Nov 122012
 




This is our third guest article on Route 66. This one focuses on the ‘winter’ of, or ON, Route 66!

Traveling down the historic Route 66 is a unique way to get your family together during the Christmas holiday. Gather the troops from across the country and reconnect on the old historic “Mother Road” that, at one time, was best passageway from the Midwest to the West.


Drive through the streets of a fabulous world of kitschy Americana, follow each other in a caravan of cars or pile in an RV (try to avoid motorcycles during winter — it can get cold!). Each little town you pass has a legend attached to it. You may find yourself touring an old school house, visiting a nostalgic ice cream shop and looking over your shoulder in one of the many ghost towns along the tour. With the wind in your hair and not a worry in the world, this will be the best Christmas EVER!

Step into a history rich with roadside attractions, neon signs, rusty gas stations, 50s diners and vintage motels. It’s all part of the experience, part of the adventure. What do you need to know and where do you go?

Driving Tips

  • Be sure you have appropriate car insurance (with roadside assistance) so you are 100 percent protected and carefree on your journey.
  • Don’t advertise you are away from home. When in a city with inhabitants, keep your maps out of plain sight when stopped and use the truck stops if in need of rest — they are generally the safest place to rest your eyes.

Great Idea No. 1

Before you go on this fabulous family vacation, make a playlist of Christmas songs and old country driving tunes (Willy Nelson would be a great choice). Burn it to a few disks and bam! Christmas gifts, done! You’ll be singing all the way from Amarillo to Tucumcari. Pair that with the EZ66 Guide for sale at Route 66 World Bookstore and Roadfood and you’ll be on your way to worry free holidays.

Great Idea No. 2

Roadfood. It’s a must-get book. Ever wanted to eat at little off the beaten path at classic regional restaurants but don’t know how to find them? This book was written by a couple who went on a country-wide trip, finding and rating the best unknowns. While the directions are good, a navigational device is extremely helpful.

Fun Places to Stop

Christmastime along the Route 66 is vibrant with life and lights. It’s quirkiness illuminates with decorations aglow.

  • Chain of Rocks Bridge — Constructed in 1929, the bridge crosses the Mississippi from Alton, Ill. to St. Louis, Mo. and has a 30-degree turn midway across a mile-long bridge, according to nps.gov. Today, it has trails for walking and biking — fun for the whole family.
  • The Blue Whale — Sitting in Catoosa, Okla. is an 80-foot long smiling blue whale that Hugh Davis built for his whale-collecting wife, Zelta, as a gift. The attraction dates back to the 1970s.
  • Sandhills Curiosity Shop — Located in Erick, Okla., this wacky shop is full of music memorabilia. But it’s not just a shop, it’s an experience. Sit for awhile and have a chat with the owners, Harley and Annabelle Russell.
  • Restored Phillips 66 Gas Station – Between Clinton and Amarillo, Texas, this is where gas is 19 cents a gallon. That was all the way back in 1927, according to ridingroute66.us.
  • Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, Texas has a mythical land covered with 10 historic Cadillacs, noses stuck in the earth as they erect from the land. You are free to graffiti your presence on the pieces of art, says legendsofamerica.com. They are open to the public to decorate.
  • Tucumcari, New Mexico – A pleasant reminder of the good old days. With historic motels like the Blue Swallow and Motel Safari, you can sleep under the pretty neon signs which light up the route through town.
  • Winslow, Ariz. — Simply, so you can stand on the corner in Winslow, Ariz. and live in the Eagles song, “Take it Easy.”
  • The Grand Canyon Railway’s Christmas Polar Express — In Williams, Ariz., a charming little town sits along the Route 66. During Christmas, the railway turns into a magical Christmas train to the North Pole.
  • Santa Monica Pier — Route 66 ends with an amusement park, an old carousel and the lovely California coast.

Lastly, be sure to take special care of our Route 66. Help preserve historic landmarks along the 2,400 -mile stretch. What can you do? Clean up after yourself and others, drive slow and enjoy the sites and get into the nostalgia by helping the local businesses survive.

Article by Olivia Lewin

Jun 242011
 



Woke up and was eager to stop back over at the U Drop Inn and see it in the daytime.
We went inside and spoke with a lady (man, I forgot her name!) and she went over the restoration process with me and told me while it was great the government funds helped with the restoration, the government told them they could not run the diner / kitchen for 10 years after the project was complete. They have (fortunately) 2 more years to go before they can ‘open shop’ in the diner.

Overall, I was impressed with the building.



Juliana waiting for service – she might have to wait a bit!







The Philips 66 Gas Station in McLean TX.







