Thursday, November 26, 2015

Route 66-Tucumcari


  Tucumcari is the largest city between Amarillo and Albuquerque so it’s always been a popular stop for travelers. Although there are no longer 2000 motel rooms as touted on old billboards there are still plenty of places to stay overnight, either at the newer motels along the interstate or at the classic 1940s motels along Route 66. This is one detour off of the interstate that every traveler should make.

   We stayed at the Cactus RV Park so that we could see the neon signs at night. The RV park is located in the courtyard of the closed Cactus Motor Lodge. The RV park is very well tended and the motel buildings still look fairly sturdy even though they’re not in use. The park is an overnight stop for most people and doesn’t have many amenities but each site does have full hookups. We had very fast WiFi at our site.

   Most of the motel signs have not been restored so we didn’t get  many night pictures.

The Blue Swallow Motel has been in business since 1940.


 Tee Pee Curios, built in 1944, was a gas station, grocery, and souvenir shop. When Route 66 was widened in 1959, the tepee entrance was added and the pumps removed


   The Americana, originally the 1935 Desert Air Motel, has a great neon sign.


  The Palomino opened in 1953 and unfortunately the sign isn’t completely light any more.


The Motel Safari was built in 1959


The Buckaroo Motel, with another great sign, opened in 1952


  La Cita has been serving travelers Mexican food since 1961.


   A lot of cool old stuff is on display at the Tucumcari Trading Post.


  Even the closed business have interesting signs.



  Most of the gas stations have been restored and some are being used for other businesses.





  The city has three small museums. The historical museum is housed in an old schoolhouse and several other buildings. The museum contains a large variety of artifacts but has very little historic information. After visiting all of the buildings we still knew little about Tucumcari’s history.

  The second floor and basement of the schoolhouse are not accessible. Some of the paths on the grounds are surfaced with rough gravel.

  RVs can be parked on the street.



  Two gorgeous antiques – a 1940’s Wurlitzer jukebox and an Owl slot machine from the early 1900s.


   Mesalands Community College's Dinosaur Museum is a nicely done small museum with great fossils and casts of dinosaur bones.

  The museum is accessible.

   Small RVs will fit in the main lot. Larger RVs will fit in the additional lot across street.



The Route 66 Museum was supposed to be opened but it wasn’t. :-(

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.




Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Route 66-Texas/New Mexico Border


   Glenrio  is a ghost town. At the most two person and a number of dogs are the only inhabitants. In all fairness Glenrio was never an actual town. It existed solely to supply services for travelers along Route 66. During the 40s, 50s and 60s traffic streamed through town, filling the gas station, bar, restaurant and motel parking lots, then one day in 1975 everything stopped. 






  The pavement ends and a dirt road continues into New Mexico so we’re on the interstate for awhile. 

   Russell's Truck And Travel Museum is located inside the travel center. There isn’t a sign on the outside indicating where to go but it’s straight back from the front entrance. The museum includes over two dozen beautifully restored cars and trucks plus Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, M&M and Route 66 memorabilia.



  Back on Route 66 the semi ghost town of San Jon has a nice little city park with free overnight RV parking.




Sunday, November 22, 2015

Route 66–The Rest of Texas



  West of Amarillo the road climbs slowly through the Staked Plain, a 37,500 square mile mesa that covers half of the panhandle and extends into New Mexico. It’s hot in summer, cold in the winter, gets very little rain…

and the wind blows all of the time! Texas makes good use all of the wind. One turbine will provide power for 225 – 300 households.


  It’s a hard, desolate place and we wonder about the story behind each abandoned farm house.


  The population of  Vega, Texas never reached 1,000 but it’s status as the county seat has kept it alive. The 1920’s Magnolia Service Station on Main Street has been completely restored by local contractors and dedicated volunteers. Displays inside can be viewed by peeking in the windows.



  The Milburn - Price Culture Museum, with a beautiful mural on the side, is just a block west of the gas station. This little free museum has items donated by the local community.



