RideAbout65.4 – Day 35 – Santa Fe, NM to Amarillo, TX


Total distance: 312.51 mi
Download file: Day-35a.gpx


Today’s Mileage: 313 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 6965 miles

I am listening to:  Nothing – too windy – can’t hear…


I decided I would like to make the next stop Amarillo and eat once again at the famous Big Texan Steak Ranch.  I first ate there in 1966 while I was in the Air Force assigned to Amarillo AFB and attending a technical training school.   On our first weekend pass, we GI’s, like many before us, made a beeline directly for the Big Texan, Amarillo’s antidote for chow hall food.  I have been back to eat there many times over the years whenever I have been in Amarillo or passing through.  However, several years back, Dave Chesser and I stopped there on the way to Colorado and the Big Texan looked a bit shabby so we declined.  However, it looks like perhaps management has changed and I could not have been more pleased with the old place.  Also, with the resurgence of interest in Route 66, I am sure they had some incentive to spruce up the business to take advantage of the new business.  One this evening, the parking lot was jam packed with cars and people.

There is no way around it – getting from Santa Fe to Amarillo involves driving on some pretty boring roads, particularly on a motorcycle.  There is, of course, the beauty of the old western landscape, but frankly, it gets old in a few hours.  Especially when you have unrelenting wind…

While examining the maps I finally found one little interesting looking road connecting I-25 out of Santa Fe with I-40 toward Amarillo, Highway 3.  It is only about 30 miles in length but it will put a smile on your face and keep you interested for a while.  The first part of the road is still in the foothills and along the river so it has beautiful vistas, twisty curves, and elevation changes galore.  The second half starts flattening out and takes on the aura of the Loneliest Road.  And then you are at the end and pick up I-40.

I have decided on this trip to use the interstates a little more to gain time for other more fun endeavors.   Rather than burning up time just finding a way to avoid the interstates all together, which is quite often unsatisfying, I just hold my nose and drone down them when they are a means to an end.

I did ride around Santa Fe and sightsee some – it appears to be an interesting city you could spend some time in – a future project.

You can’t discuss driving into Amarillo without mention of the Cadillac Ranch, the 10 cars half buried at an angle and visible from the highway.  It was built in 1974 and I remember we saw it on one of our cross-country trips very soon after – the cars were still the original colors.  Today, I looked as I passed by and a lot of cars are parked on the frontage road and people are doing the usual, looking, posing, and photographing.  I pass on by today – intent on getting to the Big Texan.

Tomorrow will be some more wind and straight roads but I intend to get off the interstate and head toward Oklahoma City on the secondary roads once again.  I am planning to meet up with Allan Swartz again for dinner.  Allan and his wife Kerrie had dinner in Gunnison, CO with Pat and I during the great flat tire caper.  This time Kerrie is off working so it will be just Allan and I…that works.



Big Steaks Since 1960

Big Steaks Since 1960

Tom Carter
Franklin, Tennessee

Mechanical Engineering Consultant

Motorcycle Rider/ Racer/ Tester

Husband/ Dad/ Grandfather/ Great-Grandfather

Planet Earth Arrival 1947

First rode a motorcycle around 1958

Still riding today…