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  • Writer's pictureGareth Owens

Route 66 - Day 9 - Elk City, OK to Amarillo, TX

National Route 66 museum - Elk City, OK

Google mileage: 148

Actual mileage: 156

Total trip miles: 1,201

It was difficult to get up this morning after having a long day and then a late night at the rodeo. Luckily we didn't have far to ride to our first stop, which was still in Elk City, the National Route 66 Museum. Unfortunately it was closed due to it being the Labor Day weekend. It's Sunday on Labor Day weekend so we really don't hold out much hope for anything to be open.

We are now getting more used to the guide book, (Route 66: EZ66 guide for travellers, 2nd edition) which we are primarily using for navigation, rather than sight seeing as it has handy strip maps in it. We are also getting more used to the road system in the US, and this means today we have a lot less wrong turns and a better flow to the riding.

Once we left Elk City we spent the morning on quiet back roads and soon passed the hamlet of Hext where the old road runs alongside a younger alignment. Here the old road is starting to disappear, it's overgrown with weeds and trees and is actually closed off for the most part. 

Some of the old 66 alongside the new road near Hext, OK

As we stopped to take some photos of the decaying road a local called Mike came out to talk to us. The quiet engines of the Triumphs had peaked his interest. He explained that usually he just hears the loud Harleys riding by and had never heard such quiet motorbikes before. The Triumphs have been great conversation starters throughout our trip.

Further along the road, we passed through the semi ghost towns of Erik, and Texola which straddle the Oklahoma and Texas borders. On the edge of Texola is a Texas border sign which marks the entrance into Texas (and our 5th state on the trip). True to stereotype it had bullet holes in it.

We've made it to Texas! Border sign - complete with bullet holes

In Texola I got off the bike to take some pictures of a run-down building and came face to face with a snarling dog which came out of the property next door. As I tried to calmly back away, another dog came out of the opposing property. I decided to cut my losses and got on the bike as quickly as possible. When heading through small villages it's pretty common for dogs to run out and chase the bikes. So far we have been chased six times...even by a chihuahua! It's worse in the ghost towns as these are the more interesting to photograph.

After Texola we rode on to Shamrock which has an amazing art deco Conoco filling station built in 1935. It was also closed (I think it was actually closed down), but well worth a stop and lots of  photos. We also ate a MacDonald's as the day was heating up to 96 degrees and it appeared to be the only place open on a national holiday.

Conoco filling station - Shamrock, TX

Conoco filling station - Shamrock, TX

From Shamrock we passed through Maclean. We had hoped to visit the Devils Rope Museum here, but again, fitting with the theme of the day, it was closed. So, we headed on through to Groom to see the leaning water tower and giant cross.

Devil's rope - barbed wire museum - its a shame we missed this

Leaning water tower of Groom

The wide skies and empty roads of Texas

Only the occasional grain tower or farm to break up the view - Texas

Texas farmland and wide horizon

Finally we pushed on to Amarillo in the mid afternoon. We managed to get a western themed room at the Big Texan Motel, which is linked to the Big Texan Steak Ranch restaurant. The place is a bit like a restaurant meets theme-park and is famed for its dining room and huge steaks. It's the home of the "free" 72 oz steak, (if you can eat it and all the trimmings in an hour. The record is under nine minutes!). 

Given the fact that I'd struggled with an 18 oz steak earlier in the trip I decided to forego the 72 oz and try another western delight - Chicken Fried Steak (it's like a steak schnitzel). Along with the huge steak I decided to give their Prairie Oysters a miss. The portions were massive and neither of us could come close to finishing. 

After dinner we took a dip in the Texas shaped swimming pool and finished the evening with a couple of well earned Coronas. 

Chicken fried steak at the Big Texan Steak Ranch - Amarillo, TX

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