  In the 1940s Dot Levitt and her husband opened a small store near Route 66. The store closed after the interstate bypassed Vega but Dot still welcomed visitors at Dot’s Mini Museum to see her collection of western artifacts and other memorabilia. Dot passed away but her daughter has kept the museum opened. It was closed when we stopped.


  Ervin Pancoast built the Vega Motel in 1947 and managed it for over 30 years.


   We hit the halfway point!  1,139 east to Chicago and west to Los Angeles.  We started at the end of September so we’ve been driving along Route 66 for more than a month and a half and we’re 3/4 of the way down the list of interesting points on my map. The west has more empty spaces than the east so we’ll probably see the Pacific Ocean by the year’s end.

  The midpoint, little Adrian, Texas, is home of the MidPoint CafĂ©, closed for the season; Sunflower Station antique and gift shop, closed until a new owner comes along; and the Fabulous 40 Motel, just plain closed.



  There was so little traffic that we could park in the street to take this picture.



Friday, November 20, 2015

Route 66-Amarillo


  As you come into Amarillo on I-40 the Big Texan is one of the first things that you see. The original restaurant  was opened along Route 66 in 1960. When the interstate arrived in the early 1970s  a new restaurant was built close to the highway and the giant cowboy  got a helicopter ride to his new location. A stop to see the Big Texan is mandatory even if you don’t try the 72 oz. steak dinner challenge. :-P

  The big green dinosaur, “Tex Rex”, was installed by the sons of the founder in memory of a vacation trip along Route 66 and a roadside attraction featuring big dinosaurs. Plenty of parking for RVs.


  And then back on Route 66 for a drive through the city. Amarillo has not fully embraced old Route 66  but there are a few buildings and signs left.



   Cultural attractions are a bit slim. The small and always free Amarillo Museum of Art is worth a stop. The main exhibit galleries contain Asian art collected and donated by a local couple, Dr. and Mrs. Price. We really enjoyed the special exhibit Chris Jordan: Running the Numbers  about consumption and waste in the US.


A close look at this copy of Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” reveals that it is made from photographs of 1000s of tiny cans – the amount used in the US every 30 seconds!


 Amarillo Botanical Gardens is small but well tended. A walkway circles around the conservatory which houses tropical plants in a very jungle like atmosphere. Visitors using wheelchairs should enter the conservatory on the upper level for an easier, downhill path.



The Don Harrington Discovery Center is within walking distance of the gardens. The center is fairly small with exhibits that change three times a year. There are a lot of activities for young and middle school children plus more in-depth exhibits that caught our interest but not much for teenagers. 

  Most of the exhibits are accessible.


    Medical Center Park is part of the complex that includes the gardens and the Discovery Center. A mile long paved walking trail circles a small lake. Don’t miss the Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument which was erected in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. Each leg is a time capsule to be opened at different times – 25, 50, 100 and 1000 years from 1968.  The complex has several parking lots with room for RVs.


  Jack Sisemore and his son Trent began collecting and restoring unusual vintage RVs 25 years ago. The RVs are on display in the free Traveland RV Museum at Jack Sisemore's Traveland RV Dealership. The collection includes some very rare RVs. Visitors are permitted to climb inside most of them.

  The museum is accessible but the RVs are not. The lot is small so larger RVs may not fit.



  The Cadillac Ranch Gift Shop is taking advantage of it’s close location to the ranch to sell souvenirs and spray paint. The cars and a giant cowboy makes a good photo stop.


  Cadillac Ranch was the creation of a partnership between Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh and the Ant Farm, a group of artists. Ten Cadillacs are buried halfway into the ground at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza. They’ve been there since 1974 and have lost parts over the years but gained many layers of paint. Most visitors can not resist adding their name, soon be obliterated by the next can of spray paint.

  Wheelchair users will not be able to get close to the cars due to a zig zag gate with a narrow opening. There’s room along the side of the room where RVs will fit.