Today has been great! We drove from Amarillo to Tucumcari in New Mexico, just 113 miles, so we treated ourselves to a lazy morning and a later start. As expected, there was thunder last night and we were woken up with the loudest of bangs. We had hoped that the storm would clear the clouds but it was still grey and drizzly this morning, with 2-3 inches of water in places. Claire was not allowed to swim in the outdoor pool die to the weather so she was disappointed!
We headed straight to downtown Amarillo and drove past the shops but didn't stop aside from to take a picture or two. Next stop was Cavender's, a store specialising in cowboy boots, clothes, hats, belts and all things Cowboy. Claire has always wanted to buy a pair of boots and figured where better than Texas. I also got tempted so two pairs of cowboy boots and a checked shirt later we were back on the road. I've never seen Claire so happy!
Next stop was the Cadillac ranch just outside Amarillo. Here, ten Cadillacs are literally buried face down in the ground, with their rear ends sticking out, and then graffitied. Because of the rain the field was a mud bath and we were advised the best approach was bare foot. We weighed up the options and continued in shoes - 10 hours later these are still drying in the sun. I think the bare foot approach would have been better as I lost both shoes anyway so ended up muddy and with muddy shoes. Hey ho! Good excuse to buy some new converse.
Cadillac ranch done, we got back in the car and headed west to Wildorado, home to 28,000 cattle (you could smell them coming) and then through Vega, for a few photos.
After our difficulties with finding good places to eat, we bought a food and accommodation guide yesterday and this has been such a help already. We planned to stop for lunch at a diner in Adrian, which is the midpoint of Route 66 - 1,139 miles from both Chicago and Santa Monica. The diner - suitably called Mid Point Cafe - was amazing. A proper American diner and what Claire had envisaged throughout the route. We picked a booth and both ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. This was some of the best food we've eaten since we got here - delicious. The 'Ugly' pie was also recommended and Claire managed to polish off some coconut cream pie. I was stuffed so got apple pie to go (and am looking forward to eating that later!). Adrian is in Oldham County, which is 50 miles x 30 miles and has a population of just 2,054. This just shows how sparse the population is around here.
After the obligatory photos at mid-point, we continued to the last stop in Texas - Glenrio ghost town. The sun came out whilst we were eating and we emerged to what felt like a different day. Bright sunshine and 20 degrees warmed than this morning. Perfect!
There are ghost towns dotted along Route 66. When the interstate was built and by-passed the smaller towns many of them fell into disrepair and some are now ghost towns. In Glenrio you could see the remnants of a whole town just deserted. After Glenrio the original Route 66 becomes a dirt track through the desert and after yesterday's experience, we decided to continue on the interstate for two junctions instead. Just as we were returning to the main route we saw a huge hawk fly past carrying a snake in its claws - very surreal and one of those special moments. Speaking of snakes - I did google to find out what to do if you come across a rattle snake yesterday. Good to be prepared...
Back on the interstate we crossed into New Mexico, our 6th state. We will be spending the next 3 days here. The scenery changed dramatically, going from Texas where all you could see for miles and miles was flat land and windmills, to become more arid and rocky. Grass turned to cacti and hills and mountains have started to form, with rocky crevices. The ground is also a deep red colour, causing the rivers do run red also. 20 miles into New Mexico we arrived at Tucumcari, our stop for the night. We arrived before 4pm (a miracle, even if we were helped out by gaining an hour at the state line). Tucumcari is a quintessential Route 66 town, famed for its lights at night. We are staying in the Blue Swallow Motel, which is restored to a 60s style motel. Our room has an old TV and telephone, we have a little patio outside our room and a garage to park our car in. There is a 1957 Hudson parked out the front and a neon sign waiting for dark to fall. We love it here! The owners are super friendly and have made us a cup of tea to drink on the patio- they have an actual kettle and Yorkshire tea and PG tips because so many English people complain about the lack of tea over here. We just had a mug sat out in the sun - heaven.
After changing into shorts (hurrah) we've just been for a wander around the town, in some of the local shops and visited the dinosaur museum. What a relaxing afternoon! The only downside about New Mexico is the ants. These are not normal ants - they are fire ants - and I just got bitten by one. It was the most painful thing I have experienced! (Worse than a broken arm). I hopped around in pain for a while and made a big fuss. An hour later, after bite cream and anti histamine, my foot is still burning but I can just about walk again. Nasty ants!
We're heading out to dinner (our first Mexican food) in a moment and then we're going to wander around to see the lights after dark. Heading to the Pow Wow Lizard Lounge about a mile up the road.
Update: Dinner was amazing. Such good food! Mexican is the best! Claire had a taco plate and I had a taco salad. Delicious! We had a look at the lights then came back to the motel for s'mores by the fire pit (toasted marshmallow and chocolate sandwiches between two biscuits).
What a great day!
Total miles driven: 1374
States crossed: 5.5
Licence plates checked: 33 (Minnesota, New Jersey & North Dakota)
Road kill: 1 + a bug