Monday, 25 April 2011

Day 6: Clinton - Amarillo

I was awoken at about 4 this morning by a thunderstorm passing overhead, but luckily it had passed by the time I woke properly at 7. I opened the curtains only  to be greeted by a dank miserable drizzly day.
They say that Elvis used to stay here when passing through - then again lots of places say that!

I packed up, had breakfast and then wandered over to the Route 66 Museum for it's opening time of 9. There was no sign of life. Then it dawned on me; it is Sunday today, and the museum doesn't open until 1 on a Sunday. Well I couldn't hang around for 4 hours, so I reluctantly had to give it a miss.

The weather did not look like getting any better, but I set off taking the old Route 66 roads. I soon decided that this was not the best idea today, the worn out concrete surface was slick and slippery, and a couple of times the back wheel started to slide out on bends. Discretion got the better of me - I could do without any more buttock-clenching moments - and I decided that I should take the interstate for a bit until the weather dried up.

This was disappointing, but it did mean that I made good time. Once on the Interstate I set the cruise control (that's right, this thing has cruise control!) to 70, and slabbed it through the remainder of Oklahoma, and into Texas.

Through this last part of Oklahoma the land had been flat for as far as the eye could see in all directions, but entering Texas, things started to change to a more rugged terrain, which was much more interesting to look at. I had hoped that the weather would also improve on entering Texas, but that wouldn't happen for a while yet.

Texas landscape
A reminder that if you get caught short out here, don't just nip behind a bush!

I did make a couple of detours off the Interstate though when I spotted this old, but restored gas station in McLean:

And also this deliberately leaning water tower in Grants:

By now, things had started to improve weatherwise, and by the time I was 30 miles from Amarillo the clouds started to lift, then break up, and eventually disappear, leaving a nice sunny day with temperatures in the high 70s.

As I'd been on the freeway  for most of today, I had made good time and arrived in Amarillo soon after lunchtime. Now, I've got to say that I had no problem finding Amarillo at all. It's pretty well sign posted, and I didn't have to stop to ask for directions once, so why Tony Christie had so much trouble getting here I just don't know.

I went straight to the hotel and was lucky that my room was ready. I'm staying at the Ambassador a rather nice hotel that Bob 'Croc' Lile booked for me at the special Route 66 rate of, yes, $66. As it was still early, and the weather was now good, I took a little side trip to Palo Duro Canyon, around 20 miles south. It was quite spectacular, but I suspect only a taster of what is to come later on the trip.

Riding the winding roads along the edge of the Canyon, and the down almost to the bottom is one of the great biking experiences, with the sun on my back and the wind in my hair, this is what it's all about!

Also staying at the hotel tonight is a group of over 50 Aussies who are doing the trip, mostly in cars but also about 8 bikes. Croc had a reception for them this evening at his art gallery, and was kind enough to invite me along:: they seem like a good bunch, and we had a laugh over beers and nibbles that he'd layed on. Tomorrow I will ride with them for a bit, out the other side of Texas into New Mexico. But first, I've a feeling that they've lined up a couple of beers with my name on in the bar downstairs - gotta go!

Today's route and more photos:

Today's Mileage: 242
Total Trip Mileage: 1264

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