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  • Thomas Curran

Clinton, OK to Amarillo, TX

June 8 to June 19

Hello from Amarillo, TX!! It’s been about 11 days since my last post and there’s lots to catch up on and LOTS of pics to share!! Let’s start with the fact that I FINALLY made it through Oklahoma!! Geez! I entered OK on May 6 and didn’t cross into Texas until June 12. What the heck?? Due to all of the horrible thunderstorms and tornadoes and, with having to take almost 10 days off to get Wink taken care of and back to CA, it just seemed to take forever. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love Oklahoma because I really did!

Last I wrote I was in Clinton and from there I walked through three more towns in OK. Let’s begin with Elk City. Elk City – no Elks. Didn’t see one. I was interviewed by the Elk City Daily News and asked where the city full of elks were and he laughed and said he wasn’t sure where the name came from and there certainly were no elk in the vicinity. I was disappointed. They did have a statue of an elk but that doesn’t count. I’ll have to do some research on why they named their city after an animal that doesn’t exist there. More on that later. I want to sincerely thank Misty and her whole family who hosted me at the Elk City KOA. I met Misty through Lindsay and that was, without a doubt, the coolest, cleanest, nicest KOA I’ve been in. First thing I noticed when I walked in was that they had a FULL BAR and cafe!! What?? Yeah, I think it’s the only KOA with a full bar. So, naturally, I imbibed. I stayed one night, very comfortably in my tent, and made my way to Sayre.

This town was like many other small towns I’ve passed through. I had a long day and there was a city park at the eastern edge of town that offered camping. When I arrived, I saw that this big, beautiful park was still partly submerged in water. This town was hit hard with flooding and they were doing all they could to clean up. I got to the campground, which was fairly dry but very soft, to discover billions of mosquitos and lots of snakes. Some of the workers said that the rain and flooding caused a massive spike in mosquitos and the snakes were out in full force. Courtney offered up a hotel room for the night about a 1/2 mile away so, instead of dealing with the campground, I took her up on it! Thanks!!

On to Erick. Erick was a sad little town but with some really cool old run down buildings and one, creepy, haunted looking burned out structure. There was a Days Inn and I needed a shower so I booked a room and looked forward to making my way into Texas the next day.

Read the white sign along the roofline. Love it!!

Creepy burned out haunted thingy

My destination, nearly 28 miles away, was Shamrock, TX. I stopped at the state line, of course, and did an FB live and took pics and, I gotta say, it was hot as hell out there. Route 66 is the most incredible place to walk because there are no cars and tons of cool stuff to see. However, in the stretch I’ve been on so far, there is ZERO shade and that asphalt was hot. I was looking forward to Shamrock because it had a lot of Route 66 history, lots of still operating motels from the good ole days and a pretty cool downtown complete with a real piece of the Blarney Stone. I laid my lips on that thing as soon as I could! I’ll take all the luck I can get out here! I stayed two nights at The Blarney Inn which has been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth I think. It was cute and kitschy and the owners were super sweet. The doors on these old motels are so small that I often can’t fit my cart through them and they let me store it in their lobby overnight. On the corner, across the street, was the Conoco Station and Cafe where so many famous people used to hang out. I sat in the exact seat that Elvis Presley used to sit at. The cafe is now a museum but one where they let you touch everything and try on hats that have been there forever. It has been restored and, at night, the lights are super cool. There is an odd juxtaposition in front which I failed to get a picture of. The parking lot that used to serve the cafe is now a Tesla charging lot. It looks kinda funny sitting next to the cool old building but, hey, you gotta charge somewhere!

The next day I walked to Alanreed where I camped outside of an old motel and gas station. Walking into Alanreed I got to visit the oldest cemetery on Route 66 and the oldest Baptist Church as well! The wind was so insane that night that a few of my tent stakes came up and, in the middle of the night, I had to go out in that crazy wind and fasten my tent back down. That’s kinda how the weather has been since I entered Texas. Every night has had thunderstorms while the days are dry but very hot. The winds pick up around 5 and blow real hard through the panhandle until early morning. As I sit here in Amarillo writing this, Alanreed and McLean, the next town over, are under a tornado warning and they’re getting an incredible amount of rain. Glad I’m not in my tent behind that motel! I had coffee the morning I was heading out of Alanreed with the owner of the motel/gas station. His name is David Crockett and he is 5th generation descendant of THE Daley Crockett. He was a cool guy and his buddy, Mr. Trew, is a local legend and historian on the panhandle. I really enjoyed their company.

