Since I left home on October 1st I have driven through eleven states. North Carolina mountains bled into Tennessee mountains, Missouri farmlands into Oklahoma plains. Each city stands out, but the states themselves run together.
But something changed the moment I crossed from Oklahoma into Texas. More accurately, everything did. The land became flat and long, and the sky seemed to open up. It was bluer somehow. Driving itself was different, with the speed limit increasing and the radio stations getting better and clearer.
Most importantly, I felt different.
While in Texas, I went horseback riding (Los Cedros Ranch), treated myself to a steak dinner with a beer flight (The Big Texan), and hiked halfway down the second largest canyon in the United States (Palo Duro Canyon State Park). I sat on my car and stared up at the stars that night. I ate some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had at Tyler’s Barbecue…and I’m from North Carolina, where all the barbecue is good.
All in all, Texas treated me very well, and I wasn’t happy to leave it.
One of the last things I saw on my way out of the state was the Cadillac Ranch. Ten car bodies sticking up out of the dirt, each covered in layers and layers of paint. A couple of women were spray painting one of the cars as I stood and watched. Meanwhile, I tried to chip off some of the paint to take home as a souvenir, just like the ladies at the U-Drop-Inn cafe had suggested back in Shamrock.
The spray painting, the chipped paint…even the way the cars had been buried in the dirt: it was all destruction. And yet, cars lined up on the highway to see this spectacle.
Leslie Jones once talked about how Oprah Winfrey got fired from a job when she was 23. When someone mentioned how stupid that employer must feel for firing Oprah Winfrey, Jones said they hadn’t fired Oprah Winfrey. They had fired some 23-year-old who needed to be fired in order to become Oprah Winfrey. Just like that event turned her into the person she was meant to become, all the destruction makes the Cadillac Ranch what it is.
If you’re ever in Amarillo, don’t miss it. Actually, if you’re ever in Amarillo, take me with you. I loved Texas. I can’t wait to go back.