Amarillo, TX

Excited to see Kim I leave Albuquerque early and hope to make it to Amarillo before nightfall. I have an uneventful trip to Amarillo, a few snow flurries but nothing exciting. I park at an Albertsons with a red box for the night. I’d like to be out of town by noon the next day. I should be able to make it to McKinney with plenty of time to catch Kim at work.

Meghan suggested I stop at The Cadillac Ranch. A row of Cadies‘ located along the tatters of historic Route 66, the brainchild of Stanley Marsh 3, a helium millionaire who owns the dusty wheat field where they stand. Marsh and The Ant Farm, a San Francisco art collective, assembled used Cadillac’s in 1974, representing the “Golden Age” of American Automobiles (1949 through 1963). Ten graffiti-covered cars are half-buried, nose-down, facing west “at the same angle as the Cheops’ pyramids.”

Knowing the morning light would be the best I head out early to get a good shot. The weather is a brisk 23 degrees and the wind is howling at 40. I hoof it out across the frozen field. There is a thin layer of ice and I quickly realize I need to constantly keep moving otherwise you sink too far and end up ankle deep in wet sloppy muck. I quickly snapped my shots and sprinted back to the road.

Another stop in town was “The Big Texan” for lunch. It’s a cult classic steak house that has a 72oz steak, if you can eat it within one hour it’s free. I’m a huge fan of 80’s comedies and this was the inspiration for the scene in the “Great Outdoors” when John Candy eats the giant steak, gristle and all.

I wish I could say I had a good experience, I did enjoy the fried okra but I ended up heaving my lunch in the parking lot. The only thing keeping the restaurant open is the nostalgia, definitely not the quality of food.

Hitting the road I plug in Kim’s work as my next destination, should be an easy four hour drive. I’m heading East on 287 just past Childress when I notice the battery gauge is creeping lower and lower. Thinking all batteries had been replaced before my departure I assume the alternator belt is loose. Having problems with the belt becoming loose in the past and Considering the belt recently started squeaking, I hope for an easy fix. I call my friend Joe to get a second opinion and he comes up with the same conclusion, the batteries are not charging and the engine could die any second. Checking the map I don’t see any large towns for 30 miles. Watching the gauge slowly dip lower with each mile I decide to call my sister for an internet search. When I would go out on estimates for the deck company and get lost or unable to find an address and location my sister with her computer was always a great resource. Hoping she would be available for this fiasco I give her office a call. No answer. Knowing that when I stop the engine it would most likely not start again until repaired, I didn’t want to risk stopping randomly to look anything up on my lap top. With a slight bit of anxiety I try her cell phone.

Relieved when she answers I tell her my situation. She’s happy to help me but informs me it’s Presidents day and she may not find anything open. Waiting for her call back felt like the longest ten minutes of my life, my eyes glued to the gauge that is now in the red zone. Chell came through for me again. Not only has she found a shop that works on motorhomes, she has detailed directions, they are open and Dalton will be looking for me.

Unfortunately it was more than a belt. The alternator was bad, the belt was cracked, and both batteries were smoked. The nasty rotten egg smell that I thought was sulfur water, turned out to be the secondary battery.  I was grateful for the service and honesty of Dalton. With the rebuilt alternator expected to show up after 5 I realize I’m definitely here for the night.

George Randal automotive is a family owned business that has the customer’s best interest at heart. Dalton, the grandson is the current generation running the shop.  With both batteries dead and no alternator to run the generator, I have no power or heat. The weather is rotten and should be in the teens tonight. I voice my concern and Dalton is quick to let me plug into the shop for the night. Dalton was still working on his personal rebuild project when I ran out of propane at 1:15 am. With no propane the fan just blows cold air, knowing it would only get worse, I stuff Chewy in his hoodie and stow him under the covers. I put my sweats on and hope for a quick night. By sunrise I had legging, shorts, sweats, jeans three shirts, sweat shirt, hoodie and my leather motorcycle jacket with gloves and neck warmer on, all under the covers in my bed. I looked like the kid in “A Christmas Story”. The next morning Dalton made quick work of installing the alternator. He was able to replace the battery attatched to the starter but the secondary battery was an odd size and shape. Sadly this is the battery that stinks and is getting worse by the second. I was on the road again by 1pm.

Vernon Tx
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By Randy on July 11th, 2012 at 9:45 am

Hello I I really enjoy your blogs. My hometown is Amarillo and was glad that you agree that the Big Texan food is horrible. Its not the best and over priced.


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