Tucumcari Tonite – Day 36

Tucumcari Tonite

Day 36 – May 6, 2003 – Tuesday

Week 6 begins.  This is Day 36.  36,993 on the odometer.  8,957 miles so far.  Leaving Albuquerque.  Back on Route 66.


I dropped recorder #4 on the carpet.  Just a little drop while trying to juggle too many items at once.  It didn’t fall far, and it didn’t fall hard.  But the compartment door where the tape goes no longer opens, though I can pry it open just far enough to put tapes in and pull them out.  These tape recorders are an invaluable tool, but what a hassle they’ve been.  We did find the missing travel alarm clock and one of the two missing lens caps, so we are doing pretty well in the holding on to our stuff category.  We have had several encounters with men trying to steal my camera, but we’ve managed to keep the camera and stay out of harm’s way.  When around rough-looking folks, I always put the camera strap around my neck; it looks a little silly… but it makes it much harder for someone to grab the camera.


We put the top down for the first time in a long time.  The last warm weather was Day 24 in Tucson!  The top went back up after 11 miles.  I guess we wanted it to be warmer, but it wasn’t.

An old Conoco station appeared in Barton, and we stopped for a few photos.  We also stopped at the old 66 Craft House to see some funky sculptures.


New Mexico State Highway Patrolman Max stopped to say hello while I was on the side of the road taking photos of the ruins of an old trading post near Moriarty, New Mexico.  He asked about the book and posed for two photos.


This property was fenced off, and there was an animal cruelty notice stuck on the fence for animal neglect.  Being big animal lovers, Bozzie Jane and I feel the penalties should be much stronger for people who mistreat animals.


We saw some interesting Route 66 businesses in Moriarty.


The Route 66 maps that we bought – one for each state – have been invaluable on our trip.  That said, we have found two specific points where the maps were totally wrong.  East of Moriarty is one of those spots.


Route 66 Magazine has a very good suggestion about traveling Route 66: “When traveling Route 66, keep your expectations low, and just appreciate whatever is there.”


We came across another old ruins of some type of building, and when I investigated further, I found a cement container of sorts that had the faint words “Snake Pit” still visible.  I appreciated that it was there, and I wonder whether it used to be a roadside snake attraction.  It isn’t listed in any of the books we have.


Our next adventure was the search for the wagon wheel at Longhorn Ranch.  Ace Navigatrix Bozzie Jane spotted this on our New Mexico Route 66 map.  We saw the Longhorn Ranch, but no wagon wheel.  I was determined to find it, so I drove to the dead ends of both access roads, but no wagon wheel.  We retraced our path, but no wagon wheel.  We drove all around the ruins of what was the Longhorn Ranch roadside attraction, but no wagon wheel.  We finally decided that it is probably now in a Route 66 museum somewhere along the route.


It was sad to see the huge pile of rubble that used to be Longhorn Ranch.  A “bank” building is still standing – just barely, and there is a motel operating across the road as well as a modern gas station.


Ten miles down the road, we finally found Wagon Wheel.  It turns out Ace Navigatrix Bozzie thought Wagon Wheel was something to see in the town of Longhorn Ranch, but it was actually the next town over.  We got a good laugh out of it.  There wasn’t anything to see in the town of Wagon Wheel.  An upside down restaurant sign out back of a building, but that was about it.  Not even a  wagon wheel.


Clines Corners has been a way station for travelers since the 1930’s with a great selection of souvenirs.  We needed gifts for three upcoming visits with friends and family, so we stopped to check it out.  It’s a big place with a lot of souvenirs – mainly Indian-themed items.  Lots of tacky stuff.  We found three items that we thought were pretty funny – a double teepee-shaped picture frame, a plaster of paris clock with an eagle holding an American flag, and a bobblehead Indian chief.  We hope the Shanklins, Robertsons, and Overalls enjoy them as much as we enjoyed picking them out.  Corinne and Loretta helped us at the cash register.  Corinne gave us free batteries for the clock.  They were both very excited to be in the book.  They said the bobblehead Indian chief was a new item, but it had been selling really well.  I asked if the clock had a Swiss movement.  She didn’t know.  I’m pretty sure it has a Taiwan movement.


Many of the little towns we stopped to see had nothing to see.  There were no commercial buildings at all.  In some cases, there was nothing at all.


