California 2021:
Day 5 - Route 66: Texas


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California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

Thursday, November 4, 2021: We started right at sunrise and headed over the Pony Bridge neary Geary, OK. This cool bridge has 38 arches and is nearly 4,000 feet long.
One of our first attractions this morning was Lucille's Historic Highway Gas Station, a restored Sunoco service station near Hydro, Oklahoma.
We were soon in Weatherford, Oklahoma, home to the Stafford Air and Space Museum, which we had visited in 2017.
Main Street in Weatherford is Route 66 and every other telephone pole in town has a route emblem making the route easy to follow. We made a breakfast stop at McDonald's before leaving town.
A short time later, in Clinton, OK, we passed the Glancy Motor Hotel with its cool sign, ...
... and the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.
We were welcomed to Elk City, ...
... home of the National Route 66 Museum.
Leaving Elk City, part of Route 66 was on Interstate 40, ...
... but a few minutes later we were off the interstate highway and back on what felt like a more authentic Route 66.
Route 66 and I-40 Business seemed to go hand-in-hand in this part of Oklahoma.
In Sayre, Oklahoma, we passed the Western Motel, with its awesome sign featuring a desertscape and saguro cactus, neither of which were part of the scenery around here.
Outside Erick, Oklahoma, this section of Route 66 was named Roger Miller Memorial Highway. He grew up here, so that kind of makes sense.
Before we got to town, we passed this collection of farm windmills along the north side of the road. It's not a museum, just a private collection of old windmills.
We were headed down Roger Miller Boulevard when we saw ...
... this fantastic mural of Roger Miller himself. The mural looked brand new, and had only been completed a few months earlier, at the end of August, 2021. What great timing!
Debbie realized that we were looking at the mural from Sheb Wooley Avenue. Wooley was Roger Miller's cousin-in-law and had taught him how to play guitar.
As we headed away from Erick toward Texola, we appeared to be on an original section of Route 66, judging by the Portland cement making up the roadbed, the narrow lanes, and the complete lack of painted lines.
In Texola, we checked out the one room jail, with the Texola Class of 1932 marker leaning against the building.
We took a look at the Tumbleweed Grill, which bills itself as the last stop on Route 66 in Oklahoma. We had been here for dinner back in 2017.
We stopped to take a photo of this sign, which informed travelers that Route 66 in Oklahoma was officially named the Will Rogers Highway.
We crossed over into Texas, which contains 179 miles of Route 66.
The route took us to Shamrock, Texas, which is very proud of its Irish heritage.
Right away we saw Tower Station and the U-Drop Inn, which is a stunning Art Deco building built in 1936. This restored service station with its iconic look was featured in the Pixar movie "Cars" as Ramone's auto-body and paint shop.
We decided to head south and explore Shamrock a little more.
This town may be Irish, but never forget we are in Texas.
Shamrock boasts of having a piece of the original Blarney stone, with a display built around the fragment in Blarney Stone Plaza, naturally.
The fragment was built into this cylinder in 1959, complete with a painting of Blarney Castle in Ireland. We declined to kiss this one, having already kissed the original in 2015.
Feeling that a single Blarney stone wasn't enough, the town erected a second one about a block away from the first. Remember, it's Texas. If Blarney Castle has one stone, Texas needs to have two. That only stands to reason.
The restored Magnolia service station originally opened in 1926 and has beautiful tall gas pumps with the Mobil Oil Pegasus logo on them.
These hay bales along the road were decorated as a variety of things, including this postal truck, ...
... Snoopy's firehouse, complete with Charlie Brown, ...
... a Shamrock football helmet, ...
... Happy Fall Y'all, ...
... a pumpkin stagecoach, ...
... a John Deere tractor, ...
... a spider, ...
... an ogre, ...
... two cows and a pig, ...
... and Grogu, also known as Baby Yoda, from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian.
We headed out of Shamrock on another section of the original roadbed.

