That is what Ruby, in Bob Dylan's "Brownsville Girl" dubbed Amarillo, Texas. I still remember my dad playing Dylan on the way to school when I was little. Clearly Ruby was not as excited to be in Amarillo as I am to visit next week.
I have never been to Amarillo, Texas. I am dying to see a tumbleweed. I hope it looks as incredible as this one. My husband Ike assures me I will have plenty of opportunity - he and Sicily visited my brother-in-law and his wife there a couple of years ago. I couldn't get off - I was still in residency and all of my vacation was eaten up by maternity leave for three years in a row. To all of you who call maternity leave vacation: I stick out my tongue and make a noise I cannot spell. Not that I didn't enjoy the six weeks home with baby Sicily and John, but it was a lotta work - no vacation.
I plan not to repeat the grave error we made last year on our road trip to Eureka Springs. We decided to let Sicily and John pick out anything they wanted to eat in the convenient store - they chose cheese puffs. So we uncharacteristically assented and abandoned control of the large bag of neon puffed petroleum products to the 5 and 2 year old in the back seat. They were happily munching away, tossing them back with swigs of milk from their sippy cups, and we congratulated ourselves on the hedonistic behavior that allowed us to zone out to our choice of tunes without any whining from the back seat.
Ike said, "Let's take the Pig Trail!" I agreed, forgetting that my past experience with Ike driving up the Pig Trail often ended in vague nausea that persisted for a couple of hours. I was not thinking straight when John complained of a tummy-ache about 3/4 of the way up the windy, steep, mountainous Ozark scenic road. I replied, "You'll be ok! Just sit back and look out the window."
So I should have not been as surprised as I was when John projectile vomited cheese puffs and sour milk all over the back seat of my new Forerunner. The enormous quantity defied rational stomach capacity of a two year old boy. We were in the middle of nowhere, but the stench required us to stop the car immediately. Easy gag reflex Sicily was threatening contagious spew, so we had to be quick about it. Luckily, I had the foresight to buy a pack of wipes at the gas station; my OCD brain was not thinking of puke but of cheese puff fingers in my car. I stripped John down and removed the car seat cover, stuffing them into a plastic bag. Ike grabbed the rubber car mat (which had taken the brunt of the calamity) and ran off into the forest. As I took care of the kids and cleaned off my leather seats, I became mildly frustrated at his absence. Then he came back with a clean, dripping wet car mat, seemingly magical.
"Where did you find water?"
"In the stream."
"In the forest."
He turned around. I asked, "Why do you have a gaping hole in the back of your t-shirt?"
"It must have gotten caught on the barbed wire."
"What barbed wire?"
"When I jumped the fence."
"Why did you jump a fence?"
"To get to the stream."
Despite the fact that I felt like I was stuck in the song "There's a Hole in the Bucket," myself being Eliza and Ike being Henry, I was impressed. We managed to extinguish the smell quickly, and make our way to Eureka. I hand washed all the emesis-filled items in the footed tub as soon as we got there.
Many of my friends are vacationing in tropical locales this late winter/early spring. Hawaii, Rio (for Carnivale), and Costa Rica. You might think I am jealous, but you would be wrong. Amarillo has something those places haven't got. My brand new niece and nephew twins, now five months old, ready to meet. My pathologist brother-in-law - I am excited to see his hospital/practice for the first time. My amazingly beautiful (Raphaelite - according to my former chair), intelligent (she is defending a thesis in Dallas this week), and artsy sister-in-law. I can't wait to pick her brains about how she got stabbed at Vino's in the back, which I learned on her facebook 25 random things. Her ultra-calm personality is antithesis to inviting knife wounds.
Amarillo also has signs like these, which are scattered around Route 66 (a Nat King Cole song). An eccentric billionaire named Stanley Marsh III sponsors these random artistic road signs. There are over 200. There were so many cool ones on a website I found I couldn't decide which ones to post. The one below is Igor.
"Art is a legalized form of insanity, and I do it very well."
Stanley Marsh III