AZ To Amsterdam Chapter 2: The Grand Canyon to St. Louis

shamrock texas

We were living in Arizona when we decided to move to Amsterdam. Our flight to Amsterdam left from Boston, so we had to drive clear ‘cross the United States in the space of a few days. This is the story of those few days.  

After our criminally-quick hit of the Grand Canyon and a long day of pushing the pedal of our rental wagon east, we capped the first night of our AZ to Amsterdam trip with dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The ‘Querque was supposed to be our hotel stop for the evening, but after shuffling out of the “restaurant” in a deep-fried daze, we decided to push on for another couple of hours.

Call it wanting to end the day on a higher note than a basket of boneless wings.

The first stop of our final push was at an energy drink store that also sold gas for cars. I fueled up our car, and fueled myself up on some coffee. I say coffee, but I’m not entirely sure the sucrose spray that spits from those premium cappuccino machines is legally allowed to be called coffee. But since it’s the internet and you can say anything on here, I should be alright.

Oh, you didn’t know? That’s right, I go premium cappuccino machine at the gas station, baby.

You know the ones I’m talking about. The machines where you put your cup under, hit the button, and then according to the posted instruction, are supposed to release the button when your cup is 2/3rds full. Boy, did I fall for that one the first two or three times. Like a sucker, I let go of that button on the premium cappuccino machine when instructed, and guess what I ended up with?

A 2/3rds full cup of coffee.

Nowadays, I wait until I see the entire cup filled before I even think about releasing my finger from that rectangle, and I make no apologies with this strategy. While there might be a little spillage over the side, this collateral cappuccino damage is necessary to ensure I get a full cup of coffee for my hard-earned 79 cents, and I think we all agree this is a just cause.

With my 3/3rds full cup of coffee in my hand and a bag of sunflower seeds in my lap, we reentered the interstate and pressed on like champs until heavy eyelids forced us to land a couple hours later in Tucumcari, New Mexico. We glided into town around 2:30 in the morning, and as it turned out, just in time to end the evening on that high note we were looking for.

I entered the vestibule of the nearest Superb 8 Motel to the exit ramp, twirled my thumbs for a few minutes, then was greeted from behind the glass by a groggy gentleman sporting green hair, wearing makeup and dressed in a ladies nightgown (not that there is anything wrong with that).  He was also plainly high as a kite in flight.

So high in fact that that he could barely string together a sentence and looked at me with a mix of curiosity and fascination reminiscent of a primate behind the glass at the zoo. You could almost see the cogs grinding in his head trying to figure out where he was, why I was there, and what should happen next.

Remarkably, through a bit of primal body language, slurred speech, and hand motions, we managed to hammer out a deal for a room for the night. His motor skills also shockingly allowed him to hand me the keys, collect the cash, and then stagger off to the back of the office mumbling something about someone having a good night.

I don’t want to be harsh, but I don’t think that young man has much of a future at Superb 8.

I went out to car, let Julia and Holly know about my new buddy, and then we all scurried into the room for the night. We scampered off the next day at dawn with another full day ahead of us and a couple Route 66 attractions to knock off our list.

shamrock texas

Now, just to be clear, we weren’t “doing Route 66” per say, we were just shooting off the interstate to see a couple of the more noteworthy attractions and to get a little bit of the flavor of America’s Mother Road. Certainly, one day we would like to drive from Chicago to Santa Monica over the course of a few weeks and do the entire Route 66 right, but this wasn’t the time.

First up was Shamrock, Texas and its famous old Conoco gas station and adjoining U Drop Inn. Both of which were bustling landmarks on Route 66 when the route was rife with holiday-maker life. I was pleasantly surprised by Shamrock. I turned up “green”, not knowing anything about the town, but it seemed like a cute little place, and “i-rish” I could have spent some more time there if our schedule would have allowed. In fact, I consider myself “lucky” to have seen Shamrock!

The only negative thing we experienced in Shamrock was in the form of a verbal altercation with a fellow tourist. Some photographing hotshot didn’t appreciate the fact that we had the audacity to stand in front of the Conoco station, inadvertently ruining her picture, so barked at us to get out of the way. I responded with a phrase that cannot be repeated here or on any website.

Route 66 is dog eat dog, I’m telling you.

blue whale catoosa

We blew through Oklahoma except for a quick stop at the Blue Whale of Catoosa. What’s the Blue Whale of Catoosa you ask? Well, it’s a giant whale on a lake that some guy built for his kids to play on, but that’s not important right now. What is important is that people from all over the world stop and take pictures with it.

Like many of these Route 66 attractions, it’s not that the attraction itself is that spellbinding, it’s just that it offers such an insight into a space in time of America and travel that will be romanticized to the end of time.

We ended the day with a disgusting dinner at Wendy’s in Joplin, Missouri that may have single-handedly done more to turn us into the the 98% vegetarian eaters we are today than any other meal we’ve ever encountered. We pulled in to my parents place in St. Louis around midnight, covering nearly 1,700 miles in a day-and-a-half.

It was time to rest and relax for a brief two nights before pressing further east.

Chapter 1

Chapter 3


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