“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose site of the shore” Andre Gide
Once you pass the town of Texola, you cross the state line of Texas. Route 66 greets you with the first town called Shamrock and the famous, U Drop Inn at the Crossroads of America, U.S. Highway 83 and Historic Route 66. The first time I found this building, it was empty, a ghost of its past heyday when you said “filler-up” and grabbed a meal before hitting the road again. Since then, a face lift and a sense of life has returned to the classic art deco style of this 1936 building. The Chamber of Commerce resides in the main portion. A small gift shop, at the front of the building, offers postcards, T-shirts, books and brochures to help to start your fun on the Texas side of the route. In the Pixar film, Cars, it inspired Romone’s auto painting shop.
Who would have known that barbed wire could be so interesting? In McLean, the Devil’s Rope Museum, (the name was given by religious groups that opposed of the use of barbed wire, claiming it injured cattle and called it “the work of the devil”) also houses a Route 66 museum. Both are fun and belive it or not a great history lesson at the same time.(www.barbwiremuseum) Groom can brag that they have their own leaning tower, water tower that is. A cleaver ploy by Ralph Britten of Britten U.S.A. Truck Stop , it caught the attention of drivers causing them to pull over to find out what was wrong. Before leaving the area, a 190 foot tall white Cross takes over the skyline. Mr. Steve Thomas, owner of Caprock Engineering, erected “The Cross” to show gratitude to God for His Blessings. This public display of faith is visible for up to 20 miles and even more impressive at night when illuminated. It is seen annually by approximately 10 million I-40 motorists. Take a moment to stop and view the Stations of the Cross with figures that are life-size and heart wrenching.
Continue along the panhandle to Amarillo (in Spanish pronounced, Ahm-a-ree-o). You will feel like a real cowboy as you travel to the heart of the town and stop at the Big Texan Steak Ranch, 7701 I-40 East. One of the things I find fascinating anytime I have a meal here, is the number of tough guys that think they can wolf down a 72-ounce steak. More power to those who think they can. The meal is set with all the trimmings and a time clock with a one hour window to complete your food. If you do, and I have only witnessed it once, the meal is free. Good luck to anyone who wants to try it! (www.bigtexan.com)
Ease on down the road to another of my favorite stops, the Cadillac Ranch. Ten vintage Cadillacs buried nose first into the ground, is a creation of Stanley Marsh 3, farmer, rancher and art collector. I don’t care how many times I pass this place, I love checking out the artistic hand of others. Once, I met a family traveling from Europe, carefully designing a British flag on one of the cars. During our conversation the father said that he was touring with his children in the states to give them a real history lesson of American landmarks. Now that is a lesson that will never be forgotten.
During my back and forth runs on Route 66 and I-40, one of my favorite stops for breakfast was the MidPoint Cafe & Gift Shop in Adrian, 305 W. Historic RT66. When you stand in front of the sign marker, you are midpoint between L.A. and Chicago, 1139 miles either way. The manager at the time, Fran, has since retired. Her genuine personality and dinner plate size pancakes kept me full well into the lunch hour of 12 noon. The new manager, Dennis, has a ready smile and the energy to keep you coming back for a visit. The restaurant is clean and pleasant, allowing you a chance to take a load off before moving forward. The nearby gift shop offers plenty of memorabilia to keep a roadie satisfied. Regarding the movie, Cars, MidPoint Cafe has two connections. It inspired Flo’s V8 Cafe’ and two waitress that work at MidPoint that are also sisters were Mia & Tia in the film. (www.route66midpointcafe.com)
Before your trek takes you into New Mexico, take a peek into the ghost town of Glenrio. During my first visit, there wasn’t much left but a few emptied out buildings and habitable homes. It is a sad reminder of how progress can sometimes bring death to a town. See you in the land of Enchantment. (Photos, top left, U Drop Inn; right, Britten U.S.A: center, Cadillac Ranch and bottom left, Big Texan Steak Ranch)