Click for larger imageDear New Mexico:  You suck.

To be fair, you were delightful at first.  Your northern bits near Colorado are truly attractive.  I rapidly learned, however, that anything further south is truly dismal.

The person in charge of your roadways should be axed immediately.  By axed I do not mean terminated.  I mean dragged from the statehouse and publicly chopped into small pieces.  Who designs a road with speed limits which vary every quarter mile?  Who made the decision to allow pointless road construction every third mile?  Who permits house movers to cover both lanes of a highway during the busiest moment of the day?  Why have a 75 mile per hour speed limit on interstate freeways when ignorant construction workers keep traffic at 25?

Click for larger imagePoverty just is never pretty and I know New Mexico is a poor state.  Even so, isn't there a law governing the maximum number of mobile homes in a single square mile?    How is it that your residents can afford $30,000 automobiles to park outside rusting trailers but cannot afford a reasonable permanent structure? 

Thankfully we have your wide open spaces for permanent storage of radioactive waste.  It keeps your otherwise unemployable masses employed and provides a beacon for wayward aliens. 

Adios, New Mexico.

Yeah! Texas! 

Click for larger imageI introduced Erik to his very first Stuckey's today.  After a brief stop to view the Pecan Logs, we went across the interstate to check out the Trucker's Spa, a business formerly offering "Table Showers and Dry Rub-downs".  I'm still not certain what a table shower is, but I suspect it is followed with ping pong balls.

We headed eastward across the Texas Panhandle, driving through a heavy summer downpour, beefy Texas wind and a odd town named "Bushland".  Judging from the number of signs and bumper stickers, Jesus Saves quite a bit in Texas, which may explain why he spends so much time here.

Click for larger imageAmarillo, Texas is a town best described as hotel, car dealer, chain restaurant, hotel, hotel, hotel, chain restaurant, truck stop, repeat.  The local Hooter's restaurant features a Hooter's Horse and the Outback Steakhouse competes with thirty local variations of the same theme (minus the Down Under Accent).

Our goal for the day is the Big Texas Steak House and Hotel.  The signs for Big Texas started way back in New Mexico - 159 miles before Amarillo.  Then again at 100 miles, 50 miles, 25 miles and 2 miles.  Across the open plain of Amarillo a giant Cowboy stands guard over the hotel fashioned to look a bit like the old west never did. 

Click for larger imageA couch constructed of bull horns and black-and-white cow hide, a coffee table made from horseshoes, and a front desk attendant weighing no less than three hundred fifty pounds fill the lobby.  I anticipate a "Y'all enjoy, now, ya hear?" I'm disappointed when the attendant makes no effort at an accent.  Her shirt reads:  "Property of the Big Texan Steakhouse".

Our second floor room features cowboy motif headboards, a mural covering most of the wall depicting cattle herding and oil drilling, swinging double doors leading to the bathroom and real wooden shutters instead of curtains.  From the balcony we can look across the big-rigs in the parking lot to a Texas-shaped pool and the optional Horse Hotel (where your horse can spend the evening in equal comfort). 

Click for larger imageErik doesn't fully understand the value of kitsch and repeatedly seems to indicate he hopes this lodging is a joke and I'll soon whisk him to the local mid-level business hotel.  Ah, but the fun has just begun!  Despite my best efforts to convince Erik we should wear our wigs to dinner at the restaurant, he refuses. 

We walk over to the restaurant, although we need not.  If you are too big, too lazy or just don't want to walk the thirty feet, a shuttle continuously circles the parking lot and delivers diners to the front door of the dining room.

The Big Texan Steakhouse offers a free 72 ounce steak to anyone who can eat this monster slab of beef in under sixty minutes.  This promotion draws crowds of people not brave enough to attempt the dare, but brave enough to watch.  The giant dining room is cavernous and fitted with every piece of tasteless furniture available in the surrounding three counties.  Mounted heads from various endangered species hang in dusty silence above the din of the crowd and wailing of the local band.  Hunky young Texans in tight jeans, clunky boots and cowboy hats are waiters.  We seem to score the lone female waitress who, although cute, is not nearly as desirable as a blonde with nice shoulders working two tables over.

Click for larger imageAfter a dinner of beef, potatoes, tomatoes, beer, soda and sundaes, it is time for us to retire for the evening.  One the way out, Erik spies a shooting gallery.  It seems appropriate to practice killing after a dinner at the steakhouse, so I grab a rifle and start firing.  I haven't fired a rifle since my Navy days (if an AR-17 counts as a rifle), but I hit every target the first time.  A big hat and a swagger, and I suppose I'm qualified to live in Texas.

Texas is so very gay.  Everything here is done larger than life, tragically campy, with more paint and glitter than is necessary.  The girls have big hair and the boys wear tight jeans.  If it wasn't flat, dreadfully lacking in architecture, and filled with violent rednecks, queers would abandon San Francisco and move east before the end of the week.

Click for larger imageBack in our hotel room, Erik discovers an ad for Sugar Daddy Tattoo.  We decide tomorrow we have one last stop before we head to Oklahoma City (which, reportedly, is supposedly the San Francisco of the Midwest.  I suspect this boast is similar to comparing Pittsburgh to Paris, but I will reserve judgment for now).

Private note to Leigh:  I still have your Pecan Log from 2003 in the back of my car.  Expect to receive it in the mail someday...

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House movers, New Mexico
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Alien landing strip, New Mexico
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Clines Corners, New Mexico
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Erik at Stuckey's
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Trucker's Spa
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Big Texan sign
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Big Texan Hotel
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Inside Big Texan Hotel
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Big Texan Steak Ranch
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Hooter's Horse
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Big Texan Steak Ranch
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Texas Flags and Boot
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Bang!  You're a redneck!
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Erik & 72 Ounce Steak
Road Trip 2004 : Day 6
Chama, New Mexico to Amarillo, Texas
Miles to Date:  1,536

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