We were still seeing Burma-Shave-style ads on the side of the road. This one read:

Going East
Or Going West
Route 66
Does It Best
Burma-Shave

In McLean, Texas, we drove past the Devil's Rope and Route 66 Museum (which features displays of barbed wire), ...
... and this restored Phillips 66 service station.
The Route 66 signs in Texas were mostly like this Old Route 66 sign, and there weren't nearly as many marking the route as there had been in previous states.
We passed this abandoned Texaco service station in Alanreed, Texas. It was originally built in 1930 in downtown Alanreed.
Leaving Alanreed, the frontage road that had been Route 66 abruptly ran out of pavement and became a gravel road. 
We backtracked to the nearest I-40 interchange and got on the highway, and confirmed with our apps and maps that Route 66 was indeed now on I-40.
We could see sections of road that had probably been older Route 66 in the past, ...
... but we had no clear way to get to them.
Our trusty Ghost Town Press Route 66 map of Texas shows that between Alanreed and Jericho that the only way to travel Route 66 is on I-40. This map was key to staying on the route and knowing where it was at any given time.
We got off I-40 near Jericho, Texas, ...
... and decided to try to find the Jericho Ruins and travel an unpaved section of Route 66 known as the Jericho Gap, infamous for its muddy, impassable roads. We never did find the ruins (maybe we were on them), so we turned around and headed back to the paved route into Groom, Texas.
The so-called Leaning Tower of Texas is a water tower outside Groom that was given its tilt to attract visitors to a nearby truck stop.
We've seen the Groom Cross many times from I-40, but we got a closer look at it from Route 66 this time. For those keeping score at home, this is the second giant cross we have seen on this trip. Stay tuned for more.
Just west of Groom is the VW Slug Bug Ranch, a gas station that planted a series of VW Beetles nose-first in the ground in an effort to bring in more customers. Unfortunately, the ploy was not successful and the business went under. The cars are still here, and visitors spray paint the cars, and everything else here, with messages and artwork and anything else they can think of.
Here's a close-up of one showing the empty spray paint cans that have been left behind.
Many of the notes that we saw were from the very recent past, like this signature from only the day before.
The overall effect was very cool, especially this Bug Ranch sign and its shadow.
Not all of the vehicles here were VW Bugs, such as this car, which was likely from the 1940s.
There were multiple buildings, all abandoned, and all covered with graffiti.
No surface was spared, which made us wonder how the artists were getting to the hard-to-reach areas like the ceilings and upper walls.
Spider webs were sometimes colored ... holy crap look at the size of that spider in the corner! Its legs are folded up underneath it and it is the size of a gumball. Yikes.
We made our way to the Stoner Patriot Peace Garden of All Faiths, just outside of Amarillo, Texas.
The garden features metal signs with the letters cutout, casting very cool shadows as the sun strikes them. There are lots of signs with significant dates in history.
The park seems to be painted regularly, with it currently being a brightly colored rainbow theme.
As we were leaving the park, a passing truck threw up a stone from the gravel on the road and it chipped our windshield. We pulled to the side of the road and Debbie searched for a glass repair place. We knew that we needed to take care of it quickly, before the chip started to turn into a crack. She found a place that was about twenty miles away in nearby Amarillo.
We passed the Big Texan Steak Ranch while we were still on Route 66, before taking a more direct route to ...
... Glass Doctor of Amarillo. They got us in as soon as we arrived, and were able to fill the chip with resin, ...
... and get us back on the road in minutes. It had been less than forty minutes from the time the rock hit our windshield until it was repaired and we were back on the road. It sucked that our windshield got chipped, but we were thankful that it happened near a big city like Amarillo where it could be repaired quickly.
We made our way from Glass Doctor toward Route 66, stopping at Beef Burger Barrel, a one-of-a-kind burger joint made out of a gigantic barrel. It has been at this location since 1953.
We got two burgers, fries, and ice cold Diet Cokes, and they were very delicious.
We joined back up with Route 66 and noticed the Texas version of the Route 66 emblem in the street sign.
We finally saw the Historic Texas Route 66 sign on the roadside, in the brown sign configuration that we'd been seeing in the other states.
This mural was stunning. Something about it made it seem to leap off the wall.
There are endless variations to the Route 66 emblem, like this one that just gets right to the heart of the matter: you are on Route 66 in Texas.
We saw a few more quarter horse statues like we saw when we were here last year, including this one, ...
... this one, ...
... and this one, which is titled "Freedom" and is number 63 of the series.
On our way out of town, we finally got a decent closeup of the Texas Route 66 sign for our collection.
Leaving Amarillo, we passed the Second Amendment Cowboy just east of ...
... the Cadillac Ranch. Created in 1974, there are ten Cadillacs half-buried in a field just south of Route 66.
There were lots of people parked on the road and going up to the cars, which are spray painted just like we had seen earlier in the day that the Slug Bug Ranch. Having enjoyed the experience of a completely empty Slug Bug Ranch, we opted not to do the same thing surrounded by people
