Our fourth day on the mythic Route 66 marked the attainment of the halfway point of our trip. We’ve covered as much distance from Chicago to here, as what lies ahead of us until we arrive in Santa Monica, California. Our end-point on this day is the city of Albuquerque in New Mexico. A day on which we drive from A to… A.
1 — I AM RT 66 (art gallery)
Route 66 includes, as you’ve probably noticed by now, more than its share of stops you just can’t skip. Think of this drive as the anti-Cannonball Run. The point is not to get to the end ASAP, it’s to stop. Many times. And every year, new places pop up all along the route, which means more and more pullovers; it’s also a reflection of the increasing interest being shown by tourists wanting to do the route.
One stop that was planned before we even left Amarillo on this morning was the I AM RT 66, an art gallery where you go to check out, admire and maybe even buy an example of the works of Jim Livingston. You can get a quick idea of what he does via a google search, but from having visited this place we can confirm it’s not a stop you want to miss.
2 — Cadillac Ranch
Speaking of must-see places, the Cadillac Ranch, which you come across as you head west out of Amarillo, is definitely one of those. Here you can practice your talents as a graffiti artist on one of the 10 classis Cadillac cars literally planted into the earth.
As to how did they got there, the short version of the story is that the installation was the brainchild of an artist who wanted to pay tribute to Cadillac models that sported those enormous wings on their back ends. The first Caddy to sport those was produced in 1948, and last in the early 1960s, with the peak period being 1959.
3 — Midpoint Café
Whatever the trip, however long or short it is, there’s always a midpoint. It’s not always worth pausing to celebrate reaching it, but when you’re doing a trip spanning 3,650 km, you want to pat yourself on the back.
On Route 66, hitting the halfway point means making a stop at the Midpoint Café in the town od Adrian, Texas. Unfortunately the establishment was closed when we came by, but we pulled over nonetheless. Because.
4 — The ghost town of Glenrio
Just before hitting the Texas-New Mexico state line, you can make a small detour and visit the ghost town known as Glenrio. It’s located on the original route of Route 66, but after Highway 40 opened it died almost overnight. Today, this section of Route 66 runs on Highway 40.
5 — Russell’s Travel Center
When you’re on a long road trip like this, obviously you need to make the occasional stop to a) fill up, b) empty bladders and c) eat. Once you enter New Mexico, an obligatory pull-over is the
Russell’s Travel Center, not least because it’s the site of a frankly impressive car museum. Which means you have to count on spending more time here than the usual 20 minutes a regular pit stop takes up.
6 — Abandonment
One of the most striking impressions we got from our drive through New Mexico was the seemingly endless rows of shuttered businesses lining Route 66 here. Motels, gas stations, restaurants and on and on – you can sense the despair, and it’s impossible to remain unaware of the generalized poverty around you.
Fortunately, in certain areas you do see signs of a rebirth. Perhaps one day, thanks to the increasing number of tourists traveling Route 66, we’ll see prosperity return to the region as a whole.
In any event, as mentioned in the history of Route 66 written by our intrepid Auto123 colleague Benoit Charette, part of the magic of the route is the window it opens into the psyche of America and its different realities – and the existence of these poverty-stricken areas is one of those realities. No point ignoring it. We can only hope better days lie ahead.