Route 66: Day Five

Road trips. They are great fun. They can be tiring. Right now, this trip is both. I’m trying to do this journey in 3 weeks. There are off-the-beaten path excursions, some are hundreds of miles off in a different direction (and back). This makes for a long day when you’re trying to stick to a schedule.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I’d like to see as many of the old diners and motels as possible. We’ve broken the motel rule a couple of times already, so we were sure to make up for it going forward. Enter The Cactus Inn. This motel is located in McLean, Texas. Population of about 800 or so. Two flashing lights; one yellow, one red. The room was decent, completely livable. Definitely has character. One bonus to staying in such a small town are the delightful attractions. Like The Devil’s Rope Museum. This is a museum about…barbed wire. Honestly, it was pretty cool. A great history of the flesh-tearing string is laid out in a very informative manner. You won’t believe all the different ways you can bend wire around some wood posts! The museum was quite large and presented in a chronological order. Must see.

Since we were in Texas, and we skipped our breakfast (again), we decided to brunch (again). This time it was steak. We went to The Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of the FREE 72 oz. steak. I think the waitress said that this place was featured in a few movies before. I believed her. Basically, if you order the “FREE” steak, they sit you up on a small stage at your own table. Behind you on the wall is a countdown clock, counting down from 60 minutes. If you can eat the 72 oz. steak (4.5 lbs) and the accompanying side items, it’s free. If you can’t eat it, it’s $72.00 or, $1.00 per ounce. If you fail to beat the clock, they give you a doggie bag of your leftovers and weigh it so you can see how much you finished, and a t-shirt, so you don’t feel like a complete loser. I ordered the 8 oz. strip and it was delicious. Oh, and a souvenir boot mug for my Dr. Pepper®.

No Route 66 trip would be complete without visiting The Cadillac Ranch. Out in the middle of some guys farm lies a string of real Cadillac cars from days gone by (think, “fins”) buried nose down into the ground. An interesting sculpture to say the least, they are now covered in graffiti. Brian, my partner in crime, tells me this is now “encouraged.” We obliged. Must see.

In Adrian, Texas, lies the midpoint of Route 66. You are at the dead nuts center from the east side and the west side of the Mother Road. I heard there’s good pie here, so…we stopped. The Midpoint Cafe is the place you’re looking for. Brian and I opted to split a slice of chocolate chip pie, covered in hot fudge, whipped cream and pecans with a cherry on top.

Remember that thing I said about “detours?” Well, here’s where we decided to take one. We drove from Adrian, TX…down to Roswell, NM. A little over 200 miles away, this city is known for its alien visitors. From outer space. Back in 1947 a UFO crashed on a ranch just outside of Roswell. I know it was a UFO because I have the newspaper article quoting the Army Air Force telling me so. Oh wait, it was a weather balloon. Ok. Well, we went there to check it out for ourselves. Everywhere you look there seems to be an alien figure standing next to a gas station or a furniture store ad claiming deals that are “Out of this World!” What did we find in Roswell, besides 94 degree heat? Some pretty damn good Mexican food from Tia Juana’s Mexican Grille and Cantina. I would say this food tasted better than anything I’ve had in years. Kim, our very friendly waitress even gave us a recap of her grandfather’s recollection of the Roswell Incident from 1947. She told us how he saw the town shut down by the military and everything was hush-hush. I got it all on audio (thanks, iPhone!). Weather balloon? Pppfthththhh…

So yeah, Roswell. Aliens? UFOs? Break out the lawn chairs. Brian and I drove south then west for about 20 minutes until it was almost pitch black outside. A little light pollution, but man, were the stars HUGE in the New Mexico night sky! Set up the tripod, throw on the camera and eat some M&Ms as we sat around looking for action. After about an hour, what’d we see? Nothing. Pack up and get back to the Super 8 and some sleep. Broke the motel rule again already. Dammit.

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Thom BriggsComment