Route 54 – Where Are You?
The trip from Tucumcari, New Mexico up through Texas and Oklahoma to Meade, Kansas was delightfully uneventful. After watering up with mediocre-tasting drinking water at the travel stop in Tucumcari, I set out heading northeast on US 54. It pretty much makes a beeline for Meade, some 245 miles or 4 hours over nearly flat country. You just kind of set the cruise control, turn the A/C on low, and relax.
One stop worth noting is Lea Ann’s, a nondescript little restaurant in Texahoma, Oklahoma. I’d had trouble finding any local cafes along the way that hadn’t been put out of business by the local truck stops, and many of the towns were in pre-ghost town status anyway. It was 2 PM when I spotted Lea Ann’s. It was just Lea Ann, one cook or helper, Lea Ann’s little son trying not to be bored, and one other customer. The place’s walls were lined with old tin signs. I ordered a simple cheeseburger, fries and a cola, and broke out an ebook on my iPhone. No big deal. I had a couple hours of driving left.
I have to say, what resulted was very likely the very best and most savory cheeseburger I’ve ever experienced. Nobody thinks much of ordinary old cheeseburgers these days, I don’t, and I no longer have them very often. I’d asked her to run it through the garden, and after one bite, I didn’t even bother adding ketchup. It was heavenly. Even the fries were superb. I wound up taking my time in enjoying it all instead of rushing through to hit the road again. I wouldn’t think twice about going twenty miles out of my way to eat there again. It’s that good.
Lea Ann was surprised when I told her I’d been a few laps around the track when it came to cheeseburgers, and that hers was best of show. She smiled and shrugged, saying “Well, my grandparents ran this place for twenty-five years, and I just make them the same way they did.” I suppose it’s like getting used to franchise donuts, then when you taste bakery donuts (if you can find them now) or even homemade, you discover that something was lost in the march to progress. It was a foodie experience.
There’s a city park in Meade with plenty of big shade trees, playgrounds and a swimming pool. There are no designated camping spots here, only a few signs indicating where you shouldn’t camp. Since I rolled in about 4:30 and rain clouds were heading in, I jettisoned dreams of having to park in the hot sun for solar, and parked in tree shade. A little roof vent fan action, and cabin temps are livable and getting better. For me, a memorable day.