Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (well – not really trains)

My Facebook friends think that all I do is research small breakfast diners. I have a tendency to find new places just so I can sample their version of bacon-and-eggs. That seems to be all I post on FB anymore. Well today started not in a diner but in the backyard hideaway at our rental condo here in Amarillo. I really enjoyed the slow start to the day that included some grocery store cinnamon rolls and all the Folgers I could drink. The best part was the conversations I had with my wife without cell phones or any other distractions. Imagine what the world could be like if everyone put their cell phones away and actually talked to people again.

We had picked out a couple of spots to investigate on a hot day. We didn’t want to plan a long ride on the bike on a very hot day. As I get older the heat is harder and harder for me to take unfortunately. I still am grateful that at my age, I can still throw a leg over the machine and enjoy seeing America. The fact that my partner in life does this with me is fantastic.

First on the agenda was to go revisit the Cadillac Ranch. Jana was a little reluctant. The last time we were stopped by there was so much trash (empty spray paint cans and lids) it was hard to walk without kicking cans out of the way. What a change we found today. The site has really been cleaned up, the path to the cars has been widened and graveled, and trash cans added. There are also two new trailers there on the property. No more buying paint from a guy in an old van parked at the side of the road. You now can purchase a variety of colors from the owner’s son along with a variety of souvenirs. The second trailer offers a variety of hot and cold drinks. We congratulate the owner and his family on all the improvements. I will not include the story behind the Cadillacs – you can use Google for that.

Hey, I’m from Indiana and while I don’t live on a farm, I recognize farm crops. As we walked back from the Cadillacs I was looking at the adjacent field. “That is some really sad looking corn” I mentioned to Jana. It was green and had tassles but was only about 3 feet tall. Indiana corn this time of year is 7 or 8 feet tall. Must be a bad drought in Texas this year. Jana who frequently questions my judgement asked the property owner what the crop was. Turns out it was sorghum. That was my second guess – right after dwarf corn.

I worked really hard at creating the perfect GPS route to our next location. Not hard enough I guess. The Texas Air and Space Museum was not exactly where the GPS or I thought it was. We had driven onto the grounds of the Amarillo International Airport and couldn’t find what we were looking for. I don’t know about you but I’m not really comfortable in this day and age about just wandering around a functioning airport while security tries to figure out what we’re doing. I finally broke the man-code and asked an official looking person in a parking lot where it was. (I knew he was an official because he had a lanyard with a picture ID that said airport official on it.) I was amazed that he offered to jump in his truck and lead us to the spot. Thank you unknown airport official.

Once we saw the miniature sign confirming the location, we went inside. We were promptly greeted by a team of retirees who thanked us for volunteering. Huh????? It turns out that the museum was celebrating the arrival of one of the last flying B-25’s in the world. It will be on site for a week and they were rounding up volunteers to host the expected throngs of people who would come out to see this piece of history (as long as they could find the well hidden museum).

Our tour guide, Ron had some well practiced jokes as he led us through the hanger that served as the museum. He then took us outside (which is actually on the airport tarmac) and pointed out some of the flying machines they have. Not only did we get to see the B-25 but we saw a shuttle trainer (where astronauts learn to land the worlds largest glider – the American space shuttle). We saw a Viet Nam era helicopter and in the distance an Osprey was being wheeled out of hanger. I have found that aviation people are some of the most enthusiastic and informed hobbyists in the world. Ron was no exception. They didn’t let me fly anything which was a little disappointing.

The shuttle trainer has two sets of controls. One on the right for normal flying and one on the left which makes the plane fly like the enormous shuttle gliding in through the atmosphere. Amazing engineering.

After listening to Ron’s entire repertoire of jokes, we decided it was time to move on and find something cold to drink. If it also involved food, I wasn’t going to be disappointed. The route I had plotted took us through Amarillo’s Route 66 district. I thought it sounded cool but turned out to be a series of second hand stores or thrift shops or whatever you call them in your part of the world. We did find a place with cold drinks and good food, Bracero’s Mexican Bar and Grill right on old Route 66. The service was good and I ate enough food for two people.

We headed back to the condo to wait on the arrival of two of our friends from Indiana who we’ll spend the next couple of days with. I’m happy to say they pulled in right on schedule after a long hot day across I-40.

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