Today, our eyes turned east as we wrapped up our stay in Santa Fe. Once again, we traipsed downstairs, expecting another zoo-like experience in the “free” breakfast arena at the hotel. As it ends up, there were no kids running around, and there was more on the agenda than just breakfast.
Remember the photographer Beck met in the hall? Well, he was at breakfast this morning, and I got a chance to talk with him. His name was Simon Biswas, and he’s in the midst of an 8-week cross-country trek. He was stuck in Santa Fe with a broken-down vehicle — one of the dangers of the road, I suppose. We talked about cameras, especially the Canon G10, and had a great conversation.
We asked Simon about his lodging, and he mentioned that he wasn’t using hotels (much), and was relying on the kindness of strangers through a site called CouchSurfing. My understanding is that folks announce their willingness to put up a stranger on their couch, and travelers sign up, and sleep on their couches. There’s a whole bunch of trust in that model, and I’m just not sure I’m trusting enough to either be the couchsurfer or the couch supplier. Still, it does sound like a cool way to meet a lot of folks, and see how folks in different parts of the country live.
All good things must come to an end, and our time to depart came. We said our goodbyes to Simon and went to load up the Jeep. I wish him well on his quest!
The highpoints on the travel leg today were the Cadillac Ranch and the Big Texan, both near Amarillo TX. We’ve been to both before, and both needed revisiting.
The Cadillac Ranch is a collection of ten classic Caddies, all buried nose down into farm land outside Amarillo. Passers-by are encouraged to stop, bring their spray paint, and leave their mark upon the classics. And mark they do. I’m not sure there’s a part of these cars — inside or out — that hasn’t been painted at one time or another. We brought paint, and left our mark, although we learned a few things in the process. First, our paint was waaaaaay to thin. Everything we sprayed ran miserably. It’s hard to make good characters and symbols when the paint is running like water down the car surfaces. Secondly, we need to bring Sharpies. There were loads of Sharpie-based scribbling on the Caddies, and that really seemed to work quite well. I think Sharpie makes a chisel-point marker that’s in excess of an inch wide — that oughta do.
Last time we visited, the weather was nasty, wet and muddy, and because of that, we had the place to ourselves. This time, the weather was hot and basically clear, so there were loads of folks around. We were there about 45 minutes, and ran across thirty other pilgrims to this site. That was cool. It was a neat community feeling. Each of us knew why we were there, and there was some camaraderie from that. Every now and then, someone would happen by that didn’t bring spray paint cans with them. Usually, they could find someone leaving who still had paint in their cans, and would pass ’em on. That was cool. We donated ours to a family that had stopped by, and had just finished dumpster diving at the site for cans with paint in them. To say the least, they were thrilled to get our leftovers.
Beck and I both shot quite a bit, much as we did last time. Almost everyone there had a camera, and were shooting not only what they’d painted, but other notables from the Caddies. You see, what was there today would be gone in a week or so as fresh paint replaced the old, so capturing what you saw while you were there was way important. There was even a pair of girls shooting with an old Polaroid SX-70! That was cool to see, although I don’t know how in the world they’re still finding film for the thing. I’m pretty sure the camera was older than they were.
Our next stop was the Big Texan, just 20 minutes down the road. This restaurant advertises both east and west on I-44 that they are home to a free 72-ounce steak… and that’s kinda true. The deal is that you have to woof the 4½ pound steak down — along with a salad, baked potato, dinner roll and shrimp cocktail — in an hour, and the meal is yours for free. No one was on the clock this go around, but we did ask about the cost of failure — $72, or a buck an ounce. And now, if you need inspiration, their web site has the records of the folks who’ve done it, and their stats (age, weight and time). Right now, one of the hot dog eating champions holds the record at just under nine minutes. That’s half a pound a minute, or two ounces every fifteen minutes. Sustained. Wow.
Last time we were here was an Easter a few years ago, and things were a little peculiar — Easter brunch was the rule, rather than normal steak operations. This time, we had a normal meal — for me, an 18-ounce ribeye — along with the fixings and some fantastically sweet tea. Great eats, even off the clock. 🙂
We continued our drive to Shamrock TX without much incident, aside from loads of road construction. The one bad thing that had crept up on us as we moved into the southern plains was the temperatures. Along with the cloudless skies and sunshine came ever-increasing temperatures, and by the time we got to our room in Shamrock, the Jeep was reporting that we were back to 100°… again. Fortunately, the room was palatial, and once again Shamrock presented itself as an oasis in the crazy heat.