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Route 66 Road Trip Day 8: Amarillo to Tucumcari

Day 8 of our Route 66 Road Trip from Amarillo to Tucumcari was my favorite day of our Route 66 trip! It included spray painting cars, delicious apple pie, and a long strip of amazing neon signs in my favorite town along the Mother Road!

Route 66 Road Trip Day 8: Amarillo to Tucumcari

We began Day 8 with breakfast at The Big Texan. We figured their dinner was good so might as well give breakfast a try, too! And it was great!

Then we got on the road for a couple of miles to Cadillac Ranch.

Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation by the group Ant Farm, which was comprised of one of my film professors at UC Santa Cruz, Chip Lord. What a small world sometimes. I wish I had known how cool he was when I was in his class. Anyhow, the installation is fucking awesome! You get to spray paint half buried cars! BYOSP. I had gold and pink spray paint stashed in the car all the way from California. Seriously, bring some! It’s fun! I was shocked at how many people did NOT have any spray paint with them. 

We backtracked to see the 2nd Amendment Cowboy which is at the “New Cadillac Ranch Gift Shop” but we didn’t go in, because I don’t think anyone should be profiting off of Cadillac Ranch. Plus I think they seriously need to calm down on that 2nd Amendment. Not to mention that I see no connection to the 2nd Amendment with Cadillac Ranch. It should be the 1st Amendment Cowboy. 

… and we backtracked to see the awesome Bates Motel sign. (Love the part about taxidermy!) 

Our next stop was at Dot’s Mini Museum. Dot has passed away and her family keeps all of her favorite collectibles in a couple rooms off the back of the house for travelers to stop in and see. There was no one there when we arrived, but the Mister took the welcome mat as proof that it was ok, simply knocked and walked on in. He’s a southern boy, so I guess that’s normal. I’m from Los Angeles, and don’t want to get shot, so I would never have done that.

Nearby was an awesome vintage sign, so of course I jumped out and snapped a photo.

And then, of course, we were off again! I loved these Route 66 signs painted on the road. 

You can see the Highway next to Route 66 in this photo.

And then we hit the halfway point of the trip and stopped at the aptly named Midpoint Cafe.

We split some apple pie and had a couple of cokes before heading next door to the Sunflower Station to meet the owner, Fran and her adorable dog, Brody. Fran used to be the owner of the Midpoint Cafe and she is the inspiration for the character Flo in the movie Cars. We wrote on her truck, took some photos of everything (including some older motels and signs), and then we hit the road again.

If you like cars, stop into Russell’s Travel Center and check out the free Car Museum.

Along Route 66 we drove by several dozen gas stations and stores that have seen better days. I didn’t photograph them all, but I did photograph a few groups.

Our stop for the night was Tucumcari, but we got into town early so I could photograph all the awesome motel signs.

We started in the deserted downtown area. Tucumcari could be such an awesome, wonderful place. It reminded me of Marfa, Texas, but minus the art, the food trucks, the foodies, etc. But the place is just deserted. There was an ice cream shop as we came into town called Ken’s Ice Cream and the Mister was really excited to go there, but no, the place is CLOSED. He couldn’t believe the ice cream shop had gone out of business. But then again, so did the Donut Shop! What kind of town doesn’t have an ice cream or donut shop? What do these people eat for dessert?

Here’s the deserted downtown area:

And then we checked into our room at the Blue Swallow Motel, one of the crown jewel motels of Route 66.


The Mister was then nice enough to drive me up and down Route 66 so I could photograph every single awesome motel/vintage sign. We then walked to a couple once the neons came on so I could photograph them AGAIN!! I know, I have a sickness. I was going to post them here, but it is an OBSCENE amount, so I will give them their own separate post, Route 66 Road Trip: Tucumcari.

We were planning to do dinner at La Cita, but the owner of the Blue Swallow told us to go to the Pow Wow Lounge, which is owned by the same owners as La Cita. The food was awesome.


Stay: The Blue Swallow815 E Tucumcari Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401, (575) 461-9849


Follow along on the rest of our 16 day Route 66 Road Trip:

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Bert Simonis

Friday 5th of September 2014

We would love to see some of your photos of the lit up neon signs. We're filming a documentary on the dying art of making neon signs and are currently planning a trip similar to yours in order to film as much of the surviving neon signage as we can. Your help is appreciated!


Friday 19th of September 2014

Bert, please let me know about your documentary when it comes out. I would love to see it! You can find all of my Route 66 posts here: Be sure to check out the Tucumcari, Albuquerque, and Gallup posts as they have the most neon.


Friday 25th of July 2014

I want to bring my own S.P.! Hope you listened to Bruce's Cadillac Ranch while you were there! Justin and I meant to go there-- it was the only reason we went to Amarillo. I completely drove past it. I think it was because I had a meat hangover from the Big Texan the night before AND thought I was cursed by the severed rattlesnake head badge that Justin bought in their gift shop. I guess we'll just have to go back. Your blog makes me miss Amurica.

Route 66: Tucumcari - Legal Miss Sunshine

Thursday 24th of July 2014

[…] can read┬ámore about the town in my previous┬áblog post, but this post is dedicated to Tucumcari’s bygone Mother Road era and her old motels and […]

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