|The Mother Road, Route 66: Day 6 (Map)||
< Back to Day 5
Conway, TX to Albuquerque, NM (via Amarillo,TX and Tumcumcari, NM) - 514 km (319 mi)
I knew we would only be in Texas until the afternoon, so I seized the opportunity to go for a walk while U.J. was getting ready.
Obviously she wasn't getting ready for hours, but it wasn't overly hot yet and I enjoyed my time walking up Texas Route 207. The sun was still relatively low in the eastern sky & the surrounding land cover shone beneath the bright rays.
Up here in the Texas Panhandle the land was pretty desolate, so it's not as if I saw a million items of interest on this journey; but it remained an enjoyable half hour.
Returning to the motel, the "Bug Ranch" was next door - a roadside attraction of 5 Volkswagen Beetles ("Bugs") stuck into the ground.
I was most amused with the guy who wrote something like "Sam H. Maryland. GO CAPS!" on one of the Bugs.
As we drove into Amarillo, I told U.J. to pull the car over when we passed this place: The Jesus Christ is Lord Travel Center, complete with scriptures on the windows and between the pumps, along with every flat surface covered in giant biblical promotional letters & offers for 24-hr towing.
Down the street was the famous Big Texan Steak Ranch.
Its notoriety comes from being home to the 72oz. steak challenge - if you can finish a 72oz. steak, bread roll with butter, baked potato, ranch beans, shrimp cocktail & salad; you can have the meal for free! (Instead of paying $72).
Joey Chestnut (the famous hot dog eater) may have finished the meal in 8 minutes and 52 seconds, but a 500lb. Siberian Tiger holds the record by eating it in 90 seconds.
While U.J. snapped shots of the giant Big Texan boot & Texan Ranch limos, I was enamored with the cacti bushes out front.
Texas would be a dangerous place to drunkenly stumble home.
I had zero interest in attacking a 72oz. steak after inhaling Subway an hour ago, so we checked out the store instead of the restaurant.
At the back of the store, I knew this rattlesnake was not going to escape his enclosure & get at me, but I still didn't venture very close.
We laughed at all of the Texan stuff like armadillos & cowboy hats; while growing confused at stuff like $1 bills with Jerry Seinfeld in the middle & moose figurines - I thought the southern limit of moose was somewhere in Colorado...
Upon leaving the store, I would purchase an Amarillo coffee mug which I use everyday.
Driving into Amarillo...
As we entered the actual city of Amarillo, I wasn't in the mood to push my luck this morning. It was with this feeling that we skipped our building plans that we had in Amarillo.
Instead we lamed it up & roofed some parking garage. What a disservice to a city I was trying to love so very much.
I don't know why I ate at a Subway this morning either (instead of eating at some great diner/dive/steakhouse in Amarillo).
Of note, the building on the left is the Sante Fe Building and it was vacant for many years in the 1990s, until Potter County moved county offices into the building after purchasing & subsequent extensive renovation.
Leaving Amarillo, we were only on the road for a few miles before stopping at the highly anticipated Cadillac Ranch.
The story of the Cadillac Ranch is that in 1974, an artist buried 10 Cadillacs in the desert outside of Amarillo as an art installation. The Caddys were buried at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza & there is no year buried twice - each Caddy is of a different year between 1949 & 1963 (different years chosen based on body changes). Some of the Cadillacs still ran when they were buried 27 years ago.
The fact that you're encouraged to spraypaint the Cadillacs, seems to have produced as much of an attraction as the art installation itself.
It was funny to watch middle aged people picking through scrap cans and shaking them to see if they had any paint. The woman above found one & then was holding the can in her son's hand & helping him write "Sean" on one of the Cadillacs...before taking the mandatory Facebook picture.
There was also a couple of grandparents spray painting one while they were cheered on by their children & grandchildren.
Leaving the Cadillac Ranch, I realized that we only had 3 Texas communities left & that we had not had a steak in Texas!
I knew the last community was sleepy (to say the least), so I didn't want to wait to see what the middle community of Adrian was like - we needed to find something in the first community of Vega!.
