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The Big Texan Inn and the Cadillac Ranch

The Big Texan Motel

…When that sun is high in that Texas sky
I’ll be bucking at the county fair.
Amarillo by morning, Amarillo I’ll be there. 
— From Straight and Amarillo By Morning

Big Texan Steak Ranch Sign

Another summer has come gone. I’d be a liar if I didn’t confess how sad it’s made me. The kids are all back in school, and the lazy summer mornings have disappeared faster than dew in a dust bowl.

On the last day of school, I pulled out of the carpool line full of hopes and plans for what the next three months would mean to our family. I promised the kids adventures and activities. We’d go to Andy’s Alligator or Frontier City at least once. We’d have picnics and we’d go to the spray grounds. We’d paint stuff and have at least one puppet show. But, in the end, I just worked a lot and we didn’t do half the things I wanted to do.

If I think about all this too much, I’m pressed into self-loathing. And, it’s not even guilted I’m overwhelmed with, but disappointment. How did three months slip away overnight?  I blinked and it was August and I was back in the carpool line at school. Lunch boxes, backpacks uniforms, and the endless search for clean, white socks.

Earlier this week, I posted something on Facebook about our melancholy transition back-to-school. My friend Julie posted the most awesome response. I screenshotted it and taped it to my desk at my office because I want to remember the perspective she loaned me:

“You sound just like my momma. She cried the first week of school, always; probably still gets sad. Checked me out at least once a month at noon on Fridays so we could see the matinee new release. As a result, I always knew it was a big world out there, away from popular kids and test scores. My life is better because we knew they wanted to run away as bad as we did.”

I loved that part about popular kids and test scores, especially since last week, Juliette, my eldest daughter, started the once-in-a-lifetime adventure of high school. She’s off to a tremendous start, and this Friday, I’m taking her and her friends to their first high school football game.

The Super Bridgy has now entered Kindergarten. Each night at bedtime I hold her close and sing her lullabies and wonder at what age do I have to stop kissing her belly? And, Sully, my boy. He’s a big first grader now with big-kid-teeth! I cherish each of them and treasure their innocence and wonder. And, I’m looking forward to fall: autumn colors, Halloween costumes, Oktoberfest and cool-weather pansies.

At this point in my journey of motherhood, I’m reminded of a poem my father wrote in November of 1979. I had just turned 12. Here is a portion of it:

The Only Wealth

…No worldly goods are mine to hold; 
   No stocks, no bonds, no gold!
Such fortunes have eluded me
   For others to unfold…

Whatever times for me, remains —
   Whatever winds may blow…
I treasure each ones’ cherished name…
   They are the wealth I know!

Here are some pictures to commemorate Summer 2012. We took the kids on a journey down Old Route 66. I had been dreaming all summer of a roadside motel. We found it and more at the Big Texan in Amarillo.

We swam across Texas this summer at the Big Texan Inn, Amarillo, off Route 66.

We swam across Texas this summer at the Big Texan Inn, Amarillo, off Route 66.

The hotel is decorated like a Western town, bright colors to spare. The pool was terrific.

The hotel is decorated like a Western town, bright colors to spare. The pool was terrific.

After Amarillo, we headed to Tucumcari, New Mexico, where we stayed in the Blue Swallow Motel. I blogged about that trip in the following posts:

The Historic Blue Swallow Motel
The Lasso Motel, Route 66
Cactus RV Park on Route 66
Chrome Goddess Hood Ornaments on Route 66

Pictures of the Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo

On the way back home, we stopped by the famous Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo. There were cans of leftover spray paint all over the place, and the kids had fun leaving their mark. It was unreal how much paint was glommed onto them. It looked like they were dripping.

Juliette spray-painted her nickname, Juey, in purple on one of the cars.

Juliette spray-painted her nickname, Juey, in purple on one of the cars.

Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation that was created in 1974 by a group of hippie artists, Ant Farm, who hailed from San Francisco. According to the website, Roadside America.com, Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh III wanted to baffle the locals with a unique piece of public art. Today, it’s become a ritual stop on the Mother Road. It seems to grow more and more popular with each passing year.

From Roadside America:

The smell of spray paint hits you from a hundred yards away; the sound of voices chattering in French, German, and UK English makes this one of the most polyglot places between the UN and Las Vegas.

During our visit, we ran into a German wearing suede leather breeches – real-life lederhosen. We met many foreigners on our trip including three guys from Ireland and a couple from Australia.

Cadillac Ranch is also a graffiti permission zone. Ha! Visitors are encouraged to spray paint the cars. Periodically, they are repainted with solid colors. I don’t know how they stand up under the weight of all that paint.

Route 66 is very popular with Europeans. This German looks awesome in his lederhosen!

Route 66 is very popular with Europeans. This German looks awesome in his lederhosen!

The Super Bridgy loved the Cadillac Ranch. Next time, I'll be ready with some Springsteen

The Super Bridgy loved the Cadillac Ranch. Next time, I’ll be ready with some Springsteen

I remember blowing by the Cadillac Ranch (at 55 mph, mind you) twice as a kid growing up in the 1970s. This would have been about two or three years after the installation was created. We never stopped by to see it, but I remember my dad thinking it was a complete waste of perfectly good Cadillacs.

The Cadillac Ranch on the West Texas landscape: artistic and austere at the same time.

The Cadillac Ranch on the West Texas landscape: artistic and austere at the same time.

 

Sullivan loves to follow the rules. He was a little shy about painting graffiti on the cars.

Sullivan loves to follow the rules. He was a little shy about painting graffiti on the cars.

Officially, there’s still almost a month of summer left, but with the kids back in school, we’ve disposed of the blow-up pool and packed away our beach towels. We’re looking forward to fall and our next trip to a roadside motel: The Joy Motel in Eureka Springs. Before you know it, autumn will be here – our chance at a second spring “when every leaf is a flower.”

Have you ever visited the Big Texan or Cadillac Ranch?
Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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3 Comments

  1. Lizzie Evans

    I always thought I could go on a route 66 trip. Then again, I figured I can’t do that without traversing the whole route on an RV or a truck, neither of which I have.

  2. Rose Byrd

    So wonderful to enter a new school year and early autumn with such fabulous summer memories to treasure and share!

  3. Andi Fisher

    Ii think it is okay to be sad about undone plans, I certainly am all the time. I really, really want to do a Route 66 trip – these posts inspire me!

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