Sunday, 9 September 2012

Day 11 - Mid-trip crisis

Day 11 was a bit of a rest option after the mad cap mileage of the last few days.  We only had about 120 miles to cover between Amarillo, Texas and Tucumcari, New Mexico so we had time for breakfast and a little shopping in Amarillo first.  Breakfast was a chance for me to experience IHOP for the first time and for Rachael to continue her extensive American Breakfast Carb testing program.  There were chocolate chip pancakes on the menu, they were thoroughly tested and found totally satisfactory.

A stack of the chocolateyist pancakes I've ever seen. 
Then we moved on to do some shopping. Rachael bought some really nice cowboy boots and other bits and pieces.  No pics because this outfit is likely to debut in the next couple of days so there will be pics then.  A young man called AJ at Cavenders Boot City helped us spend money on cowboy stuff before we left the city heading west.  We were in search of the Cadillac Ranch which we'd been told was on R66 after you leave Amarillo but honestly if it were not for Rachael's eagle eyes we'd have missed it because it's on the wrong side of the Interstate and it's still just about within Amarillo's limits.

So after negotiating our way under the interstate we pulled up on the southern frontage road to go see the Cadillacs.  The Cadillac ranch is another feat of imagination from the same guy that thought up the Bug Ranch we saw in Conway, Texas.  Essentially it's a line of Cadillac's buried nose first in a field and people are invited to decorate them with spray paint cans.  I made our Geek 66 mark on one of them and we photographed it for evidence.
The vandals are proud of their efforts.
We are geeks and we are on Route 66 playing pic-a-boo. Can you spot Rachael? 
There were a bunch of other people there today - a couple with their dogs, some girls from Texas A&M university (their logo was some v. impressive spraying) and a guy who shows up about once a week to put his stamp on the installation.  Having taken more than a few photos we got back in our trusty SUV and set off for the next stop.

Adrian, Texas is barely a blip on any map but it marks the official half way point between Chicago and Los Angeles on Route 66.  The enterprising folks at the Mid-point Cafe in Adrian have taken this idea literally and do a roaring trade in souvenirs in their cool cafe/diner. The cafe is also the home of the Ugly Crust Pie (why it's named this we don't know because it's amazing pie and it looked very pretty to us). We tried the chocolate peanut butter version between us and still couldn't finish one slice - it's EPIC pie.
Ohhhhhh...We're halfway there..... Ohhh OHH Living on a prayer...
Leaving the mid-point, and having a minor crisis when we realised that our trip is half over, we approached the border between Texas and New Mexico in search of a ghost town called Glenrio.  Ghost towns are a depressingly common Route 66 phenomena.  When the interstates were built starting in the late 1950s (and continuing all through the 60s and 70s), there were many towns on Route 66 that went from being on the arterial road of America to being a barely visible spot on the horizon as cars on the interstate flash past.  Some of these towns found new ways to entice people in but some of them did not survive at all.  Glenrio, a town that straddles the Texas / New Mexico border is one of the casualties.  All that is left are the remnants of the motel, gas station and post office that were the last few survivors.  An interesting fact is that the Gas station was in the Texas part as the prices were cheaper, but the Motel and Bar were on the New Mexico side because Texas was dry when the town was built. The name Glenrio is derived from the Scottish word for Valley and the Spanish word for River, yet the town is neither in a valley or on a river.  Someone clearly had a sense of humour when naming it! Could this have been a contributing factor in it's downfall? Who knows... but fall it did and now it's a shell on the roadside.
A non-resident of Glenrio goes for a stroll towards the Motel.
Leaving the ghost town to it's ghosts and significant ant population, we headed further into New Mexico looking for our final stop for the day, the town of Tucumcari.  Tucumcari is also important for our Cars odyssey because the Hubcap mountain of Radiator Springs is based on Tucumcari mountain (even down to the RS painted on the side being copied from the T painted here).  The top of Tucumcari isn't exactly hubcap shaped but we must allow them a little artistic license I suppose.
The lizard finds a rock upon which to bask whilst Tucumcari mountain does mountainy things in the background.
After checking into our motel for the night (one of the restored Route 66 elite - more about that in a minute), we headed to Mesalands Community College's Dinosaur Museum.  New Mexico is prime fossil country and the museum although small had some amazing life size bronze castings of dinosaur skeletons. We also met a wonderful lady who explained how scientifically there is some evidence that Dragons could be real. This made Rachael's day - not least because she met someone who is as passionate about science as she is.  We left the museum with huge grins on our faces. :D

The lovely couple who run our motel recommended a local mexican restaurant for dinner and the Pow Wow Inn Restaurant did not disappoint.  The portions were predictably huge but we thoroughly enjoyed the deep fried pickle slices and mushrooms, Burrito and Tamales we ordered.  Looking forward to more mexican food on our trip through the SW states.

Our lodging for the night is the fantastic Blue Swallow Motel - one of the oldest motels on route 66 - it was built in 1939 and has been recently restored to a modern/historic standard that seems to satisfy the nostalgic as well as those looking for a wifi connection.  It also has one of the most recognisable signs on Route 66 and it's a fantastic example of neon art.

The amazing neon sign at the Blue Swallow motel on Route 66.
Tomorrow we do our first proper detour off of Route 66 - we head south to Roswell, New Mexico in search of Aliens and conspiracy theories.  The truth is out there... we're probably just going to photograph some touristy stuff but you never know we may find it.


  1. Just checking in to say how much I am enjoying these posts - it's like our holiday hasn't finished yet.

  2. I'll be most interested to find out what you guys think of Roswell, I was a bit let down but loved the "antiques" shops and the lampposts. This is bringing back so many memories of my own trip, even though we only hit route 66 for a small portion outside oklahoma city, I want to go travelling again! Glad you are enjoying it and impressed with how much research has obviously gone into this :)

  3. Aw, no tumbleweed in Glenrio - disappointing! :)

    I looked on a map and see when you get to Roswell, you'll only be a couple of hundred miles from the Mexican border. Really looking forward to hearing about Roswell. I'm reminded of the movie Paul and their visit to Area 51. :)