The Flying C Ranch was listed on our Route 66 map, so we expected something appropriately old.  I was very disappointed to find a relatively modern DQ and Citgo station.  The place is owned by “Bowlins.”  I first saw what was purported to be something old in southern New Mexico just to find a shiny, new Bowlins service station and gift store.  These folks may be some of the people Ross Ward was referring to when he made the sign at Tinkertown that reads: “There are souless men who would destroy but time and man will never build again.”


I looked around Milagro for some bean fields, but Bozzie Jane says that is MEXICO not NEW Mexico.  So we drove on.


There just isn’t much to see for the 114 miles between Albuquerque and Santa Rosa.


Santa Rosa is another story.  Santa Rosa has the 1927 Comet Drive-In Restaurant, other great old buildings like the Lake City Diner and the old Guadalupe County Courthouse, and what’s left of a real Route 66 landmark, the Club Café.  The Club Café was built in 1935, and it used a distinctive billboard with a cartoon of a fat man.  The café is gone, but its signs remain, and the fat man is now the property of Joseph’s Restaurant.


We enjoyed some excellent Mexican food at Joseph’s, and we met some nice people.  Rick, Dave, Jason, Ray, and Jose.  The beads got several conversations started.  Jose suggested that we go see the town of Puerta de Luna (famous because Billy the Kid ate his last Christmas dinner there), and Ray gave us directions to see the Blue Hole.


We saw the old Saint Rose Chapel on the way to the Blue Hole.  The Blue Hole is a unique spot – a hole 81-feet deep, 60 feet in diameter with 61 degree water that is crystal clear.  Divers love it.


Puerta de Luna had the old Nuestra Senora de Refugio Church, an old courthouse, and the Graelachowski territorial House – famous in part because Billy the Kid had his last Christmas dinner there.  It was a pleasant drive.


We saw the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa.  Between Santa Rosa and Cuervo, we found another ruins that we had not read about anywhere – the Frontier Museum.  It was a big place and was obviously old, so we wondered why we hadn’t read about it.  Perhaps it wasn’t as old as it appeared to be.


When we reached Cuervo about 6 pm, the sun was already getting dim.  I thought I saw what would be an interesting-looking old building off Route 66.  Cuervo is mainly a ghost town, so we saw a number of picturesque old buildings/ruins.  To get to the old building I had noticed, we crossed the railroad tracks where we hit a gravel road.  It turned into a red dirt road. Then a red dirt road with cactus in the crown of the road.  Hearing that scraping noise under the little white convertible is pretty unsettling, but I was determined at this point.  We scraped along until we saw barbed wire scattered across the “road.”  I got out to take a few photos, but the fading sun was behind heavy clouds, and I’m afraid about all we have to show for this adventure will be the scratches on the underside of the car.  You just never know; sometimes these little excursions pay off, and sometimes they don’t.  I will always regret the little investigative side trips that we didn’t take…never those we took that didn’t pan out.


Newkirk and Montoya had some great ghost service stations.  Boz took some excellent photos in Ceurvo, Newkirk, and Montoya.


The Tucumcari Tonite billboard campaign has been successful for 60 years in promoting Tucumcari as the place to spend the night along this wide open stretch of road (104 miles to Amarillo and 173 miles to Albuquerque).  Once billed as the town two blocks wide and two miles long, the town is now eight miles long and about two blocks wide.  It once had 2,000 rooms; now closer to 1,200 – mainly rooms in small independent motels.  It was a great place to take photos of motel signs.  Tucumcari Tonite.


Perhaps the most famous of the Tucumcari motels is the Blue Swallow, primarily because of the cool neon sign with a blue neon swallow.  The Blue Swallow was built in 1942, acquired by Lillian Redman as a wedding gift in 1958, and she operated it successfully for over 40 years with homespun hospitality and by endearing herself to generations of guests.  Patrick told us to be sure to stop and go in and see it, so we did.  I told the new owner that we were writing a book, but he just told me to knock myself out taking photos, and he went back into his living quarters adjoining the motel office.  I was very unimpressed with him.  The new owners probably won’t succeed with this attitude.  I did get a pretty good photo of the sunset over the Blue Swallow.

As we gassed up on the outskirts of Tucumcari, we met Rita.  She is a nurse originally from Tulia, Texas.  Rita REALLY wanted my purple beads.  She said she would do ANYTHING to get those purple beads.  She proceeded to lift her top and flash me – right there in front of Bozzie Jane.  I thanked her for her interest, but I told her the beads are lucky beads, and I just couldn’t give them away.  I did take her picture and promised her she would be in the book.  She offered to flash again for the camera, but we declined the invitation.  I have, however, purchased a case of beads as gifts throughout the second half of the trip.  Tucumcari Tonite.


