July 27, 2022

Still Getting Our Kicks on Route 66! (National Parks Trip #3)

With this post, I’m finally back to documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  By the end of the previous installment in this series, our intrepid travelers (Alan, Kyra and I) had landed in Oklahoma City on Day #5.  We had already returned home twice – once for Kyra’s forgotten supply of contacts and once to buy a truck – and made a mad and successful dash to catch up with our planned itinerary in Oklahoma City.  All that and we hadn’t even made it to the West Coast yet!  Let’s pick up the story with our departure from OKC and some additional Route 66 highlights as we worked our way west.

After just a one night stop at the Oklahoma City West KOA, I was disappointed to see OKC in our rear view.  Our truck troubles had resulted in the loss of a day of R&R (Rest & Relaxation) in OKC, and I had been really looking forward to visiting the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.  Alas, that was not to be - not on this trip, anyway - but the museum remains a Bucket List item.

Pulling out of our site at the Oklahoma City West KOA

We worked our way across the state of Oklahoma on Interstate 40 and into the Texas panhandle.  The panhandle is comprised of the 26 northernmost counties in Texas, representing just over 10% of the state’s counties (a total of 254).  Texas is B-I-G, and we passed through just a sliver of it, but that sliver included one of our best stops along Historic Route 66.

Shamrock, Texas, is home to the Tower Building which was built in 1936 to house a gas station, a café and a retail establishment.  The space destined for retail ended up being overflow seating for the popular U Drop Inn Café.

The Tower Station was the first commercial business along the newly designated Route 66 in Shamrock, and it remains in beautiful condition, thanks to restoration efforts by the City of Shamrock.  These days it houses a Visitor Center and the Chamber of Commerce, but’s it’s also well-known as the inspiration for Ramone’s Body Shop in the movie “Cars.”

As I was scrolling through our photos from this trip, I came across one of a Pilot/Flying J billboard that advertised the price of regular gas at $1.939 per gallon.  I’ll bet you haven’t seen that price any time in recent months!  Even more demoralizing was the price on one of the original Conoco pumps.  Makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?

The next major attraction westbound along Historic Route 66 for us was Cadillac Ranch.  This piece of public art was created in the mid-70’s and is probably one of the most famous attractions on Route 66.  Cadillac Ranch is a row of 10 Cadillacs half-buried nose first in the ground and covered by graffiti (many times over).  Many travelers consider Cadillac Ranch a “must see,” but my logical, numbers-oriented brain was not capable of recognizing this as art; it told me “must not stop”.  So we didn’t.  But I did catch a photo on the fly for you.

Just not my cup of tea

We crossed the state line into New Mexico, hot on the trail of yet another classic stop on Historic Route 66.  The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico, is a beautifully maintained example of motels from a long ago era.  Staged with vintage cars and the old-fashioned lawn chairs I remember from my Aunt Helen’s yard, it’s stunning proof that the past lives on.

"100% Refrigerated Air" - love it!

Many small towns along Historic Route 66 dried up and faded away after the Interstate was built, and such was the case with Glenrio.  The town of Glenrio sits on the border of Texas and New Mexico.  In its heyday during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, travelers along Route 66 packed the town and supported its many businesses.  Now, despite the fact that the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Glenrio is pretty much a ghost town.  Its historic district consists of the old Route 66 road bed and 17 abandoned buildings.  In contrast, Tucumcari, has held on to its past with a tight grip and continues to draw tourists decades after the Interstate passed it by.

We would end our sixth day of travel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the Enchanted Trails RV Park.  Prior to tucking ourselves in for the night, though, we had one more stop to make.  Enjoying an evening meal at the Route 66 Diner in Albuquerque was a perfect way to wind down our long day of exploration along Historic Route 66.

"Jim's Bumper Crop" garden is right outside the kitchen door.

The interior was delightfully “retro,” the wait staff was happily cheerful, and the food was deliciously satisfying.  This little gem was pulled from my collection of “trip notes.”  Whenever I learn about an intriguing place to visit, a highly recommended restaurant or a campground that might suit us, I add that bit of info to a long document simply entitled, “Trip Notes.”  These tidbits are broken down by state and category and often become part of our itinerary whenever I plan a trip.  I would never remember all the good destinations and attractions I read about, so my Trip Notes document is an exceptionally handy and helpful resource.  At some point, I had made a note about this wonderful little diner, and all three of us ended up giving it a thumbs up.  It was a fitting way to cap off our day of adventure along Historic Route 66.

