Monday, July 12, 2010

4,437 MILES

We did it! We drove 4,437 miles from St. Louis, crossed the state lines into Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and on Tuesday, June 29th reached the End of the Trail in Santa Monica, California and then back to St. Louis on Saturday, July 3rd. Our 2010 Route 66 week-long Adventure began on Thursday, June 24th. Since we already covered all of Route 66 in Missouri, Kansas and part of Oklahoma last October, we took I-44 all the way to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
I finally sorted thru 2,000+ photos in 5 memory cards from 3 cameras, two Sony Cybershots and a Canon Powershot. Whenever the battery ran out on one camera, I just took out the next camera and continued shooting - the wonder of digital cameras!

June 24th, we left work early and were on the road at 4:15 p.m., stopped at a diner in St. Robert, Missouri and then spent the night in Joplin, Missouri.

The next day, Friday, June 25th was the beginning of a jam-packed week-long schedule. After a full complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we were on the road around 7:05 a.m. It did not take us long to cross into Oklahoma. After paying $4.00 toll at Will Rogers Turnpike and another $4.00 at Turner Turnpike, we stopped for a lunch break at Banh Mi Ba Le in Oklahoma City. This little triangular building with the giant milk bottle on top (above photo) was originally a small grocery, now home to Saigon Baguette, a French-Vietnamese bakery serving Banh Mi, hearty sandwiches that taste just the way I used to eat in Viet Nam. We got Banh Mi Ga (chicken) for my husband and Banh Mi Gio Cha (pork) satisfied my hunger and brought back wonderful childhood memory.
We took turn driving and also regular breaks at rest areas or truck stops, filled up the gas tank and re-stocked the cooler with cold water bottles and snacks. We spent about an hour at the National Route 66 Museum (above photo) in Elk City, Oklahoma. We crossed into Texas, the Lone Star State, at 3:45 p.m. and decided to stay on I-44 until we got to Groom. It was one of my must-stop because I wanted to visit the 190 feet giant cross (below photo) and the outdoor sculptures of Stations of the Cross. From Groom, we drove on Route 66 into Amarillo.
It was about 6:15 p.m. when we got to Amarillo, just in time for a nice steak dinner at the Big Texan Steak Ranch (below photo). We did not attempt to take on the challenge of finishing up the 72-ounce steak in one hour!
We felt a kind of accomplishment when we reached Midpoint Café in Adrian (above photo) and saw the slogan, “When You’re Here, You’re Halfway There”. The café was closed since it already passed 8:00 p.m., therefore we did not get a chance to enjoy its famous “ugly crust” pies!
Twenty minutes later, we crossed into New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. A sign advising travelers that we have entered Mountain Time. We gained extra daytime by turning our watch back one hour but we started to get tired being on the road the last 13+ hours. We spent the second night of the trip in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Saturday, June 26th, we were on the road at 8:00 a.m. and then breakfast at the Silver Moon Café in Santa Rosa. At this point, it was a bit confusing with so many options of pre-1937 route and various loops, we spent more time than planned around Los Lunas, then encountered traffic jam and road construction around Albuquerque. It was time for lunch when we finally arrived in Grants. Later, we made time for pie and coffee at the historic El Rancho Hotel in Gallup (below photo).

At 6:20 p.m. we crossed the state line and received a warm welcome from Arizona, the Grand Canyon State.

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