Amarillo & the Texas Panhandle (April 13-15, 2021)

The change on Route 66 from Oklahoma to Texas was noticeable. There was certainly a feeling of abandonment and desolation through parts of Oklahoma, but Route 66 is largely still an operational highway in that state. As such, the communities along it felt as though they were functioning, if perhaps a bit forgotten.

Most of the remaining portions of Route 66 in Texas exist as frontage roads through near-(and sometimes actual) ghost towns. When you veer off Interstate 40 to travel along them you feel as though you’re stepping back in time (or perhaps just into the dystopian future that is the present…). Noteworthy sights included the Leaning Tower of Texas, the Barbed Wire Museum, and the enormous cross in Groom where I stopped for a time lapse.

There are, of course, exceptions. Amarillo remains a bustling city of nearly 200 thousand people and it’s where I made my home for the nights of April 13th and 14th, in a comfortable-enough (albeit kind of funny smelling) motel called the Relax Inn. This allowed for a side trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park on the 14th.

It was in Amarillo that I had the titillating experience of sitting at a bar for the first time since COVID, slurping down an enormous $6 margarita, eavesdropping on the waitstaff flirting with each other in Spanglish at a place called Bracero’s on 6th Street (old route 66, where I returned to take some photos in the morning). Amarillo was alright by me.

After the luxury of sleeping in a bed two nights in a row it was time to keep moving (Palo Duro Canyon State Park will get its own post). Across the rest of the panhandle I went, enveloped in a spooky mist, making sure to stop in at the famous Midpoint Café in Adrian. I chatted with the waitress for a bit; she said 85% of their business is ordinarily foreigners and they were really eager for the borders to open back up.

Then I was off for to Tucumcari, New Mexico, but had some family history to scope out in Portales first.

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