Route 66 - Day 10 - Amarillo TX to Santa Rosa NM
Google mileage: 172
Actual mileage: 187
Total trip miles: 1388
We started the day with a Texan sized breakfast - which we couldn't finish :-) This slowed us down so much that we didn't hit the road until 9:30 am which is late for us.
The first stop of the day was only thirteen miles outside of Amarillo. The Cadillac Ranch, an art installation of ten Cadillacs half buried in a cow pasture. The cars are completely covered in spray paint and visitors regularly add more. Some cars have a spray paint layer an inch deep. Due to lack of forethought on my part, we didn't bring a spray can. Whilst others sifted through those left over on the ground another visitor kindly gave us the spray can they had brought. So we got to add our tags to the artwork. The value of the piece just went up!
I thought the Cadillac Ranch would be a quick stop but we spent the best part of 45 minutes wandering around, taking photos and chatting to other visitors. From a distance it really doesn't look worth the visit, but don't pass this one by.
The temperature was already climbing as we moved on to Vega. It would reach 96 degrees again before midday and we started to wonder how we would deal with the heat when we hit the desert. Next was Vega for a short stop for some pictures of the restored magnolia gas station.
Around midday we arrived at the Midpoint Cafe at Adrian, Texas. This is, as the name obviously suggests, is the mid way point of route 66, (though not of our trip as we have a couple of detours planned). It's marked by a couple of signs and the rather excellent Cafe. The cafe is a must visit, not just because of the location but because it cooks great food. It's the best diner food we've had on the journey so far. They are famed for the 'Ugly crust pies' and I can't recommend them enough. I would have taken one with me for the road if I had room. I settled for a mug from their gift shop instead. It's also a nice place, well laid out and along with the Cosy Dog Diner in Springfield is one of the most interesting inside.
We said "hi" to a couple of French tourists, chatted to the owner and signed the guest book before we left. On the way out, Brett, a local who had arrived on his Goldwing, took our pictures out front.
Today we had to jump on the I-40 a couple of times, but we tried to keep on the old road as much as possible. Riding the old road where possible means that we've had to ride a couple of pretty gnarly sections where it's badly degraded. Some of the turns where the road crosses under the I-40 are covered in deep sand, washed on to the road during rainstorms. We stopped a few times to take pictures of the view as we rode alongside the Santa Fe railroad.
The landscape has changed yet again; the panoramic views remain, but the land is drier and has rolling hills, dry river beds and gullies rather than the flatness we saw earlier in Texas. We also saw our first eagle and I was excited to see my first roadside cactus. The verges are filled with flowers of different colours, whites and purples, but bright sun flowers are the most predominant, standing around 5 feet tall and covered in small sunflowers. On some stretches they line the banks for hundreds if metres.
Tucumcari - New Mexico was intended to be our stop for the evening, but due to the roads being simple to follow, and almost empty, we made much better time than we expected. The town became an afternoon diner break and we also took the opportunity to stretch our legs before continuing our ride.
Tucumcari is an interesting little town, basically its a few miles long and only two or there blocks wide. Once, in its heyday, it had over 2000 motel rooms. Now few remain, but those that do, cater to a passing trade of Route 66 tourists, looking for some nostalgia.
There are many derelict buildings, but there are also a number of great motels still hanging on. What's pretty unique about the town is the number of 1950's signs that are still in existence. It's a great place to get a feel for the 1950's Americana that makes Route 66 such a draw.
After our break we worked our way to Santa Rosa, New Mexico, where we put our watches back an hour, checked in to a Comfort Inn, cleaned the dessert dust off our bikes at the local car wash and ate some Mexican food at Joseph's (home of 'The Fat Man').
Finishing the day in Santa Rosa means that we will have 60 miles less to ride to Santa Fe tomorrow, giving us more time to enjoy the city.