After saying my thanks and goodbyes to Marion and Tim, I head out once again, this time, heading east towards Amarillo, Texas.
Route 40 (have I told you?) is long, straight, boring and slightly dangerous. One of the main transportation arteries for the country, Rt. 40 is also the new Rt. 66, overlaying most of it from Barstow to Oklahoma City. Rt. 66 sometimes runs alongside 40, but mostly was just replaced by this highway when it was decommissioned in 1985. As I drive along the highway, I come to the Texas/New Mexico border. Upon crossing, I see a sign that reads “Don’t Mess with Texas! $200 fine for littering.” Clever. And a little intimidating, knowing there is an open-carry law here.
After about 4 hours of driving through grassland and cow pastures, I came to the outskirts of Amarillo, in the Texas panhandle. A few miles west of Amarillo, you will see on the right one of the roadside attractions that Rt. 66 was famous for. This one came into existence late, in 1974, and was the brainchild of a rich Amarillo resident and a bunch of art-hippies from San Francisco. Stanley Marsh, wanted something that would attract tourists to Amarillo, so he enlisted some artists to come up with a roadside attraction. Thus, was born, Cadillac Ranch.
Ten classic Cadillacs were partially submerged into one of Stanley’s fields alongside Rt. 40/66 and left, like a modern-day Stonehenge to mark the path towards Amarillo. Along the way, people have come and gone leaving their mark with spray paint and making this monument to Americana a living and changing piece of artwork.
As I pull up to take some photos, a tour bus also pulls up and 30 seniors jump out with the same thing in mind. We all trek out into the dusty field to experience this colorful experiment in the fields of Texas.
I finally get to Amarillo, check into my motel, then head over to the small area near the college where there are some bars and restaurants. Pretty much the only place in this small city where anything is happening at this time of night.
There I find a motorcycle bar with loud music blasting from its doors, a lively Mexican restaurant complete with mariaché band, and the Golden Light Cantina and bar. I go into the small cantina where I sit at the bar and watch the line cooks flipping burgers for the cowboys sitting at the bar.
A young mother with her two year old son sit next to me at the bar watching a Disney movie on her iPhone. Eventually, her heavily tattooed partner comes in and orders a Bud and plays with their son. It is about 9 PM, but what the hell. Toddlers don’t know what time it is.
The waitresses, cooks, and customers all know one another and when I order the Green Chile, the waitress gives me a sideways look. Hmm… When it arrives, it is delicious BUT hotter then hell. I can only eat about 2/3rds. I drown it with a nice IPA from Austin and laugh with the cook about the heat and my east-coast palate.
After my meal, I slide over to the other side of the Golden Light where a band called Mt. Ivy are playing. They are excellent. Remind me a bit of the War on Drugs and I have a $3.50 draught of IPA. Life is good. I am feeling better each day and now, even confident enough to stay out past my usual 9 PM deadline.
I like Amarillo. It might be small and quiet, but it has a decent music scene, friendly folk, spicy chilé, and cheap beer. My kinda town.