Friday, August 22, 2003

79: WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAYS

4: WALTZ ACROSS (THE PANHANDLE OF) TEXAS


DAY 4
Edmond/Oklahoma City/Yukon/Canadian River/Clinton/Erick/McLean TX/Groom/Amarillo/Tucumcuri NM

Day 4 began with a quick trip through Oklahoma City. One recommendation - drive towards the state capitol from the north - it's an awesome sight (but one with no parking along the way). Passed out of the city, stopped to snap pix of an old bridge on the outskirts, as well as Yukon, OK's main attraction...

Now, Yukon's claim to fame is as the hometown of Garth Brooks. Thankfully, no memorabilia was in sight.

Next main sight on 66 was the pony bridge over the Canadian River, with at least 38 trusses. The river was nearly dry. Then came Clinton, home of the Route 66 Museum. We stopped, took the tour, then picked up souvenirs. We started to the notice the landscape change, as the land grew dustier and vegetation sparser. Shrubs began to dominate.

Final stop in Oklahoma was Erick, whose main intersection is named after its two most famous sons - singer/songwriters Roger Miller ("King Of The Road") and Sheb Wooley ("Purple People Eater"). The town has seen better days, as this shot of the largest building downtown indicates.



At least Erick had a few businesses open...which is more than can said about the next town we stopped in, and our first in the Lone Star State, McLean. The only signs of life were at a small grocery store. Otherwise, the town looked like this.



We had seen abandoned businesses through the trip, but it didn't hit us so hard until McLean. This was the effect of the interstates. You could have mistaken the place for having been abandoned after a disaster. This would be the story for the rest of our tripalong old route 66/I-40. Heck, even saw abandonment like this occuring on the last leg of the trip, where the 400 extension is beginning to replace Hwy 69 through northern Simcoe county and Muskoka. The replacement? In small areas like McLean, nothing.

Couldn't resist taking this shot near Groom, TX...


The town's other claim to fame is a giant cross to the west of it whihc claims to be the largest in the Western Hemisphere. It wasn't that impressive, so we didn't stop for it. Crosses are a dime a dozen, but how often do you see perilously leaning water towers?

Next was Amarillo, where we stopped for dinner at a legendary tourist spot, the Big Texan.


The Big Texan's claim to fame, which we didn't see anyone test, is its challenge to finish off a 72 oz steak, with side dishes, in an hour. We settled for daintier cuts, which proved excellent. It may have been the most expensive meal of the trip, but it was worth every bite. Discovered another tasty treatment for okra - diced, fried and battered like mushrooms. Amy appeared to be in steak nirvana. Somehow we had room for a giant strawberry shortcake, freshly made at the front of the dining room.

Warning: this is not the place to go if (a) meat disgusts you, (b) hundreds of mounted animal heads scare you and (c) you don't want anybody singing country songs to you (never got around to us...I probably would have asked for somebody like Ernest Tubb to stay with the Texas theme).

On the way out of Amarillo, we stopped at the legendary Cadillac Ranch.


A few people were mulling around, though nobody was out spray-painting the cars.


The tools of the artists at the Cadillac Ranch

Nightfall came, along with the search for a room. We followed the old tourist billboards from the 50s... "Tucumcari Tonight!"

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