Route 66: Texas into New Mexico

Day 17: Thursday, May 16, 2013
Start: Amarillo, TX
End: Tucumcari, NM
Miles Driven Today: 116
Total Miles: 2,852

This morning, we awoke to some terrible news about a killer tornado in Northern Texas. When we had been driving along out of Oklahoma into Texas, we saw some ominous clouds that were…just strange. We checked the forecast, and we didn’t see any tornado warnings, so we just motored on. Seeing the devastation of that tornado gave us pause; it made us thankful for our good fortune.

Before leaving Amarillo, we decided to visit “Antique Road”, AKA SW 6th Street. There’s about 10 blocks of shops, restaurants and galleries on this part of Historic 66. We first stopped at the Lile Art Gallery. It was closed, but there was a phone number on the door with a sign asking us to call. We did. The owner, Bob “Crocodile” Lile, was busy and wasn’t able to come down…or so we thought. A few minutes later, he called me back and told me that he was on his way! Super!

A few minutes later, “Crocodile” Lile pulled up in his car, accompanied by a couple of friends. Apparently, he had been driving one of his friends from a doctor’s appointment, and diverted to meet us! Once again, the kind, welcoming nature of people all along Route 66 has made this a very special experience.

Bob Crocodile Lile

Bob “Crocodile” Lile. GO visit his gallery!!!

We walked around to view the art (his, and that of local artists). The art pictured behind him is made from remnant paint chips from the Cadillac Ranch. He also has some very nice abstract paintings, furniture, decorative items and more at his gallery. We picked up a few cool items (not to be mentioned here in case one of the recipients is reading this). We chatted for awhile, and then went on our way. “Crocodile” was kind enough to give us a little gift as we left. Thanks!!

Walking around the Antique district, we spotted this sign. I thought it was kind of cool:

Sign

Basset hounds?

We bid downtown Amarillo goodbye, and headed for our next stop–Cadillac Ranch. Armed with our cans of spray paint, we left our mark on Texas:

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

We left our mark

We left our mark

Another view of the Caddies

Pretty maids all in a row

But that was not the only mark we left in Texas. In Adrian, Texas, the midpoint of Route 66 (between L.A. and Chicago), the Sunflower Station Gift Shop had an old pickup truck with a “living” guestbook. Of course, we had to sign it. Luckily, I had my trusty Sharpie with me! Whoop!

Guest Book Truck

Guest Book Truck

Adrian Midpoint Route 66 signature

We left our mark at Adrian, Texas

 

Soon after Adrian, we arrived in New Mexico. As we approached New Mexico, the landscape changed. The flat Texas plain was replaced by dry sagebrush and mesas. It was as if someone turned on the New Mexico switch!

New Mexico State Line

Yay! New Mexico!

 

A couple of exits into the state, we encountered the Russell’s truck stop. Crocodile Lile told us to stop–the truck stop houses an impressive collection of vintage cars. now, the museum is free and quite impressive. However, after seeing vintage car after vintage car over the last few weeks, I’m almost vintaged out! 🙂 But it still was cool!

Russell's Car Museum

Russell’s Car Museum – Exit 369

Classic 1959 Corvette

Classic 1959 Corvette

Nice lines!

Nice lines!

We are really looking forward to seeing the landscape across New Mexico. The look of the open road has already changed. We’re SO looking forward to Santa Fe tomorrow!

Today's Open Road

Today’s Open Road (NM)

Soon, we were heading into Tucumcari, our stop for tonight. Our first sign was Tucumcari Mountain. Impressive at a distance…but a little less so close up. What really did get us were the little dust storms on the plain. We thought the clouds of dust were cars driving across the plain, but they turned out to be wind-whipped air swirls (we call them mini-tornadoes). It’s pretty dry and hot here, so it’s not surprising.

Tucumcari Mountain

Tucumcari Mountain

Dust tornado

We kept seeing these plumes of dust. It turned out that they were little dust tornadoes.

We got to our hotel, and the girls got comfy in the room. Juliet is exploring more and more. Jasmine is content just to be up next to me…my little lump.

Peekie Peekie

A dog in motion stays in motion. A dog at rest…is a lump. Peekie Peekie!

We got into town around 3pm (thanks to the time change), so we left the dogs in the room and did a little exploring around town. We found a little trading post (closed), and Tom found another John Deere!

Another John Deere

Another John Deere for Tom.

After a very yummy dinner at Del’s Restaurant (Tom mentions the superb Green Chile Stew in his blog entry), we are happily esconced in our air-conditioned room. We are headed for three nights in Santa Fe…a little respite after some serious time on the road.

