Star-aligned cars of sublime mystery

It takes us a good 20 minutes and several wrong turns to find it.  There – just ahead – something shimmers against the cold, grey sky.

We made it.

Entrance to Cadillac Ranch
Entrance to Cadillac Ranch

“I wonder what the ancients were thinking,” I shout over the wind. “What divine purpose this was serving.”

Spray cans are littered all around.  Sal picks up one and gives it a curious shake.

“I don’t know,” he says.

There are a half dozen Americana pilgrims on this sacred ground today, at 10 am on a Saturday in late October.  Our guide book says the cars are aligned in the same configuration as the Great Pyramid of Giza.  I climb on one, rubbing spray paint onto the toe of my shoe.

Its mystery is exceeded only by its sublimity.
Its mystery is exceeded only by its sublimity.

A fellow Route 66 road tripper offers to take our photo for us.  She and her husband are in their fifties or so, bundled up in identical red windbreakers.  They also lived in England for a few years.

“I wasn’t that impressed with Stonehenge,” she says.  “Every time someone came to visit, they made us go back to those rocks.”

“Have you been to Foamhenge in Virginia?” Sal asks.

She laughs.  “No.  I hear there’s a carhenge too.”

We run back to Horatio, panting from the wind and cold and mystery.  Cadillac Ranch, in that unassuming field of yellow grass, leaves us with more questions than answers.

Sal makes his mark at Cadillac Ranch
Sal makes his mark at Cadillac Ranch

On the road again

The road beckons.  We bid family adios and turn Horatio’s nose north, picking up the Mother Road in Amarillo, Texas.  Dinner at the Big Texan Steak Ranch is ridiculous and absolutely necessary if you’re ever in Amarillo riding Route 66.

It's literally too big for my camera.
It’s literally too big for my camera.

Why?  Three reasons:

1. The vittles 

The food, though pricey, is downright delicious.

texas vittles

If you have a notion, you can step up to the 72-ounce steak challenge – if you can eat it in one sitting under an hour (plus side items), you get it free!

2. Practice your shootin’

While you wait for a table, you can shoot some stuff.


3. Show off your new boots

Nothing says “cowgirl” like a chair with horns on it.  Yee-haw!

chair with boots

Yippee Ki Yay, Texas

Our wanderings take a sharp detour from Route 66 deep into the heart of Texas, to the city of Austin, that magical, musical oasis.  We stay several days with family to catch up on lost time as I recuperate from my sinus infection.

Sal decides that, since I’m in Texas, I ought to have some proper cowgirl boots.  On recommendation from his aunt, he takes me to Cavender’s Boot City.



So many boots.  Brown, black, red-white-and-blue, hot pink boots.  Boots with tassels, skulls, bedazzled boots, snakeskin boots.


A saleswoman asks if I need help, sensing my disorientation, perhaps.  I smile and shake my head, pick up a pair and examine them.  Like I buy boots all the time.

Sal and I line up a few candidates.  I pick up a deep brown pair, shoving my feet into the stiff leather.

“These don’t feel right,” I frown in the mirror.  “I don’t think these are the boots for me.”

The saleswoman approaches, a wiry grey head of hair and cool, dry saunter.

“As a sales professional, it is my duty to inform you that you are wearing two right boots,” she says.

“Oh, right.  Well.”

She retrieves a left boot and kneels down with a patient air.  Helping me slip the boot on, she explains that the ball of my foot needs to line up with the widest part of the boot.

“There should be some shuffle room at the heel,” she advises.

After several attempts, we find a pair that line up nicely.  Sal gives an approving nod.

“Yep,” I grin, looking down at them.  “These are my boots.”

It’s not just how the boots look, I realize as I take them out to wear them to dinner that night.  It’s how they make you feel.

These boots want to saunter and stomp, and cause a ruckus.

And maybe they will.




On the Road

You learn things about yourself on the road.  I love driving in Texas.  As a mountain girl, the flatness intrigues me.  The way the road stretches  so far, so little to distract the eye.  We pass a windmill farm that stretches for miles – giant white arms spinning slowly over cotton, over burnt red earth, over houses and wire fences.  This gives way slowly to nubby stumps of hills dotted with low-lying trees or tall bushes, peppered with horses or black bulls.

That Texas sky is so big, the sun takes twice as long to sink down under the scrubby land.  I watch the blues ease into pink, the pinks into deep soft purple.  And in the great distance, something twinkles in the near-darkness.

A grey ribbon slides under our wheels, pulling those lights closer.