“When that sun is high in that Texas sky, I’ll be bucking it to county fair. Amarillo by morning, Amarillo I’ll be there.” – George Strait
Miles Traveled: 456.2
Well I survived the night in the less than stellar Best Western in the middle of nowhere Stroud, OK. Barely. In this particular case, frugal got me a handful of very active flies and a non-smoking room that at least 3 billion people had lit up in. But it had great wifi. Needless to say I bailed out of that joint quickly this morning.
After a quick coffee stop (i did not sleep due to the flies buzzing around), I worked my way west on route 66 through the sleepy little towns of Chandler and Warwick, making time for a few photo-ops of some roadside delights, before venturing into Arcadia, OK. Arcadia is home of the round roof barn and the cane sugar capital of OK, Pops Filling Station. Pops is newer to Route 66, but it fits in like a champ with its retro-fabulous charm, quirky product selection (it offers over 600 types of bottled sodas), and a 66-foot tall soda “pop” bottle out front. I filled up the Jeep, and walked in to check out the inside. Feeling the vibe and embracing the beauty of being surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of different soda bottles, I grabbed myself a ‘build-your-own’ 6-pack carrier and began the careful selection of these retro bottles of caffeine and sugar. While I am not a huge soda/coke fan, I felt a couple of bottles would come in handy on the longer driving days. My selection is pictured below. Phenomenal way to kick off the day.
I passed through Edmond, OK (home to Olympic Champion Shannon Miller for all you gymnast enthusiasts) and arrived in Oklahoma city. Now like yesterday, route 66 gets a little tricky to locate and navigate in the big cities. So I found some of the quirky landmarks just outside of OK city (pure luck) and headed to my non-Route 66 detour for the day.
I pulled up to the former site of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in the middle of Oklahoma City, where 168 Americans tragically lost their lives in 1995 as a result of the senseless bombing. The building no longer exists, and in its place in now a respectfully and wonderfully designed memorial to those impacted by the bombing. I walked through the 9:03 gate (signifying the moment people’s lives changed forever) and past the field of 168 empty chairs, stopping to soak it all in. There is a survivor wall and tree in the memorial park that are separated by the 9:01 gate (signifying the time of peace before the bombing at 9:02am and in the center sits a reflecting pool. Surreal place and amazing how quiet it was in the middle of a busy city.
After visiting the memorial, me and my GPS had a disagreement. Unfortunately there is no setting on the ole GPS to “STAY ON ROUTE 66”, and as a result, things got a bit tricky even with addresses for some key landmarks RIGHT ON 66 plugged in. Sarah got extremely annoyed as it took me almost an hour out of the way because it couldn’t locate i-40 (which runs parallel to old route 66 for a good portion of this leg of the trip). Sigh. Technology. Once back on track, I passed through Yukon, El Reno, Weatherford, and into Clinton, OK. Lots of neat looking grain bins along this stretch. Clinton is home of a pretty cool Route 66 Museum that walks through the history of the old highway from the Cyrus Avery days, through the Dust Bowl, and into more modern times. Great stop along the way and after a long stretch of nothingness through the open plains. Elk City was the last major stop in Oklahoma before crossing into the Texas panhandle.
Once in Texas, the towns off Route 66 were separated by quite a few more miles, although I think a Texan would say they were “just right around the corner”! First stop was in Shamrock, TX and then I drove through looooong stretches of a whole lot of nothing, with the occasional grain bin and cow sightings, until reaching Amarillo, TX.
About 6 miles west of Amarillo, and just off Route 66, was the mecca of quirkiness and a photographer’s haven. Enter Cadillac Ranch, where a handful of old caddies are nose down in the Texas soil and coated in years of spray paint. It was spectacular. As I made my way down to the Cadillac graveyard, I (along with a few other folks) were stopped by two guys who told us that they were part of a movie crew that was permitted for the afternoon to shoot at Cadillac Ranch and that we may not be able to go up to the cars. Well. I did not drive for hours to see this scene, only to have to observe it from a distance. They must be out of their minds. So I patiently waited in the 104 blistering afternoon sun (it was 6:30pm Texas time), while they did some ‘preliminary’ ‘context’ shots of the Cadillacs. They then turned the camera to face the opposite direction, yet would not let any one go up to the cars. And that is when folks began to get a little snippy. So after some conversation, we were allotted 5 minutes at the cars. Well….I will take however long I dern well please, and they can physically drag me from the cars cause I’ve got some pictures to take (and I just waited 15 minutes in the dry, 104 degree heat)!! The one positive to the inconvenience was that I was able to get quite a few shots of the painted rigs that were people free – HUGE SCORE.
I started my day on Route 66 with an amazing 66-foot tall soda bottle, and ended my Route 66 experience with spray-painted Cadillac awesomeness. So an excellent 2 days on Route 66! I traveled through time essentially, finding the enduring spirit of America on the quaint old highway, that is a symbol of a simpler time. It was a lot of fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat (perhaps with a better GPS and/or a passenger that can read the 17 different names of the realigned highways)!
I officially closed out my day (and week 2) on a short 1.5 hour jaunt South to Lubbock, where I am going to catch a little shut-eye in a much nicer hotel…I even got upgraded to a King because I had to wait a few minutes to check in. Patience often pays dividends!
Until next time…