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Route 66: Deep in the Texas Panhandle

Day 16: May 15, 2013
Start: Elk City, OK
End: Amarillo, TX
Miles Driven Today: 196 (including in-town miles)
Total Miles: 2,736

We left Oklahoma behind, but not before reminders of its history. Right before the border, we saw this memorial commemorating the rededication of Route 66 in 1952 as the Will Rogers Highway. Nice.

Will Rogers Memorial Highway

Will Rogers Memorial Highway

Texas. We finally made it to Texas.

Texas State Line

Texas State Line

Suddenly, the road and the land got flat. The green rolling prairie turned into sagebrush and wide, flat plains. The Texas Panhandle has been called the place “where the wind pumps the water and the cows chop the wood.” The former refers to the abundance of windmills, and latter refers to cow patties…and how they used to be used for fuel. Charming!

But perhaps cow patties would be preferable to what is considered snack food here. This tasty morsel was found at the Dollar General (el cheapo stuff) store. We had seen the Dollar Generals all over the area, so we decided to stop to get some spray paint (explanation later). This was on the snack shelf at the check-out.

Texas Snackin'

Texas snackin! Mmmmm…mmmmm…good? Marty Watts, this one’s for you!

We reached McLean, Texas, and stopped at the Devil’s Rope/Old Route 66 Museum. Tom wasn’t thrilled about stopping, but I wanted to peruse the gift shop. Inside was a fascinating account of the Dust Bowl and a Barbed Wire museum. While I wasn’t quite interested in the history of barbed wire, I was fascinated by the barbed wire art! Whowouldvethunk?

Jackrabbit Barbed Wire Art

Jackrabbit Barbed Wire Art

Tree and Swing

Tree and Tire Swing barbed wire art. I love the wind-blown tree.

Barbed wire cowboy hat

Barbed wire cowboy hat. Wouldn’t wear it, but…

Giant Cobra

Giant cobra. I have no idea what significance this has, but it’s kind of cool.

I’m glad we stopped. I saw something original and beautiful made out of something as mundane as barbed wire. That’s what I love about this trip. While the big things are (and will be) great, the little things fill us with wonder and joy. This is what we wanted to see and experience.

The next stop after McLean was at the Bug Ranch in Conway. Created as a parody of the Cadillac Ranch (an outdoor piece of artwork featuring 10 Cadillacs planted nose-down in the ground), the Bug Ranch features the hulls of half a dozen Volkswagen Beetles. We took our Dollar General spray paint and left our mark.

Tom Inspects Bug Ranch

Tom inspects the art at Bug Ranch

We left our mark at Bug Ranch

We left our mark at Bug Ranch

We motored on, mainly driving on frontage roads next to I-40. The old Portland cement roads peeked in at various stretches, giving us that satisfying whomp-whomp as we watched the plains roll by.

Today's Open Road

Today’s open road.

We reached Amarillo and took the Historic Route 66 path through town. The long path wound around the industrial part of the city…not particularly attractive. We did go through downtown as well as the SW 6th Street Antique Row district and finally reached our hotel. We got settled and then headed for our feast–a steak dinner at The Big Texan.

The BIG Texan

The Big Texan! YAY!

Mooo!

Mooo! MMMMM! Steak!

The dining room was filled with kitsch, and the place was terribly touristy. But it was FUN. We had a BIG Texan waiter (he looked gigantic) and we ordered our steaks and some cold, frosty beverages.

Kitschy and fun

Main dining room at The Big Texan! Kitschy and fun!

Of course, I couldn’t wait. I had to go see the steaks cooking!

Cookin' the steak

Cookin’ the steak! Can’t wait!

And then…it came!!!! Yes, that’s fried okra on my plate. *LOVE*

My dinner

My dinner…before…

But it didn’t last long.

My dinner after

…and after!

And yes, we did save room for dessert!

Texans really mean BIG

Dessert anyone? Texans really do mean BIG!

We waddled to the big rocker after dinner. As Tom says, “DAMN, that was good!”

BIG Rocker

BIG Rocker. After a meal like that, we needed one!

We had a great day today, and a great dinner tonight. Yes, the Big Texan is touristy. But the steaks were great, the drinks and dessert were both HUGE, and we had a great time! What could be better!

The dogs, however, did NOT get doggie bags. 🙂

Speaking of the dogs, we’ve been seeing real change in Juliet. She’s getting more vocal and bold (and more impish). She’s really coming out of her shell. We were walking into the hotel today, and she BARKED once at the resident dog. We’ve heard her bark maybe a half a dozen times in the last 18 months…this is yet another change for her. Hm…maybe not for the better!! But we have seen her showing more curiosity and less fear as the days have gone on. It’s wonderful to see!

Back seat driver

Juliet, the back seat driver

Tomorrow, we plan on visiting the Cadillac Ranch and heading out for another short drive day to Tucumcari (or, as I keep calling it, Tutankhaman. LOL!