Saturday, May 26, 2018

Getting Our Kicks: Route 66 New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma

Near Albuquerque, New Mexico Route 66 got musical. There is a short strip of road in Tijeras that has been scored to play a piece of America the Beautiful when you drive over it at 45 mph (the posted speed limit).

Rte 66 singing America the Beautiful

This is a relatively recent addition to the road, paid for by National Geographic for its TV series Crowd Control. The musical road fits right in with the weird and wonderful attractions of the original route.

Amarillo Texas found us visiting the famous Big Texan Steak House and Brewery home of the 72 oz “Eat it all and it’s free” steak dinner. The steakhouse sent a horned limo to pick us up at the RV park and the driver told us stories about the area for the entire 15 minute trip. We enjoyed steaks of a reasonable size with fellow RVers Anne and Dave who we had met through the Living the RV Dream Facebook page. Alas no one accepted the challenge while we were there but we did enjoy checking out the Wall of Fame. It is amazing how many people have manage to eat the entire meal.

Cadillac Ranch
Amarillo is home to the Cadillac Ranch, a famous art installation on old Route 66. It consists of 10 Cadillacs with the front ends buried in the ground, tail fins in the air. They are all at the same angle and spaced regularly so that they look like a junkyard Stonehenge.

It is customary when visiting to leave your own spray painted tag on the cars, so of course we did. The paint is an inch or more thick in places. We passed by Cadillac Ranch 6 times during our visit to Amarillo and there were always cars parked along the road and people walking to and from the caddys.

Downtown Amarillo still has some old Route 66 establishments including the Golden Light Cafe, where we enjoyed perfect burgers while exploring the Mother Road.

Oklahoma City was our last stop on old Route 66. We made the time to seek out Leo’s Barbeque. Leo’s has been serving OKC diners since 1974. We enjoyed the ribs and brisket and have been making a version of their pickled cucumber and tomato salad weekly. Every dinner comes with a slice of homemade strawberry banana cake-don't even think about turning it down.

Chairs at the Oklahoma City Memorial
The rest of our visit was spent seeing the Oklahoma City Memorial and the national Cowboy Museum both of which were recommended by my Mom, Ella.
Mom served as a volunteer disaster coordinator for the American Red Cross and worked for many months in Oklahoma City after the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995. It affected her deeply. She returned to OKC to see the memorial and wanted us to see it too.
It is a solemn place that manages to preserve history, remember the lost and celebrate the survivors of that violent senseless act.

Wall made from children's art work from all over the world.
The memorial is so effective because it tells so many stories. Those stories begin with the Field of 168 chairs that sit on the ground of the former Murrah building. Their are 9 rows of chairs for the 9 floors of the building. Each chair is inscribed with the name of someone taken that day. 19 of those chairs are small ones. The museum tells the story of the bombing and its aftermath in a personal way. News clippings and video of the bombing and rescue and retrieval are very factual but they are not dry. Victims are always named. Survivors, first responders, and rescue workers have been interviewed and recorded. Their words are the most effective kind of lesson.
The Responsibility Theater is at the end of the museum tour. In the theater visitors are asked questions about their thoughts and beliefs and how involved they would be in trying to prevent a dangerous situation. Video clips about the bombing and its aftermath are shown in response to their answers with further questions about how they might have acted, knowing the outcome.
It was interesting and rather heart wrenching to watch a group of high school students struggle with the choice of trying to stay safe or “snitching”.
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum was good for our souls. We loved visiting works by our favorite western artists Frederick Remington and Charles Russell and discovered for ourselves the works of Grand Canyon Artist Thomas Moran, and Native American artist Jerome Tiger. A favorite part of the museum was a room that honored Western film and television stars. It included homages to John Wayne, Gene Autry and Barbara Stanwyck. There were displays about Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Wild Wild West, The Big Valley, Death Valley Days and so many others. I lost Fred to the movie theater for more than and hour.

We are leaving Route 66 now and continuing East through Arkansas on our way back to New York. It seems that we have seen middle of the road. Chicago and LA will wait for another journey.

Musical Route 66
I-40 exit 170 drive east 3.5 miles on Hwy 333/66 between mm 4-5 only works east bound.

Big Texan Steak Ranch
7701 I-40 Access Rd
Amarillo, Texas

Cadillac Ranch
13651 I-40 Frontage Rd
Amarillo, Texas

Golden Light Cafe
2908 W 6th Ave
Amarillo, Texas

Leo's Barbeque
3631 N Kelly Ave
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City National memorial
620 North Harvey Ave
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd St
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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