The Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas


Throw out all conceptions you have about road trips until your 9 hour each way driving estimate turns into a 14 hour adventure. When some “use it or lose it” vacation time arrived at the end of 2018, I scrambled to figure out how best to fill my time. Long have I wanted to travel to Amarillo for some choice Panhandle location shots and exploring a part of Texas I had yet to see. Cadillac Ranch ties another location to be featured later in 2019 on my Boombox Bucket list, so I quickly moved to pack up and head out.

I had this vision in my head, probably from a postcard, of a dry and somewhat barren area. Tumbleweeds rolling off in the distance. What disrupted my envisioned permanent summer ended up being a little more extensive than permafrost. Late December 2018 brought in a large snowstorm to the Panhandle, something that Houston doesn’t always have the same awareness of. I figured it would be cold, but the level of particulars otherwise was pretty minimal in my mind. I set out to find large open areas of plains, grassland, and half buried American built relics firmly placed in the ground.

Conceptually, the Cadillac Ranch is a public art space, encouraging visitors to spray paint the cars. You find a range of skill level with the aerosol cans as a medium; sometimes t’s initials, symbols or even a certain media company logo that produces this blog all tagged across the visible areas of the vehicles. In that way, the experience becomes interactive, albeit temporarily because someone else will eventually cover your work with their own. You basically make your mark on the world, and then you move onto the fact that it’s Thursday. Poetic, right?

It seems harsh to believe that what we work so hard to achieve is relatively small in the universe, but there is truth there. It is both critical and comforting. What we stress over, will forever pale in comparison to the totality of our existence, despite what we can choose to convince ourselves in any given moment. “Had a rough day?” turns into “How rough of a day does one have to achieve before changing their narrative?”. It’s about perspective really.

To those headed to Amarillo to visit The Cadillac Ranch, before I suggest anything else, I implore you to bring a trash bag and help to maintain the site by trashing used caps and cans that others might have left on the grounds around you. Leave a place better than you found it. Ok, back from my PSA.

The track I chose this post is George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning”. While ultimately, this is the premiere song I could think of about Amarillo, I also think that it frames the Cadillac Ranch conversation about self actualization well. Even if you have no saddle and a broken leg (both things that I would say might make a day register as bad), there’s always Amarillo tomorrow.

Make your mark, then move onto the fact that it’s Thursday. There is much to be done, and many more memories to be made.

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