Readers’ Note: Because the Discover Small Town America Tour often experiences many amazing people and places in its quest to spotlight extraordinary small towns, our “Road Reports” can be a little long. Rather than having followers scroll way, way down to get the entire picture, we’ve added a “Continue reading >” link at the bottom of each post which will give you a lot more of the whole story. Enjoy!
After breakfast we packed up the Tour-mobile and headed into “Bomb City” to soak up some culture at the Amarillo Museum of Art. Amarillo is often referred to as Bomb City, USA because it is home to Pantex, America’s only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly factory.
Located on the Amarillo College campus, but independent of AC, we of course wanted to see the Open Road and High Plains Highway photography exhibits of images taken on road trips throughout America. For us, it was definitely art imitating life.
We were fortunate enough to meet the museum’s Security Guard and arts champion Pedro “Pistol Pete” Lopez. He insisted on taking our picture. “Say cheese”.
And we insisted on taking his.
The photographs captured Americans’ fascination with the diversity, rawness and freedom found on the open road.
On our way out of the museum we ran into some wild and crazy armadillos.
It was time to move on to see other forms of Texas “art”, AKA kitsch. First up – the famous Cadillac Ranch. Not really a ranch but rather an art installation/sculpture in a field on Route 66, Cadillac Ranch was created in 1974 by some hippie artists from San Francisco who were part of an artistic group called the Ant Farm.
When they say “art is in the eye of the beholder”, this tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin definitely tests that premise. Ten caddies are lined up by design evolution from 1949-1963, nose-down in the dirt with tail-fins exposed are spray-painted with day-glo paint by anyone with a creative design and a can of paint. Notice the empty spray cans on the ground.
Just down the road, another Route 66 flash from the past for all you RVers.
These Caddies escaped the fate of their Cadillac Ranch cousins.
There’s a new sheriff in town, guarding the park. Known as the 2nd Amendment Cowboy, he’s a Texan reminder of the right to bear arms.
Continuing west on the Tour we came to the abandoned Town of Glenrio, formerly Rock Island. Located on Route 66, this once vibrant ghost town sits on the Texas/New Mexico state line.
During the 1920s Glenrio had a motel, grocery stores, service stations, cafes and a permanent population of 30 people (but lots of tourists). Interstate highways put Route 66 to death and with it many small towns along its path. We wanted to see the last remnants of the Mother Road before it disappeared completely. It was a sad ending for a vibrant life line to small town America.
Escaping scary encounters with ghosts, we waved goodbye to the friendly state of Texas. The Tour continued cruising down the highway at a speed slightly above the 75 MPH limit (lead foot Rorie was driving so it was actually closer to 85) as we headed to our next destination…New Mexico.