Route 66 Caravan

America's Biggest Road Trip!

Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
May 23, 2003

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Heart of Route 66: Texas

  Panhandle Windmill Texas is fast becoming one of my favorite Route 66 states and I think that sentiment is shared by Jim also. When we crossed the state line yesterday we felt like we had come home to family. I think it's the great people like Linda Drake, Fran Houser, Becky Ransom and the celebrated Delbert and Ruth Trew. I also am a board member of the Old Route 66 Association of Texas (more by default than any wisdom I may possess). One board member resigned and Becky and Delbert needed to find someone fast - I was just handy.
  Texas has always held a fascination for me. From my earliest years I was a fan of the cowboy mystique. I suppose that comes with watching Howdy Doo-Dee as a child in the 1950. Texas may have the second shortest stretch of Route 66 next to Kansas, but the people are friendly and the history can't be beat. If New Mexico and Arizona are Indian Country then Texas is definitely Cowboy Country. A fact that is evident all along old Route 66 across the Panhandle.

Texas Cowboy

Jack Rittenhouse, in his famous 1946 Guide to Route 66, describes Route 66 in the Texas Panhandle as "Straight, paved highways and great efficient ranches now obliterate all traces of the big herds of buffalo which roamed here, together with the Indians; the Kiowas and Comanches." He further admonishes to be on the lookout for cattle crossing the highway. Yes this was and still is to some extent cowboy country.


Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo is the largest city between Oklahoma City and Albuquerque, and is the unofficial capitol of the Texas Panhandle.

Originally started as a buffalo hunter's camp, the city was laid out in 1887. Amarillo comes from the Spanish word for yellow and it is said that it got its name from the many houses in the area that were painted yellow others claim its name came from the abundant yellow flowers of the area whichever the case may be Amarillo was destined for greatness.

Amarillo became the most prominent Panhandle City as major cattle feeding and shipping center, and capitol of the oil and gas industry in the region. Amarillo is a city where the spirit of the old west still lingers. In 1946 Jack Rittenhouse called Amarillo, then with a population of 70,000, a bustling center of Panhandle activity. It had radio stations, four leading hotels, and 40 smaller hotels, 35 auto courts, many garages and all tourist facilities. The city has been a Route 66 city from the very start and along Amarillo Blvd. through the old city there are pockets of Route 66 to be seen everywhere.


1940 Amarillo Postcard
Amarillo Postcard from the 1940s.


The Big Texan Steak House

  Big Texan and the Route 66 Caravan A visit to Amarillo on Route 66 wouldn't be complete without stopping at the Big Texan. The atmosphere is great, and it is a Texas sized experience not to miss. The Big Texan has been a Route 66 icon since 1960. In 1968 when the Interstate opened up the Big Texan moved closer to the super slab to its present location. This place is just plain fun. The steaks are really good and the atmosphere can't be beat. Yes, for sure it is a must stop on Route 66.

Our Route 66 Caravan Team at the Big Texan. Left to right- Jamie Hall, Guy Randall, Bill Hall, Kevin Hansel, Dennis Karstad, and Jim Conkle.

Route 66 Caravan Team

Ed Montana and Bobby Lee at the Big Texan

Ed Montana, Big Texan Entertainment Director, and owner Bobby Lee stand in front of the famous Big Texan Cowboy - a Route 66 icon.


Hody (Long Bow), Jim, Ed Montana, and Bobby Lee, one of the owners and son of original founder R.J. Lee, get ready for the sign unveiling.

BigTexan Ceremony


Roadside Attraction Sign

Young man, we fed your father!


Massacre at the Big Texan

This is cowboy country and perhaps the best place to savor the flavor of the old west is at the Big Texan, long advertised up and down Route 66 as the home of the FREE 72-oz steak. But there is a catch; you have to eat the whole steak in an hour. And there's even a catch to the catch! Be sure to read the small print, you have to eat the whole meal consisting of baked potato, salad and roll. Believe it or not there have been a few people that have actually been able to eat the whole meal. As much as I like to eat, and as much as I like steak, never in my wildest dreams would I have ever considered trying to eat that 72-oz steak!
  Becky Ransom and Bear - the Bear Doesn't Stand A Chance That is until our ex-good friend Becky Ransom, President of the Old Route 66 Association of Texas, concocted a plan for Jim, Kevin and me. She arranged to have us eat that 72-oz. steak meal, accompanied by dinner music provided by Ed Montana, and media coverage. We were destined to be massacred by four and a half pounds of meat and entered into the Big Texan's Wall of Shame for our very public failure! What are friends for?

Becky Ransom, this was before the contest and I was on the bear's side.


Ed Montana, provides the background music for our massacre by steak. Ed actually is a 72-oz. steak winner, and gave us some tips on how to do it. Well, helpful as he was, we still got massacred at the dinner table.

Ed Montana



The Start Try as we might, Becky wouldn't let us get out of it. Becky wouldn't accept my recent conversion to vegetarianism (at least for a day), or my threats of leaving the Route 66 Caravan - Amarillo is the closest point on Route 66 to my home in Yuma, Colorado. I could be home in six and half-hours!

Long Bow explains the rules.


Route 66 Caravan and the Big Texan Steak


The contest begins. That piece of meat could have fed all our families for a week ~ it wasn't a steak, it was a roast!


Well we all gave it a good try, and we did survive. I know for sure it's time to go on a diet though. As far as our friend Becky, it's hard to stay perturbed at her for very long. She did take good pictures though didn't she?

Killer Steak


West 66
Previous Log
Go West down the Mother Road

Road Log pages read like a book:

Follow the Route 66 Caravan
down the Mother Road ~
select the Route 66 direction
you would like to go.

East 66
Amarillo's Route 66
Go East on the Mother Road



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