The Cadillac Ranch with Jackie and Margo at the far end
July 13, 2009
This is my third trip to Amarillo. On the previous two trips (2004 & 2005), we mostly visited with Aunt Murrel. We spent a few hours at Wonderland Park and 10 minutes at the Cadillac Ranch, but I never felt like we did much. So this time, even though we had only a single day, I wanted to see some of the city. Lunch at Hooters was a must. Then we would do the Cadillac Ranch again, but this time we would be prepared. I wanted to see the shops on old Route 66, and a dinner at the Big Texan was something I had wanted to do for quite some time.
The Artist at work
We wanted to get a reasonably early start this Monday morning, to beat the heat. Aunt Murrel had told us that up until we had arrived, this had been a mild summer. But, we had seen 100 highs both days we had been in Amarillo, so far. Today was not supposed to be an exception. But, the need to beat the heat had to compete with the desire to sleep. It was an epic struggle, in which neither side won. We were up about 8:30 AM. Not exactly a late morning, but with a leisurely shower and such, we did not get over to Aunt Murrel’s until nearly 10 AM.
Patty and Jackie had moved to Aunt Murrel’s last night, and while Patty would not be going with us, Jackie wanted to. So after a brief stop at Aunt Murrel’s we were on our way to the Cadillac Ranch.
Margo in the backseat of a Cadillac.
Margo had gotten me a GPS Navigational device for Christmas. I absolutely love my TomTom. I added some alternate voices. My favorite is Mullet Man, a West Virginia redneck, who adds some color to the directions. I had preprogrammed all of our destinations into the device before we left, and it was working with only minor hiccups. I brought along maps and addresses as a back up, but we had not had to rely on them.
Anyway, Mullet Man guided us west of town, on the frontage road along I-40. We saw a group of cars pulled over for seemingly no reason, so we knew this must be it. The Cadillac Ranch is ten vintage Cadillac cars, that have been buried, nose down, into an Amarillo field.
This was done at the behest of helium magnate and local eccentric Stanley March 3 (not III). He just likes to do odd things, and this qualifies. Perhaps even more eccentric than the modern art itself is the fact that Mr. Marsh encourages the sculpture to be painted by those who visit. This fact was not clear to us, when we made our last visit. This time we brought paint.
Jackie and Margo with our Pink Cadillac
The Cadillacs are located a couple of hundred yards off the road. We parked, retrieved our paint (Pink, Green, and Black) and made our way to the cars. The wind was really blowing and we were more than a little concerned that we would not be able to add our mark to the hundreds of layers of paint already there. But, we soon found that if we went on the back side, we had enough of a wind shadow to begin working.
I emptied the first can of pink on one car, to give us a clean background.
Pink is my youngest daughter’s favorite color, and Bruce Springsteen had already endorsed my choice. It was a little slow going. I had to fight the wind, and I couldn’t effectively reach high enough to do the top of the car. Neither I, nor anyone else wanted to get on their knees to do the bottom either. So, a mostly pink Cadillac was going to have to do. Once finished, we used the black to return what was left of the tire to an imitation of new. Then with the black and green we added our names, plus Jessi’s. A couple nearby took a group picture.
Bill and Margo were here
Margo and Jackie had gone off to another car while I did my combination of defacement and art. They had decided that they would climb into one of the cars and take a few pictures there. They called me over and I got in on the act, too. After the pictures, that was pretty much it. There is only so much you can do. As we were leaving we picked out a group that was just arriving, that had kids, and offered them our leftover paint.
I’m sure they had fun and added to the memory of their vacation as well. That was our good deed for the day.
Bill, Jackie, and Margo at the Cadillac Ranch
With the glow of our good deed spurring us on, we headed east to partake of a reward. Well, it would be a reward for me anyway. It was time for lunch at the Amarillo Hooters
The Amarillo Hooters is located just off of I-40 just a few miles from the Cadillac Ranch. I only took about ten minutes, including parking, to get there. I stopped to take a couple of pictures of the outside, with this blog in mind. It was at this point that I encountered the first of many of Amarillo’s Painted Horses.
The sign for pulling in the tourists.
Amarillo’s Painted Horses (officially the project is called Hoof Prints of the Great American Quarter Horse. But who in their right mind would actually utter that as part of sentence, let alone try to remember it. But, I do try to be accurate) is a public art project sponsor by Center City (kinda of the downtown Amarillo Chamber of Commerce). Center City sells these life size horse statues to local businesses to raise money for various Center City projects. The horses cost $3500 and included an artist to decorate the horse to suit the business. Hooters-Amarillo had theirs painted to be an equestrian Hooters Girl, complete with white shoes, lipstick and a Hooters tank top.
