Left Oklahoma City in rain which followed me for a quite a while. As soon as it stopped I got off the highway at a KOA Camping place with a restaurant, stores, etc etc. AND buffalo. The Oklahoma state animal. Two buffalo statues and two real live buffalo. In a big pen (I thought it might be a dog park until I saw the buffalo). Calli was beside herself.
Barking up a storm while wagging her tail and trying very hard to get to them. This behavior would prove to be a theme for the day. The fake buffalo was, she deemed, ok.
I had been told at the Oklahoma Information/Welcome building yesterday that Route 66 is well marked off 40. That is true and not true. Sometimes it just says 40 Business, which is code for old 66. I got off at Elk City and drove through. It was like driving into a different world. Lots of really old motels and abandoned stores.
And the Route 66 Museum, which, unfortunately was closed.
But I took a photo anyway:
I stopped at a park in Elk City and met some lovely people who told me how tricky it was to actually follow 66. Meanwhile Calli desperately tried to pull me into the adjacent pond in pursuit of the ducks, barking and wagging.
I contented myself with getting off at several Route 40 business exits (all route 66) in western Oklahoma and eastern Texas. The road quality itself reminded me of the old road out to Quogue when we were kids. It felt well worn and soothing. I guess I should think it was just a crappy road, but I liked it. I passed some kids playing outside their house in the very untownlike town of Erick, Oklahoma. They were in bathing suits and playing with a sprinkler and waved at me (I was the only car on the road).
Crossing into Texas was as bizarre as crossing into Oklahoma yesterday. A moment of silly realization that I am actually doing this crazy thing. And it’s fun. There is a beautiful rest stop pretty soon in Texas, where I got an immediate taste of “I love this” and “I hate this”. The I love this is easy:
Not a great photo (it’s better full size, so click on it). But wow. The landscape was breathtaking. I met a really nice woman driving home to California; she was also walking her dog. I told her what I was doing and she laughed because her family thought she was crazy to drive from around the Austin area to San Diego. She was having a blast, and, well, so am I.
So I held her dog while she went in to use the rest room and then she held Calli. When I got back out, Calli had sat down in the grass. The burr-filled grass. She was COVERED. I had never seen such burrs. Her mat in the car is now covered with them too and they are NOT coming out. (That is the I hate this part).
We drove past the Big Texan Steak house, home of the ‘free’ 72 oz steak (google it). I had told Jon and Conor I would eat there but as I drove past, I could see it was not dog friendly (excuse: it looked unappealing). Went to my hotel early (1:30) and the woman behind the desk told me to come back at 2:30 and my room would be ready.
Drove along Route 66 and ate at Smokey Joe’s (recommended by the Bring Fido app).
Great outside porch right next to 66, which, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, was great fun.
Lots of bikers (the motorized kind). Food was meh. But I was really hungry, and it was the first time I’d eaten anything other than nuts, kind bars and either ramen or lentils and couscous since I started (also to google: making lentils and couscous in a hotel room with only a water boiler-bring little baggies of spices). So even just ok food tasted good. I got a salad, even though Calli wanted a hamburger:
I might be missing the joke, but self-inflected?
After lunch we walked around 66 a bit, then went in search of the Botanical Gardens. They seemed closed but there was a park with a central pond around which lots of families were fishing and/or having a picnic. The walk around the pond was about 2 miles and I needed it. Both really pretty and really badly taken care of…astonishing amounts of trash. And full of water fowl. Cue buffalo and duck reaction from my traveling companion.
Next stop: Pet Smart, where the really nice groomer told me what kind of a comb I would need to buy to get the burrs out of Calli’s tail. He took a few out to make sure it would work. Worth the $13 (seriously? for a comb?).
So by now it’s 4:10 when we arrive back at the hotel and a different young (underline that young) woman at the desk tells me my room will not be ready for 2 hours. They are short-staffed, housekeeping is behind, the other woman did not tell her I had already tried to check in, no point in calling housekeeping, no manager on duty. I confess, dear reader, the nice little old lady who talked herself over the bridge in Little Rock morphed into an Aeschylean Fury. Ok. Not really. I tried to be nice. But I like the image, especially because I can try to imagine a Fury in Aeschylus going outside and calling the main La Quinta number and saying “hey, y’all, I’m staying at your hotel all around the country and this just won’t do.” Suddenly my room would be ready in 20 minutes. So I got back in the car, found a dog park to which the good lord had sent puppies that wanted to chase Calli, who, in turn, wanted to be chased.
My room, albeit cleaned, is pretty not so great. Old. Very Old. Smelly in a someone smoked in here in the not very distant past way (THANK YOU ANNIE FOR THE MRS. MYERS LAVENDER ROOM SPRAY), backing on to a room with at least a kindergarten class and a yappy yappy dog. But, it’s fine.
I’ve seen enough of Amarillo. Plus it’s supposed to rain. Can’t be raining in New Mexico.