America The Outrageous
As we crossed the Texas State Line, I thought about all of those great country songs with the names of Texas towns. Route 66 traverses the panhandle of Texas and it looked like we were going to make “Amarillo by Morning”.
Conspicuously standing in a field along Route 66, west of Amarillo, Texas, is the Cadillac Ranch. This Route 66 icon was created by a group of art-hippies imported from San Francisco. They called themselves The Ant Farm, and their silent partner was Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh III. He wanted a piece of public art that would baffle the locals, and the hippies came up with a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin. Ten Caddies were driven into one of Stanley Marsh III’s fields, then half-buried, nose-down, in the dirt (supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza). They faced west in a line, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, their tail fins held high for all to see on the empty Texas panhandle.
That was in 1974. Decades have passed. The Cadillacs have now been in the ground as art longer than they were on the road as cars. They are stripped to their battered frames, splattered in day-glo paint, barely recognizable as automobiles.
Yet Cadillac Ranch is more popular than ever. It’s become a ritual site for those who travel The Mother Road. The smell of spray paint hits you from a hundred yards away; the sound of voices chattering in French, German, and UK English are a continuing testament to the international draw of the ‘ole 66.
As a symbolic act, as if staking our pilgrimage claim on the Mother Road, we too left our mark to identify with the outrageous in America… the tailfins of ten Cadillacs buried nose first in a non-descript field, just because.
Had the bone-jarring miles of 80 year old roads not yet imprinted on our DNA, the fact that now our name would be immortalized for eternity (or until it’s painted over before days end) on one of the most iconic landmarks on the journey, we felt as if we’d achieved tenure into “America The Outrageous”.
It took a couple of days for the smell of aerosol paint to clear from our noses, but like the pain of a tattoo, it was an acceptable assessment as if paying a luxury tax on a net gain.
We had the pleasure of staying overnight in Amarillo and that evening we took in another Amarillo landmark.
Things are bigger in Texas! This establishment, The Big Texan Steak Ranch, with their own hotel and brewery and horse hotel for those traveling with their horses (I knew I forgot something) and indoor bar and outdoor bar and dance floor and giftshop, boasts the “Free 72 Oz. Steak”. This is a challenge, if you eat the 72 oz. steak in one hour, it’s free.
“God Bless America, where gluttony is celebrated”.
So here are the rules:
I know your wondering, and no, I did not participate in the 72 oz. Free Steak Challenge. But we did have a nice time. The atmosphere was a cross between a carnival midway and Walmart, but entertaining none the less.
The next morning we once again continued west, to Adrian, Texas. Adrian is considered the midpoint of Route 66. We asked a dapper Brit if he’d take a photo of us and here is what we got:
Sometimes you just have to laugh. It’s been quite an adventure so far and we can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner as we get our “Kicks On Route 66”.