I always get a grin on my face when we're out and about on the road, and I overhear a excited tourist discovering something. In a small way I get to re-experience the excitement of their new discovery. As a "seasoned" traveler, if you are not mindful, many of these sights may slowly, if unintentionally, fall into the "been there, seen that" bin. Not by apathy, but by the slow, quiet creep of familiarity. Fortunately, after nationally touring for nearly 2 decades and playing an average of 150 shows a year our enthusiasm for discovery has yet to fade. Throughout our travels our familiarity has grown into a fondness for the many "homes" away from home that we regularly check up on. We often come into a city and note which restaurants closed, what buildings have been built or torn down, or where that "cool club" used to be, that's invariably become a bank or a Starbucks. After so much traveling, it's odd to discover that I can often navigate in Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, or dozens of other cities better then in my hometown. (Honestly, I'll probably always have trouble navigating Santa Barbara's maze of one way streets.) After touring all 50 states, it can be easy to forget that most folks will never have the opportunity to see 25 states, let alone 50. Fortunately we all are mindful of the wonderful opportunity our travels afford us, and we still have an earnest enthusiasm for discovery. Luckily it's a big world and there are endless new things to discover.
Often it's the quirky, unique road side attractions that are fun to check off the travel bucket list. The superman statue in Metropolis Illinois, the "worlds tallest teepee" in Medicine Hat, Alberta, "Billy the Kid's" disputed grave in Fort Sumner New Mexico. It's awesome to see the grand, "must see" locales But there's also something really cool about experiencing the lesser known legends and lore that surround road side attractions.
We got a chance last month to check out another of these great, must see spots. The Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo Texas. You know the place, where there are 10 vintage Caddies with their front ends buried into the ground. It's like a Detroit inspired Stonehenge, with a Jackson Pollock paint job.
Glen, Andy and I called one of the few local private cabs and made our way over. There isn't much hoopla surrounding the edifice. There's just a small break in the fence off interstate 40 outside of Amarillo. The cars are about 100 yards from the highway. No signs, no ticket booth, just a straight array of cars in a large scorched dirt field, strewn with thousands of discarded paint cans, and caps with the occasional "Monster Energy" or "Budweiser" can. Apparently there is an unwritten understanding that it's okay to add your own paint flourish to the cars and each car is incapsulated in layer after layer of aerosol paint. Sometimes up to an inch thick. Any headlight or taillight housings are have been gone for the ages, same for windshields, rear view mirrors, tires or hubcaps. It took a bit of examination to determine what model year each car was as the trim and any other identifiable accoutrements had been either removed or painted over. It was just a few days after Thanksgiving, but it was starting to be brisk even around noon, when we arrived. We stayed for maybe 20 minutes, taking pictures, trying to determine each model year, and marveling at how much trunk space these big beautiful boats had in their bygone era of cheep gas and prosperity. It's funny that over the years, after visiting so many wonderful locations, it's often the quirky unique places that leave the biggest impression. I have a feeling that, even though the Cadillac ranch didn't host an illustrious list of attractions and activities, it will still remain in our memory for some time.