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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Back to Texas Groom, TX, Thursday, 06 September 2012 4:31am

I spent half a day around Oklahoma City, thinking that would allow plenty of time to get to Amarillo before sundown. As it happened, I ran into some weather, and called it a day about an hour east of where I meant to.

I started out at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, which has an extensive collection of western art and artifacts. The permanent collection has a lot of great pieces. My favorites were paintings by Charles Russell. I'm normally not attracted to pastels, but they're used to such good effect in those pieces. There's also an exhibition right now of illustrations by Will James, who does amazing character portraits with really strong linework. The artifact collections cover lots of aspects of western life, including over 1300 different types of barbed wire, and a selection of cowboy hats showing regional and historical styles.

After a stop for a steak in Stockyard City (where cattle are traded daily), I hit the road west. As much as possible, I stuck to historic Route 66. I was a bit surprised at how much of a challenge that was. The road is inconsistently marked (one of the sites I looked at mentioned that there's a big problem with people stealing the signs), and I took a few wrong turns that led me off in random directions.

I visited the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton (not to be confused with the National Route 66 Museum a few towns later...) and got a good historical perspective on the road and why it was important. Ironically, the Museum is not on Route 66, but near Interstate 40, the road that has largely replaced it.

By mid-afternoon, I could see a huge front of clouds rolling in. The skies were spectacular, but foreboding. I decided that the best plan was to stick to I-40 and try to make it to Amarillo as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, lightning started striking in the distance after I passed Shamrock, and as it got closer to my route, a crosswind picked up and rain started to fall. Rather than push on for an hour in worsening weather, I decided to stop at the only motel that my GPS unit was aware of within 40 miles, which turned out to be in Groom, Texas. There's nothing nearby but a Dairy Queen, but it should keep me dry until morning.

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