I am disappointed that the sun set before we got to the border towns in Texas.  It was black as the Ace of Spades all the way to Amarillo.  So, we didn’t get to see the first/last motel in Texas in the town of Glenrio.  In fact, we never even saw a sign for the town.  It’s in Deaf Smith County.  The town actually straddles New Mexico and Texas and is supposed to have some great old abandoned buildings – something anyone who has read a day or two worth of these reports knows I enjoy seeing.  We’ll just have to go another time.


We did stop in Adrian as I wanted to get a photo of the midpoint on Route 66.  Adrian is exactly half way (1,139 miles) between Santa Monica and Chicago.  I managed a couple of flash photos of what I could see right next to the road.


The time changed to Central Daylight Time when we crossed into Texas, so it was 10:30 pm when I met Rugby at the desk of the Marriott Residence Inn in Amarillo.  I also met Rugby’s girlfriend, Courtney, and Cedric, his roommate and the all-night man at the Inn.  Rugby didn’t even pause for a second when I asked him what – other than the Cadillac Ranch and Big Texan Steak Ranch – he felt was the most unique thing to see in Amarillo.  He gave me precise directions to the sawed off giant’s legs in a field south of town.  All right!  Rugby knows quirky!

As to the lesson for the day, the words of Ross Ward are ringing in my ears: “There are souless men who would destroy but time and man will never build again.”  I hate to see historic old buildings torn down to make way for something new.  It also never ceases to amaze how some folks can buy a business that has been successful for many years and proceed to make it unsuccessful in short order.  We should all learn from the past.  I love the story about the discussion between a father and son about which professional to hire.  The son favored a young man not long out of school while the father favored an old gray-haired man.  “The young man knows the rules, but the older man knows the exceptions.”



We’re finally leaving the hotel at noon on May 6; 36993 on the odometer; it’s warm enough to have the top off for the first time in several days—72 degrees.

We’ve been going a couple of miles and the temperature is already down to 69 degrees.

We had to leave town on I 40 but you exit at 170 Carnueil, then you’re on 333 East which is Route 66.

37004 The temperature dropped 63 degrees. We pulled over to put the top up.

Route 66 at one time looped up around Santa Fe, but since we chose to go on the Turquoise Trail we are not going to spend the time to go that way. We will go the straight route.

Tiheras 37007 12:28pm There is a big herd of bicyclists passing us. I should note that I dropped the recorder. This is our 4th. A few cities back the compartment you open to put the tape in no longer works properly. I doubt this one will last the whole trip. I should also note that we found the travel alarm clock that was missing, and one of the two lens caps. I’m pretty sure the other lens cap now lives in Big Bend near the dust storm area.

I took a mailbox near Tiheras

37018 12:45 I took a number of pictures of Bruster’s Connaco Station; I don’t know what town we’re in yet. Probably the town of Barton.

37022 12:55 Edgewood

37023 12:57 We’re stopping at the Old 66 Crafthouse; they have some cool stuff.

37025 We met state highway patrolman Max. He was very nice, and pulled up when I was taking pictures of this trading post gas station. We don’t know the city. There are tons of neat old cars out back that would be the type to be of interest to collectors.

We believe there should be stronger penalties for people who are cruel to animals. Back at that property, there was an animal cruelty notice on the fence dated today for neglect. It said they were going to take them away if the person didn’t respond.

Moriarty elevation = 6200

I’m taking various Route 66 signs in Moriarty, including Phillip 66 who very cleverly has Kicks 66 on the front of their service stations along 66. We have “get your flicks,” coming up a big giant starbursty thing.

It’s a little tricky leaving Moriarty. You have the ability to get on the north service road but we did not see a place to do it and found ourselves up on the interstate. We had to do a U-turn in the median, and now we’ll get on it.

We back tracked 1 mile to 41 to get on the service road which is also Abrahames Road.

The maps are incorrect. The only way to get on the frontage road which is Route 66 is by going over Hwy 41. We will publish our own maps and become the experts.

We took a picture of the crop at Turf Grass Ranch—it’s turf, the kind you would have on a golf course.

