Day 109. Friday, 16th August. From Pampa, via Amarillo in Texas to Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Another long, hot day. The drive from Pampa to Amarillo took us about an hour and 20 minutes. This was serious oil country with tanks, pipes and various installations and tankers and trains transporting oil from here. It is dead flat, as far as the eye can see.

Amarillo doesn’t seem, very inspiring as we drive in to the centre. A small downtown area with a few office blocks, we decide we will not stay and head onto Interstate 40. Dennis isn’t happy as the traffic is horrid, but I think it will decrease as we get out of the city. However, the next junction we come to we turn off. Dennis has decided he wants someone to have a look at the gearbox and diff. oils. After stopping and asking various people’s advice on where to find an oil changing facility, we managed to find a suitable place. They were very quick in topping up the oil and had finished before I had even had a chance to get a cup coffee. After refuelling we headed back to I-40. There is no easy alternative to this route, if we want to head due west. 

The scenery has changed again. It is still dead flat but instead of oil, it is wind power that is being harnessed. Literally thousands of windmills scattered among the crops and grassland.  

The traffic does reduce as we get out of the city, but there are still very many trucks and they drive fast. Faster than we do so they are constantly whooshing past us. From time to time we come across a road running parallel to us. There is no sign of this road on our maps. We then see a sign which says historic Route 66. I had been puzzled about Route 66 as I could not find it on our maps.  I had asked the owner of the Rockwell Park if interstate 40 had been Route 66. He pondered and said, “No, not really.” Now all has been revealed. It runs beside I-40 in places and in others, I-40 has taken it over.

Ang, I have started using your guide book to Route 66. The page for the sector immediately west from Amarillo, which we have driven today, has a hand written notation at the top. “DULL SECTION”. I have to agree. 

We turned off on to the old road and proceeded without the whooshing of trucks overtaking us for bout 25 miles. Various old diners, motels, gas stations all bearing the old  Route 66 signage appear from time to time. Suddenly the road comes to a dead end and we have to return to I40. We repeat this process a few times, but each section of the old road seems to get shorter and a couple of times we have to turn back as we cannot get through. The road just ends. 

By mid afternoon we cross from Texas into New Mexico. The scenery has changed again and it is now becoming more desert like in appearance. Much less vegetation, very brown and parched and in the distance we can see strange rocky mounds. We have also lost an hour as there is a time change at the New Mexico border.

We came into the town of Tucumcari, which has many signs of its Route 66 heritage. Diners, motels, gift shops etc. Just outside the town we stop at a couple of historical signs which tell us about the areas history and about Tucumcari Mountain, after which the town is named. The mountain is one of the strange shaped mounds we had seen in the distance and for years has been used as a marker for travellers along Route 66 to know they were reaching a place to stop for food and lodging.

We decided to carry on from Tucumcari and continue towards Albuquerque. After about 25 miles we came to Montoya, soon followed by Newkirk and Cuervo. None of thee little places had any accommodation. We kept going until we came to Santa Rosa, a small but quaint little place. We are now established at La Mesa Motel, which displays a large sign playing on its heritage being on Route 66. It is still too hot for camping. 

Feeling lazy and wanting a change, we drove down the road to a diner/Mexican Cantina which had been in existence since 1959. A friendly place, we had a good dinner, hamburger for me , chicken salad for Dennis. Feeling petty shattered we returned to the motel for an early night. Just down the road we passed a vintage car museum – we will have a look in there before we set off again tomorrow morning. Dennis seems to think you and Martin may have visited tis museum, Ang?

I had just settled down to write the blog when there was a knock on the door. It was a young English guy, Tony. He is a Land Rover fan. Having seen us this morning in Amarillo and driven past us on the road today, he was most surprised to find us staying in the same motel. His wife, Amy, came and joined us and we talked about our travels. Tony and Amy have been living and working in Ohio but have just given the up and are spending 2 and half months on a road trip aroundthe US, before deciding what to do next. They are heading in the same direction as us towards Grand Canyon, so our paths may cross again.


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