After my dad and I took a detour into Kansas and found the gravesite of our civil war fightin’ ancestors, we again cracked open our Route 66 guidebook and realized we had a problem.  Too many pages in the book, not enough days to see it all.  We had to make a call.  It became obvious that we had to just blast right through Oklahoma.  Sorry about that Oklahoma.  Next time.

So, we rejoin our Route 66 adventure in Amarillo, Texas on a brutally hot and dry morning.  We were nearly out of gas and I pulled into a Shell station with the onboard computer bong-bonging its message about 10 miles to empty.  The Mustang is running a Steeda tune optimized for 93 octane, but Steeda assured me that I could dip down to 91 if necessary.  This pump topped out at 90 octane.  Shit.  Same deal at the Flying J across the street.  What the F, Texas?  Don’t y’all make this stuff?  Where’s the high octane bubblin’ crude?  A quick google search found a Chevron 8 miles up the road that had 91, and it was ethanol free, to boot.  Cool story, huh?  Gather around, grandkids!  I put a bottle of octane booster in the trunk just in case this happened again.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1944Undoubtedly the star of the show in Amarillo is the world famous Cadillac ranch.  In 1974, a bunch of San Francisco art hippies who called themselves the Ant Farm were instructed by a shadowy Texas billionaire to create something that would freak out the locals.  Cadillacs from the ’50s and ’60s were buried nose first in the dirt, facing west, and supposedly at the same angle as the pyramids in Egypt.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1938

My dad said it was the “darndest thing” he ever saw.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1947It has become a tradition to spray paint graffiti on the cars.  I wonder if all the paint is actually helping to preserve the metal underneath.  Most of the trim and parts were stolen decades ago.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1945The overspray in the air from the paint cans mixed with the treacherous cow dung infused mud was a real treat.  Bring the kids!

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1958In Texas Route 66 is a mix of driving on the old alignment and hopping on and off the modern interstate 40.  Putting our heads down through Oklahoma payed off as we found ourselves crossing the midpoint line on Historic 66 right at the midpoint of our trip.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1961Adrian is the exact geographical spot halfway between Chicago and Santa Monica.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1969Seeing that we had already come 1,139 miles made us suddenly very hungry.  Choices are slim in Adrian, but they’re good.  No Yelp required.  Just eat at the Midpoint Cafe, a former greasy spoon that is now a really nicely run gift shop and luncheonette.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1967You kind of expect to get some frozen crap in some of these places.  Not here.  Homemade chicken sandwich, homemade potato salad, and a Route beer, of course.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1972Next door, an elderly Ford F100 with a different kind of graffiti on it.  Thousands of autographs from Route 66ers.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1976A weatherbeaten old Chevy, near the midpoint in Adrian.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1992So long, Texas, hello New Mexico.  Now it’s getting really good.  This is the stuff you think of when you picture Route 66.  Old, dusty signs?  Check.  Campy murals?  Check.  Historic motels?  Check.  The town of Tucumcari has it all.  You feel like you’re back in time.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1994 Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2027I could have spent a whole day or two in Tucumcari just photographing the relics.  They’re everywhere.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1987The Blue Swallow Motel is one of the greatest motels on Route 66.  Sadly, our itinerary didn’t allow for us to spend the night.  It’s been continuously operated since 1939, is a registered historic building in New Mexico, has “100% refrigerated air”, and still has a bitchin’ Pontiac Chieftain out front.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1997It would be hard to get away with this level of absurd racism on a hood ornament these days, but you have to admit that the design is incredible.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-1999Indians abound on the Chieftain.  You think that’s fucked up?  It is.  Here’s something else that’s fucked up, especially in the legislated distraction free driving era we live in: the Chieftain could be ordered with a Remington Auto-Home in-car shaver.  Yes, an electric shaver.  In your car.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2089Down the road in Santa Rosa, we passed by Bozo’s Garage.  This place opened in 1980 to service cars traveling the route, especially classic and vintage cars.  Compared to the museum-ification of the historic Route 66 garages, it’s cool to see a place that exists because of the current era of Route 66 and not the bygone one.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2034The Bozo’s crew would eventually open an auto museum across the street, which we visited.  Out front was an Edsel that had wood bolted to it in an attempt to make it look stupid.  It worked!

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2084Inside the Route 66 Auto Museum, things got better.  I love the 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner, and they had a good one.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2056A beautiful 1935 La Salle.  A lot of the stuff in here was for sale, it felt kind of more like a classic car showroom that we paid $5 to visit.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2066A supposedly very rare Ford Thunderbird roadster.  Dechromed?

