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Severe storms strike Texas Panhandle March 29, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Towns, Weather.
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According to the Amarillo Globe-News:

[T]hree tractor-trailers were tangled together when what is believed to be a tornado crossed Interstate 40 between Groom and McLean.

According to DPS, there were two injuries out of one of the trucks, one with serious injuries and the other with critical injuries. The westbound lane was closed.

At least six homes were damaged in McLean, according to police, and roofs, barns and power lines were taken down by the storm. No other injuries were reported in the immediate area.

Carolyn Frost, owner of the Red River Steakhouse in McLean, said all the lights were out in town around 9 p.m.

Her restaurant had a few windows broken out from the storm, she said. When the storm moved through, there were about 20 people in the restaurant. She also reported golf-ball-size hail.

“We can’t see anything right now,” Frost said.

McLean and Groom are on Route 66.

As bad as it was, that area fared better than the Oklahoma Panhandle, where two people died because of a twister in Beaver County.

A whole lotta shakin’ March 29, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Towns.
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The Alibi, an alternative newspaper in Albuquerque, examines a Duke City issue that likely hasn’t occurred to many people — the area is prone to earthquakes and volcanoes.

Route 66 travelers are at least vaguely aware about earthquakes when they travel Southern California. In fact, portions of the San Andreas Fault can be seen from the Mother Road. Less known is that the St. Louis area could experience a potentially destructive quake in the future because of the New Madrid Fault.

But volcanoes? Yes, says University of New Mexico geology professor Fred Lawrence.

The Rio Grand Rift, which extends from Central New Mexico to Central Colorado, is a regional tectonic feature wherein the ground is pulled apart while a chunk of land sinks into the Earth. “As the crust pulls apart,” says Lawrence, “the reduced pressure at great depth results in a lower melting temperature for the mantle, which then melts, and following an earthquake, the magma may be able to escape to the surface. With time, the Southwest U.S. will continue to extend, and the Rift will likely continue along with it. This in turn means we will, for the foreseeable future, have earthquakes and possibly active volcanoes.”

Indeed, there are dormant volcanoes just west of town, including a big one the locals call “Maneater.” So the good professor isn’t speaking solely from theory.

The Alibi article goes on to give appropriate earthquake preparedness tips, but the tips to surviving a volcano border on the ludicrous.

Earthquakes often strike without warning, so some survival advice seems at least warranted.

Volcanoes, on the other hand, generally rumble and steam for months, even years, before blowing their tops. I would assume that most intelligent folks nearby, seeing the ominous signs, would have had the sense to move away instead of stocking up on gas masks and hoping to tough it out against Maneater.

Grand Canyon Skywalk opens March 29, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events.
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The much-ballyhooed Grand Canyon Skywalk opened to the public Wednesday. Lines were long, and more than 700 people strolled on the Skywalk in the first two hours.

Here’s a report by KVOA-TV in Tuscon, Ariz., including video.

Here’s a report from the Arizona Republic.

Here’s a recent CNN video about the pros and cons of the Skywalk:

Randy’s of Wildorado is moving March 27, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Restaurants.
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A reader tipped me off that the fine-dining restaurant on Route 66 in Wildorado, Texas, is moving to nearby downtown Amarillo.

Sure enough, Randy’s Web site says the restaurant closed its Wildorado location on Feb. 17 and is moving into the historic Paramount Building at 817 S. Polk, about two blocks south of Route 66. The restaurant will be renamed Randy’s at the Paramount. It plans to reopen next month after renovations.

I have mixed feelings about Randy’s moving from that delightfully dinky Route 66 town. But he’s traded it for a historic location that’s being preserved. It’s mostly a win-win.

Grand Canyon Skywalk opens tomorrow March 27, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events.
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The Grand Canyon Skywalk opens to the public at 10 a.m. local time tomorrow, reports KVBC-TV in Las Vegas. The story also has plenty of other details if you want to go there. Reservations are recommended.

Chris Kahn of the Associated Press took a tentative but ultimately rewarding stroll on the Skywalk during a media preview:

Finally, at the farthest point on the Skywalk, I stopped and peered through the transparent floor.

And there it was.

The cliff descended several hundred feet before it hit a narrow boulder-strewn shelf. Then it was straight down again, past a rainbow of strata, a few more chiseled ledges and into a dark crevice at the bottom.

This must be what Wile E. Coyote sees, I thought, just before gravity takes hold and he plummets into a little cartoon poof.

Far to the left, I could see ripples in the Colorado River. To the right was the triangular dip in the canyon wall that looks like the outstretched wings of a bird and gives this place its name: Eagle Point.

It was gorgeous.

“Voices from Route 66″ March 27, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Radio.
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Joe Loesch of Readio Theatre teaches eight students in an advanced voice-over class. He used those students in about a four-minute “Voices from Route 66″ podcast. You can listen to it here:

(Hat tip to Readio Theatre blog.) 

Cyber-driving March 26, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, History, Magazines, People, Photographs, Restaurants, Vehicles, Web sites.
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This Associated Press article touts a bunch of Web sites for people who want to take a virtual road trip down Route 66 and other historic highways if they can’t do the real thing.

Many of these sites have already been linked here, but a few interesting finds turned up:

  • StateEnds.com has a group of people in 11 states that has documented and photographed where each highway in their respective state ends. No Route 66 states are listed — yet.
  • Roadside Online, which specializes in diners.
  • The AP story didn’t cite this, but today I found a site dedicated to Gus Wilson of the Model Garage, who wrote stories about his life as an auto mechanic for Popular Science Monthly. The site has 91 percent of Wilson’s writings archived from 1925 to 1970.
  • A Web site that specializes in the National Road, especially in Pennsylvania.
  • The big find is American Mile Markers, in which the extraordinarily dedicated Matt Frondorf shot one photograph for every mile along a 3,304-mile trip from New York City to San Francisco. Even though the journey didn’t follow Route 66, the visual travelogue produces the same sort of awe of our country’s diversity and vastness that the Mother Road does. Frondorf also wisely avoided the interstates during his quest.
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