Texas Route 66 - Bug Farm & Cadillac Ranch

With another day done (see previous entry), we jumped on I-40 and drove into Amarillo where we got a room at the Hampton Inn on I-40 East. We would have to drive a few miles back east in the morning to rejoin Route 66 where we left it in Conway. Our room was OK, the standard, decent, clean Hampton Inn room we've come to expect. Youngest-daughter was disappointed they had already ran out of cookies when we arrived and wouldn't be making more. As far as she is concerned, this place was not customer friendly and they will never get our business again. That's pretty much my opinion too, but mine was formed when I found the cheap, cheap toilet paper in the room and then later that night when we discovered the A/C was governed to not cool the room below about 72. Sorry, but I don't sleep very well when I have just a bed sheet covering me to my waist, the A/C turned down and I'm still sweating. Nope, we won't be staying here again.

The next morning after the "free" hotel breakfast, we were heading back to Conway when she spied a billboard advertising Chick-fil-a. Youngest-daughter is a Chick-fil-a fanatic and she hasn't had a Chick-fil-a fix in almost a week and there may not be another one until we get to California for all I know. How can any father turned down his baby girl when she looks at him with big, pleading eyes and says, "Please, Daddy, please?" We would be coming back to Amarillo for lunch at you know where.

Slug Bug Ranch in Conway, Texas
Covering the 18 miles from Amarillo to Conway didn't take long and we jumped off I-40 on exit 96 to stop at the Slug Bug Ranch. This is a quirky version of the more well known Cadillac Ranch, but is its own interesting roadside attraction. Five stripped down VW "Bugs" are buried nose down in the dirt next to an abandoned wooden building. There is also a 1930's car sitting next to the Bugs. Personal art work is encouraged so be sure to bring a spray can of paint to leave your mark!


1930's car in front of the heavily "tourist painted" 
abandoned building at Slug Bug Ranch

Bright multi-colored VW Bugs

The famous Cadillac Ranch outside
Amarillo, Texas
Getting back on Route 66, we headed west to Amarillo again to catch the famous Cadillac Ranch. Created in 1974 by members of an art group who called themselves The Ant Farm, Stanley Marsh 3 (a "unique" Texas millionaire if there ever was one) contracted with them to place the public art work on his property. The piece consists of what were, at the time of installation, 10 older, running used Cadillac automobiles representing a number of evolutions of the car line from 1949 to 1963. The cars are buried nose down at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Located in a large open field (N35 11 20.9 W101 59 15.1), they are hard to miss and one of the most unique roadside attractions in the world.

There is gravel on the side of the service road wide enough for a number of cars to be parked and an open gate through the property fence for easy entrance. The cars are located about 100 yards from the road and the path is dirt with no grass so don't even think about trudging out there if it has recently rained. Fortunately for us the ground was dry as Satan's mouth so we grabbed our camera's and headed across the field. The wind was blowing so hard we had to lean against it as we made our way toward the graffiti covered autos. There were several people already out there with spray cans of paint spraying their names or funny designs on the car carcasses. We didn't have any so we were going to just take a few "hey look at me here at the Cadillac Ranch" pictures and be on our way. However, a young couple was finishing up as we arrived and the girl asked Youngest-daughter if she needed some paint. It turned out to be a quart can of bright pink and they even gave her the brush they had used. I started taking my pictures and when Youngest-daughter took a break, I looked at her artwork and then painted my name on one of the cars.

A kaleidoscope of colors!
A while later I finished taking pictures and started to look around for Youngest-daughter when she came running up to me with tears in her eyes and panic on her face. I quickly saw the problem; her brand new Canon SLR camera, the one I had bought for her for this special trip, was covered in pink paint splashes! Fortunately, the lens cover was on so the lens was OK, but the camera body was a kaleidoscope of pink and black. She had forgotten a cardinal rule - when the wind is blowing hard, don't paint into it! I felt a flash of anger, but she was obviously extremely upset about it already so harsh words from me couldn't have made her feel worse. "OK," I said, "Let's go to the car and let me see what I can do to fix it."

Youngest-daughter making art.
"God Bless Us all"
I thought we could go into town and get some fingernail polish remover or a can of paint remover and maybe it wouldn't damage the finish of the camera. I had a pack of wet wipes in the truck and decided to use one to wipe off any paint which hadn't already dried. Much to my surprise, with a bit of elbow grease and concentrated rubbing, even the dried spots were coming off! So for the next 30 minutes, we sat in the truck, me scrubbing and watching my daughter's face transform from pure agony to guarded hopefulness, to cautious smile, to outright joy when I handed her camera back to her with not a pink mark on it and looking just like it did when she first took it out of the box. She almost jumped across the seat to give me a firm hug around the neck as she said, "You're the best daddy in the world and I love you so much! You are my hero!" Now that's going to bring a smile to my heart for a long, long time.

We left for town to find that Chick-fil-a, Youngest-daughter with a life lesson firmly learned, a big happy smile on her face, her camera cradled securely in her hands and her hero daddy, happy, contented, proud and firmly wrapped around her little finger. I'm glad she didn't ask me for a Corvette right then.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
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