Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Amarillo and Route 66

April 28 - May 2, 2015:

Cadillac Ranch view

We traveled 120 miles on Route 27 north through the Texas farm belt and into the Pan Handle and Armadillo.  Our destination, Amarillo Ranch RV Park, is right off I-40.  It’s a full hookup site with cable TV, indoor pool, showers and what looks like an old Okies dust bowl farm truck out front. 

Right out of the dust bowl days

The first order of business was to drop off the computer at a local repair shop, then we went to the visitors information center with the very enthusiastic, friendly attendant.  The most popular attractions here seem to be the Big Texan Steak Ranch and the Cadillac Ranch. That’s kind of sad actually, but it’s the way of the world these days.  The Cadillac Ranch is in a field off I-40 just outside of town.  There had been recent rain, the path to the Cadillacs was muddy and the cars were sitting in water, which kind of enhances the view.  Twinkles does not understand this attraction at all and I actually am struggling to explain the thrill myself.  Down the road from the Cadillac Ranch is the Cadillac RV Park and souvenir shop with a big Texan figure out front dedicated to the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution.  I’m getting real tired of people who feel the need to push their political or religious views on everyone else. 

You are welcome to bring a spray can and paint away.  It
would be nice if you removed your trash though.

The 2nd amendment cowboy

The Big Texan Steak Ranch has been a fixture since 1960 and is famous for their 72 oz steak.  If you can eat one along with all the fixin's in an hour, it’s free!  They also have a free shuttle service with limos equipped with cattle longhorns on the hood.  They were picking people up from the campground all week.  We checked out their gift shop, chock full of big Texas stuff.  As Twinkles is sticking to her vegetarian habit and I am not much of a big steak guy, we are skipping this attraction.

Limos in front of the "Big Texan" sign

That's a lot of beef

Amarillo was settled in 1887 and the name is thought to derive from the Spanish word for yellow as noted by early Spanish explorers who took note of many yellow flowers and yellowish earth in the area, although there are other theories.  Amarillo is a huge beef producer - a quarter of all the beef in the US is processed in Amarillo; Tyson Foods is the largest employer in town.

Downtown Amarillo is far more vibrant than Lubbock and so much easier to negotiate.  Polk Avenue has several impressive buildings and great lighted signs at night.  

The Paramount remains in fine shape

The original headquarters of the Santa Fe Railroad

First Baptist Church is very impressive

Court House

The old Santa Fe Railroad Depot

Lobby of the Paramount

A green park area behind the court house

Amarillo National Bank sign restored

The old Route 66 section on 6th avenue is trying to bring back its glory days.  There are a number of bars and restaurants that promote live music, as well numerous quirky art shops, clothing stores and antique shops.  The music scene is definitely alive in this area of Amarillo.  I went to see the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash at the Golden Light Cantina.  Johnny Cash actually gave these guys permission to use his name and they recorded their first album at his home.

Route 66 sign

Deuces are wild on Route 66

How true !

Bikers are appreciated on Route 66

Store front on Route 66

Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash at the Golden Light

Because we sat around for a week, Wednesday we took off for a hike at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.  The canyon is the 2nd largest canyon in the country; it's 120 miles long and 20 miles wide, and has a maximum depth of more than 800 feet. It is a beautiful state park with really nice facilities, campgrounds, picnic areas and trails.  The park was constructed by the CCC in the 1930s, as are so many others.  We hiked the Lighthouse Trail, about 7 miles roundtrip, very scenic and a moderate hike - except for the final quarter mile to the base of the Lighthouse.

View from the trail

Twinkles leading the way

There are many hoodoo rock formations

These are the Lighthouse rocks

There are several museums in Amarillo, we went to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum which was super impressive.  I also enjoyed the Jack Sizemore RV museum with many classic antique RVs. Jack Sizemore is a huge RV dealer in Amarillo; he started out with a small gas station.

Antique oil drilling rig on display

Lots of Dinosaurs too!

This beautiful Cadillac was bought by a couple after oil was
discovered on their ranch land

An early electric car

The weapons room was extensive

Entrance of the museum

Longhorns and cattle brands over doorway

The interior has huge murals such as this

So many different kinds on barbed wire !

Open range exhibit

Railroad exhibit

Women's exhibit showing some weird hats

Flexible bus used in the Robin William's movie RV

Many old classic RVs in the museum

The next stop is Tucumcari, New Mexico,

Twinkles and Slick

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