Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Amarillo, Texas
We started our day by meeting with Ken & Melissa, two of their kids Alicia & Jericho, Ken’s friend Mark and Nicole to go to breakfast at a fine place called Jimmy’s Egg, where we met up with more e-group members: Jim Ross, Laurel Kane, Sue Preston, and Mark Potter. Jimmy’s Egg is much like a Denny’s or Perkin’s, it dispenses some fine bacon & eggs!
After our breakfast with the group Sunday morning (Thanks, Ken!!) we mosied west. We took a very slow, leisurely pace, staying off the interstate. We passed through Yukon (the hometown of Garth Brooks) and El Reno, where we saw that the Deluxe Inn was closed down. The rooms were being torn apart – old mattresses littered the parking lot! The Deluxe Inn was formerly the Big 8 Motel, and was unique in the fact that it was used in the 1988 movie Rain Man, with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. Filmmakers thought the motel and sign were perfect for a scene where the main characters stayed in Amarillo for the night. However, with the Big 8 being in El Reno, Oklahoma, they created a sign to hang on the motel touting it as “Amarillo’s Finest.” The owner decided to keep the sign and promote it’s appearance in Rain Man. The room they stayed in remained decorated as it was in the movie, and you could stay there, or at least just look and take pictures. Unfortunately, during Jennifer’s trip in August 2000, the Big 8 had changed hands, and become another non-descript, dumpy motel called The Deluxe Inn (a misnomer if ever there was one!). But now, it appears that they are tearing the place down, yet another example of how history takes a backseat to “progress.”
After we left El Reno, we decided to take the original alignment of Route 66, dating back from 1926 – 1933, which cut north through Calumet and Geary. From Geary, it meandered south as an unpaved, dirt alignment to the point where it crossed the South Canadian River at Bridgeport. However, the site of that river crossing, also known as the Key Bridge, was demolished in the 1950’s. So, we headed east and connected with a newer alignment of 66, which cut across the South Canadian River on a 3/4 mile long, 38 arch pony truss bridge, built in 1933, thus spelling demise of the Key Bridge. We continued on to Hydro, where we stopped to check out the now-closed “Lucille’s” historic gas station, dating back to the 1940’s. From there, we went on to Clinton, where we first stopped to check out the site of the former Pop Hick’s Restaurant. Pop Hick’s was located on Route 66 for a long time, and was featured in Michael Wallis’ video Journey Down Route 66. Jennifer was quite disappointed during her first trip upon discovering that Pop Hick’s had burned down a year earlier! Unfortunately, the current owners had no insurance, so they were unable to rebuild. We then toured the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, which is more than worth the $3 admission.
We had driven about 100 miles after 6 hours. So after we left Clinton, we jumped on I-40 through western Oklahoma and into Texas. We did get off the Interstate at the business routes (66) through Shamrock, McLean, Alanreed (where Pat nearly had a fatal encounter with a skunk with tail fully engaged), and Groom, where we visited the 190 foot-plus tall “Cross of the Plains,” much like the cross in Effingham, IL along I-70. We needed to jump back onto the Interstate to Amarillo where we got in around 10:00 PM. Going against our better judgment, we had a small steak dinner before they closed the doors at the Big Texan. The Big Texan is famous for offering a free 72oz. steak dinner if you can eat the steak, potato, salad, shrimp cocktail, and roll & butter within an hour. (www.bigtexan.com) If you don’t make it, the cost is about $60. Just so happened one gent was trying the challenge while we were there. He walked out $60 lighter!
Another fellow e-group member, and human resources director at the Big Texan, Becky Ransom, reserved an incredible room for us at the Big Texan Motel. The furniture is all rustic in appearance, including wooden doors covering the windows instead of drapes. It was a very nice stay!!
Slideshow of All Photos
For more details about a particular photo, click on it in the slideshow and it will open in my Flickr site.
[flickrslideshow acct_name=”roadtripmemories” id=”72157606260796699″ width=”500″]