Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Tucumcari or Bust

Day 5: 281 Miles
Total: 2,138 Miles

Sorry for the delay! For some reason I ran into huge problems trying to add pictures to my blog and then trying to post it. But here it is, finally.

I got a late start today for two reasons; well three really - I overslept. The other reasons were because I wasn't in a big hurry due to the relatively short drive I was making, and I also wanted to go to the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City where I was staying.

So I went to the museum and spent a couple of hours walking through it. It's larger than the museum I went through yesterday, though both were quite enjoyable. This one had several outdoor displays, and for the Detroiters reading this blog, it had a bit of a small Greenfield Village feel to it.

By the time I got on the road it was almost noon. I was only about 30 miles from the Texas border, so it didn't take long to get there. After Kansas, Texas has the shortest section of Route 66, and frankly, I'm glad. It was the least interesting state so far. There were few towns, and most of what they had to offer were old deserted buildings. There were some gems though, as you'll be able to see in the pictures I included. It's not that Texas was unenjoyable. I did enjoy the drive, and Amarillo was somewhat interesting. It's all relative though, and the other states have had more to offer. Most of Route 66 in Texas just runs as frontage road to I-40, though it does go through all of the towns along the way rather than just skirting them.

I managed to get through Texas by late afternoon and I entered New Mexico at a deserted town right on the border called Glenrio. Supposedly the town straddles both states, but since no one lives there and there wasn't any sign denoting either state line, I don't know for sure. All i know is that this was a living, breathing town until I-40 came along, and it disappeared off the face of the earth.

At Glenrio I had two options for alternative Route 66 routes. The main route was frontage road running along I-40 from Glenrio to San Jon about 18 miles away. The alternative I opted for was the one directly out of Glenrio; an early Route 66 routing that now is virtually deserted and includes about 13 miles of dirt road where the pavement used to be. That route turned out to be a pleasant alternative, but i'm glad my car didn't break down. My GPS was working fine, but i would have been walking many miles through unknown terrain just to get a cell phone signal.

Fortunately I managed to get to San Jon with no more to show for it than a dusty, dirty car. From there it was a quick 20 mile drive to Tucumcari and the Blue Swallow Motel. This place is way cool. Straight out of the 1940s. Not at all fancy, but clean and comfortable furnishings. This is one of the best known motels on all of Route 66, and it was the first place my friend Drew told me to see. She spent two summers crossing Route 66 and photographing various attractions there, particularly neon signs. She then made paintings of them, many of which are hanging in her studio in Brevard.

Tomorrow I have a decision to make. Route 66 takes two very different tracks through part of New Mexico. One iteration turns north and winds through Santa Fe before coming back south to Albuquerque. The alternative route is somewhat shorter, bypassing Santa Fe and going straight to Albuquerque. I'm intrigued by the Santa Fe route, but it would add significant time to my travel in order to do it right, so I'm leaning toward the direct route right now. I guess you'll just have to read my blog tomorrow to see what I decided!

Here are some pictures...

This one is the famous U-Drop Inn/Tower Conoco in Shamrock, Texas. It has been completely restroed and houses the Shamrock Chamber of Commerce. At night it takes on a completely different look with its dazzling neon display. I have only seen it in pictures. My timing was just bad here!

This is just one of hundreds of old abandoned gas stations in the Texas section of Route 66 alone. It is located near the town of Conway.

Not sure where this one is.

This is the opposite side of the coin; a beautifully restored station in Vega.

Here is Route 66, sans concrete, as I was coming out of Glenrio, Texas heading toward San Jon, New Mexico. What you see here is pretty much what I saw for 13 miles.

Final destination of the night was Tucumcari, New Mexico. Great place! Lot's of murals on buildings like the two below.

Here is where I stayed; the very well know Blue Swallow Motel. Totally cool place, but I would have to tie up sue and Anna to keep them from running away. They're spoiled by too many Marriotts!

Here is my room. Small and clean. Very small actually. I'm standing in the doorway taking this picture.


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