Oldest cemetery on Route 66 in Alanreed

Oldest Baptist Church on Route 66

David Crockett is in the baseball cap

I made it to Groom the next day and I wouldn’t even have much to say about Groom except that it is home to a ridiculously large cross on the side of the highway. It’s the 2nd largest cross in the Western Hemisphere at 190’ tall. You can start to see it from about 10 miles away. I also know, first hand, that it cost about $10,000,000 to build. How do I know this? Not from Google! As I was walking into town a man on a Harley pulled over to talk to me and his name is Steve Thomas. He is the President of Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Cross Ministries and he’s the man that paid for and built it. We talked for about 5 minutes on the side of the road about many things the cross, cancer, God and Satan . It was an interesting conversation and one that sparked a thought about his relationship to cancer and one that I am following up with on a call today with him. I’ll post more about that later after I dig into his theories.

Love the fear of trespassers in the south and their funny signs to warn you off!

That’s a big cross!

Out of Groom and on to Conway. Conway isn’t even really a town that I can tell. I didn’t see one house or trailer. The only things in Conway were two very old, very run down motels, two boarded up cafes and a Love’s Truck Stop. That’s it. I stayed at the Conway Inn and that was an experience. The owner, Sue, is a widow from India. She lost her husband and child in and explosion at the laboratory where he worked as a scientist in India. Sue came to America and made her way to Texas where she eventually bought this little motel. She’s all alone there, does all the work, lives onsite and talks, a lot. I got her whole story before I even checked in and I have to say she is an absolute sweetheart. So, funny story, I got in my room and she brought me a roll of toilet paper because she had forgotten to put one in. Ten minutes later she brought me another one. She said, “Just in case.” Hm. Do I give off a vibe that I use a lot of toilet paper? IDK…maybe she just wanted a reason to chat. Again, I really liked her and enjoyed our conversations. She let me park Alexa in her closed up cafe. Tiny door issues again. Also in Conway is Slug Bug Ranch. Most people have heard of Cadillac Ranch, which I will visit tomorrow, where there are a bunch of old Cadillacs shoved hood first into the ground and millions of people every year go there to graffiti the cars. It’s pretty cool. Holden and I visited the ranch when we drove cross country a few years ago. Well, someone kinda copied it but with VW Bugs in front of three boarded up old businesses. The entire area is covered in graffiti and it’s really cool. It’s also home to about a thousand rattlesnakes which are everywhere by these cars and buildings. I tread cautiously.

The Conway Inn…my home for a night

Just in case…

Slug Bug Ranch

I left Conway with a monster walk ahead of me and weather that was definitely grooming me for the desert. I had 29 miles to the east edge of Amarillo and, by noon or so, it was in the 90s. I love my umbrella, btw. On this stretch of 66, the road disappears three times. It just dead ends. The interstate ran about 10 feet to my right so I was jumping on and off I40 throughout the day. Interstate walking is not a horrible walk but it’s pretty damned sketchy. I40 is a trans continental highway so it’s used a lot by truckers and the speed limit in Texas is 75. Luckily the shoulder is well paved and about as wide as a normal car lane. It was safe but I’d much prefer 66. Eight miles out of Conway I passed the halfway mark across Texas!! I made it to Amarillo and, waiting for me at The Big Texan Steakhouse, was a $50 gift card left by my dear friend C. Tracy Davis, aka Blue Man. Tracy and I go way back to the mid 90s when we taught cooking classes together and he wanted me to have a great steak when I got to Amarillo. The Big Texan is world famous. It’s the home of the Free 72 oz. Steak!! But, the deal is, you have to eat the 72 oz. steak, a baked potato, salad, shrimp cocktail and a roll in 1 hour. No…I did not try the challenge. That would have killed me. But that place was really cool. It was like Disneyland for steak lovers. Candy store, gift shop, steak house…it was just cool and the food was AWESOME!! Most places like that are just gimmicky with crap food but that was not the case there. I sucked down two margaritas, an 18 oz. rib eye, baked potato, fried mushrooms, side salad and a roll. I was starving when I walked in and about to fall over when I left. And I had a little buzz from the margaritas and that’s when I remembered that I still had almost 4 miles to walk to my hotel, it was 4 pm and the hottest time of day. That 4 miles was treacherous. I almost called Uber.

I’ve been in Amarillo for 2 days thanks to the generosity of one of my followers who got me a few nights in a nice hotel. Today I’m going to explore downtown and an area up on 66 that I missed will be where I hang out tonight. I’ve been told there are some cool bars and antique shops up there. I leave tomorrow and head towards Albuquerque. I have 2 more days in Texas then I’ll cross into NM and a new time zone! I can’t believe I only have 3 states left!!! I’ve now walked through 9 states for a total of 1,846 miles and 3,877,734 steps. I have about 1150 miles to go! But that could go up or down. We’ll see what I do after Albuquerque…still not sure which route I’m going to take into California. Until next time!!

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© 2020 by Thomas Curran

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