Thankfully there was a steakhouse at the crossroads of Vega: The Boot Hill Saloon.
We started by ordering Lone Stars for our Texas meal & learned that Vega is located within Oldham County - a dry county! To work around this, we had to sign forms as if we were contemplating joining this private club & that this was our trial visit.
Once we handed in our forms, there was no problem and we were given some tall, cool Lone Stars. Sipping down the above-average brew, I thought about how annoyed I would be if I lived in a dry county where I had to pay $250/year to join a private club so I could drink at a bar; it didn't seem like a bad racket for the Boot Hill Saloon though.
While thinking about this, a man came inside with some 1930s conventional name like Clyde or Thompson. He was greeted by everyone in the bar & the waitress had his coffee waiting before he even sat his cowboy hat on the bar. I loved how Texas this all felt, with Clyde (or Thompson) looking like he had herded thousands upon thousand of cattle upon this Panhandle land during his many years.
I was very happy with my decision to eat steak in rural Texas instead of at the tourist trap Big Texan.
Eventually our steak would come & it held up to the stereotype. Now this isn't much of an endorsement since I don't eat all that much steak, but I'd say it was the best steak I've ever had - I imagine that there certainly is better steaks out there, but I was far from complaining.
Leaving Vega, the next town was Adrian.
U.J. was disgusted while I was wholeheartedly amused - she stood & shook her head as I took a running start at a vigorous fist pump. Even in my amusement, the heat weighed down on us like a heavy duvet.
I've experienced worse heat in Windsor in terms of lower temperatures with ridiculous humidity; but this Texan heat was unique in how it didn't seem as oppressive as the very humid Southern Ontario heat.
We also stopped in Adrian because it marked the halfway point to Los Angeles along Route 66!
Glenrio would mark the end of Texas.
It was the quietest Texan town we had found - similar to Texola in the way that we thought we knew people were there...but where were these people?
We did not know.
In comparison to Oklahoma's last town (Texola), I remembered Glenrio more because there were more buildings & because there were no dogs interrupting my thoughts. While Texola had that dusk peacefulness, Glenrio had awkward silence because it was such a hot, warm day, yet absent of any activity.
One or two cars would actually pass us as we scoped out a couple buildings, but that's still appreciably quiet for a highway during the passing of 15 minutes.
The buildings were mostly houses where we questioned if they were abandoned or just run down; in addition to a gas station which didn't look all of that captivating inside. There was a motel as well, but there was an occupied house basically within the motel complex.
Nothing looked worth fighting our spider/snake fears for; so we moved along and bid adieu to Texas.
I honestly want to spend 3 weeks in the Texas panhandle and 20 hours wasn't nearly enough.
The 47th state admitted to the Union, New Mexico is America's 5th largest & 46th most dense state.
We had to return to the highway because Route 66 dead ended before entering New Mexico & therefore we have a through-the-window picture of the Welcome to New Mexico sign.
Attempts to stop at the Welcome Center for said picture were thwarted by orange traffic barrels.
Exiting the highway at the next opportunity to get back on Route 66, we were greeted with a RIME0 stop sign!
A reminder that we weren't all that special or original.
A 'junk'yard along the way.
If there's one thing the American Southwest gets points for, it's the junkyards with hundreds of amazing cars still in decent condition. A beautiful thing a land without road salt is, especially in comparison to a place that uses so much salt that it's hard to find a decent car older than 10 years old.
In Tucumcari, we stopped to see the famous Blue Swallow motel. This was marked as a place to stay, but unfortunately we found ourselves in Tucumcari at 12 noon.
We were already not covering enough distances with each day, we couldn't stop traveling at 12 noon.
The Blue Swallow has personal garages for every room, so while walking over to take a picture of those, I scared this guy out from behind a planter and proceeded to chase him around for 10 minutes.
While the lizard in Picher scampered into a building, this guy had only concrete surroundings, so he was forced into an impromptu photo shoot without his consent.
Leaving the Blue Swallow and continuing through Tucumcari, I was amazed at the number of attractive vintage neon signs that the city has. If you ever want the Cole's Notes0 version of Route 66, Tumcumcari sums up the feeling pretty well.
