The times they are a changin’

As we left the hotel this morning, I momentarily thought I was in the wrong place. It wasn’t the slightly overcast sky, but the definite chill in the air. The reading from the car said 60F degrees but we have been experiencing 90+F, so I wore a jumper!

Our first planned stop was just a couple of miles away. Easy.  You must be joking – that two miles took over half an hour as we followed various sets of directions before asking at the gas station. I had wanted to see the Cadillac Ranch since we first planned the trip. In reality, it is a collection of 10 graffiti covered Cadillacs that are half buried nose down in the middle of a field.  For reasons best known to their creator (Stanley Marsh, I believe), they face West “at the same angle as the Cheops Pyramids”. Whatever, but thanks to Carolyn’s steely determination and refusal to give up and move on, I was happy and lucky to have seen it.

Our next stop was at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian which celebrates being the official half way mark of Route 66. However, instead of the officially declared 1139 miles, we had already done 2015!!  This is because we keep wandering off to go and look at lovely points of interest.  We helped out a couple of groups who wanted photographs at the famous sign and in return got one for ourselves. One very helpful fellow traveller took a selfie of himself with us whilst his friends were taking photos… whilst lying in the road.

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We also enjoyed our stop at the famous cafe (decked out in true 50’s style, with a working juke box), and met a delightful couple from Pensilvania who not only shared our love of 60s music, but the guy was almost as knowledgeable as Carolyn!

By this time, the clouds were breaking and the temperature was lifting as we made our way out of Texas. This was not before seeing a cattle ranch with probably several thousand head of cattle. Home of Texas Beef.  I also watched a tractor coming towards me spraying a field. The problem was I could neither see where the field began nor where it ended.  It could take him all day to spray a couple of furrows. All the jokes about everything being big in Texas are clearly true.

As we approached the border of New Mexico, our day suddenly got longer. First, the sat nav and then our phones shot back an hour. We had crossed into Mountain Time and gained an extra hour, taking us an hour further from the UK. I realised that my travels involving time changes had previously been experienced on board ship, and these are artificially constructed to take place at night. This was my first experience of crossing an invisible line to be told by my phone that my watch was wrong!

We caught sight of a flat topped mountain looming large in the distance and reminiscent of movies where the Cowboys are being pursued across the plain, mountain in background, by the ‘Indians’. We were approaching the town of Tucumcari and the mountain of the same name.  It was excellent for a browse as the town has preserved its links with Route 66. Indeed, that very road forms the town’s high street. We stopped for lunch at a thriving cafe, which is a clear favourite with the locals, and dined on a “Patsy Cline Melt”. This was a beef burger on toasted rye bread with cheese and mushrooms. Once again, a retro café and full of character and characters. The food was better than the menu looked but quirky!

Our final stop, before ending our journey in Santa Fe, was at The Blue Hole in Santa Rosa. Apparently a famous destination for scuba divers as the clarity of this artesian well is such that you can almost see the bottom through 80 ft of water.  Very inviting but difficult to get into swimwear in the open air without changing facilities, so we returned to the car. And, the water was cold!

But that was not not the end of the water.  As we climbed upwards to begin the long loop to Santa Fe, storm clouds descended, lightening flashed and the rain was epic.  Personally, I blame Carolyn for suggesting just an hour earlier that we should get the car cleaned. By the time we reached our hotel, the sky was clear, the sun was hot and normal service had resumed. That was a 300 mile drive today….and more of the same tomorrow.

Carolyn’s Curios

Curious signs: No Engine or Jake brake… apparently, these types of brakes involve engines and air pressure are noisy and, therefore, frequently banned in built up areas.

No disrespect intended but… I couldn’t help but notice that the spelling on the religious graffiti hadn’t been totally successful.

My section is headed Curios but we see them daily. This shows just one place where they are advertised.

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Kath commented and the world’s steaks on the hooves but driving further, we reached scrub land. I saw no more than two dozen cows in forty miles with the only fence being the one between the road and scrubland. There was no cultivation and the only sign of wild life was a few birds – barren.

We missed mentioning yet another encounter with ‘bikers’. Usually on Harley’s and enough of them for a book let alone a Chapter.

Times have changed… Driving at 75 mph with Sat. Nav. means we have a relatively easy journey. As we covered the miles, thoughts turned to the early settlers in their horse drawn wagons with minimal, if any, maps. “Go West, young man!” was the only instruction. What about those escaping the poverty, starvation and dust bowl in the Thirties immortalised in Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’?

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We were reminded of the American gun laws by the Pawn Store next to our hotel tonight advertising guns, as well as musical instruments and jewellery, for trading. I, also, spotted this sign.

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Confession time: the discussion with the lovely couple from Philadelphia involved Sixties music, Beatles’ Tours of Liverpool, Herman’s Hermits etc. but, as is often the case, descended almost into a game of Top Trumps. “I saw Peter Noone a little while ago in California” – “I saw him in Blackpool three years ago” “I saw Paul McCartney with a three hour concert earlier in the year” – “I saw Bruce Springsteen do a four hour concert at Old Trafford” et al. However, I missed my best card which is…”I learned to play drums left-handed on a kit which Paul McCartney played a drum duet with Ringo Starr. Paul also played left-handed!”

Regrettably, we both ‘failed’ when discussing the first UK act to top the US Billboard Charts. Our new American friend said ‘The Beatles’ but I, somehow, thought it wasn’t and suggested Herman’s Hermits (or, in my mind, the Dave Clark Five). We were both wrong.  The first UK act to top the Billboard 100 Chart was Acker Bilk (May 62) but in  pre-Billboard lists, it was Vera Lynn in 1952! Research complete!

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