If you’ve missed my first two trip updates, be sure to catch up:
In the early stages of planning this trip, Oklahoma was somewhat of a wildcard state.
Despite a desire to go there, and it’s close proximity to our route several times during the trip…we just couldn’t decide how and when to go.
I initially thought we might go to Oklahoma City on the way to Dallas. But then, Waco. And it just didn’t make sense. Then we thought we might hit Tulsa on the return portion of the route. But it came down to St. Louis or Tulsa and I couldn’t eliminate my kiddos favorite city.
Anytime we drew “the perfect” route, Oklahoma was this awkward addition. Finally, Brent decided we needed to find something- anything- to do in the Southwest corner of the state. It was truly to check a box, if you will, and for bragging rights that we actually went to the state.
Enter Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
I’m not going to lie, when we left Dallas that morning I wasn’t overly excited about our day. And then, that was made a million times worse when the check engine light appeared in the rental van. I’ll write more about our rental car drama in a future post…but for now, lets just say I was NOT thrilled with what went down at the Dallas/Ft Worth Airport!
After a rough 2 hours, and navigating through rush hour traffic we were finally on our way to the Refuge. The shining spot of our morning was finding the cutest gas station,The Pecan Shed. I can honestly say we spent more time and money, and took more pictures there there than any other gas station, ever.
After sampling almost everything- from fudge to pecans- we decided to call that lunch. (Incidentally, the massive amounts of sugar we consumed did wonders for everyone’s mood!)
As soon as we pulled onto the Wildlife Refuge we saw 3 huge buffalo at a far distance. Naturally, we pulled to the side of the road with the other 10 cars and spent 20 minutes photographing them.
I can laugh at that now because as soon as we went about 50 more feet into the Refuge, the animals were everywhere. Like WAY closer and WAY more plentiful than those first 3! If only we had known and been more patient.
We had longhorn cattle crossing the road directly in front of us, and herds of buffalo just sitting in a pasture right next to our car. It was incredible! Of course, the kids wanted to take pictures of every single one. This was really their first experience using the VTech Kidizoom Action Camera they got for Easter and they LOVED them! (Highly recommend this product for this age-group!)
As a side note, the animal encounters were ridiculously awesome. But so was the Oklahoma landscape. We were absolutely blown away at the beauty! Inside the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge there is also an exact replica of The Holy Land. And you can drive up the mountain to get a stunning view of the area.
Reluctantly, we left the Wildlife Refuge…not because we were ready to go, but because it was dinnertime and we were starving. We set our GPS for Amarillo (our destination for the evening) and assumed we’d come to a city with food options soon.
Not so much.
We drove forever. And finally stumbled on this charming little one stoplight town. 2 of the restaurants we found on Yelp! were closed. But while Brent was searching, a bustling antiques market caught my attention. I told Brent I wanted to run over quickly while he figured out where we could eat.
The place was adorable. There was cute stuff everywhere. And all the other shoppers were so friendly. I stopped to chat a few times. About 5 minutes into the experience it dawned on me that I was at a high school graduation party, not a market! Awkward.
I tried to exit as quickly and invisibly as I could, but someone stopped me. Much to my embarrassment, I had to admit that we’d just come across the town and needed a place to have dinner. She invited me to stay- which I declined. Apparently the two “good” restaurants were closed because the owners were at the party. So she pointed me toward the next best dinner option (and, I think, the ONLY other option.)
A major thunderstorm rolled through as we ate- adding to the charm of this small town! We were able to watch a gorgeous sunset as we crossed back into the state of Texas. And we arrived in Amarillo with two sleeping children.
Our day in Oklahoma turned out to be far more eventful and enjoyable than we anticipated, so we decided to take it easy waking up in Amarillo.
When we finally left the hotel we were shocked to find that the temperature was 56 degrees!
Our first stop of the day was at Cadillac Ranch. I was somewhat familiar with this roadside attraction from the movie Cars, and I also did my research on our route. However, nothing can quite prepare you for seeing it in person.
It’s sort of an erie place. The wind was howling. And all you could hear was spray paint cans being shaken and sprayed. All different types of people were stopped to gawk at the odd landscape. There were professional photographers with equipment that probably costs more than my house. And there were people that looked like they’d been sleeping there for months. A very eclectic blend, for sure!
Timing was funny. There were people everywhere. The spray painters could have cared less. But none of the photographers wanted to get people in their shots. So you had to fire at JUST the right moment and angle. And did I mention, it was FREEZING?? This stop was nothing, if not memorable for all!
We spent the rest of the day getting on and off Interstate 40 so that we could drive on Historic Route 66. I honestly couldn’t believe how accurately the movie Cars depicts the run down areas. It was great to see some of the revitalization, but also crazy how many abandoned businesses just sat in shambles.
Crossing into New Mexico was exciting because it was my first new state of the trip. And we arrived in Albuquerque late afternoon to enjoy some time with family (Brent’s Aunt and Cousins.) Of course, I didn’t take any pictures that whole evening…except one. Laura made us this amazing cake.
We are looking forward to two very full and exciting days in Albuquerque!
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