Monday, December 19, 2011

Route 66 & California - Oklahoma, Texas, And New Mexico.

It was Sunday when we left Weatherford, OK.  We drove around looking for the space-suited statue of Thomas P. Stafford but, after finding the appropriate park, decided that the statue was not there anymore.

We got back on the route and, after a brief stop near Canute, OK to see a 1928 Grotto (Here I found a geocache without even using my GPS - it was just sitting on the ground next to the Grotto), we headed for Elk City.   In Elk City we visited the National Route 66 Museum ... that was closed.  It would open in a couple hours if we wanted to wait ... which we didn't.

The Route 66 museum sign.  The museum was closed.
The rest of western Oklahoma was pretty desolate.  We stopped at the Stardust Hotel & Restaurant in Sayres, OK for lunch.  This was our second choice but the Western Motel and Route 66 Bar was closed ... permanently.  Turns out the Stardust served a mean Sunday Buffet and I was quite satisfied with the meal.

The Route here follows I-40 most of the time.  You drive along frontage roads that parallel the highway.  Every few miles the frontage road would cross under or over the freeway and continue on the other side.  I wish I'd  counted the number of times we switched back and forth over the highway.  It turned into a joke after a while.  It was tempting just to get on the freeway but we wanted to stay as faithful to the route as possible so we tolerated the zig-zag path along the route.

We entered Texas.  The drab scenery and highway hopping that started in Oklahoma continued across the Texas panhandle.  We passed a bank whose sign said it was 110°F (43.3°C) outside.  I didn't believe it.   "That can't be right," I said. Not much farther ahead another sign said 109°F.  OK, I guess it was right.

We stopped in McLean, TX at the Devil's Rope/Old Route 66 Museum (Devil's Rope = Barbed Wire).  It was closed on Sunday.  Outside the museum in the little shade that existed we found three bikers (riding Harleys) and a fourth driving an SUV.  Turns out they were European tourists (a Brit, a Spaniard, and I don't remember where the other two were from).  They'd flown into Chicago, rented the SUV and motorcycles, and were riding Route 66.  The SUV was a good idea.  The bikes, in this heat .... well you could see it on their red, puffy, sweaty faces.  It was too hot for that.

Barbed Wire Balls
We said our goodbyes, got back in our air conditioned car, and continued West.  In Groom, TX we left the route to visit "the largest cross in the western hemisphere."  The 190 foot cross is impressive but it felt a little cheesy to me.  We followed the sign to the visitor's center (called a Pilgrim Center).  We used the facilities and walked through the gift shop.  I noticed something here.  While all the Route 66 guestbooks I'd seen until then had a lot of foreign tourists, the cross' guestbook had only Americans.  A little girl wondered aloud if Jesus was hurting while nailed to the cross.  I guess we were in the bible-belt.  On the way out to the car I walked by the life sized stations of the cross statues and reached a depiction of the last supper.  As I took a picture of Saint James, a little boy walked up to the Judas statue and gave it a hard slap saying that he was "bad."  His mom explained he had been punished enough.  I hurried back to the car.  Strange ... I'd felt more comfortable visiting the Mosque in Jordan than this cross in Texas.

190 feet tall cross near Groom, TX.
Next came Adrian, TX, the geographic midpoint of the Route.  There isn't much there so we stopped only to take pictures of the sign before moving on.

The midpoint of Route 66.
We ended our driving day in Tucumcari, NM.  The main street was lined with old hotels and stores with what looked like vintage neon signs.  You could tell the town was trying to keep the spirit of Route 66 alive.  That night we ate at the Pow Wow Restaurant & Lounge.  The Wife can testify that the hot sauce here is truly hot as her face turned red and her eyes and nose watered.

Being a Sunday we missed a few of the attractions and the scenery in the Texas panhandle ... well not the most interesting.  We'd been on the road now for five days and we were both a bit car weary.

These pictures and more have been added to my 2011-07 Route 66 Roadtrip Google Photos album.

Approximate distance driven this leg: 307 miles.

3 comments:

  1. Last pic reminds me of a certain spot on the Camino..Manjarin!

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  2. @Krin I had the same thought!. Beautiful pictures and retelling. It's crazy to think that on a "real" pilgrimage in Spain, religion seemed to have been more subdued.

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  3. KSam: I see the resemblance. I thought about staying at Manjarin but it appears a little too rustic fort my tastes.

    GV: Thanks. This was only one spot along Route 66. The rest of the route was very secular.

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