7400 miles done, about 1700 more to go
Texas welcomes us after yet more flat miles and we soon notice that it is the only state we have been to where everyone says hello to you if you are walking or gives you a wave if you are driving a similar vehicle (there is a certain camaraderie between RVers as we are now allowed to call ourselves).
We are crossing and area at the top of Texas known as the Pan Handle which is flat, flat, flat, flat in every direction and
has few trees, lots of cattle and is not known for its scenic beauty. Dust devils are common (and there currently is a tornado warning in force)
We have hit a period of unseasonal weather,
the mid-west is receiving a lot of heavy rain and one evening (one of the few when we can get TV) a heavy thunder and rain warning appears on the screen and the Weather Channel has gone into an excited overdrive with graphics depicting rain and thunder in glorious colours.
The cloud formations one evening are fantastic although again the TV is warning of golf ball size hail stones and
throughout the early evening, we can see lightening flashes from within the cloud. This all has an effect on our plans in that roads get closed
because of flash flooding and landslips (where we are planning on camping one night had six river crossings to pass through and they are all closed) and an outdoor show “The Texas Show” which we had also planned to go to is cancelled because a number of the cast are killed in a road accident.
The Big Steak
Amarillo is home to the Big Texan Steak House
a place of national fame that says
“if you can eat our 72 oz steak and all the trimmings, we will give it your free” (you have to read this in a Texan accent). A 72 oz steak is quite a size
and you have to eat it in under an hour and the whole event takes place on a raised table in the restaurant and is televised live on a webcam and there are clocks everywhere counting down the hour (no pressure then!). If successful you also get a free T-shirt and no doubt a case of severe indigestion. Quite a few people manage to do it although many fail.
The Big Texan is in fact a factory unit done up to look like an old fashion saloon
but nobody minds
and Pat thought her steak was the best she had ever tasted.
Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon some 30 miles south of Amarillo is 120 miles long
and 800 feet deep and is only 1 million years old (a short time in geological terms). It is said to be the second most beautiful place in Texas. We camped there and in the above picture you can see the road we drove along running from the bottom right at least to the middle of the picture to get to a campsite.
Geologists will be marvelling at what the above picture shows in terms of stratification and a geological time line. The red at the bottom is the Permian Layer (250 million years old), immediately above that is the purple coloured Triassic Layer (225 million years old) within which they find lots of Dinosaur bones, then the Miocene-Pliocene Layer (2 to 10 million years old) and then finally on the very top is the Quaternary Age (present to 10 million years old). That the layers are very flat makes it easy to see the timeline.
The views around our van are as superb as that in the park as a whole with a number of
escarpments running along the canyon wall.
The plan is go go on some walks around the Canyon bottom but the temperature is extremely hot and the humidity is high and the flies are voracious and even our extra strength Australian repellent does not have much effect on them. Hence the amount of walking we can do is limited.
One of the tracks along the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River (the river which created this canyon and is in fact a very small river)
leads past innumerable cactus which seem
to love the hot humid atmosphere
and past fearless lizards (at least they were not afraid of us but I suspect they were afraid of the Rattlesnakes which also inhabit this area)
to a reconstructed Cowboy Dugout which is a one roomed hut constructed into the hillside.
It has been rebuilt and furnished with those things a typical cowboy would have
from the roof (or the valley floor since it is dug into the hillside), all hat shows of the dugout is the chimney.
Just west of Amarillo in the middle of a field, a row of Cadillac cars have been planted nose down.
These cars are visited by thousands of people each year with the sole objective of spray painting some graffiti on to the cars.
Everyone ignores the State of Texas sign and assumes it means that you cannot spray paint anything outside of the field. That there is a police station just down the road is also ignored.
Anything that gets painted does not last very long
because someone else will come along behind the vandal and add their own graffiti on top of that already there.
And so on a slightly cloudy Wednesday morning in mid August, a grey haired seemingly respectable, retired, pillar of society, grandmother who professes to normally be a law abiding citizen was seen to be adding to the graffiti:
She is making no attempt to disguise herself and is holding up the tool of her crime (a yellow can of spray paint purchased the previous day from Walmart) for all to see.
Then her equally grey haired partner in crime took the spray can and added some coded messages of his own.
Who is Sam?
Who is Corran?
and who is ???
Obviously the names above are members of their gang!
It was great fun and we made our escape and continued to follow Route 66 westwards.
The Midpoint Cafe at Adrian Texas
When Route 66 first opened in 1926 it was 2448 miles long from Chicago to LA but by 1937 it had shrunk to 2278 miles due to realignments and other adjustments. At approximately 1139 miles from either end is the town of
Adrian and the Midpoint Cafe which trades on the fact that it is at the midpoint
The Cafe makes the most of its reputation and position and hence has a steady stream of callers who are following Route 66
Goodbye Texas – hello New Mexico
and so we leave Texas and are welcomed into New Mexico (or 15th state this trip)
and the countryside this side of the state line is just as flat as it was the other side of the state line!