Route 66 Magazine makes a very good suggestion: keep your level of expectation low and just appreciate whatever is there.

We’re driving past the Longhorn Ranch in search of the Wagon wheel. We’ve gone several miles down a road that says dead end. We have not seen a wagon wheel yet; our expectations are not high, but if up around this bend is a wagon wheel we’ll pretty tickled.

Exit 203 is where this wagon wheel is supposed to be but we have not seen it.

I think we’re in the town of Wagon Wheel. We did find the ruins to the Longhorn Ranch. There were big old piles of rubble. We got a picture of the sign. I’m betting somebody got the wagon wheel for a Route 66 Museum. The Longhorn Ranch is not actually in Wagon Wheel, it’s probably 3 or 4 miles outside of it.

37054 2:11 We’re getting of to see if there’s anything in Wagon Wheel.

There isn’t anything in wagon wheel. We took a picture of an upside down motel sign. There is a service station but it’s no the north side of the service road so we’re passing on that.

Cline’s Corner says “been a traveler’s weigh station since the 1930’s.” As I recall, the book said the assortment of gifts and souvenirs is really good, but the food is just ordinary. We won’t be eating in Cline’s Corners.

37064 2:20 Cline’s Corners We’re at 7200 feet.

It’s 2:43 and we just left Cline’s Corners where we met Corrin and Loretta (on the left in the photo). We bough some very nice gifts for Linda and Steve, a lovely teepee picture frame, a bobble head Indian chief for George, and a beautiful eagle holding a couple of American flags as a Swiss movement clock for Judy and Ward.

Now we have to try and keep a straight face as we present the gifts.

Corrin gave us free batteries for the clock.

37078 2:54 We’re at the exit for Villa Nueva in Sceno and we see a sign for the 9 Bar Headquarters.

There does not appear to be anything here except a cute dog.

Sceno and Villa Nueva seem to be way off the highway.

37083 3:00 We’re getting off at the exit for the flying sea ranch which is a truck stop/car stop. It’s exit 234 off I 40.

Flyin C Ranch is just a relatively modern Dairy Queen and a Citgo station that sells souvenirs and fireworks. It used to be something good, but the Bowlins people who have a number of truck stops in several states have obviously taking what was once nice and old and turned it into something new and not particularly nice.

We’re exiting 37093 3:08 at Milagro, famous for the bean fields.

We didn’t see anything from a scan of the highway in Milagro; no beans, so we’re hitting the road.

Between Albuquerque and Santa Rosa which we’ve not yet come to, there just isn’t anything. You just see fields. We have lowered our altitude. It’s 76 degrees, and we’re still about 15 miles out of Santa Rosa. Basically, you see grassland with little junipers.

It’s very cloudy today, and there could be some rain somewhere.

37123 We’re getting off at exit 273 Santa Rosa. We get several exits now to drive on Route 66 and see highly cool stuff.

We’re just inside the city limits of Santa Rosa, and we got a picture of Joseph’s with a fat man on the billboard.

As we enter Santa Rosa, we see the Oasis Motel. We didn’t get a picture because they’re doing some paving work on the road out of front. There were several other old looking places.

37125 3:37 We’re crossing the PecosRiver

I took a picture of the Comet Drive-In at the Mexican restaurant; it’s been in business since 1927.

Took a picture of the Lake City Diner and the Guadalupe County Courthouse, the old one. Rick was kind enough to let us take his picture; he was wearing an Ol’ Glory T-shirt. Dave and Jason let me take their picture out at Joseph’s.

Ray was the cashier, and we met Jose as we paid. They were very friendly, and the food was very good. I had a Mexican plate, Barbara had a Acapulco avocado covered burger. Now we’re going to go to the Blue Hole and maybe check out a little forestry; they have a really nice colored book here for Route 66.

We took a picture of the historic Saint Rose Chapel.

We’re at the Blue Hole 37129 4:42pm

The complete stats for the Blue Hole from the book we got: 81 feet deep, 60 feet in diameter, water temperature is 61 degrees, and completely clear. The report on the blue hole is very nice.

We’re taking a detour to Puerta de Luna; we’re on Hwy 91 which is 3rd Street as you come in from town.

Puerta de Luna was recommended by Jose.

If we don’t get rain today, it will be amazing because the clouds look like rain everywhere. In “PDL,” as the locals call it, Billy the Kidd had his last Christmas dinner.

