Friday, July 4, 2008

Out of Oklahoma Across Texas and Into New Mexico

Joe and Ned Ready to Tour the Museum

After breaking camp we started for Clinton, OK the home of the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. Because it was the Fourth of July I wasn't sure how many places would be open. This one wasn't so we continued on down Route 66 to our next stop, Elk City, OK, and the National Route 66 Museum part of the Old Town Museum complex.

The museum was easy to find with a giant Route 66 shield as its sign and it was open. We spent about an hour visiting the displays on Route 66 and the history of Elk City. They had a caboose parked on the site that was open to walk through and climb up to the observation section.

Joe Takes the Wheel Along Route 66

Joe and Ned Really Liked the Caboose

Leaving Elk City we were soon out of Oklahoma and crossing into Texas. Texas, the largest of the states Route 66 passes through, has the second shortest alignment of the Mother Road. Even so there are still many interesting sites to see.

Our first stop in Texas was in Shamrock, TX to see the U Drop Inn. An Art Deco masterpiece built in 1936 it has been recently restored and houses the Chamber of Commerce. It is a beautiful building. It was closed but there was a group having a private party and they invited us in to look at the inside. It was easy to imagine it in its heyday.

Next was McClean, TX and the Devil's Rope/Old Route 66 Museum. Two museums for the price of - Free! A long while back I had heard of this museum and put on my list of places to visit. Luckily it was open. The woman at the counter almost didn't come in because yesterday there were no visitors. I am glad she chose to open up.

It is a huge museum considering its subject, barbed wire. I never would have guessed there was so many different types of barbed wire. Not only did they have barbed wire but also the mauls to set fence posts, machines to put up fencing and manufacture barbed wire and artistic creations made of barbed wire (the hat pictured was my favorite.) Their Old Route 66 Museum was interesting for some of the artifacts they had. A large cobra from the Regal Reptile Ranch and the original steer that stood on the roof of the Big Texan.

Just down the road from the museum was a recently restored Phillips 66 gas station, the first one in Texas. After leaving McLean we drove through Groom, TX which is home to two wonders of the road. The famous "Leaning Tower of Groom" and the "Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere." We only managed to get a picture of the tower.

Welcome to Texas

The U Drop Inn in Its Art Deco Splendor

The Entrance to the Devil's Rope Museum

Some of the Hundreds of Types of Barbed Wire on Display

A Favorite Item, a Barbed Wire Hat

The First Phillips 66 Station in Texas, McClean TX

The Leaning Tower of Groom, TX

The biggest town in the Texas Panhandle is Amarillo and that was our next stop. Since we didn't have breakfast we were getting pretty hungry and so we were ready for our next stop, The Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of the free 72 oz steak. It is an experience to see the side show way they run the restaurant. If you want to take the challenge of the 72 oz steak you have to sit at a special table on a stage. You also have to eat all of the sides with the steak. Oh, by the way the food was okay and the service was bad and none of us attempted the 72 oz steak.

Just west of Amarillo is Cadillac Ranch. 10 Cadillacs planted nose down in a field with their tops facing west. Described by its creator Stanley Marsh as a "Roadside spectacular sculpture," the Cadillacs are set in concrete at the exact angle of the side of the Great Pyramid at Giza. They are covered in graffiti and are repainted every so often to allow new passersby a blank slate though it doesn't take long to have them covered. We were there only a few days after they had last been painted white. We had packed our cans of spray paint to add our own touch to the Caddies. Joe and Ned had great fun tagging the cars.

Leaving Amarillo and Cadillac Ranch behind our last stop in Texas was going to be in Adrian, TX, home of the Mid Point Café and Gift Shop and a slice of Fran’s "ugly crust pie." It is at the geographical mid-point of Route 66. Darn! It was closed for the Fourth.

The Big Texan

Joe Groans at the Thought of the Eatin

The Big Texan Doesn't Skimp on the Butter

Walking to Cadillac Ranch

Ned Takes the Paint to a Cadillac

Joe Works to Create a Masterpiece

The Yellow Paint is Ned's

The Cadillacs in a Row

Crossing into New Mexico the scenery changes from long vistas of flatland to ones of distant mountains. We stopped at the welcome center on the way and then to Tucumari. Tucumari has two iconic Route 66 attractions, Tee Pee Curios and the Blue Swallow Hotel. The Tee Pee Curios was just closing as we pulled in their parking lot and the Blue Swallow was closed and under renovation. We did stop and visit Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum. It has the world’s largest collection of bronze skeletons, fossils and replicas of prehistoric creatures. The bronzes were created as part of the College’s fine arts program by members of the Mesalands staff. We enjoyed the museum. I think the boys liked it because of they could touch all of the bronzes.

We ended the day in Santa Rosa, NM. Since it was so late we pulled into the La Loma Motel. It a nice place and we could watch the local fireworks from the door to the room. As we watched the fireworks a thunderstorm on the horizon gave us an additional light show as lightning also lit the sky.

Welcome to...

Joe Took This Picture of Ned

The Tee Pee Curios

Crowder Lake University Park, OK to Santa Rosa, NM, 370 miles 8 hrs 5 min

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