We arrived at Enchanted Trails RV Park late that evening for a one night stay, ending Day #6 on the road.  The sites were dirt, not very wide and lacked any privacy.  The park was perfectly fine for an overnight stop, but our neighbors were just a little too close for our comfort.  Would we stay there again?  Yes, for another one night stay while we were on the move.  The proximity to our neighbors would preclude anything longer than that.

That being said, you simply can’t beat the ambience at Enchanted Trails!  They have a number of vintage cars and travel trailers on display, and guests are able to tour any of the trailers after simply picking up a key at the office.  This park gets an A+ for maintaining the spirit of Historic Route 66!

Takes you back to days gone by, doesn't it?

In one of my previous posts on this West Coast National Parks trip, I had used the word eclectic to describe the trip and its itinerary.  Day #7, coming up in the next post, found us passing through the states of New Mexico and Arizona and landing in Nevada.  It was a jam-packed day that proved to be a perfect example of just how varied our activities were on this fun-filled expedition.  I hope you'll come along for the ride! 




  1. Now that your story reflects the territory of our own travels, you seem less like this mythical perfect family who is being detained against their will by Yankee captors. Welcome to the West--too bad you returned to captivity; it must have something to do with the Stockholm syndrome. It was gratifying to see your enjoyment of places we have frequented--except for the Route 66 Diner. If we tried it, it didn't make the "best" list, which would be the kiss of death. More than likely, we just didn't try it. Can't wait to hear more of your frontier tales and your encounter with Indians, etc.

    1. We are most definitely not a perfect family, Mike, mythical or otherwise. Banish the thought. We are, however, perfectly happy roadtrippers, always up for an adventure like this. I've loved the American West since I was a kid. Growing up with all of the western-themed TV shows that were so popular back then was probably a major influence. Horses and books by Louis L'Amour were favorites, too, so I always enjoy our western travels. Missing a visit to the Western Heritage Museum still rankles, but you know what that means - we'll be back!

  2. Hi, Mary, This was a fun read. We have driven across Texas and New Mexico about five times in recent years. The drive can be tedious and fatiguing at times, but sooner or later a hidden gem from days gone by will pop up and entertain you. My favorite was a Roadrunner statue in Fort Stockton, Texas. Please send some of that 100% refrigerated air down here. It's hot in the south! Have a great week! Joe

    1. Well, Joe, I have to tell you, it's hot up here in the northeast, too! But I'd be happy to share my 100% refrigerated air with you any time! We got into the habit of stopping for "the adventure of the day" when the kids were young to help break up those full days of driving. Even though the kids no longer roadtrip with us, Alan and I still enjoy the adventure of the day. All of those Route 66 stops felt kind of like a scavenger hunt - tons of fun!

  3. Our Route 66 road trip we took several years ago still ranks as one of the best. I can't believe you didn't get out to see Cadillac Ranch, but I guess to each their own :) I assume you passed up Slug Bug Ranch too. The kitschy, the better, I say. Looking forward to more trail tales!

    1. Happy to have you along for the ride! And yes, I always say to each his own. Cadillac Ranch is such a popular stop on Route 66 that it's obvious it appeals to many (okay, most) travelers. I'm sorry to say that Slug Bug Ranch wasn't on the itinerary either. Actually, there were a LOT of stops that didn't make the itinerary, more due to time than anything else. I can understand why your Route 66 trip is one of your favorites - so many unique attractions and so much history!

    2. I'm not sure why my comment showed up as "Anonymous"... this is Janis from RetirementallyChallenged. I am so happy we took the trip when we did... I'm afraid a lot more of the attractions will disappear over the years.

    3. Hi, Janis! Since Blogger changed the format for comments (several months ago?), I know there have been some issues, and not just on this blog. Some people are commenting as Anonymous and then signing their names at the end of their comment. At least it's a workaround.

      I wonder what will happen to these treasures when the Baby Boomers are no longer around. We were probably the ones traveling Route 66 with our families during its heyday. Here's hoping that the historical significance is passed down, understood and protected by younger generations!

  4. I have a notebook of "Trip Notes," too. :-) Mine is handwritten, which some of my more tech-savvy friends tease me about, LOL. What a fun Route 66 trip you planned! I recognize the Blue Swallow motel from our travels through Tucumcari. It's so photogenic, isn't it? We've never stayed at Enchanted Trails, but how cool that they let you tour the vintage trailers. I'll put that on our list.

    1. Laurel, my daily list of things to do is handwritten and I wouldn't have it any other way. I tried using technology for that, but the transition was, well, unsuccessful. I'll bet we all have our special system for trip planning. The format doesn't matter as long as the system works, right? Looking back on this trip, I'm realizing that a Route 66 road trip from one end to the other would be a really memorable experience. All I have to do now is figure out how to work it into the travel schedule.


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