Day 4 was when it finally started to feel like we were actually moving.
I know that seems like an odd thing to say, but by this point we had hit the halfway point of our journey and it felt like there was no going back. We left Oklahoma City and headed toward Albuquerque. The landscape had started to go from green grass to more of a desert brown, and we made it to historic Route 66. We finally got to see some of the quirkier, road-trip things I wanted to experience – like the Leaning Tower of Texas (not as impressive as Pisa) and the Cherokee Trading Post (there were tons of stops like this along the way, this one alleged to have bison to pet on site, but we didn’t see any).
You really start to get a sense of how expansive the country is when you’re driving through Oklahoma and Texas. It was nothing but cattle and ranch land for as far as the eye could see. It gives you a pretty great respect for those cowboys and cowgirls that are working hundreds of thousands of acres. It was at this point that I started to wonder if we have more cows than people in this country. Does anybody have the stats on that? The ranches just go on for ages, they even had grass overpasses over the highway for the cows to cross.
We couldn’t pass all those cows and not have a steak. Thankfully, The Big Texan was on our way and the perfect stop for lunch. (For those of you who are concerned about Socks, he was in the car with AC blasting, doors locked so no one could steal him, and a full bowl of water.) You may have heard of it, Adam Richman made a stop there on the very first episode of “Man v. Food” and took down their 72 ounce (yes – SEVENTY TWO ounce) steak challenge. It was definitely a kitschy tourist trap, they had one of those rifle hunting games you typically see in Bass Pro Shops and was decorated like it was straight out of Busch Gardens.
We weren’t expecting too much from the food because it was such a roadside destination – but we were wrong. I got the 7 ounce strip and that steak was one of the best I’ve had, it was so juicy and flavorful! I guess makes sense considering the slaughterhouse was only about 10 miles down the road, doesn’t get any fresher than that! The sides were pretty mediocre, but given the chance I would go back again for an even bigger piece of steak. We asked the lady on the grill how much they went through a day and she estimated about 6-7 cows A DAY. That is a lot of meat!
After our satisfying lunch, we kept on trucking through to Albuquerque. On the way, we stopped at what is possibly the greatest rest stop in the whole country somewhere in the Northern part of Texas. I know that is a bold statement, but check out this view!
Once we got to New Mexico was when it really started to feel Southwestern. You could see the layers of sandstone in the rock formations and we even saw a coyote walking along the side of the road. About two hours outside of Albuquerque we hit a rain storm (which felt very UNdesert-like), but Travis was a pro and got us through it. We made it safely to our hotel and checked out Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q for dinner.
I’ll be honest, it was tasty but by this point I was over grilled and smoked meats for the next few days. I guess it did the trick and we went to bed plenty full.