The Scotsman reports that Amarillo, Texas, has become a big tourist destination inspired by a song that’s popular over there, “(Is This The Way To) Amarillo.”
Someone needs to tell the Brits that while Amarillo is a scenic place if you like sky, and the people are friendly, if you’re going to travel to the other side of the planet for vacation, you need to be able to spend more than a day and a half sight-seeing.
Amarillo, a four-hour drive from Dallas, has a population of 177,000 and attracts an average of 16,000 overseas tourists a year. The second-largest canyon in America is just south of the city. It also has a famous steak ranch at which customers who manage to eat a massive 72-ounce steak within an hour get it for free.
Amarillo tourist chiefs say they are looking forward to welcoming British visitors who take driving holidays across the States — the city is on the east-west 140 highway and is connected to the old Route 66.
Visitors can also see an abstract work called Cadillac Ranch, a display of ten classic Cadillacs sticking out of the ground as if they have just fallen from space.
The Scotsman omits the American Quarter Horse Heritage Center and Museum, which I’m sure would be high on the list of attractions for someone following a 1970s hit to Texas.
All the same, in the interest of international tourism, I offer a suggested trip across roadside-attraction America, inspired by songs from the ’60s and ’70s. Start off, of course, with the great “Route 66.” “It winds from Chicago to LA, more than 2,000 miles all the way . . .” So fly from London to Chicago and rent a car.
“You go through St. Louie,” (the Gateway Arch) “Joplin, Missouri” (“Lead Capital of the World“); “Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty” (Myriad Botannical Gardens). “You’ll see Amarillo” (this is the way to Amarillo), “Gallup, New Mexico” (allow a few extra days to explore Canyon de Chelly and Navaho country, and bring along a couple of Tony Hillerman novels), “Flagstaff, Arizona” (and a few days here, too, near one of the entraces to the Grand Canyon) — “don’t forget Winona” (or, maybe you should forget Winona), “Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino.”
Now that you’ve been dumped in California, here’s the Lowell George song, Willin‘ —
I’ve been from Tuscon to Tucumcari (back to Route 66)
Tehachapi (you missed the 13th Annual Spaghetti Feed and Auction) to Tonapah (silver mines and a nuclear test range) . . .
By the end of that trip, you’ll be singing the London Homesick Blues.
Welcome to America.
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