ROUTE 63 DAY THREE: AMARILLO BY LATE AFTERNOON

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Some of you may not know the legendary George Strait’s  ‘Amarillo by Morning’ but it’s a classic country song about life on the rodeo circuit.

Last night’s hotel room was light year’s better than the night before—I didn’t feel like tucking my wallet in my shoe plus there were no arrests in the lobby.

I have to address a myth here—Canadians are not more polite than Americans. I know this road trip is on an off-the-beaten path route, but people are a lot friendlier here—they let you in line, they say please and thank you–and they seem genuinely glad to see you.

They’re even better drivers because Denver rush hour traffic was full of people who gave each other space—I’m looking at you–specifically, Alberta drivers.

The road to Amarillo (Kit Carson Trail) is a two-lane highway with a demographic of 60% trucks. It’s a lot like southern Alberta highway 2 but with one less lane—but the scenery is very Alberta-ish.

The biggest thing you’ll notice about trucks in a crosswind meeting a brick-like ’63 Plymouth is the punch in the face when you cross paths on a two-lane highway. I learned this the hard way as a cyclist, but most truckers give you room in that situation—there’s not much you can do on a two-lane road.  

I should add that cab airfoils are the secret because meeting a semi with an air dam is a mild experience–but a truck without one is a hurricane-force experience.    I’d also like to add that you should never take a skeptical spouse on a road trip with lots of crosswinds because you and/or your car will be gone after the trip. 

Happily, 287 turned into a four-lane in Texas—gotta love that Texas attitude. They build stuff when it’s necessary and they don’t hammer you with a carbon tax on the gasoline. Plus they’re incredibly friendly people.

The last stop was the legendary Cadillac Ranch. Car guys know this place because it’s the ultimate piece of car art.

I liked it. It’s low key and you hike up to see the old Caddys in the middle of a big field. That may not seem like much to non car people, but if you’re a car guy this place is a shrine.

The last thing on the agenda was the 72-ounce steak challenge at the legendary Big Texan Steakhouse.

This is a cool, friendly place. They do everything with style so when you order this steak you end up on stage with everybody watching and cheering you on. There was even a group from Quebec who sang O Canada in French.

The twin thing was a big deal—they’d never had twins try the challenge before Jim and me. Neither one of us cared about being in the spotlight—that’s a lifetime thing with twins.

I got through 60% of it—so did Jim. I just couldn’t justify being incredibly stuffed for the next few days with a huge lineup of stuff to do on Route 66. I’m glad I did it, but I don’t need to do it again.

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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