Greetings From: Amarillo, Texas

Visitors look at the buried cars at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.

by Michael Boyink. mike@douglascountyherald.com

“I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment’s gone

All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind

All they are is dust in the wind.

© Kerry A Livgren / Sony / ATV Music

Maybe you remember the song from the rock group Kansas.

Or maybe you remember Keanu Reeves’ character Bill S. Preston, Esquire quoting the lyric to “So-craytes” (Socrates) in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Either way, the message of Dust in the Wind is rarely as clear as when visiting the Cadillac Ranch just outside of Amarillo, Texas.

Created in 1974 by the art group Ant Farm, the Cadillac Ranch originally served to show the rise and fall of the tailfin in American car design.

The eclectic art installation is in the middle of a field, accessible from a highway frontage road.

Ten used Cadillacs ranging from 1949 to 1963 model years – were sourced and buried nose-first into land owned by Stanley Marsh 3, a local millionaire considered “eccentric.”

What makes the Cadillac Ranch different from other large art installations is that graffiti by visitors is encouraged rather than prohibited. 

And visitors, it seems, are more than willing to take up that offer.

There’s no entrance pass. No guestbook. No way to track the number of visitors to the Cadillac Ranch each year.

But, like counting rings on a fresh-fallen tree, the dozens of layers of paint on each hulk of a car tells the story.

The attraction is so popular that each freshly-painted name, slogan, logo, or shoutout is only visible for a moment, and then that moment is gone.

On the day that we visited, the frontage road parking was busy with RVs, classic cars on Route 66 trips, minvans from daytripping families and – a surprise to me – rental cars from driven by people visiting from other countries.

I couldn’t count the number of different languages I heard as we wove our way through the row of upended Cadillacs.

We had come prepared. Not surprisingly, the local Walmart had a large selection of $0.99 cans of spray paint.

I chose the roof of a Cadillac in the middle of the pack.

Leaving our temporary mark on one of the cars at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.

I started with white, painting a large blank canvas to help my work stand out from cacophony of paint on the rest of the car.

Then within the white frame, I painted a rough version of our travel blog name and logo in black.

 I stood back, admiring my work. I shot a few photos as keepsakes.

A middle-aged couple had been watching. He caught my eye, said a few words in a language I didn’t understand, but motioned towards my can of spray paint. 

Understanding, I handed him the paint. 

And danged if he didn’t spray his mark right over mine.

Dust in the wind.

The Cadillac Ranch is located west of the Amarillo city line on the south side of I-40 (old Route 66). Take exit 60, and follow the frontage road back east. Enter through the gate. Don’t paint anything but the cars.