We were lucky enough to drive parts of the old Route 66 in and around the towns of Amarillo and Albuquerque which are right in the middle of this famed route. We are very glad we made the effort to drive along it and see some of the weird and wonderful offerings it has.
The first thing to mention about visiting Route 66 is that you really have to do some research into what you want to see and where it is going to be. The reason being is that most of it does not exist any more. For those who don't know Route 66 was a stretch of road between Chicago and LA that has become pretty much useless with the building of a two lane highway right next to it.
There are many small towns that used to be buzzing with tourists and passing trade when it was only one road. Sadly many of these towns have now literally died. As is the case with the ghost town Glenrio which we passed through that only has a population of 2!! Granted it probably only had about 10 beforehand but the strangely antique looking gas station and shop along the road tell the story. They were literally killed suddenly and left in an open casket as a motorway mausoleum.
I wanted to see three things along old Route 66 - big bright signs, ghost towns and crazy places to eat food. I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed. I saw some signs nearby the ghost town and then I got to eat at the famous Big Texan restaurant in Amarillo. I love big and brash so this place was perfect. It is very touristy but then again it is so Texan it almost doesn't feel too touristy. I loved the whole concept which boasts a motel, restaurant, bar, gift shop, candy bar, garden with play area and plenty of games that accept quarters.
The main draw for this restaurant is the 50 year old challenge which offers you a free 72 ounce steak if you can eat it in an hour (plus all the extra sides too of course). It is bonkers when you see all the food together and it should only be attempted by trained professionals or people that can afford the $70 price tag if you fail! I decided that because we had a few more hours to travel in the car that day I would give it a wide berth as it would not be fair on Lucy to have to put up with any backlash from such a challenge. I gladly opted for a $9 beef brisket sandwich and sides which was the size of Lucy's little head.
Route 66 left me with a few different feelings. Full from lunch. Tired from many bumpy parts. Sad that so many little communities have been wiped out over the years. But mostly happy because some locals have managed to keep the dream alive and transform parts of route 66 to make it bright and bold again, so tourists can imagine how cool it would have been years ago and many Americans can go to reminisce. A fun place in the world that deserves its rock 'n roll reputation.