Debbie took this great shot of an old-school farm windmill in the foreground with a line of modern wind turbines in the back.
In Vega, Texas, we passed this restored Magnolia service station, and then followed the 1926 alignment of Route 66 ...
... until it came to an end. We headed south a little ways and picked up the more recent alignment, ...
... which went past the Milburn-Price Culture Museum before heading further west. Check out the world's largest branding iron in the center background of this photo.
We admired the wind turbines as we traveled ...
... past this abandoned service station, ...
... to the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas. We were the only ones here, and there was no one on the road, so we were able to casually walk across the street to ...
... take Debbie's picture at the convenient photo stop. The Midpoint Cafe is, appropriately enough, exactly half-way between Los Angeles and Chicago. Doesn't Debbie look happy to be here?
They even have their own version of the Route 66 shield painted on the street.
What a great sign. Unfortunately, the cafe had closed fifteen minutes earlier, otherwise we would have spent more time here and enjoyed their famous pie. Maybe next time.
Dear Texas, we would like to recommend that you place the "road ends" sign at the nearest non-dead-end cross street, rather than well down the road that will end in one and three-tenths miles. Respectfully, everyone who has ever driven this road.
We backtracked from the dead end road, hopped on I-40, and exited at the ghost town of Glenrio, which is right on the border.
There was an abandoned service station, ...
... and this building with the cool Art Deco roof, and little else.
We continued down the frontage road until the pavement ended, and then turned around.
We noticed on the way back to pavement that on the gravel side of the road there was this caution sign warning the traveler that they would soon be transitioning to pavement. There was no such warning on the pavement-to-gravel side, leading us to believe that Texas thinks that pavement is the more dangerous road surface.
We could see the Welcome to New Mexico sign from the (paved) frontage road on the north side of I-40, ...
... and exited at San Jon, New Mexico.
We immediately noticed the change in font on New Mexico's version of the Route 66 sign.
We were back on the frontage road south of I-40, ...
... but we were still very close to it.
We drove into Tucumcari, New Mexico, ...
... and stopped at TeePee Curios. They have a teepee built into the front of the building, and it is very hard to miss.
They have the usual Route 66 memorabilia, and we purchased a Route 66 magnet to match our Route 1 magnet that we bought on our last trip, as well as some roadtrip bingo cards for the grandkids.
This brass Route 66 marker was set in the doorway just as you entered the shop.
We were staying in Tucumcari for the night at the famous Blue Swallow Motel. Their sign still advertises 100% Refrigerated Air.
All of the rooms have a garage, and some, like ours, had a table and patio chairs to sit on.
The courtyard was immaculate. Note that the neon sign above the two garage doors is for the Blue Swallow Court, which was the motel's original name when it was built in 1939. The name was changed in 1958 to the Blue Swallow Motel.
We had booked the spacious Lillian Redmond suite, which featured a sitting room containing sofa, refrigerator with separate freezer, ...
... a TV, desk, and faux fireplace.
The bedroom had a queen bed and dressing table, ...
... a partitioned off area containing a clawfoot tub, ...
... and a separate bathroom and shower.
The Blue Swallow motif was on a bath bomb in the tub, and embossed onto the end of toilet paper.
There were two bathrobes in the room, with the hotel logo containing the 100% Refrigerated Air slogan. It was all really well done.
There were framed prints on the walls, and they contained iconic images and scenes along Route 66, including the Munger Moss Motel, the Blue Whale, and the U-Drop Inn and Tower Station, all of which we had seen on our way here.
Another print contained images of the original roadbed and other pictures of the road itself.
This print shows the Blue Swallow Court and other businesses along Route 66, probably dating to the 1940s.
We decided to treat ourselves to beers outside in the court. Cheers!
After sunset, we went out for a neon photo safari, heading first to ...
... the Route 66 Monument at the end of the strip. It was the perfect time to see it. We hadn't expected the taillights in the monument to be lit up, which was an unexpected treat.
A hill in the distance had a single "T" lit up, which we assume stood for Tucumcari.
Some of the signs were showing their age, with large sections not working or flickering.
Others looked like they had just been installed that morning.
We were surprised to see that the sign above TeePee Curios only had three Es instead of four. Everywhere else it was spelled with four, including on their sales receipt. It was probably too expensive to change the sign to match.
The west-facing side of the Palomino Motel looked great, but half of the east-facing side was flickering.
The Blue Swallow Motel was hands down the prettiest in the entire town, and unquestionably the prettiest one on the route.
The entire courtyard was ringed with neon, ...
... including the blue swallow motif above the garages.
The Blue Swallow Court sign was also fully operational.
Here's the door to our suite, on the left side of the photo.
We turned on the electric fireplace for ambiance, and settled in for the evening.

Day 6 >


California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

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