Amarillo is slightly less than the halfway point between home and the Cousin’s Reunion in Beaufort South Carolina. From home to Amarillo is about 19 hours and 39 minutes according to Google Maps and we have about 20 hours and 12 minutes to go to get to the Reunion (however, both of these times are by the most direct route, a route we are rarely on). When we checked into our hotel in Amarillo, the guy in front of us, an older gentleman with four young disciples, asked if the rooms had a Bible. The young woman at the registration desk said that all the rooms should have Bibles, but, if it didn’t, they had extra Bibles at the main desk. It got me thinking, Wouldn’t a person who is basing a room choice on the availability of Bibles, have one of his own.? Is he with the Bible police checking on the Hotel’s compliance? This morning, when we checked out at about 11:30, it was drizzling – actually, what I would call a driving drizzle with a fierce Texas plains wind driving the drizzle – and it smelled like a very large feedlot. In a way, that sums up our Amarillo experience which was only a short stop on the road to somewhere else.
Before leaving Amarillo, we did stop at a small private park north-east of the actual city. The park, Wildcat Bluff, is a square mile sample of untouched grasslands and is the kind of place that would be a County or State Park in California. Driving around Amarillo, which seemed to be mostly Frontage Roads, the land looks uninteresting with civilization sitting uncomfortably on it, but when we out and walked on the land, it was lovely. As an aside, Civilization does not sit easily in Drylands and the drier, the worse it looks; the people are usually on the poor side of the spectrum and there is no place to hide Civilization’s detritus, which I think is one of the reasons many people find the Desert ugly. End aside. Walking around Wildcat Bluff, the wind was the major experience, but in the car, on Interstate 40, the temperature is a sweet 72° and the landscape, with a shocking number of new windmills, passed by as if we were watching it on TV.
I am not a big fan of Texas, having been stationed there for a long year and a half, but on the road to Tulsa, while still very much in Texas, we ran into the best rest stop in the known universe. I’m not kidding, it is a stellar rest stop. It even has a tornado shelter.
Driving east across the Texas panhandle, we pass over rolling hills. They don’t photograph well, but it is very nice driving except that we have no idea what the 75-speed limit means. Will we be jailed if we drive 85? Are we OK driving 79?
As we drive East, the time in relation to the sun changes, when we entered Texas, we switched to Central Daylight Time which we will live under until we leave Memphis but that is not the whole story. When we got to Amarillo, sunset was at 7:30, in Memphis, it was at 6:42 and, in Tulsa where this is being written, it is at 7:04. Crossing into Oklahoma, the land seems to change almost instantly, part of it is that Oklahoma seems to water their freeways and part of it is that the landscape really does change as we drop down from the Rockies, across the eastern alluvial fan from the Rockies, and down into the greater Mississippi Valley. We stop for gas soon after crossing the border into Oklahoma – so far Texas is the only state we have passed through without getting gas, a fact that tickles both Michele and me as being, somehow, ironic – and we give up on finding any restaurant other than McDonald’s in what seems to be the largest food desert on the continent.
When we get off the main highway and drive down back roads, Oklahoma starts to feel very different from Texas. As the sun gets low, we go through Gutherie OK – just in time to see them finish tearing down the tents from a Wine and Arts Fair – and finally, into Tulsa in the dark.