Puerta de Luna 37138 5:00pm We see a pretty church, we’re not sure if it’s famous but we’re going to find out.

This is the Nuestra Senora de Refugio Catholic Church.

I took a picture of a flag in front of the Graelachowski—this is where Billy the Kidd had his last Christmas meal.

We got a few pictures of the house, and we got one of the original county courthouse.

37150 5:25 We’re back in beautiful Santa Rosa.

37153 5:30 We’re at the Route 66 Auto Museum. It’s 76 degrees at 5:30; it’s about the warmest it’s been today.

The first train for Bozzie today. The overcast is gone at about 5:45 and we have blue sky again. It’s the beads.

Exit 284 is not noted on the map as having anything but as we blazed by it had bunches of old ruined stuff. We’re headed back there.

The sign on one of the buildings say Frontier Museum. We have no idea what town it’s in and we haven’t read about this.

Well, the Frontier Museum clearly has to be something. I’m surprised that we haven’t read anything about it anywhere. It’s all decayed and fallen it, but it probably dates back to the ride era.

The Frontier Museum is quite large. It looked like it was multiple store fronts and I just took little pieces of it.

Quervo 37174 5:57pm

We’ve taken some old buildings, took an interesting drive down an old dirt road to a Baptist church. Part of the sign was missing and we couldn’t read what the name of the church was. It seemed like it was something…”Betty First Baptist Church”

Barbara photographed the Quervo Church.

Bozzie got another train 37184, 75 degrees, 6:22pm, and we’re in New Kirk looking for Filling? Station Deal.

As we take these 2 lane sections of Route 66, we just don’t ever see any other cars in either direction. The only time you ever do is if you’re in some little town and there’s little town people. It’s just completely and totally isolated except for Bozzie Jane and me.

Montoya 37197 6:44pm There is something up in the mountain here. It looks like triangles of cement or something. It’s real weird and teepee like in a way.

Barbara took some pictures of Richardson’s Store with the Sinclair Gasoline sign in Montoya. It looks like there’s some cool things here beside the tracks but we’ve had enough excursions for today.

There are three different ghost service stations in Montoya.

37210 7:00pm We’re at Polomas—exit 321 off the I-40 and back on Route 66.

We’re almost to Tucumcari the city two blocks wide and two miles long as they used to say. In actuality it’s 8 to 10 miles long.  Tucumcari Tonite.

We saw the Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari  but we are probably covered for our dinosaur museums.

We’re in the city limits of Tucumcari 37219 7:08pm and 4085 elevation.


It’s a little after 8 and we’re several miles east of Tucumcari Tonite. We’ll roll into Amarillo tonight, we’ll back track a little tomorrow morning to get Cadillac Ranch. There are a lot of motels and that’s about all there is.

37238 8:08 The land is pretty flat. We have some little rocky like hills, but other than that it’s pretty flat. It reminds you of West Texas.

We’re at the exit for Bard 37252 8:20pm. We don’t even see a light, so we’re not exiting. We have not read about there being any attractions in Bard.

We’ll roll into Amarillo tonight, we’ll back track a little tomorrow morning to get Cadillac Ranch. There are a lot of motels and that’s about all there is.

It’s interesting that the vast majority of towns that we’ve gone to probably didn’t have any traffic lights at all.

We’re at the exit for Indy 37261. 8:25pm

37265 We’re in Texas 8:30pm and with the time change it makes it 9:30pm

Shortly after entering Texas, a tumbling tumbleweed blew across the highway right in front of the car. That may give you an indication of what the terrain is like out here.

We never saw Glen Rio for the first and last motel in Texas.

37287 9:46 Central Time. We’re in Adrian, the midpoint between Santa Monica and Chicago on Route 66. Adrian—you’ll never be the same.

37289 We just finished taking a picture of the midpoint and a few other things by dark.

37295 We’re in the town of Landergin 10:05 Central

Vega, Texas 37303 10:13

There’s not much happening in Vega at night; probably wouldn’t be much happening in the day time.

37317 Willow Derado. I know it’s got some really good stuff but Bozzie won’t let me go there. It’s 10:27 Central

Bushland 37326 and 10:35pm. Bushland has a number of major statues and things to Route 66 but Barbara will not let me exit. She says it’s a bedroom community, and we have a bed for that same unmentionable prize.

