Everything’s Bigger in Texas

Texas is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to Texas.

OK, I’m done misquoting the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. There’s just no other way I can adequately describe how freaking vast the state of Texas is. Everything you’ve ever heard about Texas being big — it’s true. Words can’t explain it. We spent much of today driving on two-lane 75 mph roads through vast open prairies. The only reason it doesn’t take all day to get anywhere is because you’re driving fast absolutely everywhere, and it’s perfectly safe because the roads are straight and the geography is flat and you can watch your dog run away for three days. It’s that huge.

This sign is also big.

I’m getting ahead of myself. We need to go back to Elk City, Oklahoma, and talk about the National Route 66 Museum. I’ve been to so many museums, particularly about Route 66, along this journey that I’m getting a little bit jaded. If you’ve seen one museum with pictures, signs, classic cars, and other memorabilia, you’ve seen them all, right? That’s what I thought, until I came here.

Sure, there’s the usual assortment of car and travel stuff. There’s a short movie about the history of the road. My favorite display was the pink Cadillac that you get inside and press the gas pedal to watch a point-of-view video driving down one of the old portions of Route 66. I’m all too familiar with this perspective, though I was certainly more comfortable in the Cadillac than my van. For some reason I couldn’t feel any of the bumps at all. It must be that cushy Cadillac suspension.

The car stuff isn’t even the best part though — and I say this as a car nut. There are numerous other buildings around the property. Most of them aren’t recreations, but actual old buildings from the area’s past that have been moved here to go on display to the public. Most of them are set up in a historically accurate manner inside and out. You can look inside through windows to see how it looked back in the day, such as this stone schoolhouse. Of course, you have to keep in mind that “a long time ago” is only a bit over 100 years, as this area wasn’t even settled by Americans until the late 1800s. It was still great to check out all these places from the literal old west, though, especially since I’ve never seen anything like it in person.

The train station was also set up like it would’ve been way back when. I took particular interest in the collection of telegraph keys, being fluent in Morse code and having used a number of such keys myself. Unlike the Canadian County Museum, I was allowed to go inside and crawl all over this caboose. I’ve always loved cabooses, but I’ve never been able to look around inside one until now. My inner railroad geek was a kid in a candy store.

The adjacent Old Town Museum was just as amazing. It was chock full of artifacts from Elk City’s history, particularly the early parts. I took lots of pictures but this is already becoming yet another photo dump post, so I’ll just say that if you’re ever in western Oklahoma, you HAVE to come see this place. Forget about the cars — it just has so much amazing stuff. You won’t regret it.

Beckham County Courthouse.

It was time to leave Elk City and continue west. Along the way was this beautiful courthouse. We had to stop and check it out.

Tower Station and U-Drop-In Cafe.

Another iconic Route 66 sight is the Tower Station and U-Drop-In Cafe. The gas station isn’t open, but the cafe and gift shop are. So is the bathroom.

While taking pictures of the place, yet another wind turbine blade went by. Go ahead, watch the video. See just how long it takes to go by. That’s how huge these things are!

Restored 1929 gas station in McLean, Texas.

And here’s yet another restored vintage gas station down the road in McLean.

There’s almost nothing between McLean and the city of Amarillo. So we drove. And drove. And drove some more. We’ve covered a lot of distance in the last two days, mainly because western Oklahoma and northern Texas are so wide open, like I keep going on about. There aren’t too many places to stop and sightsee, which means more time on the road. Even maintaining somewhere between 50-60 mph on these roads posted at 70-75 mph, we’re making excellent time. Unlike yesterday, there was almost no wind, so maintaining these speeds on such narrow roads was a lot more comfortable. I suspect we’re getting better at it with practice, too — lots of it.

Whataburger combo #1.

We are now far enough west that Whataburger is a thing. We’ve never had Whataburger before, so we went. It was decidedly average. Not great, not terrible. My favorite part was the spicy ketchup.

We’re very quickly outrunning our research on Route 66 places to check out. Buffy had researched and prepared lists and routes for everything up to Oklahoma, but now she’s off on her own, leaving us to figure it out ourselves as we go. At this rate we’ll easily hit New Mexico tomorrow. I’d better go do some more research.

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