Saturday, October 31
The first town we stopped in was Shamrock, where we found the Tower Conoco Station & U-Drop Inn, a bunch of nice wall murals, and also the tiny little restored Magnolia Gas Station.
On the way to our next stop we heard the TireMinder alarm sound off. We stopped and watched in horror as the tire pressure dropped like crazy; we had a flat on one of our inside dually tires.
Thank goodness for our TireMinder! We managed to refilled the tire, and then limped into the teeny-tiny town of McLean, TX. After stopping at the only gas station in town, I asked a sheriff’s deputy and the store clerk where we might be able to get some help… they pointed me to a place 2 blocks down, and gave me a business card to call the owner.
Our Knight in Shining Armor was Chris of Starling Automotive, who helped us out with the busted tire stem. On a Saturday. In the middle of absolutely nowhere.
While we waited on the repairs, I walked around this teensy town, the kind that has heart, but not much else, and got photos of the Devil’s Wire (barb wire) Museum, and the old restored Phillips Petroleum station.
With our tire back to good shape we were back on the road and I got quick snapshots of a giant cross, and then The Leaning Tower of Texas; an old water tower set askance alongside the road.
Next we made our way to the VW Slug Bug “ranch”, a poor copy of the Cadillac Ranch.
On our way into Amarillo we registered in at the KOA and took a short break. Before heading out to take some evening shots at the Cadillac Ranch a limousine drove through the KOA campground. The driver was all dudded up in highfaluttin’ clothes too.
Because of the snowstorm they had a few days ago, the ground st Cadillac Ranch was quite muddy. I took my camera and tripod and headed in. I managed to avoid the worst of it, but then I walked around to the east side of the area and my hiking shoes got caked in it. I hung around for almost an hour before Alan joined me – at this point it was dark out – and got a few poor shots of the full Halloween moon in the distance before heading back to the van. I stowed my gear,, changed my shoes, and we headed into town for dinner.
We had planned on an iconic Rt66 restaurant, but it was Halloween, and it was Saturday night. There was NO social distancing or mask wearing going on anywhere. We gave up on that and headed to an Ethiopian restaurant outside of town, but it was closed. So we headed back toward town and snagged a tasty meal from a taco truck.
Sunday, November 1
Today is to be our last day on Route 66. We got up early (the clocks were set back an hour last night) and headed into town for some warm fresh donuts (I had been craving just this delicacy for the last week). We each got one at Sanchez Bakery, an authentic Mexican bakery in Amarillo. Then we got a little gas and headed west for an hour to get a photo at Rooster’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina in Vega.
With that accomplished we drove another 20 minutes to our final stop, MidPoint Cafe in Adrian, TX – just this side if the border with New Mexico, and the halfway point of Route 66. I got some pictures and we went in and ordered breakfast – which, I have to say, was one of the best we have had on this journey. When we finished we picked up a MidPoint sticker and paid our bill.
On the way out of Amarillo we got gas for $1.49/gal.!!!
We drove out of Amarillo toward home, but at Elk City, Oklahoma the TireMinder alarm went off again. The same tire, the same (new) problem with the valve. I got hold of someone who sent out his guy, Robert. Robert looked at the tire and said we could safely limp over to the hotel across the street. His boss will be ordering a new tire for us, and with any luck, we will be back on the road sometime tomorrow.
This trip was supposed to have been longer, heading down to the southern tip of Texas, then swinging up and over through Louisiana to Alabama to visit with friends, Florida to visit with friends and family, then up along the east coast to check out some NWRs, visit with more family, then head on home.
Unfortunately, during this Covud19 pandemic, we have slowly started to feel less safe. Masks are not being worn. Social distancing is not being practiced, and sadly, Texas was the worst of it.
So, we are going to be smart and head home. It is bittersweet. We knew there would be changes. We were prepared to be safe with masks, constant hand washing/sanitizing, and social distancing. But we weren’t prepared for how all this, along with so many closures of the places we would have liked to have visited, would take the joy, the care-free feeling, out of us. But this too shall pass. We have made the decision to keep our traveling within a smaller geographical footprint for the time being. Next year, when a reliable vaccine is available, we will get ours and start planning for our next awesome trip.