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PA to LA: Day 9

June 9, 2003

June 9:
During each of our days in Dallas, we somehow managed to sleep in and, consequently, missed the complimentary breakfast offered by the hotel's chefs. Today we awake early enough to partake in the freebees--though we'd have done better to have slept in. Actually it wasn't all bad; and the price was certainly right. Austin Powers, our elusive cat of mystery, quite enjoyed licking half-and-half from the tiny plastic container. After eating, we finished up the laundry, packed it all up, loaded it into the Subaru, and hit the trails.
It was a long, albeit smooth, drive to Amarillo. We stopped briefly in Witchita Falls, which hasn't had any "falls" to speak of for over 100 years. A lot of the towns one passes through en route to Dallas are small--really small. It's not uncommon to see signs proclaiming "Population 103" or less. Most of the towns look the same from I-287. There's always a few broken-down, abandoned shops or gasoline stations. There's always at least one restaurant--such as "Chuck's Place" or "Gus's Cafe." And there's always--always--a DQ. One billboard we passed featured the DQ logo and read "Texas Stop Sign." Texans love their DQs--at least DQ seems to think they do.

We passed more than a dozen ranches--probably closer to two dozen--and saw plenty of cattle (as well as a few camels).

We reached our hotel at 7:30 pm. If you visit Amarillo you have to stay at the "Big Texan Motel." You can't miss it. It's the one with the 50-foot Texan by the front of the driveway. It's also the "home of the 72-ounce steak." Here's the low-down for those of you who still indulge their palettes with beef. The chefs at the Big Texan Restaurant will gladly prepare a 72-ounce steak for you. If you can eat it all in 60 minutes (ie, 1 hour; ie, 3600 seconds) it's gratis. If, however, you can't pack 4.5 pounds of beef into your body in the alloted time, you pay--around one-hundred bucks or so. Pound for pound, it's not a bad deal. And winners are immortalized on a plaque in the restaurant reserved for the few, the proud, the rotund who are able to accomplish this remarkable feat.
We had the shrimp platter--not 72 ounces of shrimp; not 72 shrimp. Just a platter, and some side dishes. While there, a three-piece cowboy acoustic group (guitar, bass, violin) performed Hank Snow's "A Fool Such as I" at our table. Upon mentioning that we are moving to L.A., the bass player asks, "You know what L.A. stands for?"
We bite.
"Lower Amarillo," he replies, smiling.

After dinner we retired to our room at the Big Texan. The room is wood. Floor to ceiling wood. The door is wood, the walls are wood, the furniture is wood. There are no curtains--only wooden shutters. It's as rustic as spending the night in the Texas wilderness only without the rattlesnakes.

Tomorrow we drive to Roswell, New Mexico. Home of weather balloons that look like flying saucers, flying saucers that look like weather balloons, and dozens of aliens--many of whom, I'm sure, are illegal...

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