If Oklahoma City favours Cowboys and gives a little sympathy to the plight of the Native Americans, by the time you get to Albuquerque the switch has been fully made. In the middle is Amarillo which seems to be a bit of both.
The trading posts (gift shops) move focus from big hats and various objects made out of old guns and dead creatures to shops full of native crafts. The people are massively welcoming wherever you are.
They are also a bit heavy on the old religion though…
They say the Bible Belt stretches from the East Coast along the Southern States into New Mexico (just) and that has been pretty evident. Crosses abound in the shops with various designs and ‘y’all have a nice day’ comments are just waiting for a ‘jesus loves y’all’ coming back.
I’m not that religious but if you take a look at what happened to us entering Albuquerque you will see why tonight I am kneeling for prayers before bedtime. (look out for the moment I see the light and the object on the hill-side to the right as we go under the bridge).
But getting back to Oklahoma and that trip to Amarillo (Me: ‘Is this the way?’ Wife: ‘Sweet Maria!’). We left the city early after a Walmart special and lost an hour calling for help after our cash card was rejected by the supermarket. Apparently Walmart don’t do cash cards. It was another long trek to Amarillo but we got some great stops in.
The Route 66 National Museum is not well documented as a must-see but we reckoned it was terrific. It costs $10 but that gives you access to the Route 66 museum and three or four other small museums in Elk City. There are areas celebrating local heroes from rodeo, Miss America 1981! and a massive barn full of farming relics.
If you need a seat there are plenty.
The Route 66 museum is a bit theme park like but there are cars you can sit in an pretend you are at the drive-in.
Just keep your hands to yourself!
We then ploughed on (ahem) the town of Erick where we ate our Walmart Rolls and took snaps of other old relics.
It was a sad place really. This old gas station was totally abandoned and simply used as a tourist stop off.
Amarillo was our next stop and we took to the trail behind our hotel to run a 5k just to make us feel as if we were deserving of our dinner. We had plans for a Big Texan!
The receptionist looked slightly confused when we asked if there was anywhere we could walk about in town (this was before we decided on a run). The cities in this part of America are so widely spread about and devoid of side walks you really have to take the car everywhere. I suppose with so much space available it never made sense to Americans to build close to one another.
We were advised of a ‘trail’ behind the hotel and after being told to ‘be careful’ we decided running would be the best option. It was a dusty old trail alongside the highway and we did an out and back in a little too much heat than we are comfortable with. Still, it was about the food.
I’m afraid the pictures of our dinner at http://bigtexan.com/ don’t show it in the best light. But then I don’t think the Big Texan performed at their best that night either. The waiter was a charming fellow but he really had no idea who had ordered what and we waited a long time to receive our order, not all that hot, and with added sides he obviously couldn’t find customers for. He just gave them to us to make up for the delay. Despite being a ‘warm’ meal it was both massive and delicious. My steak was 12oz Ribeye with mac-n-cheese and baked potato side. My good lady had a pile of fries covered in other food. It was about $50 with unlimited drinks. They do a free limo service to the hotel but we skipped that.
Amarillo doesn’t offer up much unless you drive a good bit. The Cadillac Ranch is a hoot though.
Someone buried these into the mud and called it art.
Everyone who ever visited brought spray paint and made it art.
Poor me – I arrived with no spray paint.
A young lad who had more spray paint than any boy ought to have offered me some.
I got my picture taken as part of a creative work I call ‘Young American Boy is My Hero’.
Amarillo was done. Bed beckoned and the road led next to Albuquerque.
Oh yes! The wife had her hair done there.
In the morning we made home made waffles again (this time cinnamon) at the hotel.
Our first stop was in a place called Tucumari where we gawped merrily at a huge variety of roadside signs (one of the best towns on the road for this) and had ‘his and hers’ ice cream at the Cornerstone Deli where we also obtained sandwiches for lunch later on.
In Adrian we reached the mid point of our journey!
And promptly hit the road for the New Mexico border trading post known as Russell’s Truck and Travel Center. http://www.russellsttc.com/
Well none of our guide books told us about this place. Russell (whoever he is) has the most incredible collections of classic American cars anywhere – in mint condition. His museum is free.
And if you think the bodywork on that looks amazing….
He has other memorabilia dotted around the free museum and everything is as good as the day it was bought. He must have spent an age and a fortune putting it together. This place is petrol-head heaven.
Our sandwiches were eaten in the parking lot and they were pretty average in terms of taste. They looked the part.
As we headed into New Mexico the landscape started to change quite rapidly. Gone were the green pasture lands, corn fields and cattle ranches. We now had vast open plains of brown with bushes dotted throughout. The landscape started to rise and became rocky and rugged the closer we got.
What a welcome we got from the natives!
Review video above for accompanying music.
On arrival we headed straight to the Old Town which is about a square mile of quaint little shops and restaurants full of crafts and tourist gifts. A Mexican and Native American influence makes it quite a fascinating place and the whole city reeks of Breaking Bad scenery. If you are a fan, it is great to see.
This was dinner venue http://www.churchstreetcafe.com/
We were advised by a friendly local that this was true Mexican food.
Now this place is charming, friendly and probably authentic. But it tasted pretty poor to me.
I expected fire, I expected flavour I couldn’t deny, I expected a difficult time in the toilet.
I got …. well mush if the only word I have for it. Apparently the chicken Burrito (left) was very nice but the mush surrounding it remained on the plate throughout. The Pork Tamale (right) was mush and about a quarter of it remained along with the other mush surrounding it.
It wasn’t even spicy mush.
As a quaint and traditional extra we were presented with two Sopapillas with honey at no extra charge. These are triangular doughnut thingys which are served after the meal. These were delicious.
At $40 for mush and two delicious Sopapillas, drinks of course, it was not quite what I hoped for. Maybe we chose badly, maybe I don’t understand authentic, maybe it was just bad.
Now there were some wonderful people we chatted to who knew a wealth about the local culture. Equally there was a lot of tat on sale at hugely over-inflated prices.
But I’m not so sure everything in the Old Town area of Albuquerque was totally genuine. The cacti didn’t even have any prickles.
Oh well. Still having a great time and Arizona awaits tomorrow.