Texas has a reputation amongst us Brits as being huge – it is 3 times the size of our entire country (yet the UK has nearly 2.5 times more people living there!). It’s the 2nd biggest US State (Alaska is even bigger) and has the 2nd largest population (after California). I guess the notoriety of Texas was aided by countless Western movies and, of course, the TV series ‘Dallas’.
So you can imagine our excitement as we woke up in Oklahoma (which, by the way, we did not do justice due to our late arrival and the fact that it was our wedding anniversary), knowing that we were heading towards the Lone Star State.
We set off from our hotel and promptly got utterly and horribly lost. Turns out finding our way to Amarillo wasn’t going to as easy as we first thought!
We headed in what seemed like a sensible direction (West), but to no avail. We went round and round the same section of Interstate 40 trying to figure out where on earth we had to get off to join 66 again but no joy. In the end, we pulled off at any old junction where we could park in a side road to check the map and figure things out. We had been on the road for an hour already!
We parked up, read all our documents, checked the sat nav, turned the maps this way and that way. We could NOT make sense of it. AT ALL! We sat back in the car, exasperated. I looked up to check out our surroundings. The street sign ahead said NW 23rd Street – hang on a minute – I’m sure the EZ66 said that we needed to be on that street! I rustled through the pages of the guidebook and sure enough: ‘Stay on NW 23rd Street for 2mi to May Avenue’. Whoop Whoop! We had accidentally found ourselves exactly where we needed to be. Thank goodness.
Relieved, we set off and were back on track. By now, though, we really needed a toilet stop. But we were out of the city now and there was nowhere around. As I was looking around for possible ‘restroom options’, I glanced over at a big lake – and spied a portaloo! Oh, praise be! We pulled over by what turned out to be Lake Overholser (actually a reservoir) and took advantage of the rudimentary facilities…and the peaceful view over the lake.
Relieved (in a slightly different way this time), we set off through the towns of El Reno, Weatherford and Elk City with a brief stop at the Route 66 Museum in desperate need of a coffee. They didn’t sell coffee.
We continued on through Oklahoma passing many a derelict motel and cafe that in days gone by would have warmly greeted us with hot coffee and friendly atmosphere.
Still caffeine and sugar deprived, we arrived in Texola, the last town in Oklahoma before you cross into Texas. Now this town really is empty. Not quite a ghost town – apparently in the 2010 census there were 36 residents. On the main street through the town, there is very little by way of attractions. However, we were people in need of coffee and in all honesty, pie – and Texola had it. So we stopped at a little place (actually called the ‘Tumbleweed Grill and Country Store‘) in the ‘Water Hole #2 building.
There was a lady and her dog (Licker – or Liquor – we weren’t sure which). The lady didn’t say much but gladly sold us a cup of coffee and some beautiful American Apple Pie. We were so ready for it. The shop is a fascinating little place. You should definitely stop by. Full of little knick knacks, Americana, souvenirs and pieces of art that the lady there had made herself.
There really is no place like Texola, even if it is a little sad that this once thriving Route 66 town has been reduced to what it is today. I guess it is this same fact that lends it its charm.
Revived once more, we left Oklahoma and crossed the state line into Texas – the Lone Star State. We were staying at the Big Texan Motel in Amarillo, and it was at this point that we realised with great disappointment that we were utterly unprepared musically for this section of our trip.
Before we left, I had downloaded every Route 66 album known to man, and with song titles like, ‘Gallop to Gallup’, ‘Hoppin in Joplin’, ‘Tucumcari Tonite’ and ‘A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E’ (we will NEVER forget how to spell that particular New Mexico town), we were set with quality tunes covering all possibilities. How could I have neglected to purchase ‘Is this the way to Amarillo?’ The song was much more popular in Europe than it ever was in America – of course made universally known in the UK by Peter Kay et al for Comic Relief. Here we were in Texas, on our way to Amarillo – and no Tony Christie. What a waste!
The first thing we came across in Texas was The Devil’s Rope Museum. A entire museum dedicated to that most fascinating of topics: Barbed Wire. Yup, it’s true. As you can imagine, we were gutted that it was closed.
Next up, Groom. Here they have a 190 foot high cross, surrounded by 14 life size statues depicting the stations of the cross. We were expecting this to be tacky, but in fact it was incredibly reflective and serene. There was a scene of the Last Supper, along with a hill complete with 3 crosses, Christ in the middle of the 2 thieves.
We moved on to what we knew would be the opposite of here. The Big Texan Motel, famous for its 72oz steak – gluttony and excess – yet fun and typically (or perhaps stereotypically) Texan! If you can eat the 72oz steak plus all the trimmings and a drink in an hour, you get it for free. Needless to say, we left this challenge to those more greedy – I mean – adventurous – than us and settled in to our more than ample meal of quesadillas and a myriad of sides.
Our motel room was suitably tacky with suede shower curtains complete with tassels and saloon doors into the bathroom. Our meal was suitably beige and enormous, and the music was suitably western in style. We loved it. And I have never experienced such a powerful shower – it felt like four million little tiny needles jabbing into your skin – not necessarily pleasant, but impressive water pressure. Texas knows how to do it BIG!
We’d made it to Amarillo – without asking the way a single time, even if we did get lost for well over and hour. There are worse places to get lost than Route 66. Never a dull moment!