Route 66 - Amarillo by Morning

Arriving back in Amarillo, the weather was a bit crazy – heavily overcast for a few minutes and then clear skies for a while and back to overcast. It certainly added truth to the old statement, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.” After a bit of extra driving, we found a Chick-fil-a for Youngest-daughter to get her fix. In her opinion, it was one of the best meals we had on the whole trip!

The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
Of course, we couldn’t go through Amarillo without stopping to see the Big Texan Steak Ranch restaurant, home of the free 72-oz steak dinner – free that is if you can eat it all within 1 hour! Back when the Big Texan was first opened by Bob Lee, cowboys still worked the area ranches and came into town for good food and fun. One day, one of those cowboys came through the door saying he was so hungry he could eat the whole darned cow. Bob cooked up a 1-pound slab of meat and the cowboy finished it off saying that was just a start. Bob kept bringing out steaks until the cowboy finally called “uncle.” When all was said and done, he had eaten 4 1/2 pounds of meat plus a baked potato, a salad, a dinner roll and a shrimp cocktail. From that day on, Bob declared that if anyone could eat the same amount of grub in 1 hour, the meal would be free. Since then, thousands of people from all around the world have tried and most have failed. A few though, have made history.

Really big bull outside the
Big Texan Steak Ranch.
The oldest person to eat the whole meal within the 1-hour limit was a 69-year old grandmother. The youngest was an 11-year old boy. Klondike Bill, a very large, famous professional wrestler ate 2 meals in one hour! Frank Pastore, a professional pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, ate the dinner in 9 and 1/2 minutes on May 3, 1987. His record fastest time lasted for almost 21 years until Joey Chestnut, a competitive eating world champion arrived to try his luck the evening of March 24, 2008. He finished the entire meal in a mere 8 minutes and 52 seconds, a record which still stands.

Really big boot outside the Big Texan Steak
Ranch. It's true - everything is bigger in Texas!
One time, Ripley’s Believe It or Not brought in 6 pre-qualified competitive eaters. Only 1 finished within the time limit, but a 120-pound female reporter from the Wall Street Journal who was along covering the event managed to successfully complete the challenge. The unofficial fastest time was by a Bengal tiger in a cage in front of the restaurant. His meal was limited to the steak only and his technique was simple – sniff, lick, gulp! He finished in less than 90 seconds!

If you want to try, you should know the price of the meal is now $72.00 and you have to pay before you are served. If you are successful, they will refund your money plus give you a t-shirt, a souvenir mug and a certificate and your name goes on the wall of fame in the lobby. If you fail, you waddle away after a good meal, but lighter in your wallet.

Cowboy Muffler Man
Youngest-daughter became enamored by the “giants” we had been seeing along the way so when she found out about the Cowboy Muffler Man, we had to stop. He is in front of the Country Barn Steakhouse along I-40 between exits 64 & 65.

After Cowboy Muffler Man Giant, it was time to bid adieu to Amarillo and continue our journey west. More Route 66 sites were calling, including Adrian, which would mark the half-way point of our journey between Chicago and Santa Monica. Knowing we would be half-way done later in the day left both of us somewhere between excited and sad. It had been a great trip so far and we were certainly looking forward to seeing more sites and being able to say we traveled Route 66 from beginning to end.

Youngest-daughter and I had formed an even deeper bond than before, something I would never have thought possible, and I was having to admit, my baby girl had somehow, seemingly overnight, turned into this young lady with her own thoughts, her own views, a wonderful sense of humor and had even gone from being an “are we there yet? Are we there yet?” pain-in-the-neck into a delightful travel companion.  After a week on the road, I was starting to look forward to us getting back home to Mama-woman, our own beds, and the familiar surroundings of home, but still, I wasn’t thrilled it would soon be half over. We decided since we still had half the trip in front of us, the cup was half full and so, with smiles in our hearts, we concentrated on the road ahead.
Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
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