The halfway point of historic Route 66 is in the Texas town of Adrian. There, a sign proclaims, “Los Angeles, 1,139 miles,” beside the left tip of a double-pointed arrow. Near the right-pointing tip of the arrow it reads, “Chicago, 1,139 miles.” That makes Texas the right place to begin this second part of our survey of roadside attractions along the famed, fractured highway.
Immortalized in the title of a song by Bruce Springsteen, the Cadillac Ranch, located in Amarillo, is the perfect stop for lovers of cars and outrageous modern art. Those things go hand-in-hand, right? Like an evolution chart in three dimensions, its main feature evokes the “evolution” of the Cadillac via a row of ten successive models of the luxury sedan, buried nose-first into the desert. The evolution ends in 1974, however, when the work was completed by artist Stanley March 3 and members of the Ant Farm art collective.
Visitors to the ranch are encouraged to add to the artwork by paining and otherwise marking slogans and drawings on the permanently nosediving vehicles.
Some critics have called it an eyesore with little artistic merit, to which March replied:
“Art is a legalized form of insanity, and I do it very well.”
Another car-related attraction is the Phillips 66 station in McLean. Built in 1928, it is one the first two gas stations
built by America’s original gasoline company. The quaint structure was refurbished in the 1990s by the Old Route 66 Association of Texas.
Just a little northeast of Valentine you will find something really startling. Prada Marfa appears to be a small Prada shop in the middle of the desert. Completed in 2005, the structure is actually a “pop architectural land art project,” according to its artists, Elmgreen and Dragset. It cost $80,000 to build, with no resale value. The work is intended to be left unrepaired, allowing it to deteriorate, eventually into the landscape.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe celebrates the works and life of the American artist who capture the beauty of the American Southwest in her iconic works. The late artist once said the New Mexican landscape represented “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.”
On of the most breathtaking examples of Native American architecture and culture, the “Sky City” of the Acoma Pueblo sits high above the desert on a 360-foot mesa, 60 miles west of Albuquerque. The city of 300 or so structures is still occupied today by about 30 people, according to Wikipedia. Mostly, however, it exists now an inspiring tourist stop.
Time for another lunch break. Where better than at the Road Kill Cafe and Steakhouse in Seligman? Menu items include Flat Cat, Smear of Deer, German Shepherd Pie, Rigor Mortis Tortoise and Rack of Raccoon. Bon appetit!
The final stop before heading into California, with its more mainstream tourist stops, is Meteor Crater, just outside of Flagstaff. As big holes in the ground go, this one, made by a meteor falling to Earth about 50 million years ago, is pretty spectacular. It is a mile across, 2.4 miles around, and more than 550 feet deep.
These are only a few of the bizarre, interesting and inspiring roadside attractions to be encountered on a Route 66 road trip. Try its sometime. It is a unique journey that you will never forget.