Cars, Cadillacs and a Roadrunner on Route 66.

Ughhhhh…How can it be time to get up and get moving?? I feel like I have been in a car for almost 16 hours and 900 miles…oh that’s right; that’s exactly what I did yesterday.
Speaking of yesterday; where did that day go? We started in NE Ohio and we are now in SW Missouri…and what is that God awful shaking and noise in our hotel?  An earthquake, a 5.8 magnitude quake to be exact.  I can’t believe that we experienced an earthquake in Joplin, Missouri! Of course, we had no idea what it was.  We don’t have earthquakes on a frequent basis in Ohio.

Shake map from the earthquake in Pawnee, Oklahoma
Shake map from the earthquake in Pawnee, Oklahoma


Apparently Julie thought that I was doing jumping jacks in the hotel room while she was getting her shower.  If I was doing jumping jacks, the people below us would be complaining about the noise…as it was, nobody realized what was going on…seriously, the thought of me doing jumping jacks makes me nauseated.

I reassured her repeatedly that I wasn’t doing anything but watching the news.  The earthquake occurred in Pawnee, Oklahoma; about 150 miles from Joplin; but was felt as far away as South Dakota and Southern Texas.  I was certainly hoping that this wasn’t an omen of things to come on our trip across Route 66.  Ok, Ok, enough about the earthquake…

We are…on the road again…(isn’t that a song?).  Day 2 is just beginning…our first destination for the day is Kansas…the only portion of the Route that we drove in its entirety…of course, the length of Route 66 in Kansas is only a bit over eleven miles so that isn’t really saying much.

Our first stop for the day was Galena, Kansas.  Galena is a quaint little town just across the Missouri border.  The first thing that we come across on the route on day 2 is a small gas station…that has Cars characters on the parking lot around the gas station…I have to be honest, I haven’t seen any of the Cars movies so I am pretty much in the dark as to what the heck I am looking at…however, our friends John and Angie have a 6 year old.  I’m sure that Ian will be able to help us out with the characters.

I would agree, it is a “Happy Place”.










One of the characters from Cars.

My wife hanging out in front of a gas station…what am I going to do with this woman???

Time to move on from Galena…remember, you are just seeing some of the things that we saw at each stop.  This blog would be 100’s of pages long if I talked about or showed you pics of everything that we saw along the way.

Our next stop is Commerce, Oklahoma.  Apparently Commerce is the home of Mickey Mantle, the Commerce Comet is one of his nicknames.  Mickey played his entire career with the New York Yankees.  Mantle was arguably the greatest offensive threat of any center fielder in baseball history.  Mickey was names after Mickey Cochrane, a Hall of Fame catcher.  Obviously, his father was a big baseball fan.  Mickey never believed that he was going to live a long healthy life so it was well known that he spent quite a bit of time drinking…Mantle’s entire family including his wife and son both went to rehab for alcohol addiction and urged Mickey to do the same.  Shortly after Mickey completed treatment, his son Billy, died of cardiac problems brought on by years of substance abuse.  Mantle received a liver transplant at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, on June 8, 1995. His liver was severely damaged by alcohol-induced cirrhosis, as well as hepatitis C. Prior to the operation, doctors also discovered he had inoperable liver cancer known as an undifferentiated hepatocellular carcinoma, further necessitating a transplant.  In July, he had recovered enough to deliver a press conference at Baylor, and noted that many fans had looked to him as a role model. “This is a role model: Don’t be like me”, a frail Mantle said. He also established the Mickey Mantle Foundation to raise awareness for organ donations. Soon, he was back in the hospital, where it was found that his cancer was rapidly spreading throughout his body.

Commerce, Oklahoma…home of Mickey Mantle


The tallest Route 66 sign that we had found on the trip.

Oklahoma has a lot of Route 66 but it is mostly overlaid by interstate so we would be spending the next couple of hours on Interstates 44 and 40.  Our next stop was going to be a little “ghost town” called Texola on the border of Texas and Oklahoma.

Texola seemed like a good place to stop for lunch…little did we realize that driving across Oklahoma is almost as boring as driving across Indiana and Illinois…with the exception of the “Largest McDonalds” in the world that straddles I44, there really wasn’t much to see.  We drove and drove…1PM arrived, still not to Texola, 2PM arrived and we were still not to Texola but I refused to stop anywhere but Texola…low and behold we finally made it…around 230PM.  It was a bit late for lunch but this is where we were stopping…as I reminded Julie, we still had a lot of traveling to do because we were hoping to make it to Tucumcari, NM as our stop for the night on day 2.

A rebuilt gas station on Route 66 in Commerce
The restored Coleman Theater on Route 66.
We drove on part of the original road bed of Route 66 which was barely wider than my car…

This part of Route 66 was just outside of Texola.  Texola was a bit disappointing.  It was supposed to be a ghost town with an active bar and some abandoned buildings.  The hope was to stop at the bar and have a cold beer prior to exploring the ruins of the ghost town.  The bar was closed so it just ended up being a picnic with some water and a bit of exploring of the few buildings that were still standing…one of which was a regional jail during the Indian era in Oklahoma…and there were more “Cars” here…by now, I am wondering how in the hell did all of the “Cars” character cars got placed along the route…remember, we saw the first ones in Galena, Kansas earlier that morning and we were now on the Oklahoma/Texas border.