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2092We peeled out of Santa Rosa and hit the road again.  I was surprised with how lush and green some of New Mexico is.  Our goal for dinner tonight is Santa Fe, with bonus points for pulling in during sunset.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2111Not far from Santa Fe is a charming little town called Las Vegas, New Mexico.  This place was a boomtown when the railroad came here in 1880.  Supposedly a wild and sometimes lawless place that saw legends like Doc Holliday and Jesse James passing through with their crews.  They probably took shots at this fancy hotel.  The Plaza was built in 1881 and has figured in loads of cowboy movies over the years.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2119Las Vegas is full of cool old buildings, some restored, some original.  We only stopped for photos but could have stayed longer to enjoy it.  In the park in front of the Plaza Hotel, it looked like they were getting ready for a big biker meet.  Cool town.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2197Finally, my pops and I pulled into Santa Fe and its unique southwest style architecture, none of which you can see in this picture.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2224The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is an imposing, elegant landmark of downtown Santa Fe.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2221The cathedral dates back to 1869.  This modern sculpture out front depicts Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks.  She was a native American Mohawk Indian from New York state in the 1600s and the first North American Indian to be beatified (blessed) by the Catholic church.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2227After a killer dinner at the Santa Fe Shed (and a couple perfect margaritas) it was time to put the Mustang back on the road for one more hour to get to Albuquerque for the night.  This group of lovely mariachi ladies drew a huge crowd on the street and helped send us on our way.

Puppyknuckles-Mustang-USA-4-2234In Albuquerque we stayed at Monterey Non Smokers Motel, which we saw in a guidebook.  It’s got historic Route 66 roots, a much better sign than the EconoLodge across the street and it was cheap as hell.  But… back in Illinois, when we ate at the Chicken Basket, Pat told me that some of the classic motels have new ownership and have gone downhill.  This must be one of them.  I had 16 bug bites on my freaking legs when I woke up the next day.  Yeah.  For reals.  This place sucks, the Polish guy with the dog is a dick, and his shithole motel has either bedbugs or fleas.  We shoved all our clothes into washers at the next stop and hit the temperature setting that said “Fukushima”.  Luckily, we acquired no hitchhikers.

Anyway, so far, the trip has been amazing and there’s plenty more to come.  Next, we will be hanging in Albuquerque and getting super high, Walter White style.  Yes!!  What?  Stay tuned.

MUSTANG USA, CONTINUED

From New York To LA, And Back Again: A Mustang Road Trip

This July, I am going to drive from my home in Brooklyn, New York, to Los Angeles and back again.  It's just something I've always wanted to do.  It's a…

Mustang USA Part One: Into The Land Of Lincoln

It has begun.  The drive from the east coast (Brooklyn, to be exact) to the west coast (California, then up to the top of Idaho) and back again, in this…

Mustang USA Part Two: In Search Of Levi

In part one of the Mustang USA road trip, I drove straight from Brooklyn to Chicago to pick up papa Burnett and we headed down Route 66 in search of fun and/or…

Mustang USA Part Four: Getting High In Albuquerque

The Route 66 journey has hit high gear as my dad and I cruise into New Mexico.  After crossing the midpoint in Adrian, Texas it’s getting hotter, weirder and better…

Mustang USA Part Five: Standin’ On The Corner Of Holiday Road

In part five of the Route 66 journey, my dad and I were kicking up dust out of Texas and gobbling up Americana in the New Mexico desert like it was…

Mustang USA Part Six: Rust, Dust, And Spectacular Route 66

Following an incredible drive from Sedona into Flagstaff the previous evening, I feared that we had perhaps had reached the zenith of our trip.  Can it get better than a spectacular winding…

Mustang USA Part Seven: Finishing Off Route 66

My dad and I have been on the road together for eight days and well over 2,000 miles.  We have had such a good time that we wish that Route 66…

Mustang USA Part 8: Cruising The Pacific Coast Highway

Hey, here’s a fact for ya: California is really far away from New York City.  It’s easy to forget this.   Anyone can chug a margarita (or four) at Sammy Hagar’s restaurant in JFK, pass…

Mustang USA Part Nine: Wine Country To Mendocino

If you’ve been following the Mustang USA narrative, you’ll know that I wrapped up the Route 66 drive with my Dad and now a whole new Puppyknuckles crew has assembled…

Mustang USA Part Ten: From The Redwoods To Crater Lake

It might be borderline offensive to reveal this to those of you who are reading this at work, or facing the prospect of work, or aren’t near a bed, but upon…

Mustang USA Part Eleven: Rattlesnake Grade, Heading For Zootown

Part eleven?  Yes, friends, we are up to part eleven on the coast to coast Mustang USA road trip and Margo and I are still trying to get our asses…

Mustang USA Part Twelve: Yellowstone And Bluegrass

Welcome back to the absolute best dang road trip blog featuring a Ford Mustang you’re going to read all day, I presume.  Time to get into some real cowboy country, and that means…

Mustang USA Part 13: The Badlands And Beyond

Driving with my mom through Wyoming in part 12 of Mustang USA was pure entertainment.  It was like watching a prize fight between Yellowstone and the rest of the cowboy state for the title of…

Mustang USA Part 14: Racing Back To Brooklyn

Welcome to the final chapter of Mustang USA.  If you’ve been reading all 13 entries prior to this (get a job), you’ll know that nearly all of the 8,000+ miles…

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