Some of the New Mexico roads were quite rural, with these tunnels under the interstate every now & then.
The land was starkly empty for a short time, before we came upon a ruined beer store & some houses - we had reached Montoya.
Montoya was a sizable town before Route 66 even came through (acting as a meeting place for cattle sales). Afterward, Montoya grew with Route 66 - gaining a service station & a general store.
Like many of the towns along Route 66 but no longer along the interstate, Montoya has neared ghost town status with the passing decades.
The above stone building was the Sylvan R. & Maria Ignacia Hendren House. On another website from 5 years ago, the building is still one whole piece, so who knows how much longer this portion will stand.
We stopped in the next town of Newkirk, so U.J. could fill up the car with gas.
This church stood between the gas station & the interstate.
Newkirk was sleepy just like Montoya.
I guess people don't need a place to stop between Tucumcari & Santa Rosa.
The website I was reading about Newkirk had an interesting tidbit in that the webmaster met the Wilkerson's heir of the gas station above. He asked about the broken window you can sort of see in my picture, and learned that it wasn't highway vandals, it was that the building had decayed for so long that the adobe began to slump and the window broke under the weight!
Cuervo was another worn location between Tucumcari & Santa Rosa.
The town appeared somewhat healthy on the north side of the interstate, but it was empty on the south side. U.J. told me that the church was still in use, but otherwise there appeared to be about 15 vacant houses & a windowless school.
I peered into the window of the above house & it seemed to be some kind of beauty shop/house.
Cuervo to Albuquerque is a 2 hour drive, but we hustled to New Mexico's largest city as we needed an oil change and hoped there would be some place open. I took the opportunity to wander while the car had its oil changed & I was impressed with what I saw. Mountains stand behind Albuquerque & make for an attractive backdrop to the city.
We also hustled to Albuquerque because we had a building in mind and needed daylight. In failure #4, because we got there at sunset, the building was a no go as it looked like a daytime-only job.
Our consolation was watching the sun set over the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande being one of those geographic features you always hear about but still remains foreign, it was a moment to contemplate finding myself here, standing on a bridge in Albuquerque, with the Rio Grande flowing beneath me.
We continued along Route 66 in Albuquerque and the area west of the city was dotted with fantastic neon motel signs.
The El Don! Olé!
The Doghouse was also great - the sausages lit up as if they were going into the dog's mouth, with the dog's tail wagging along.
Instead of eating at The Doghouse, I appeased U.J. by going to one of her beloved diners.
Although I agreed to eating at the diner, I still went about making fun & rolling my eyes to express my displeasure. The funny thing was that as we turned the corner to enter the diner, a gaggle of cute & airy teenage girls cut in front of us & went inside...where I then turned around with a smile ear to ear as I was amused, and U.J. had taken to making fun & rolling her eyes to express her displeasure.
We would stay the night at some unremarkable place in Albuquerque.
Onto Day 7.
Windsor,ON to Mooseheart,IL via. Michigan City,IN
St.Clair,MO to Bentonville,AR via. Cuba,MO & Mt.Magazine,AR
Conway,TX to Albuquerque,NM
via. Armadillo,TX & Tucumcari,NM
Albuquerque,NM to Williams,AZ
via. Flagstaff,AZ & Winslow,AZ
Williams,AZ to Rialto,CA
via. Oatman,AZ & Needles,CA
Rialto,CA to Pasadena,CA
via. Salton Sea,CA & Mexicali,Mexico
via. Big Sur,CA & Monterey,CA
San Jose,CA to San Francisco,CA
via. Lick Observatory,CA
San Francisco,CA to Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
via. Sacramento,CA & Carson City,NV
Hickison Petroglyphs,NV to Casper,WY
Casper,WY to Winner,SD
via. Keystone,SD & Oral,SD
1 - Amarillo Globe News: Rail Museum Gathers Steam
2 - Montoya, a New Mexico ghost town - NewMexico.org
3 - Newkirk - New Mexico Route 66 - The Road Wanderer
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