not a KOA, but still a great place... Santa Rosa RV Park.
Some days you just end up doing a lot more than normal. Today was one of those days.
Thinking we had a short travel day today, we slept in, relaxed, rode bikes, did some laundry, and left Santa Rosa at 10:30 on our way to Amarillo. The driving was entirely on frontage roads, with an occasional freeway jaunt when necessary. As far as the actual driving, it was pretty dull.. just driving next to the freeway, though the scenery was nice.
What really made today enjoyable were the side adventures that we decided to do.
We passed the halfway point of Route 66 (YAY). There is some debate between 2 towns as to the exact halfway point. Since Route 66 alignments changed so drastically and so often, it is hard to say one is wrong or right. (Even I-40 has changed alignments to the point that exit numbers are about 8 miles off from a decade ago near the Texas border). While one "town" had a signpost for the midway of route 66, the other town did not. Both towns were almost completely abandoned. I guess we know who won that debate!
In a small town called
This is the typical state of Route 66 Hotels, Gas Stations, Restaurants. Only a very few survive, and only a few of those are servicing the same needs.
Tucumcari (which apparently is where a lot of people stayed on their Route 66 journey), we found very good dinosaur museum. The museum is partnered with the local Community College which has archealogical and paleological focused curriculum. The college even had a bronze casting facility, so many of the exhibits in the museum were bronze casts done by students (great quality) and were therefore available for tactile exploration. I highly recommend this museum if you are travelling with kids in this area.
After passing through the state line (we tried to go to the little town of Glenrio which was supposed to have a neat stateline theme, but that town is pretty much gone). We pulled into Amarillo. One of the first things you come to is Cadillac Ranch. While not technically Route 66 oriented (The artist built it after I-40 took over), it is a big tourist destination. The artist even moved the entire display after I-40 was re-aligned to bypass Amarillo.
Cadillac Ranch is obviously very popular. There were many cars, and a well worn path from the road. It looks like there was one rocking July 4th celebration there, as the ground was littered with fireworks
We barely cleared this underpass... it was quite an adventure.
leftovers.. that must have been a blast (pun intended!). We went there to take pictures and realized that the art was interactive, as we saw dozens of people with spray paint adding their own layers to the nearly inch thick coat of spraypaint on the cars. Another piece of evidence of this tradition are the literally hundreds of discarded paint cans surrounding the cars. We did not have any paint, and could not find any partially filled cans laying ont he ground. We vowed to return one day.
Since we didn't have much interesting Route 66 scenery today, we decided to actually follow the route through Amarillo. This would be the first time since Santa Monica that we actually travelled through a major city on 66 (we usually bypass, or go straight to campground because we are weary from the day's journey). It was neat to see what many of the old 66 buildings have been turned into. There were also a number of large historic buildings, like the Vets hospital, which looks like it was built during the civil war.
After arriving at yet another great KOA and setting up, we decided that today was just as
We got a free souvenir from new Mexico Splats of that New Mexico Red mud (that never comes off!!!)
good as any future day to fulfill our vow to return to Cadillac Ranch. We bought some spray paint at the KOA store and headed back (a much faster way on the freeway). It was more windy and more crowded than before, but we jumped in and started covering up other people's graffitti art with our own. Michelle had fun using spray paint for the first time, and Tony had fun adding his own twists to other people's art. Anne gave a shout out to her school and tagged a car with "L.L. Hornets 2012". We had a lot of fun, but were hungry, so we gave our 1/2 used cans to 2 different parties and headed back to the car. Tony and Michelle decided to race back.. Tony quickly outran Michelle, but had to stop to catch his breath, so Michelle made it there first.
After a long day of driving and the Cadillac ranch experience, we had a big Texas size hunger, so we went to "The big Texas Steak Ranch". This was a large hotel/restuarant all decked out in 1960 color/style cowboy motif. It reminded me of the old-style Vegas casinos with a western theme. Inside
Michelle finally found something to ride... too bad the saddle was Western.
they had shooting gallery, non-cash slot machines, and a bunch of interesting wall art and picture-inducing scenery. After washing (most of) the spraypaint from our hands, and enjoying the carnival like experience of the waiting areas, we finally sat down to eat. The food was fantastic, the prices were decent for a steak joint, and the atmosphere was one of a kind. A couple of performers (guitar/singer and fiddler) went from table to table taking requests. The table before ours, they sang Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" which is one of Michelle's favourites. When they came to our table, Michelle asked for a song that caught the singer by surprise, which was called something like "I've got spurs that jingle jangle" possibly called Lily Belle ... but he knew it. The fiddler, who was an older gentleman, said that song came out when he was 15 and he hadn't thought about it in a long time.
When we arrived at our campsite, we realized that we actually crossed time zones and lost an hour (which means we did not get to swim or bike ride today... to bad too.. this KOA is flat and the pool is right across
Michelle spent more time covering up bones so other kids could find them than she did finding bones herself.
the path from our site.
Tomorrow is a long drive.... bed early(ish) and then early to rise.
Tomorow is a new state too, Oklahoma here we come.
Tony's Trailering Tips - Backing the car/hitch to the trailer with your child guiding is a great parent-child bonding moment.
Michelle's Musings - In some places, grafitti can be art!
Anne's Annecdotes - Out of the way museums are some of the best museums around.
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