The bar and another “Cars” character in Texola
A sign on the bar in Texola

And, like the sign says, there is not other place like this.  🙂

Our view at lunch, the regional jail in Texola.
The bank in Texola…not sure that there’s any money left.

We are finally back in the car and are heading west again…we drive across the panhandle of Texas with our next stop not far away…the Cadillac Ranch just outside of Amarillo.

Standing along Route 66 west of Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch was invented and built by a group of art-hippies imported from San Francisco. They called themselves The Ant Farm, and their silent partner was Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh 3. He wanted a piece of public art that would baffle the locals, and the hippies came up with a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin. Ten Caddies were driven into one of Stanley Marsh 3’s fields, then half-buried, nose-down, in the dirt (supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza). They faced west in a line, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, their tail fins held high for all to see on the empty Texas panhandle.

That was in 1974. People would stop along the highway, walk out to view the cars — then deface them or rip off pieces as souvenirs. Stanley Marsh 3 and The Ant Farm were tolerant of this public deconstruction of their art — although it doomed the tail fins — and eventually came to encourage it. Decades have passed. The Cadillacs have now been in the ground as art longer than they were on the road as cars. They are stripped to their battered frames, splattered in day-glo paint splooge, barely recognizable as automobiles. Yet Cadillac Ranch is more popular than ever. It’s become a ritual site for those who travel The Mother Road. The smell of spray paint hits you from a hundred yards away; the sound of voices chattering in French, German, and UK English makes this one of the most polyglot places between the UN and Las Vegas.

As we exited our car to cross the field of sorghum that surrounded the cars the smell of spray paint was everywhere…and the cars in the field were absolutely dripping with it.

Approaching the cars from the road
Julie posing on the windy plains of Texas…getting ready to “tag” the Cadillac planted in the dirt.
Our bit of paint on one of the Cadillacs…I’m sure it was covered before the end of the day.
There is paint everywhere and you are urged to leave your can for others to use.
Nothing is sacred…did the State of Texas really think that this sign would work???

Back in the car and heading west…what is that awful smell????I’m from Ohio so I am quite familiar with the smell of manure but this is the worst that I have ever smelled in my life…along the road is a cattle processing area with thousands and thousands of cattle and all of the smells that go with it…I picked the speed up to get as far away as I could from this place….I was really hoping that the wind was not coming from the east of the next hour of the trip was going to be all but unbearable from the cattle smell…luckily, the wind was not a west wind and we had smooth sailing and clear air after about 10 minutes.

I need to remind everyone, we did almost 900 miles on day 1, this was day 2 and we were quickly approaching the midpoint of Route 66.  We would be stopping there for a few quick pics and an ice cream at the MidPoint Café…well that’s what we thought we would do…the MidPoint Cafe’ was closed so we just got some pictures.

Well we made it halfway but didn’t get any ice cream since the Café was closed.

It’s ok that the MidPoint Café was closed…we needed to make some time if we were going to get to Tucumcari, New Mexico and find a room…remember, no reservations for us…we arrive at a destination and start looking for a room…the main thing is that the room is clean and there are no bedbugs… is our friend.  Adrian, Texas where the MidPoint Café is located is only about 60 miles from Tucumcari…an easy drive after the amount of time that we have spent on the road. (just found out that the MidPoint Café is for sale)

After about 50 minutes we arrive on the outskirts of Tucumcari, NM.  It is exactly what I would expect in a tourist town along Route 66…many hotels that have neon signs advertising the best rooms, best rates, etc.  We also saw a few that appeared deserted and were for sale…man, I wish I had some money to invest in a business like this.  I can imagine all of the interesting people that you would meet on a daily basis as they make the trek across the Mother Road.

The sign for the Roadrunner Lodge in Tucumcari, NM
The owner of the Roadrunner Lodge will pick you up at the airport in his vehicle…talk about a cool ride.
there are shops like this spread along the length of Route 66.

We stopped at a little place called the Roadrunner Lodge.

The Roadrunner Lodge sign

I highly recommend that you stay at the Roadrunner Lodge if you are ever out that way.  The rooms were immaculate, the rates were acceptable and the staff was very attentive…they even gave us a quarter for the first 15 minutes on the magic fingers bed in our room…did I forget to mention, all of the rooms are decorated with décor from the 1960’s?  It is a fun place to stay.  You won’t regret it at all.

After checking in we ventured to Del’s Restaurant for dinner…finally time for a couple of craft beers with dinner…well, no it isn’t.  The closest thing that they have to craft beer is Sam Adams so that’s what I had.  The food was fantastic and the service was very good.  You have to stop in the gift shop at the front of the restaurant…you never know what you might pick up there.

After dinner, we decided to take a walk along the main street which was Route 66 to check out the neon signs for all of the businesses along the road…unfortunately, the sleepy little town of Tucumcari had a hostage situation going on just a couple of blocks from our hotel so we went back to the hotel and relaxed before turning in for the night and trying out the “magic fingers” bed in the room…it’s funny; as a kid I always thought that the “vibrating” beds in the hotels were really cool…this time, I found it sort of annoying…boy do I hope that I’m not getting old…  Day two has ended.  We have traveled over 1400 miles in two days…it’s time to turn in…tomorrow will be another day on the road.