Saturday, June 2, 2012

Kicks: Day Eight (Wired)

IMG_3691smAfter once again not getting enough sleep—I find that I’m a little wound up in the evening as I write about things and start reading about the next day—we got up at a decent time (thanks to the alarm clock) and Ken headed out for a run on Route 66 while I stayed back and got cleaned up. I feel no guilt for skipping a workout this morning...the place we stayed at didn’t have a workout area, and I don’t run. Tomorrow, for sure!

We headed out of Elk City, and with apologies to Elk Citians, I wasn’t sorry to leave that town behind. I really shouldn’t make a judgment based on one visit, but it just didn’t strike me as a charming town at all. Although I’m not going to go as heavy on the sign pictures as I did yesterday, the Western Motel in Sayre, Oklahoma has a gorgeous sign, and I couldn’t resist posting it as the first picture!

Believe me, it's taking everything in my power to not post endless googie pictures. I am just fascinated by these old signs, but I realize that not everyone shares my fascination. I have no idea why not, because they're just so COOL! I'll probably have to post at least one more signage entry...oh, who am I kidding. We'll be spending two nights in Albuquerque, which has an abundance of awesome signage, so you'll probably get a couple more. A few. Several...I don't know, but these are super cool signs!

Hext had some really cool stretches of “ghost” road that are closed off and supposedly scheduled to become bike trails. That hasn’t happened yet, and these are just stretches of old highway that run alongside the current highway. Sometimes you can drive these stretches for a bit, but they were pretty heavily encroached upon by trees and vegetation, so we didn’t attempt it. It was neat to see it running alongside, though!

Erick, Oklahoma had a couple of cool old motels, including the West Winds (although I couldn’t decipher it until I looked at the picture this evening). Note the bucking bronco at the top, ridden by a ghostly cowboy. There would have been neon on there (see the holes?), and there is still some remaining on the rest of the sign. I also noticed a Mustang back in the weeds, and they must get a lot of people driving by and asking to buy it if they had to paint “this is not for sale” on the windshield!

We crossed over into Texas at Texola (a lot of old gas stations there, and mostly had a definite ghost town feel to it) and headed towards Shamrock. The highlight here is the U-Drop Inn and Tower Cafe, an Art Deco delight built in 1936. The Tower Station was a filling station, and the other part of it was a restaurant. It has been preserved and restored, and houses the Chamber of Commerce and a gift shop/welcome center. It’s too bad we weren’t around to see the neon lit up at night, because it’s truly one of the more beautiful buildings on Route 66. The sweet little Texas lady in the gift shop couldn’t have been nicer, and I felt very welcomed in Texas!

After grabbing a bite to eat at Vern’s Steakhouse in Shamrock (Great chopped sirloin with sauteed mushrooms and onions, ice cold Dos Equis...but what was up with that bowl o’ gravy? I tried a taste of it and it was yummy, but who eats a bowl of gravy?), we headed on to McLean.

McLean had a really nice restored Phillips 66 station, the first Phillips built in Texas (in the 1920s). Super cute little station, and it’s so nice to see these little places being preserved! But what was even more special was the Devil’s Rope Museum. I had read about this in the past, and I’ll admit that part of stopping there was for the kitsch value and to get a picture of the balls of barbed wire and the “Tribute to barbed wire” sign. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, “devil’s rope” is a term for barbed wire.) Well, shame on me and hush my mouth for thinking it was just kitsch, because it turned out to be pretty darned interesting! Although I didn’t linger over the barbed wire exhibit, I enjoyed learning that each ranch had its own specific barbed wire, and many of these were patented. There were numerous examples of barbed wire, including the triangle, ridged triangle, spur, sawtooth, and others that I can’t recall now. Hundreds of variations! I was also fascinated by the different brands, because for some reason, when I was a kid, I learned about how to read the symbols of ranches: the Lazy N, the Bar 7, that sort of thing. Honestly, it was surprisingly fascinating!

I also enjoyed their Dust Bowl exhibit. It consisted pretty much of just photographs, but they were some that I hadn’t seen before. Although I had read a book about it several years ago, these pictures graphically showed the extreme devastation of these storms. It’s one thing to read about “dust storms during the ‘30s,” but quite another to see houses almost buried in sand. As someone who grew up in the Midwest, it’s almost incomprehensible to me because we’re usually pretty green and lush during the summer.

They also had a room dedicated to Texas Route 66, and they had some really nice information and artifacts, including a giant cobra from the old Regal Reptile Ranch (long since bulldozed) in Alanreed. Heavy on history and information, and I recommend the Devil’s Rope Museum to anyone doing 66. The lady there was also super nice and we enjoyed chatting with her!

South of McLean, we took a dirt road alignment of 66 over to Alanreed. It was really in pretty decent shape for a dirt road (and MAN, that is some red dirt in Oklahoma and Texas...I thought Georgia was the reddest dirt around!), and the guidebook navigated us successfully through these circa 1926-1932 era legs of 66. Where we came out from the dirt road to rejoin paved 66 sat another restored filling station, the 66 Super Service Station. It dates to the early ‘30s, and has been beautifully restored! I was even able to shoot a couple of pictures through the windows and get a shot of the interior (if that one seems a little blurry, it’s because I shot it through a dusty window).

IMG_3759smThen it was on to our destination for the evening, Amarillo. Route 66 enters the city on the north side, far from downtown; the original strip is a glut of old motels, although very few googie signs have been preserved. There are some along this strip, but most of them are not in great shape. Still, it’s great to see some of the structures still standing, and I hope that this rather rundown area can get some TLC and spruce things up a little bit (although I’m not going to hold my breath).

Due to inclement weather, we stayed in tonight, which bums me out because it would have been fun to take a little stroll in downtown Amarillo. Tomorrow we’ll make our way to New Mexico (I’m oddly excited to see the almost ghost town of Glenrio on the Texas-New Mexico border) and spend the night in Tucumcari, at the best-known motel on Route 66, the fabulous Blue Swallow. I’m psyched!

Now for a few postcards and an earlier evening, so we can get in a good workout in the morning and then hit the road. One more motel picture for the Road (see what I did there?), the Cowboy Motel in Amarillo. Note the nifty atomic starbursts on the side, and check out those pantaloons!


  1. I think my favorite part today was the dirt road part of the route, gave me more of a feeling what they experienced,

  2. I told Ken on his blog, and I'll tell you here, I'm loving living vicariously through your KICKS.
    The photos are amazing and the history lessons of the little nooks and crannies is just plain fun.

  3. I can't stand this anymore. I have tried very hard to be nice and read this blog without making a comment about your journey on Route 66. I have made the trip a number of times and did not want to say anything to spoil it for you. Well, you have spoiled it for me!!!! Libby and I are going to have to do this again now!! Your pictures are fantastic. You have found things I have not seen. Many of your pictures are familiar but, you have added to my memory stock. What a wonderful trip you must be having. I am jealous.
    Be safe and enjoy.
    Our Regards, Bill and Libby.
    PS: We are thinking about both of you and talking about your trip all the time.


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