By: Maryanne Erikson
Thursday September 11, 2014
From Amarillo, Texas to Santa Rosa, New Mexico
Today was another action packed day for this merry band of travelers on the great Mother Road! We started our day with a somber tribute to those who were victims of the horrible events on 9/11/2001 – with a moment of silence, tributes, and dedications.
Our first stop, Cadillac Ranch, was only a few miles west of Amarillo and a place I’ve wanted to visit for years! I was taken aback by it’s location and the complete lack of commerciality. For some reason I had expected an attraction similar to others along the route – but it is far from that. Picture a wide open field full of mud and scrubby grass fenced off by barbed wire, with nothing else as far as the eye can see – with a bunch of Cadillacs stuck in the ground on the same angle. It’s truly an art piece that is in a constant state of flux because most visitors enjoy bringing cans of spray paint and adding their own “artistic” touches to the cars – an ongoing work in progress that is totally unsupervised! Amazing!
Gate to Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas
Our group’s color this year (they pick a different theme color every year) is green (like “luck o’ the Irish green) so people were encouraged to bring green spray paint and quite a few people set about completely turning one car green and then adding the “Ride for the Relay” words to it! Then we all gathered for our last group shot before we reach the end of the rally at the Santa Monica Pier. It was fun!
We had pretty much decided to stay with the group through lunch – it’s really cool to pretend that we’re bikers (just a bike with four wheels, a roof over it’s head, and air conditioning!) – well like I said – fun to pretend! So when we’re tooling along at a good clip with these folks we too have that feeling of liberation – sans the wind blowing through our hair/helmets! At one point today we were on Highway #40 (which often shares the same route as #66) and a huge truck pulled between us and them (we were at the back of the pack). As we were attempting to get back behind them, we realized the truck was gaining on them, so there was no way we could tuck in. We started driving in the passing lane next to them, and I thought – “hey, I’m going to grab my camera and get some shots of these folks on their bikes”. So we went through about half the group and here’s one of ace photographer Judy Royce and her husband on their bike.
Our next stop was the exact midpoint of Route 66 in Adrian, Texas. The sign says it’s 1,139 miles to Chicago and 1,139 miles to Los Angeles. Hard to believe it’s taken us this long to get only half way! We’ve commented so many times about the folks in the 30′s and 40′s that made this journey and how long and arduous it must have been, especially in the hot summer months.
There’s a cute little cafe here called of all things “The Midpoint Cafe” that serves something called “ugly pie”. I can’t imagine why, because at the prompting of all the folks who have done this ride, our arms were twisted into having a piece of pie and a cup of coffee – I had the pecan, tasted the chocolate pecan, and Jen had the apple pie. All were top notch – nothing ugly about them!
Back on the road and very soon – boom – signs welcoming us to New Mexico! Now we are feeling like we’ve made it to the west. The landscape this morning in Texas was completely flat – but very soon after Adrian, we noticed little gullies forming and next thing you know we’re seeing mesas and deeper gullies, and sage brush! I’m always curious about the underlying reasons for these shift changes you see as you move across the county. So fascinating and so beautiful.
My heart was beating faster as we pulled into Tucumcari, New Mexico. I’ve seen so many pictures of the classic motels and signs in this tiny town, that I have been waiting patiently to finally see with my own eyes. I certainly was not disappointed – however it is really sad to see so many of these great spots have gone out of business and abandoned. It is also evident that there is a movement afoot to keep the spirit alive – enter the proprietors of the Blue Swallow Motel, Kevin and Nancy Mueller. When we first walked up the office was closed, but there were still lots of great photos to be taken – so I was wandering around appreciating all the love that’s gone into keeping the place so nice. That’s when we bumped into a woman who upon prompting told us she was one of the owners. What a delight she was. She told us that they had only owned it for about three years and had come from Michigan looking for a new life when the economy went south. From all appearances there decision was a good one – lovely office and gift shop – I now am the proud owner of a Blue Swallow Motel t-shirt to add to my growing Route 66 collection.
Typical now of the afternoons on this journey, we were wearing down and decided to forge ahead to our hotel in Santa Rosa to chill a bit and go for a swim. We joined a few of our fellow travelers for an excellent dinner at a vintage Mexican restaurant called Joseph’s Bar and Grill. I would highly recommend the Santa Fe Enchiladas with green chile – soulful homemade flavors.
When we walked out the door from dinner we were met with the most dramatic sky I’ve seen in some time. I grabbed my camera and ran for the nearest neon sign – this is my favorite time of day and I’ve missed getting more of these kinds of shots. I hope you enjoy my pics from today’s ride – and come along tomorrow for our next installment. How excited am I to be in New Mexico? We’re going to Santa Fe and Albuquerque!