After a sleepless and windy night, Liz told me at about 8ish that we were in the middle of a high wind warning. With the winds getting more ferocious by the second, we decided that we needed to take the tent down as soon as possible, before the poles snapped. It quickly became clear that it was only our weight holding the tent down, as it tried to lift off the moment we were out of it. While an audience of cows was regarding us with interest from the neighbouring field, Liz clung on to the tent, while I tried to remove the poles. Eventually we managed to get the poles out, and took the whole lot into the bathrooms to fold it away; as there was no way we would be able to do so outside. By the time we had managed to pack the tent and were ready to go, it was just after 10, and the owners let us sit in the restaurant area to use the computer before we got on the road. We discovered that the high winds would follow us for most of the day and that most people were staying off the roads, but with little other option than to stay at the campsite another night, we carried on. Luckily for us, our next destination, Elk City, was not too far away. Once we had battled our way through the high winds and confusing road works, we eventually pulled up outside the National Route 66 Museum.

At the National Route 66 Museum

We were first directed to the transport section of the museum, which featured a number of vehicles, in varying states of completeness. The front half of a pink Cadillac featured a video of Route 66 when you pressed the accelerator, this was a good idea, but they had picked a very dull part of the route and since we are driving it anyway, we saw little point in waiting for the whole thing to finish. However, we did enjoy sitting in the Cadillac and wished that we could have done our trip in a nice old car, although one issue for me would have been reaching the pedals as the seat did not appear to move… the trials and tribulations of being a midget. Part of another car was parked up at a “drive in” and you could select film clips, which was good fun. There was also a fireman’s pole at the back of the museum, which we both had a go on. We then crossed the “bridge” (made to look like a 1920’s bridge, but actually flat on the ground) to the main part of the museum. Although interesting, this part of the museum was disappointingly small as it took us through brief representations of each of the eight states that Route 66 passes through, complete with old style gas stations and Burma Shave signs. Don’t get me wrong, what they had was very interesting, but given that it was the “National” Route 66 museum, I had expected something a little bigger and more in depth. After a brief trip to the gift shop for postcards we braved the high winds once again to get back to the car and continue on our way. The next few towns were all but deserted save for rising clouds of red dust and occasional tumbleweed blowing across in front of us.

Texola

Our final “attraction” in Oklahoma came in the border town of Texola, which is apparently home to more dogs than it is people. This attraction came in the form of a sign; “There’s no place like this place anywhere near this place so this must be the place.” Liz pulled over and I quickly jumped out to take the photo, with the force of the wind nearly knocking me off my feet. A few moments later we crossed the state line back intoTexas, first destination, Shamrock. Arriving in Shamrock, we were unsurprised to see how much the town plays up to its name; everything was green, or covered in leprechauns or “Irish”. We pulled in to take pictures at a restored gas station, another place/thing that is represented in the movie “Cars”, when I was returning to the car, I noticed that something was hanging down underneath it. Cue Liz climbing under the car, with the engine still running, to have a look. Something we had driven over, blown onto the road by the wind, has broken the plastic casing to something under the car, meaning that the casing, and the wires that run through it are hanging down. Apart from the obvious, this was a problem because we were in a small town in the middle of nowhere and the power was out due to the wind, which meant that all the shops were closed. We eventually found a gas station on the outskirts of town that had power and sold duct tape. Liz climbed back under the car, this time with the engine off, while I handed her strips of tape. Luckily, the Ents motto seems to be true (If you can’t fix it with gaffa tape then you haven’t used enough!) and it is holding out, a good thing since the nearest Alamo is about a week away. Drama over, or at least postponed for now, we continued on to McLean, once known as the “Uplift City” for its women’s underwear factory, now home to the Devil’s Rope (barbed wire) and Route 66 Museum.

Not the most comfortable looking hat - Devils Rope Museum

While we were a bit Route 66 museumed out by this point, the museum was free, and a barbed wire museum seemed too off the wall to pass up. It was very interesting, and I truly had no idea how many different kinds of barbed wire there were. I also didn’t know that there are rare kinds and that people collect it. As well as showcasing different types, the museum discussed the history and manufacture of barbed wire. Perhaps this is knowledge that I don’t really need to live my life, but personally I feel enriched! Although small, the Route 66 museum was fun, and had lots of funny Burma Shave signs.

Burma Shave signs

After being given free postcards and a “Don’t Mess with Texas” bumper sticker each, the lady running the museum told us to drive safely and we were back on the road again. We joined the interstate for a short while and were horrified to see several overturned trucks, and later on, we were surprised to see how many trucks and RV’s were sheltering in the underpasses from the weather. From here it was pretty much straight on to Amarillo (please stop singing the song, we are very bored of it now…) via a leaning water tower and giant cross in Groom. Arriving in Amarillo, we went to see if there was an Alamo at the airport (no luck) before finding a Starbucks to use their Wifi, since an unfortunate victim of the high winds had been our list of recommended motels. We eventually found one that looked ok, and drove the half mile down the road to reach it. We were brave enough to ask to check the room before paying and were pleased to find that the room was clean so paid up for the night. After a few hours of chilling out, we headed back out to the Big Texan Steak Ranch, home to the free 72oz steak dinner (if eaten within 1 hour). It also has its own motel, complete with Texas-shaped pool, which unfortunately was a little expensive for our budget. I know it seems a little mean, taking a vegetarian to a steak restaurant, but this one is so famous that Liz persuaded me that it was not to be missed. After a brief glance over the menu to check if there was anything that Liz could eat, we were seated in the huge dining area. Our server was really nice, and although a little taken aback by a vegetarian, was very helpful. Liz managed to make up for her lack of steak with a 32oz mug of beer and a couple of side dishes, while I splashed out on a steak. (Only 6oz though, I didn’t think that I could quite cope with 72oz!) The food was amazing, but it was really the atmosphere that made the place so memorable.

The Big Texan Steak Ranch

The tables were quite closely packed, with wooden booths around the edges of the room, as well as a mezzanine level above. The theme, naturally, was the Wild West and in addition to this there were lots of animal heads mounted on the wall. The focal point of the room however, was a 6 seated table on a dais at the front, with 6 timers set above it. It was here that anyone attempting the 72oz steak dinner challenge would sit, with the timer counting down the time remaining of their hour. While we were there one person, a teenage boy, attempted it, but did not manage to finish. After being serenaded at our table by the slightly elderly musicians, we paid our bill, visited the ubiquitous gift shop and headed back to the motel. I don’t think I will need to eat again… hmmm, where have I heard that before?!

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