Road Trip – Part I
First of all, thank you CheeseburgerBrown for the parting sentiment. The smells of cattle, desert rain and Ponderosa Pine are fresh in my nostrils as I write. And Lisa – we didn’t have sex in OKC or Amarillo. But we had sex everywhere else, in case you are keeping score…
Day 1 – Thursday, 6/29/06
So on Thursday morning, I picked up my girlfriend at 6AM. Yes – I was late. We hit the road and stopped for some coffee on the outskirts of town. We crossed the Father of Waters at about 7:15AM local time and made it across the Louisiana delta without incident.
We stopped in Shreveport to fill up at the ATM (our bank – no fees) around 9:30 and hopped into Texas with a stop at the Texas Welcome Center around 10. Hot and humid. Fortunately, the rental car had a bitchin A/C with dual temp settings – she and I are pretty much polar (no pun intended) opposites when it comes to comfortable ambient temperatures. It also had pretty good gas mileage, as well. We were getting about 30 MPG so we didn’t stop until somewhere around Van, Texas. Nothing special happened, except I almost elbowed the teeth out of a young Mennonite lady that snuck up behind me.
Hit Terrell around 1PM. Into Dallas and checked into the Sheraton around 2. The bonus item here was that the hotel was next to Medieval Times. For those of you unfamiliar with this name, it is where Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick eat in “The Cable Guy”. (Janeane Garofalo was a “serving wench”) I hate to disappoint, but we did not feast within. No, instead we struck out for Northpark (a very rizzycratic mall) and wandered around for a bit. Then we drove around town to check out some sights, went back to the hotel, showered, changed and then made for downtown Fort Worth and The Cattleman Steak House. They did not actually slaughter a steer at the table and chainsaw it into cutlets, I’m sad to say. But a fine steak and a few Lone Star beers made it a wonderful evening. Got back to the hotel around 10PM and bedded down for the night.
Day 2 – Friday, 6/30/06
Friday morning dawned bright, and we struck out for pastries at La Madeleine, and tracked down a boba (bubble tea) shop. Unfortunately, they did not have coconut milk boba for me, but my g/f was more than satisfied with her purchase. Hit I-635, looped around to I-35 and headed to OK City. Made a boo-boo at the Red River and ended up turned around back into Texas. After turning around at another exit, we finally made it into Oklahoma. Stopped at the Welcome Center to powder our noses, and I sat in the most comfortable rocking chair in the world. Kudos to the Welcome Center. Good info, too.
Hit the city (OK, that is) around 3PM, jumped onto Route 66 (after a bypass to the big milk bottle) and checked into a “couple of steps away from sleazebag” hotel across from the 66 Bowl. Went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and got thoroughly depressed. We were kicked out promptly at closing time, so we didn’t get to see the last few exhibits. Wandered through the chairs and then decided we needed to perk the scene up. Went down to Bricktown, but it turned out to be a touristy contrivance. The canal was nice, though.
I was also very saddened to see that the 66 Bowl (a grand sign in it’s day) has a lot less animated neon than it did 5 years ago. In fact, that would be - none? Just a few stationary circles. Apparently the cost of maintenance is too much to bear? At least I got good shots on the previous trip...
Day 3 – Saturday, 7/1/06
Saturday morning, we got out of town around 8. We stopped at McDonald’s in Yukon for some quick carbs riddled with fat. Being from an area that is littered with small towns, I was not surprised to see that at 8:30 in the morning, the Yukon McDonalds was packed with lots of old men (or codgers, in the vernacular) drinking coffee and talking about farm stuff and such. However, my g/f had never witnessed such a thing. She found it fascinating AND funny, trying to listen to their conversations. It was indeed a treat for her. And everyone was nice and polite, but I think they don't get too many Asian girls dropping by, so they had their onw stare-fest. Of course, it may have been the cute-factor, too...
Once on the road again, we spent the next hour or so tracking down long, lost bits of the old Route 66. Up towards Geary and Bridgeport and across the old Pony Truss Bridge that looks so cool. Then to Hydro with a stop at Lucille's. (Although Lucille Hamons died a few years ago, someone bought the old building on eBay and is supposedly going to fix it up. They are also opening a new tourist trap at the exit into Weatherford.) Then, Weatherford (home of Astronaut Tom Stafford and a quick stop to shoot the F104) and into Clinton and the Route 66 museum. While there, we chatted briefly with a French couple we had found on the old road. They were on a motorcycle and were navigating 66 by notebook. After buying souveniers, we were back on the road.
Foss, Canute, Sayre, wind farms, Erick, Texola and then on into the Texas panhandle. Shamrock (with the famous U-Drop Inn), Mclean and Alanreed. Onto I-40 to Jericho and then back on 66 past the leaning water tower. Of course, we had to stop at the western hemisphere’s second largest freestanding cross (since we saw it looming for the previous 10 miles) and a view of multiple Jesi doing the crucifixion, as well as a mock sepulcher and fake shroud of Turin. (It was THE largest, but I read that Effingham, Illinois built one 8 feet taller. Bastards!)
On down the road we broke off from I-40 again to follow the trail of 66 into Amarillo. On the other side of town, we visited Cadillac Ranch. We also got knocked over by a little tornado while standing out on the windy plain. The weather was clear and hot, too.
After stopping to take a couple of pix in Glen Rio (Exit 0 – long abandoned ghost town, but it sported the first and last hotel in Texas), we blasted out of Texas and into New Mexico. Several stretches of old 66 through here. Nice and mountainous… Wind farms…
As we were nearing Albuquerque, we got a wonderful sight. For about 30 miles, we were able to watch a small storm stuck in the valley just east of the big mountains going into the city. As we finally got next to it, we had the added bonus of the smell of desert rain. I have no idea how to describe this smell. But it certainly smells different from rain in the south!
Pulled into Albuquerque just as the sun was setting. Checked into a nice hotel, and hopped out to downtown to go photograph the neon paradise that is Central Ave and have dinner at the Route 66 Diner. Be advised – on weekends, Central is barricaded! Good and bad… Back to the hotel after dinner (philly sammich and beers, mmmmm) and passing out around midnight.
Next installment – Viva Las Vegas, baby!
Oh! And pictures soon.