7:40 p.m. Aug. 8----
When I drove down Route 66 in 1991, part of the fun was choosing roadside motels at random. Some of my favorite stops were the Wagon Wheel Inn ($15 a night) in Cuba, Mo. and the funky Oatman Hotel high atop Oatman, Az.--which I've also done as a day trip from Las Vegas.
Of course I'm usually alone so there's no debate about suspicious neon signs.
Apparently this hasn't been the case for Paul McCartney and his girl friend Nancy Shevell as they holiday down Route 66.
They made reservations for Wednesday night's stay at the Ambassador Hotel, 3100 I-40 West in Amarillo, Tx. The luxurious 20-year-old hotel is about 10 blocks off of Route 66. "The only request they made is that they are vegetarians," hotel general manager Phyllis Payne told me on Friday............
"We have a diverse menu and a T.G.I.Fridays in the hotel with vegetarian options. We have vegetarian breakfast on our concierge level. They also asked for privacy. We've had many celebrities stay here. Celine Dion. Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton came through when they started dating, doing the Route 66 deal. (Actor) Matthew McConaughey. Route 66 is a fun trip, going back in Americana."
Payne said McCartney and Shevelll stayed in the Presidential Suite, which is themed like a Texas cattle baron. "Everything is leather as if you were a rich rancher," she said. "I think they got a kick out of that."
Get ready for Sir Paul's first hard core country album---you read it here first.
Payne said McCartney parked his '89 Ford Bronco himself outside the hotel. "We did our V.I.P. exit deal and they were off Thursday morning," she said. "We packed a vegetarian lunch for them to eat on the way. A couple of avocado, tomato, onion and lettuce sandwiches. Some organic chips. Fruit. Green tea and water and some peanut brittle. They were extremely gracious. And I love the way he says my name. He called my office to thank us and said (slowly), 'Phyllis, this is Paul,' and I was like, 'Oh man! He was my first crush.
"They had some laundry things that needed to be taken care of and a limited amount of time. We gave them recommendations on things to do in the area. They wanted to go to Cadillac Ranch, which I think they did quickly. At that point the press knew they were on the road---and probably on their tail."
Cadillac Ranch (popularized in song by Bruce Springsteen) is outside of Amarillo. Pop-businessman Stanley Marsh 3 created the "Stonehenge of America" by planting 10 Cadillacs nose down in a field at the same angles as Egypt's Great Pyrmaid. The night I visited, Marsh's vision of the American dream seemed to have a lonely and sterile feel. That was 17 summers ago.
"People can walk out there and put their mark on a car," Payne said. "Who knows, maybe they said 'Paul and Nancy were here.'"
Payne was a lot more accommodating than the Oklahoma City hotel manager I talked to a few days ago.
I told Payne I bet the Route 66 trip was Nancy's idea.
"More power to her," she said. "We should all have more romantic ideas like this."