Thursday, June 24
Tucumcari, NM – Shamrock, TX
First stop of the day was breakfast and coffee at the old school dinner; Kix on 66.
From there we got back on I-40 and drove to Russell’s truck stop. We had seen billboards for Russells the day before advertising a free car museum inside the truck stop and we wanted to stop and check it out.
As we went inside, there was a claw vending machine inside the foyer. My kids tried their hands at it and they almost got a shark but it fell out of the claw when it was in the air. So then I tried it, same thing; once in the air it fell out of the claw.
We were so close.
So I tried again; same thing.
One more time, same thing. It was so frustrating.
On the way out I tried again; same thing!
On a better note, the car museum was actually quite impressive! There were a lot of beautiful cars inside along with memorabilia hanging on the walls and from the ceiling.
Then it was back on I-40 until we reached Glen Rio, a ghost town that straddles the New Mexico/Texas border. We explored the remains of a store and motel while we were there.
From Glen Rio we continued East until we reached Adrian, which is the midpoint for the entire Route 66. There is a nice sign on the side of the road showing where the midpoint is, exactly 1139 miles to Santa Monica and 1139 miles to Chicago.
Across from the sign is the Midpoint Cafe where we had some of their famous “ugly crust” pie and a rootbeer.
A block past the Midpoint Cafe is the old Bent Door Cafe. Long since closed, it has a neat design element to it; the front of the cafe is built using an old air traffic tower.
It was back on I-40 until we reached the famous Cadillac Ranch, just outside Amarillo. There was a trailer there selling spray paint and souvenirs and another one selling drinks and coffee. We walked out to the buried Cadillacs in the field and did some spray painting before getting back in the car and driving down the road to the Big Texan.
The Big Texan is where they have the free 72 oz steak challenge. If you eat a 72 oz steak, shrimp cocktail, roll with butter, baked potato, and a salad in one hour or less it’s free. They also have an arcade shooting gallery inside, a gift store (which was crowded) and a western themed restaurant. By the bathrooms they have a hallway covered in photos that change from regular people to ghosts and monsters as you walk by.
Continuing down I-40 our next stop was Groom where we saw the giant, 19 story tall cross. We also walked around the grounds, looking at the various religious statues.
Just down the road is the leaning Britten water tower. It was meant to lean on purpose and was used to promote a long gone truck stop. It’s a pretty neat thing to see and if you see it from the opposite side of the highway it will surely cause you to do a double take.
A little further down the road is a highway rest stop that is entirely Route 66 themed. The outside is designed in the art deco style and inside they have a lot of old signs on display. And, there are two tornado shelters inside.
Our next stop was McClean where they have the very first Phillips 66 gas station; which is tiny! There is also a barbed wire museum called The Devil’s Rope Museum, but by the time we got there it was closed.
Then it was on to our last stop for the day and for our Route 66 road trip; Shamrock, TX.
We stopped at the famou U-Drop Inn, just 5 minutes after they’d closed, much to our dismay. But we took some pics and then went across the street to check into our last motel for the trip; the Western Inn. We decided since we were only 18 miles from the Oklahoma border we should finish Route 66 all the way to the border. So we drove to Texola, right across the Oklahoma border and then went back to Shamrock to eat dinner at the Mesquite Canyon Steakhouse.
Back on day three, while we were driving past Hackberry, towards Peach Springs, we stopped at an old remodeled gas station. It was closed but there was a man outside working on some things and we got to talking. He told me that Shamrock, TX was the only place McDonalds serves Shamrock Shakes all year. I have never had a Shamrock Shake so I had been looking forward to getting to Shamrock, TX and going to McDonalds for a Shamrock Shake.
McDonalds was just down the road from the restaurant where we had dinner so after we were done eating we pulled in and I asked for a Shamrock Shake.
They didn’t have any.
I was very disappointed.
But, moving on, we went to Shamrock’s downtown area, where they have a piece of the Blarney Stone from Ireland. We all kissed it for good luck before walking around a bit. I found a pizza place called Tower Plaza Cafe & Pizza that was still open and we went inside and got some ice cream and a Slush Puppie. I haven’t had a Slush Puppie in a long, long time. So I had a rootbeer float and a Slush Puppie. Just as the waitress was delivering my Slush Puppie, my mom was commenting that I looked like a pig with two desserts. The waitress, laughing, agreed.
We went back to the hotel and I did some sketching of the U-Drop inn. While I was out there the hotel manager walked by and we had a nice chat and then another couple doing Route 66 stopped by to talk. They were the only people we’d gotten to talk to about Route 66 the entire trip. A big majority of Route 66 travelers are foreigners and covid has apparently put a stop to this, momentarily.
The next day we got up early and began the 10 hour drive back home. And the drive consisted of mostly congested highways the whole way. It was not nearly as fun at Route 66, not even close.