Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Day 7: Amarillo - Las Vegas, NM

After a good drink and chin-wag with Croc and the Aussies last night, I had to set my alarm nice and early in order to make sure I was up in time for the 8 o'clock start - yes, I'm back on a timetable! It was chilly when we left, but I knew that as soon as the sun rose higher it would get soon heat up, so decided to go with the warm weather gear from the outset this morning. Most of the Aussies were travelling in cars, but there were 8 bikes, and I was going with them.

Our first stop was after a short ride to the Cadillac Ranch. Here, there are about 8 or ten half buried Cadillacs, nose down, and aerosol spray cans are left lying around so that visitors can decorate them. So the display is constantly changing:

A little further on and another photo op at Magnolia Filling Station. This place actually pre-dates Route 66 by a couple of years, and once again has been restored to how it used to be.

It was nice to be riding with a group for a change, and I appreciated being invited to tag along. I was great to have some company at the various stops along the way, and to have someone else take my picture for a change! It also reminded me of the downside of being in a group - the extra time it takes to do anything, for example at fuel stops you can't fill up and leave - you have to wait for all 8 bikes to refuel. Same with photo stops or when stopping for lunch - you can't continue your journey until everyone is ready to go.
Spot the English bike!

Moving along we came to Adrian Texas. This is officially the mid-point of the route - it's the same distance to Chicago as it is to Los Angeles. Time for a photo at the sign marking this point, and coffee and pie at Fran's MidPoint Cafe. Fran was the inspiration behind the Flo character in Disney's movie Cars. She's a sweetheart!
Here I am at the middle of the Route - but not yet the middle of my trip. Not sure why I'm standing like that?

And the obligatory group shot with all the Aussies, one American, one Zimbabwean and one Brit. I'm  front right.

Just before we left Texas we visited Glenco, a ghost town, and just one of many examples of how the new Interstates affected towns along the old Route 66.

And then we were entering New Mexico, and suddenly gained an extra hour as we moved to Mountain Time. This is the sixth state of the nine I'll be visiting this trip.
Yes that really is me behind the mask!

Lunch was in Tucumcari (Two-come-care-ee). A first for me - I had salad! I really could not face any more fried food, and getting my five a day has been proving challenging. There are some nice murals on the walls of the buildings around town, and also a Route 66 sculpture:

And so it was that we eventually arrived at Santa Rosa, the Ausies' stop for the night. Having said my goodbyes and thanking them for allowing a pom to join them, I set off, once again on my own. A brief visit to Bozo's Auto Museum, and then to drive the 60 or so miles to Las Vegas, New Mexico (the little town with a big name!).

All the time we'd been driving west into a head wind, and this combined with the long, long climb out of Santa Rosa meant the bike wasn't able to maintain 70mph in top (6th) gear. I started to worry that there might be something wrong, but when I turned off north for Las Vegas the head wind became a side wind, and only then did I realise just how strong it was. I drove the remaining 40 miles canted over 45 degrees to the left, just to go straight!. No wonder the bike was struggling riding into it!

Las Vegas NM is the complete opposite of its namesake further west. It is a quiet, old fashioned little western town. The hotel I am staying at tonight is the Plaza, built in 1882,and has a very Victorian feel to it. I rather like it after some of the impersonal hotel rooms I've slept in recently. Also, it was used in the Coen Brothers movie No Country for Old Men (what am I doing here then?) for the hotel scenes (even though the film was set in Texas).

Having unpacked I made my way to the hotel bar, as you do, and was chatting to a couple (Joseph and Chtistine) who had a nice little Harley Sportster parked outside. As we chatted a guy walked in and ordered a beer, and then announced that he would buy everyone in the bar a round. We happily accepted, upon which he paid, finished his drink and left. I don't think he'd said a word to anyone other than the barman, who later said he'd never seen him before! How peculiar. Anyway thank you, who every you are!

After that I got talking to a group of business colleagues (Amy, Leah, Lisa, Kevin and Nancy - Hi y'all). They are museum specialists, and were in town looking at how a local state park could improve its displays and exhibits at their visitor centre. After a couple of drinks with them they invited me to join them for dinner which was very kind, and very entertaining, especially when we found all the local restaurants seem to be closed on a Monday. Needless to say, we ended up back in the bar, but my pizza was very good. As well as everything else, I also learned something about American history today!

And now it's time for bed, and tomorrow I head for Albuquerque, where I may run into the Aussies once more.

Today's route and more pictures can be found here:

Today's Mileage: 251
Total Trip Mileage:1514

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