Our route eastward from Tijeras, New Mexico on Interstate 40 brought us right through Amarillo, Texas. To one passing through at 80 miles per hour, it might not seem to be a place of intrigue. And despite being the “Helium Capital of the World,” I never would have thought much of Amarillo. But 12 years ago, that all changed.
In the summer of 2006, Sarah and I were not together. We met in August of 2004, so this separation was a momentous change for both of us. She was off in California, working at a winery. I was a line cook at Arlington in Richmond, Kentucky. I started emailing her. Texting her. Calling her. We started talking again. I told her I was going to come to California and bring her back to Kentucky. In short, what ended up happening was we both rented cars (I was under 25 and could not legally rent a car, but that’s another story; Sarah was, too, but California has different laws) and planned to meet at what seemed like a midway point: Amarillo, Texas. Suffice to say, this place looms large in our legend.
We reunited on October 7, 2006 in Amarillo, Texas. I booked a room at the I-40 Motel 6 (I was 24 and broke). I got there first, and Sarah arrived a few hours later. We slept for about 7 hours—both of us had driven non-stop for over 17 hours or something. When we woke up, we drove around looking for a restaurant. We found Blue Sky. I won’t drone on and on about their amazing burgers (get the green chiles with it) and fried jalapeno rings (fresh peppers = more heat), but I will say it was the site of our first meal as a reunited couple. Even without the sentimental value, it is insanely good. If you are ever passing through Amarillo and you are in any way feeling a bit hungry, you must go to Blue Sky. To do otherwise would be the wrong move.
Fueled up on delicious food and nostalgia, we headed to Oklahoma City. We’re staying at the 21c Museum Hotel. My wonderful sister, Emily, works for the corporate arm of 21c, and she booked us a room that is bigger than our house. Seriously.
We toured the exhibits (much of which was hung by our friend, Marcus, who also works for 21c), had a cocktail (or two) at the bar, and Sarah had a Swedish massage at the spa. While she was out, a room service tray appeared at the door—champagne and salted caramel turtles, courtesy of Emily, I’m sure (shoo-in for Sister of the Year). It was a bit surreal living in such luxury after spending so many nights in a tent, or a conventional hotel room. But I wish we could stay more than one night—the best part of staying in a nice hotel is when you don’t have to leave the next day.
Tomorrow: breakfast at Mary Eddy’s, the hotel restaurant (dinner there tonight!) and then we head to Memphis, where we’re staying with Amber, a fellow school teacher and folk studies friend from the Bowling Green days.
Thanks for reading.
Next stop: Memphis, Tennessee