Day 9: August 2, 2012
From McLean to Tucumcari
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Before leaving McLean, I made a stop at the Devil's Rope Museum.Most of the museum space is devoted to barbed wire (a.k.a, devil's rope) and its manufacture & use but there are other related displays and a section on Route 66. The steer statue is from the original Big Texan Steak House.

Here are a couple of shots each of two key structures in Alanreed; The Magnolia Gas Station & Cafe and the restored Kiser Super Service Station.

It seems that the last bit of US-66 to be paved in Texas was the bit between McLean and Jericho. A little rain made it a real mess and helped earn it the name Jericho Gap. The ten miles between Alanreed and what's left of Jericho is once again unpaved and can, once again, be treacherous. Although today was dry and probably a good day to do it, I did not drive the current Jericho Gap. I did drive the last few hundred yards after reaching the turnoff on pavement. There's not much left.

I got the panoramic shot of the Conway Bug Ranch when I crossed over the expressway to get gas. Then I got up close and personal and made my own tiny mark.

"Crocodile" Lile has moved his gallery since I was in Amarillo last year but tracking him down wasn't too tough. In fact, I got there kind of early and found the gallery not yet open for the day. I called "Croc" but told him to take his time. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the new digs are barely a block from the Golden Light Cafe and I figured I just walk down there and have a beer. It was around noon and I'd skipped breakfast so my beer quickly turned into a beer and a 'burger. That's a small order of fries and I left half of it behind after failing to get a couple of fellows I was chatting with to help me out. However, there was no visible sign of that 'burger when I left.

I thought "Croc" had reserved a spot for me but it turned out to just be luck that I got to park right in front of the gallery. The gallery features the work of several other artists along with "Croc"'s own work. Some of his latest work is a series of paintings based on Cadillac Ranch and incorporating actual paint chips from the half buried cars. I didn't get any pictures of them but they're definitely pretty cool. Check out "Croc"'s website.

The small mark I made at the Cadillac Ranch matches the one at the Bug Ranch though it's not quite as neat or readable. It may not be the cleverest tag but it has history from 1999 and 2003 going for it.

I drove to the western edge of Glenrio but had already decided that I would not be following the unpaved route through Endee.

This was my first stop at Russell's Truck Center since it opened in 2010 on the 1952-80 alignment of US-66. It has all the usual truck stuff but it also has a diner that really looks like a diner and a free car museum that has some very cool cars in it.

In Tucumcari, I stayed at the Blue Swallow for the second time and believe I can finally share some of the fascination others have with this place. There are a few changes, including some neon repairs, since my previous stay in 2007 but they don't account for my new appreciation. What does is the fact that new owners Kevin & Nancy Mueller share that fascination, too. These folks, like several others on Sixty-Six, aren't just innkeepers. They are hosts -- and fans. Check out my room here and my parking spot here. Get a better look at that cool bedspread here. It, like matching ones in every room, was a motel-warming present from a distant and slightly mysterious admirer.

This is Dean Kennedy from Indiana. He left home a day after I did and remained a day behind me until we both reached Stroud. Dean arrived at the Rock Cafe about a half hour after I left and that night surged ahead of me. Discovering that he was a little ahead of schedule, Dean allowed himself the luxury of a day without relocating and spent two nights at the Blue Swallow. That let us actually meet for the first time and even have dinner together down the street at Del's. Dean plans on following the Santa Fe loop so we may not meet again before Victorville but we'll be old friends by that point.

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