Thursday, June 12, 2014

Oklahoma City, The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum OK, and The Big Texan Steak Ranch, TX

Our next day on Route 66 started with a tour of Oklahoma City.  We started at the Centennial Land Rush Monument, which commemorates the opening of Native American land in Oklahoma territory.  There are life-size statues of horses, carriages, dogs, people and even a rabbit, rushing across a creek to stake their claim to land. This monument was very impressive, and the detail of the statues is incredible.

We then moved on to a more sombre visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum:

This memorial is dedicated to the victims of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995.  The memorial is comprised of several parts - a lovely still body of water bounded by two stone gates, one marking the time immediately before and one marking the time immediately after the bomb exploded.  Across from the body of water is a series of chairs, one for each victim, arranged in rows depending on where they were in the building when the tragedy occurred.  These chairs light up at night.  There is also the Survival Tree, a large tree that used to be in the car park behind the building, which was damaged by the bomb but survived and regenerated.  At the far side of the memorial, there are some remains of the wall of the bombed building, with twisted steel supports poking out.  There is also a museum at the memorial.

After spending some time to reflect, we were back on Route 66: 

Our next stop was the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.  There were lots of cowboys:

and all kinds of historical displays dealing with various aspects of American history.  I particularly enjoyed the art exhibition featuring past winners of the Prix de West art competition.

Our lunch stop was at a Walmart, where I went for the Southwest Chicken Wrap:

It was pretty good for the price ($3.48) - you would never be able to buy something like that here for less than around $8:

Tim and I then paid homage to the Twinkie:

Because we could.

After lunch, we rolled on to the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton.  They had plenty of cool signs on display:

and a fab map of Route 66: 

After spending some time at the museum, and taking some time to send an electronic postcard or two, we crossed the border into Texas.  There, we visited the town of Shamrock, featuring an iconic art deco Conoco gas station and the U-Drop-Inn Cafe:

Our tour bus then trundled into Amarillo, where we joined our tour group for dinner at The Big Texan: 

The main claim to fame of The Big Texan is their 72oz steak challenge - if you can eat one, plus all the sides that come with it, in one hour, you get it free.  Thankfully, on the night that we visited, no-one took the challenge.

Here's Tim sitting in the frontier-style interior excitedly anticipating his feast: 

Unfortunately, there was not a lot to get excited about.  There was yet another garden salad:

and a piece of rather dry and uninteresting chocolate cake for dessert:

served with iced tea in a Big Texan plastic cup, explaining the legend:

and then the star of the show arrives - the steak:

The steak was served medium rare, the way I like it, but sadly not how many of the older members of our tour like it, being brought up on steak cooked "well done" to a rubbery grey puck.  I enjoyed the steak, but the sides - some soggy beans, an enormous foil-baked potato and a dinner roll - were less than inviting.  Oh yes, if you are brave or stupid, there is also an enormous green chilli served on the side.  Our tour director, Bob, told us a rather embarrassing (for him!) story about eating this chilli once, but I won't publish it here.

The Big Texan also has a gift shop attached, and has various forms of in house amusement.  There is even a Zoltar, just like the one in Big (you know, the movie where Tom Hanks plays a kidult after wishing on a Zoltar that he was a grown up). 

I wouldn't say that I'd go back to The Big Texan, as popular as it is with the punters, but it is a once-off experience if you find yourself in Amarillo.

Bricktown District
Oklahoma City, OK
United States
620 N. Harvey
Oklahoma City, OK
United States
  Ph: +1 405 235 3313

1700 NE 63rd St
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
United States
Ph: +1 405 478 2250
2229 W Gary Blvd
Clinton, OK 73601
United States
Ph: +1 580 323 7866

U-Drop-Inn101 E. 12th Street
Shamrock, TX
United States
7701 Interstate 40
Amarillo, TX 79118
United States
Ph: +1 806 372 6000


Kayte said...

Fun to see the photos and I'm with you on that food just looking at it, not what I would call a winner dinner. :-) Twinkies!! You ate Twinkies!! It's an American icon, of course you needed to do that. I like Tim's shirt, very appropriate for that part of the trip. Such fun when you travel!! :-)

Mae Travels said...

Driving to and from California, I've been on or near Route 66 a few times, most recently at the beginning of April, when we drove from St.Louis through Okla City, Albuquerque, Flagstaff (detour to Grand Canyon) and onward to Kingman Ariz and then LA.

However, I didn't know there were tours of the route until I started reading your blog. I was looking at the National Park Service list of sites along 66 that are on the register of historic places:
I don't think you have mentioned visiting any of them -- I hope you saw some when you went onward from Texas. Too bad your tour took you to WalMart instead.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Some of the foods in those regions of America are certainly interesting!