Margo took my picture with the horse.
Me and the Hooters Painted Horse
We went in and ordered our lunch. As I was on vacation, and Alan Jackson had proclaimed that it was 5 o’ clock somewhere, I had a couple of beers to go with it. I wrote a more detailed blog about our visit, so I won’t rehash it here. But as usual, we had a good time, I got a picture with the girls, and Jessi got her Hooterswear.
Last on our list of things to do today, was to tour the old Route 66 area. I wanted to find a t-shirt shop for a Route 66 tee. This is part of City Center, so I had expectations of something to see or do. Old shops. New shops. Revived tourist trap. I would have been happy with kitschy or touristy.
But, we found nothing. We must have missed the shops and restaurants. All we saw were some businesses, mostly on the seedy and rundown side. Oh, well. We had a Plan B. Directly behind Hooters, was the Westgate Mall. This had two things we wanted. First, there were real shops to look around at. Second, it was air conditioned. As it was now well into mid-afternoon, the temp outside was into triple digits. That is too hot to wander shops. You risk melting and becoming a public nuisances.
The Big Texan
Out shopping trip ended with me purchasing a media card reader and not finding anything touristy to buy as a souvenir. What is wrong with this place? Would we have to try Wal-mart? We did and struck out there, too. I was reasonably (I thought) expecting to find a Route 66 tee shirt or something along that line. Nope. Nothing. Nada. It was nearing dinner time, so we admitted defeat and headed back to Aunt Murrel’s.
I had invited Aunt Murrel and Wonda Carol out to dinner tonight.
The last thing on my Amarillo list, for this trip, was to eat dinner at The Big Texan, and tonight was the night. In the morning Margo and I would be heading east to OKC, so tonight we would all go out and give Aunt Murrel and Wonda Carol a break from cooking for us.
It was about a fifteen minute drive to the Big Texan, and it looked just like its pictures. It looked a tad run down and in need of paint. There was very kitschy (never used that word before and now it has come up twice in the same blog) hotel off to the east of the restaurant. I already knew it belonged to the Big Texan. As we pulled in we noticed their limousine pull out. I’m sure it was going to ferry a car load of customers. We didn’t make a reservation, and it wasn’t needed. They were no where near capacity.
We were seated and the first thing I noticed was the dozens of animal heads around the balustrade above.
Someone was a hunter. Big surprise in Texas. The second thing I noticed was an elevated platform, with a table and a timer. I already knew what this was for. The Big Texan has been featured on the Food Network for its eating challenge. Eat their 72oz (that’s 4 ½ lbs!) steak, and all the trimmings in under an hour, and it’s free! I like to eat and I have healthy appetite, but you have to be borderline insane to do this. Yet, I saw a sign listing the 9 people who had not only taken the challenge, but succeeded so far in 2009. Two of them did it half the allotted time!
This is what you have to eat!
We ate our dinner, shepherded by a little too helpful waiter. He was obviously mining for tips, and as we were a party of 6, he had 18% added automatically to the tab. I didn’t object, as he did do a decent job. He also volunteered to take our group photo, when he saw me trying to take one.
Once we were done we decided to wander over to their gift shop.
The Big Texan is geared to the tourist. Today, I was most definitely a tourist. I was pleasantly surprised to see plenty of Route 66 stuff. I ended up with a Route 66 replica sign for Jessi’s boyfriend, Pete and my own Route 66 tee shirt. Margo got a Route 66 cookbook. She must have twenty different cookbooks from our various travels. But, I budget money on these trip for these trinkets, treasures, and trash, so what the hell.
We finished up with a trip to the restroom Not exactly a noteworthy occurrence, but the hall was lined with these changeable photos. When you would look at them from one angle they looked like a picture of taken at the turn of the century (19th to 20th. No, I don’t feel old at all having to specify what century I am taking about). But, when you would take a step it would change to something out of a Roger Corman (look it up, whippersnappers) picture. Margo took pictures of a few of them, and we were soon on our way back to Aunt Murrel’s
We visited with Aunt Murrel until it was well past 10 o’clock.
If we had not been in town Aunt Murrel would have been in bed hours before that. But, she genuinely enjoyed our company, telling us so on several occasions, so she happily talked about old times, new times, politics (Not an Obama fan. We got along fine), or whatever else pops into her head. But, we knew she needed rest, so Margo and I make our excuses and left somewhere around 10:30 PM. In the morning we would be heading east, to Oklahoma City.
After (look at small picture, too)