The fantastic ‘Leaning Water Tower’ in Britten TX.







We stopped at the Cross in Groom TX again. 10,000,000 visitors a year visit this place – did you hear that Groom TX?!?







Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo TX - Met a woman from Germany here. Juliana was able to use her German on her, and she told me she was looking forward to meeting Rich Henry at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch. I gave her my card and told her to tell Rich she could get a free gift!!! (Sorry Rich!)





Juliana spray painting for the first time – very little room to spray paint your name! These cars are covered!






We stopped in Tucumcari in the afternoon, this is a whole ‘nother post for another day - seeing we are BACK in Tucumcari this weekend doing preservation work…

Feb 132011
 

Having endured lousy reviews and the insults of Panhandle weather, one of the stars of Cadillac Ranch is entering rehab.

The roof has rusted away from a junker Caddie, a first at the mercurial monument rising from the Earth off Interstate 40 just west of Amarillo.

Stanley Marsh 3, the Ranch’s patron saint, isn’t sure when the top dropped from the vintage auto situated second from the west in the row of 10 buried nose down in the flatlands. But he knows what needs to be done: Amarillo artist Lightnin’ McDuff will have to operate.

“Eventually it will have its head back on,” said Marsh, the millionaire and jester who orchestrated the move of the roadside wonder in 1997 to its current location from a spot two miles east. “Lightnin’ McDuff is a real good welder. I always get the best and give them credit.”

Observers have described Cadillac Ranch, installed almost four decades ago, as everything from “a serious place in the history of the ridiculous” to “an American folly” to a mere “point of interest.” Marsh describes the line of four-wheeled relics more whimsically.

“The dominant feature of the Panhandle is the horizon line,” he said. “Having those fins cut the horizon line, it’s magical.”
Except for that headless heap. McDuff pledges the repair will begin soon.

“I’ve been waiting for the weather to warm back up. I can’t hardly take that into the shop,” McDuff said. “I’ll have to build a framework to straighten it back out and have something to weld to. If the weatherman’s not lying, I should be doing something on it next week.”

A California architectural cooperative called the Ant Farm originally installed the Cadillacs during the summer solstice of 1974. Graffiti artists turned the cars into a metal canvas.

And the creation turned iconic, mused and fawned over in songs by Bruce Springsteen and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, depicted in Pixar’s animated hit “Cars” and appearing in movies and documentaries and on album covers.

“Cadillac Ranch wasn’t made by any one person,” Marsh said. “It was made by everyone who has done anything to it.” Still, Marsh is forever linked to the Ranch.

“I first heard about (the line of standing Caddies) from a biker in Tulsa about 1976,” said Mark Morey, who teaches humanities classes at Amarillo College and has worked as curator of research at the Amarillo Museum of Art.

“He told me there was this crazy, rich guy in Amarillo who stuck Cadillacs in the ground. The myth had already become the reality that he had created it. It reached an extremely layperson’s level that quickly.”

The Cadillacs ended up in a row, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, parallel to U.S. Route 66 and leaning at an angle said to be the same as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

“Based on research I’ve seen, Stanley and (his wife) Wendy had a fair amount of input into the arrangement,” Morey said. “The Ant Farm wanted to arrange them more randomly.”

Marsh saw a deeper vision.

Driving along I-40 “you see one fender in front of another then, when you’re directly across from it, you see the profiles. That’s just the right view, but it’s ephemeral,” Marsh said. “It’s like a butterfly being born, then it’s gone.”

Those profiles might get a face-lift.

“There’s a door or two missing” from some of the cars, McDuff said. Metal fillers might fill the gaps, he said.

“It would be hard to find the right doors.”

The topless Caddie stood Friday in a field blanketed with snow, two spent spray paint cans at its base. The neon colors on the car spelled out the thoughts of visitors who are encouraged to leave their marks — “Wild West,” “RIP,” “Flint, MI” and simply “Miriam.”

Peyton Green, of Amarillo, brought his sister’s family from Colby, Kan., to see the Ranch.

“The whole thing is kind of odd,” he said.

Jared and Kelly — children of Green’s sister LaDonna and her husband, Tom Sloan — both are interested in art.

“I told them I wanted them to see it, and we stopped by the hardware store and they were, ‘What?’” Green said.

They soon pulled out spray cans to make their contributions to the graffiti that covers every inch of every Cadillac.

“It gives people a place to come express themselves,” LaDonna Sloan said.

But is it art? Teenager Jared Sloan, fingers multicolored with spray paint, said “yeah” enthusiastically. He thought he might want to try something similarly monumental.

“Only bigger.”

By Kevin Welch