Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 24: Tucumcari, NM to Bethany, OK - German Guys on Harley's, Caddy's and Red Necks

I left the Blue Swallow in search of coffee.  For $50 a night you do not get coffee in the room - free Wi-Fi yes, but no coffee.  Fortunately, a couple of miles down the street was a Denny’s. 
Now I usually don’t like to stop in Denny’s because something always happens that is a pain or weird.  For example, one time I stopped in a Denny’s to get a hamburger and the kitchen caught on fire.  The manager told all of the patrons not to worry, it was all under control.  After the smoke cleared from the dining area business went on as usual.  I had asked for a medium rare burger.  When I got my burger it was raw in the middle.  Apparently my burger was not involved in the kitchen fire.
Another time a group of us stopped at a Denny’s for a late dinner.  A friend ordered a turkey sandwich.  When it came there was no turkey in the sandwich.  When he complained to the waitress, who could care less, she said she’d get the manager.  The manager finally stopped by to see what the fuss was about and told my buddy he shouldn’t have ordered the turkey.  It goes on, what with the drunk rodeo cowboys and such, but I digress...
After an uneventful Denny’s breakfast (surprisingly unusual) I headed to Texas and the Cadillac Ranch.  The Cadillac Ranch is just West of Amarillo and right off of I-40.

Hmmm - Wonder what's here?
But before I got to the Cadillac Ranch I made a stop at the MidPoint Cafe in Adrain, TX where I met Frank from Germany.

The MidPoint is exactly half way between Chicago and Los Angeles - 1139 miles from either one on The Mother Road.

Half way between...

When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a sole motorcycle and rider.  The bike was a nice looking Harley and the rider was Frank, who was from Germany.  

Frank from Germany with his Harley at the MidPoint Cafe

Frank had a single duffel bag strapped to the back rest/sissy bar with bungie cords, was wearing jeans, a t-shirt and leather vest and was very tan - actually a combination of tan and sunburn.  He explained to me he was from Germany and that he had shipped his Harley over to Chicago to ride Route 66 to LA.  I found this amazing.  Frank was riding the entire Old Route 66 and not going on the Interstate unless there was no other choice.  This makes the going pretty slow, but he told me he been planning to do this for a long time and he was pressing on. 

Unfortunately, he had lost a week in Chicago while trying to get his Harley through customs and wadding through the paperwork with the customs folks.  We spoke for awhile and then Frank took off in search of gas to continue his motorrad adventure.  Hopefully he made to LA all right and won’t suffer any more customs hassles.

While I was talking to Frank a few more Route 66 / motorcycle travelers pulled in and we chatted for a bit.  I bought a few souvenirs from a really lovely lady who is the owner, along with her husband.  Then it was off to the famous Cadillac Ranch.

Heading East you take Exit 60 off of I-40 and follow the frontage road East to get to the Cadillac Ranch.  As famous as this place is it is extremely low key - no sign or souvenir shop.  Just a small gate and a long walk out across a field.

The main gate to the Ranch

There're out there - way off in the distance
Ten old Cadillacs buried nose first up to the doors at about a 45 degree angle.

There they are - ten Cadillacs up to their doors in the dirt
Now what I didn't know is it is tradition to bring spray paint and "pretty up" the old Caddy's.  There must be a 1/4 inch or more of paint on every exposed surface.  Almost everyone had spray cans.  The art work is pretty cool actually.

One of the graffiti artists
There are years and years of paint on the Caddy's - no rust problems here
All lined up in a very straight row
The Cadillac Ranch, located along the tatters of historic Route 66, was built in 1974, brainchild of Stanley Marsh 3, the helium millionaire who owns the dusty wheat field where it stands. Marsh and The Ant Farm, a San Francisco art collective, assembled used Cadillacs representing the "Golden Age" of American Automobiles (1949 through 1963). The ten graffiti-covered cars are half-buried, nose-down, facing west "at the same angle as the Cheops' pyramids."

In 1997, development creep forced Marsh to move the entire assemblage about two miles further west. The line of cars is far enough out in a field to allow for suitably bleak photography. The distance from any authority also encourages ever-mutating layers of painted graffiti, which Marsh doesn't seem to mind.

So next I'm off to the Big Texan - home of the 72 oz. steak - if you can finish it it's free (plus you get a t-shirt).

Hungry?  How about a 72 oz. steak?
There was a tour bus in the parking lot when I pulled in - apparently with a lot of hungry folks seeing Texas.  There was also a BIG BOOT that I assume belongs to the Big Texan.

Can you tell I'm in Texas?
This is too goofy

Well, it was time to get out of Texas and head to Erick, Oklahoma, The Red Neck Capitol of the World, to visit with Harley and Annabelle, The Mediocre Music Makers, proprietors of the Sandhills Curiosity Shop.  Man is that a mouth full...

On the way to Erick, OK I stopped at an old restored Conoco Gas Station.  It was kind of cool - just like it was in the 50's.

This could be a picture from the 1950's
Fill'r up

OK... on to Harley and Annabelle

Harley and Annabelle
I don't even know where to start with this.  Harley and Annabelle have been the owners and entertainers at the Sandhills Curiosity Shop (once the City Meat Market) for 24 years.  They are bonafide world famous. There have been documentaries made about them.

Sandhills Curiosity Shop
The shop is full - and I mean full - of Route 66 memorabilia - not souvenir shop junk - real genuine old stuff - like antique.  Nothing is for sale as far as I could tell.  People come to the shop to bring Harley and Annabelle Route 66 rare stuff - of course they ask Harley and Annabelle for a little money.

Me and Harley and Annabelle - you can get a small idea of the extent of the memorabilia 
Harley and Annabelle with Sue and Phyllis from Southern California
Harley with a picture of his favorite rock formation
Their home (AKA the Red Neck Palace) is right behind the shop and it's the same - inside and outside - full of all kinds of stuff.  We got a tour.  It is amazing.

Backyard at the Red Neck Palace
Front yard at the Red Neck Palace
Harley and Annabelle in their boudoir
But wait - it gets better...  Harley and Annabelle are great entertainers.  Both play a pretty good acoustic guitar and sing - really great.

Harley is a wild man - a combination of  Robin Williams and the crazy guy who sits at the end of the bar that you're afraid to talk to.  Actually it's an act.  Harley puts on a hell of an act.  He's a great intelligent and talented man.

Annabelle is the calming half of the two.  She is a little more serious, but can still get real silly when she wants to, which is often.

Take a look at this link and/or go to You Tube and search for Harley and Annabelle.

Harley and Annabelle singing a love song

Needless to say it was a heck of a visit and will be long remembered.  But alas I had to press on.  So, we had a group shot with Phyllis, Sue, the family from Finland, Lars, his wife and son (never got their names) and me.

Saying Good-buy to Harley and Annabelle
I laughed all the way to Bethany, OK

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