Route 66 - Goodbye Texas

A failed Route 66 business in Vega
Leaving Amarillo, it was just a short 36 miles to the town of Vega. Vega (Spanish for "meadow") was established in 1903 and is now where more than 1/3 of all residents of Oldham County reside. That's not saying a lot since there are less than 900 people who make their homes there, but it is the center of government for the county and there were a number of folks going hither and yon in town. For the men, there is one rather interesting statistic about Vega - for every 100 females over the age of 18, there are fewer than 84 men. If you are single and can't seem to find a date, maybe you should try moving to Vega!

The Hickory Inn Cafe. For huge portions of
good grub at reasonable prices,
just follow the pickups!
There are a few abandoned vestiges of failed Route 66 business's in Vega as well as a few survivors such as the Vega Motel, opened in 1947 and the Hickory Inn Cafe located across the street from the motel. Ervin Pancoast constructed the Vega Court when leisure and travel first became a booming industry. There were 2 wings which contained 12 units and each had an open-front garage. Pancoast also built a small house in the center courtyard which served as an office and personal living quarters. He married the next year and he and his wife lived there running the business. Business was so good, the couple built 8 more units in 1953, each with a garage. Eventually, I-40 bypassed them and when business started to slow, after operating the motel for over 30 years, they sold the place in 1976. The current owners renamed it the Vega Motel and it continues to offer Mother Road travelers clean, comfortable rooms at reasonable prices.

The Vega Motel - 65 years and still
serving travelers.
Just 17 short miles down the road west from Vega lies the little town of Adrian, home to less than 200 residents. There's not really a lot to say about Adrian since there didn't seem to be anything at all happening while we were there. Even the wind had calmed and with only the occasional auto passing through on Route 66, it was eerily quiet. Adrian just happens to be mid-way between the start of Route 66 in Chicago and the end in Santa Monica and the Midpoint Cafe lies exactly 1,139 miles from both ends ( a sign in town proclaims, "If you are here, you are half-way there!"). Stopping for an afternoon feed at the Midpoint Cafe was the reason we spent time half-way there.


BFT (our Big Ford Truck) parked in front
of the  Midpoint Cafe & gift shop in
Adrian, Texas.
Originally built and opened in 1928 under the name of Zella's with one room and a dirt floor, the Midpoint Cafe has been serving guests since the day it opened. Even though it has changed owners a number of times and been known as different names through the years, the menu and the food have remained virtually the same. I can personally attest that the cheeseburger, while not the absolute best I've ever had, was still pretty darn good. However, for many years, it has been most famous for its pies. Each and every pie was hand-made by Gwen Snyder until arthritis forced her to quit baking several years ago. Joann H. had a pie recipe handed down to her by her grandmother which everyone simply raved about. She loved baking so when the owners asked if she would be interested, she agreed to take over the pie making duties.

Youngest-daughter at the Midpoint Café.
Joann used her handed down recipes, including one which her grandmother had called "no-fail pie crust." It was no-fail alright with many folks claiming it was the best pie crust in the world. The only problem was that Joann couldn't get the hang of making her crusts as beautiful as her grandmother did. Her crusts invariably turned out lumpy, misshapen and just plain ugly. Instead of taking the time to learn how to make her crusts a thing of beauty, she simply started calling her pies "ugly crust pies." After years of making pies, the crusts are a little less ugly, but they are still not pretty. When a pie tastes as good as these though, who really cares what it looks like?


The wonderful blue-haired young lady we
met in the  Midpoint cafe. We wish
you safe travels! 
After finishing off my cheeseburger (the small salad I had for lunch back in Amarillo wasn't enough to hold me over), Youngest-daughter and I were browsing the cafe's gift shop when a young lady and her male traveling companion came through the door, shrugged off their rather large back-packs and asked about a restroom so they could wash up before eating. This in itself would not have been out of the ordinary. What really drew my attention though, in addition to her beaming smile and sparkling eyes, was her hair - a bright blue! I'm usually not so sure about people who make themselves stand out so blatantly like this, but somehow it just seemed natural for her.

When she came back out, I struck up a conversation and showed her the troll who goes with me on all of my trips - a blue-haired little guy I call Lil Dude. This brought out her thousand-watt smile and she reached for Lil Dude and held him up to her own hair. She readily agreed I could snap a picture and post it in my blog, so here it is. She was a wonderful, fun person, I enjoyed meeting her, and I wish her all the best. In case you are interested, here's the link to our sister site where pictures of our troll family's travels are posted -Wheremytrollgoes.

The former post office in Glenrio.
Only one more stop remained before we left the Great State of Texas on our westward journey - Glenrio, a ghost town that straddles the Texas/New Mexico border. There once was a time when Glenrio was a quiet, but busy community with a hotel, a land office, a hardware store, a grocery store, several cafe's, a couple of service stations and it's own newspaper, the Glenrio Tribune. What it did not have though, at least on the Texas side, were bars or liquor stores. Residing in Deaf Smith County, these were illegal since the county was dry. This wasn't much of a problem though as the New Mexico side of town was wet and had more than its share of places to acquire adult beverages. A good amount of business was conducted in New Mexico by the Texas residents with the New Mexicans reciprocating with purchases of gasoline on the Texas side. With the higher gasoline taxes in New Mexico, all of the service stations were located on the Texas side of town. It was a perfectly fine arrangement which worked for years. Unfortunately, when I-40 was completed and bypassed Glenrio, traffic totally dried up and the busy little town was quickly abandoned.

On a side note, when the Grapes of Wrath movie was being filmed, back when the town was still alive and busy, the crew spent 3 weeks in Glenrio filming important scenes in and around the town.
 
I think this may have been the office of a
motel or tourist court. If you know,

please let me know!
Today, you can have a picnic on the wind-blown original Route 66 roadway through town and not worry about moving out of the way for a car. Walking around the ruins was strange with a feeling of unease somehow. There was not a sound except for the wind blowing in the trees. No birds flew overhead or chirped from the rafters of the broken-glassed buildings; no dogs barked, not even a lizard scurried away into the bushes as I made my way along the road taking a few pictures. The whole place had a weird, forgotten feel about it. We didn't stay long.



The former Longhorn Motel & Cafe. It once was
promoted with a sign that read "First stop in Texas"
on one side and "Last stop in Texas" on the other.


"The land rolled like great stationary ground swells. Wildorado and Vega and Boise and Glenrio.
That's the end of Texas."
- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state: