming another roadside attraction along Route 66 has been Babcock’s plan ever since she opened Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios in 2018, in a renovated Pemco gas station.

The shop’s namesake, a unique variation on the classic “muffler man” statues that once used to tower along the “Mother Road,” made his debut about a year later.

“The thing about Route 66 is that it’s not just a road you travel along — it’s an experience,” Babcock said. “That’s what I discovered from my own travels along the route. What makes it special are the people, the charm of these small, quirky little places you discover along the way.”







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A treehouse at Danville, Florida, was also named to Airbnb’s list of quirky stays.




The house that now houses Buck Atom’s Crash Pad was built in 1917, and its facade, with its broad front porch and olive-green walls, allows it to blend in with the neighborhood.

But once inside, the decor is a mix of styles and motifs that echo just about everything one might associate with Route 66, from neon lights (such the “Diner” sign above the range in the full kitchen) to the American Southwest and its “Indian” trading posts.







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One of the bedrooms is furnished with two twin beds, while the other two have single king-size and full-size beds. All the artwork that adorns the walls of Buck Atom’s Crash Pad is available for purchase.




One bedroom comes equipped with a king-sized bed, another holds a full-sized bed, and the third contains two twin beds. The house also has a full bathroom and half-bath.

“At the most, we can accommodate up to six people,” Babcock said.

One unique element of the house is that all the art that adorns the walls is available for purchase.

“I call it a ‘Living Gallery,'” Babcock said. “Most of the items we used to decorate the house came from the shop, so it just seemed logical to have this for sale. If people see something they really like during their stay, they can go on our website and purchase it.”

Babcock said the majority of the art in the home is the work of artists who live and work in Oklahoma.







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In a nod to Route 66’s history of neon-emblazoned eateries, a neon sign hangs over the stove in the kitchen of Buck Atom’s Crash Pad.




Babcock said opening a lodging space during a pandemic “was a little scary, but we decided we’d give it a shot and if it didn’t work, we’d figure something else out.

“But I was fairly confident from my own experiences traveling Route 66 that this wasn’t too big a gamble,” she said. “More people are traveling now, and they’re looking more and more for unusual places. And we’re very careful about following all the cleaning protocols to help keep everyone safe.”

Babcock said the Crash Pad has been fairly busy since its opening.

“We’ve had couples who wanted to get married in front of Buck Atom use the house as a honeymoon place,” she said. “A mother booked it for her child’s fourth birthday party and turned the backyard into a small petting zoo. One of the competitors in the Ironman triathlon spent her time in Tulsa here.”

Babcock said the development of her neighborhood, the Meadow Gold District, also means that people who stay at Buck Atom’s Crash Pad are able to sample a number of uniquely Tulsa experiences within a mile radius, from new and established restaurants to art galleries and shops.

“We have a guest book, and it’s just so special to read what people have written about their stay here,” she said. “Some people have done these elaborate art pieces in the book. And some of our little guests, who are just learning how to write, do little notes about their experiences.

“It really just makes my heart full knowing that I’ve helped people make memories,” Babcock said. “To me, that’s success.”

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james.watts@tulsaworld.com

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