Thursday, October 18, 2012

Route 66 - Day 22 - Groom, TX to Amarillo, TX

Route 66 - Part 1
Day 22 Groom to Amarillo
41.0  Actual Mileage /495 Actual Elevation

The riders all made it safely to the Big Texan Steakhouse and Motel in Amarillo, TX bringing to a close, the inaugural ride of "Get Your Kicks on Route 66 - Part 1.

Bug Ranch - A spoof of the more well-known Cadillac Ranch several miles to the west. Whereas Cadillac Ranch consists of a line of several Cadillac automobiles partially buried in the ground, Bug Ranch substitutes Volkswagen Beetles. Open-air display.


Cadillac Ranch - Best known project completed in 1974 by 'The Ant Farm' an art collective originally founded by a pair of architecture graduates in the late 1960s. The collective, which was active for about 10 years, was comprised of several individuals, notably Doug Michels and Chip Lord (founders), Curtis Schroeder, Hudson Marquez, and Douglas Hurr. Open-air display. It is an outdoor art installation dating from 1974 and comprised of a row of 10 partially buried Cadillac automobiles with their tail fins angling skyward; the tailfins trace design changes from 1949 to 1964. The artwork is visible from I-40 in a field on the western outskirts of town. It has become the norm that pilgrims to the site bring cans of spray paint and add graffiti to the cars; periodically the cars are all repainted in a solid color so that the process can begin anew. Popularly considered one of the most distinctive and important features on Route 66, in truth Cadillac Ranch dates well after US 66 had lost its importance, and so was actually installed in proximity to the Mother Road's successor in the area, I-40. Surprisingly, the whole installation was picked up and moved several years ago in response to encroaching development at its original location, which had been a short distance to the east. The original artwork was commissioned by local tycoon Stanly Marsh 3 and created by a group of collaborators calling themselves the Ant Farm.
Big Texan Steak Ranch - World-famous steakhouse, started in 1960, known for its offer of a free 72-ounce steak dinner to anyone who can eat all of it in one hour; officially Big Texan Ranch. Once a Route 66 fixture, the Big Texan moved to the side of I-40 circa 1968 in response to changing American travel patterns. The Big Texan's attached gift shop includes a display of live rattlesnakes, a throwback to the heyday of Route 66 when reptile farms were popular roadside attractions.
            Dynamite Museum - Not a museum per se, but the name given collectively to the group of mock-road-sign "artwork" scattered throughout Amarillo, TX, and several nearby panhandle town; the brainchild of local arts patron Stanley Marsh 3.
            Sixth Avenue - Part of Route 66's early alignment through Amarillo passed along Sixth Avenue. This portion of the Route has since been the scene of significant redevelopment, with a number of active businesses both new and old. Sixth Avenue also was the scene of a major Mother Road festival in 1998.
            Triangle Motel – is a 1040s-era motel on Amarillo's east side on a relatively obscure section of old 66 (Triangle Drive). In 2007, a preservation effort was launched to preserve the motel.
            Golden Light Café - 2908 W. 6th Avenue [806-374-9237] This place dates from 1946 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. A fairly funky roadhouse famed for burgers, homemade hot sauce, green-chili stew, and Frito pies.
            The Amarillo Natatorium – 2705 6th Street – The Nat looked like an architectural Appaloosa horse – with a gray stone Moorish-Camelot front half—joined to a porthole-dotted steamship. It became an outstanding attraction as a ballroom. Reopening in 1926, it hosted the top bands of the 30s and 40s—Paul Whiteman, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and Harry James.

 The trip was culminated with a group dinner at the Big Texan Steakhouse and even the Mayor of Amarillo showed up to wish us well. Rich and I were asked to come down to KTII-TV studios and did an interview about our trip. I tink it went very well. The group presented Rich with a signed Route 66 T-shirt and gave me a beautifuul carry-on bag made in Route 66 motif. It is awesome. Even has a waist purse!
Charlie G., Rich G., the Mayor of Amarillo, TX and me at our final group dinner at the Big Texan Steakhouse.

Now that the trip is over, it is time to start thinking about Part 2. I am off to New Mexico in the morning to begin the recon of Route 66 - Part 2! I am so excited.

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