Today was a long day. Which is odd, really, when you think about how busy every day has been for the last week. But the 8 and 1/2 hour drive from Flagstaff to Amarillo isn't populated by much. Lots of wide open spaces full of scrub brush and dust. We only had one stop planned, and that was in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Some time back, I read an article that named 50 of the most beautiful old movie theaters in the country. I made myself a map of them so that I could reference it any time I did some traveling. That's how I discovered the Fox Theatre in Hutchinson, KS that I visited last Saturday. The same is true of the KiMo Theater in Albuquerque. After driving five-and-a-half hours, we arrived in town to find the theater. It was downtown, which was just a little ways off I-40, but the lovely GPS took us to a road that was completely closed due to construction. We weren't the only people caught off-guard; the traffic snarl took about half an hour to get through before emerging on Central Ave, which is also Old Route 66.
Originally, the last half of today was just going to be a drive straight to Amarillo. However, after my last post, my friend Randy messaged me and encouraged me to visit the town of Tucumcari, an old Route 66 spot. I saw a few of his pictures and, since it wasn't far off the main highway, figured I'd give it a try. On the way, I noticed a LOT of small towns with signs encouraging drivers to see 'Historic Route 66' and drive through their main street instead of zipping by at 75 miles per hour. Every sign I passed filled me with more despair that I was missing these small gems of Americana; finally, I could bypass no more. I pulled off I-40 at Moriarty to have a look.
Tucumcari was next. The photos I'd seen the day before were of restored hotels and shining classic automobiles in the center of town. I took the first exit I could and entered the edge of town on Old 66 because what I wanted were the dregs: the unrestored, abandoned, and closed ghosts of road trips past. The town exceeded my expectations. Dismantled drive-ins, overgrown hotels, and boarded up filling stations were everywhere. Even in the middle of Saturday afternoon, the town moved at a snail's pace. I want to go back some day when I can REALLY spend time in these small towns and explore each street, not just the main route. Before long, it will all be gone.
As we approached Amarillo, we stopped at our last detour of the day: Cadillac Ranch. An art installation dating back to 1974, it consists of multiple various-model classic Cadillac cars buried past the hoods and sticking out of the ground at an angle. People are encouraged to come by and add their own art to the living canvas by spray-painting on the junked vehicles. It's really something, especially considering the cars are on an actual in-use ranch. Cows grazed nearby as I sprayed my initials on a tire rim and took pictures of the rest of the cars. It's definitely a surreal sight.
Tomorrow is the last hurrah; driving home to Tulsa with only a few minor detours planned. I'm very eager to get home and into my own bed, but this trip has been truly wonderful and I don't want it to end.