We arrived at the Residence Inn in Amarillo about 10:00pm. Rugby got us all checked in and we met Courtney, his girlfriend, and Cedric. Rugby told me about a place to go on the road between here and Canyon for a unique sight and a unique story. We get off at Sundown Lane and he isn’t going to tell me the story but to read about it when I get there. This was an answer to “what’s the most unique thing in Amarillo other than the Cadillac Ranch and Big Tex Steakhouse?”

It was Lester’s Conoco Station we saw today early on. Loretta and Corrine were the ladies at Cline’s Corner.

Tucumcari Tonite.

Santa Fe New Mexico – Day 35

Santa Fe New Mexico

Day 35 – May 5, 2003 – Monday

Santa Fe New Mexico is certainly a beautiful place.  The sky and the clouds here have a beauty unlike I have seen elsewhere.  I just assume the sky always looks the way it has during our extensive two-day visit.


We tried to reach Michael Aster, but the telephone number we had was answered by someone who had never heard of him.  I took over management of a company in Europe from Michael in 1992, and Boz and I thoroughly enjoyed the time we had spent with Michael.  Among other things, he is an extremely talented jazz drummer as well as a wonderful person with a huge smile.  We also loved his then seven-year-old son, Ari.  Ari was a child prodigy artist, so we expected to see some of his work in Santa Fe.  Ari was a child of the sequels, so when Michael and Bobbi were about to have their second child, Ari thought the baby should be named Ari II.

Bozzie Jane and I spent most of the day just walking around.  We walked around the Plaza area again.  We saw the Charlene Cody Gallery and met artist Bruce Cody.  Boz noticed paintings of old service stations that she knew I would like, and they were Bruce’s.  We enjoyed talking with him, and I have shared some photos of sights that Bruce might like to paint.


We saw two police cars in front of the Plaza Restaurant, and the officers confirmed that it was an excellent place to eat.  It is always a good idea to eat where you see multiple police cars.  The Plaza Restaurant has been serving since 1918.  Our food was excellent, but the pie was phenomenal.  Caramel Apple Pecan.  We thought it might be as good as the Key Lime Pie at Harry and the Natives, but we ultimately ranked it a close #2.  (We are now ranking all of the pies, so see the Pies We’ve Eaten page to see all the sweets we’ve managed to eat and how we’ve rated them.)


We saw a group of artists from Canada painting the San Miguel Church, the oldest church structure in the USA – dates to 1610.  We met Vanessa and Monica, two very talented artists from what we could see over their shoulders.  The oldest house in the USA is nearby – 1200 AD.  It was closed for restoration.  How does one know how a place built in 1200 AD is supposed to look?


We met Cassie and Shelly at the Rascal House toy shop where Bozzie Jane managed to find something for granddaughter Madison.


Most of our time was spent walking up and down Canyon Road.  Canyon Road is where most of the top artists have their galleries and studios.  We saw a lot of sculpture.  We saw a few Santa Fe New Mexico historic homes, including the Edwin Brooks House.  We stopped in an art supply store to ask Meg Davenport if she knew Michael or Ari Aster, but no luck.


We returned to the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe New Mexico at 3:30 to meet Patrick, desk clerk/New Mexico traveler/photographer.  He brought some of his photos and gave us a number of ideas on places to go and things to see.  He told some great stories about his travels.  We especially enjoyed the story of the night he spent alone in an old western saloon with sole use of a 20-room hotel up above.


As we drove out of town, we stopped at Jackalope.  As Patrick put it, “Jackalope has nothing you need, but everything you want.”  It’s like Home Depot for Santa Fe – a huge indoor/outdoor place filled with every imaginable type of Santa Fe New Mexico décor item.


When we drove into Santa Fe New Mexico yesterday, I saw some dinosaurs.  We asked Patrick about it, and he told us that a fiberglass manufacturer on the outskirts of town had several dinosaurs on their property.  I had to get some photos.  It wasn’t easy to access, but we finally got there and got a few pics.  We learned that the owner will use the dinosaurs to make political statements; he had an Osama Bin Laden in the mouth of one of his dinosaurs for quite a while.


I wanted to go in the New Mexico State Penitentiary and see if we could get a tour or perhaps visit with an inmate who hasn’t ever had a visitor, but Bozzie Jane wasn’t up for it, so we drove on to Cerillos.  Cerillos is an honest-to-goodness ghost town established in 1879 to mine turquoise.  There’s not much left – a church, a few storefronts and houses…and – uniquely – not a single tourist-oriented place!


Just outside Cerillos, we stopped for some photos at the Empire Bone Zone.  The yard was filled with all kinds of unusual “sculptures.”  A sign said “enter at your own risk.”


When we parked in Madrid, we met Johnny even before we were out of the car.  Johnny told us a lot of stories about the town.


Among the stories are that Madrid had free electricity in the old days, so the townspeople had elaborate Christmas light displays…a tradition that we were told is still continued today.  He told us rumor has it that Walt Disney got the idea for Disneyland after seeing the Christmas lights in Madrid (an oasis in the desert).  Madrid is a tiny mining ghost town, so I have trouble buying that one.  He also told us that Madrid had a minor league baseball team called the Madrid Miners, and that the major league Dodgers had come there to play once.  After seeing the dirt field and the ravine that operates as the “outfield fence,” there’s just no way this can be true, but it was a fascinating story.  He went on to say the Madrid stadium was the first stadium to have lights west of the Mississippi.  Johnny said there are a lot of characters in Madrid and a tremendous number of stories.  We absolutely believed that!  His last story was that Tattoo Tammy had been in a shoot-out with some boys over the weekend and was in jail.  We really enjoyed Johnny Madrid’s tales.  Some may be true.  Some just can’t be.  But we were thoroughly entertained by this stranger who appeared out of nowhere on the one street in Madrid.

Madrid is an artist’s community, but the artists seem to knock off at 5, so there wasn’t much going on when we hit town.  Boz did notice a number of stray dogs, and she was really worried about one really skinny mother dog.  We hit the local general store for a big bag of dog food, but we couldn’t find the dog.  A nice local man promised he would find the dog and feed it.

Golden is probably the most ghostlike of the three ghost towns along this route (Cerillos, Madrid, and Golden).  We got a few photos, including one of a picturesque old church down a dusty dirt road that Patrick told us about.


We pulled into the Candlewood Hotel in Albuquerque about 7:30.  Wash night.  We enjoyed a delicious microwaved meal from the snack bar at the Candlewood.  Sometimes you just don’t feel like going out.


We continue to see the impact that chance encounters have.  We almost walked away from the registration desk at the Eldorado Hotel without engaging Patrick in any real conversation.  Fortunately, we had a conversation, got to know a really nice person, met again, and \will see a number of sights that we would have missed if we hadn’t spoken.  Bruce Cody has become an email pen pal.  Two policemen led us to some of the very best pie we’ve ever had.  Several artists brightened our day because they just happened to be in town on a painting trip.  And Johnny Madrid thoroughly entertained us on the side of a dusty road.




We’ve added a new web page where we are keeping track of the People We’ve Met.  We didn’t do a good job the first week or so; it took us a while to get into the swing of things and to try to take a photo of everyone we meet.  In recreating this list, I know I’ve missed a few who we’ll add when we have time to go through business cards, brochures, and notes after the trip is over.



Tinkertown – Day 34


Day 34 – May 4, 2003 – Sunday

46 degrees when we left our motel in Gallup.  It rained during the night, but that doesn’t count against our amazing record of 34 days without rain as we are only counting rain that falls while we are driving or walking around seeing sights.  It is so much cooler in California, Arizona, and New Mexico than I ever thought it would be.


Sunday morning isn’t a great time for sightseeing as most places are closed.


Gallup is filled with old motels with great neon signs.  We thought we saw them last night, but we only saw part of Route 66.  This morning, we’ve seen far more.  I’m sorry I didn’t get these photographed after dark so we could capture the great neon.


The El Rancho Hotel & Motel is famous.  It was built in 1937, and many stars have stayed there.  Most of the motels were pretty empty, but the El Rancho lot was packed.


The scenery on the east side of Gallup is extremely pretty – mountains and red rock formations similar to Sedona.  Right smack dab in front of some of the most beautiful scenery is the Vern Hamilton Construction Company’s sand and gravel plant.  What a blight.


The Red Rocks State Park is very pretty.


We visited a number of tiny towns today that are along Route 66.  There wasn’t much to see.  Coolidge was interesting; the only access to the town appeared to be through a drainage-like tunnel, though the scenery was beautiful.  Continental Divide consisted of two stores; the altitude is 7,295 feet – no wonder it’s so cool here.  If it ever rains, the water will now be flowing to the Atlantic Ocean.  Bluewater had a Route 66 Swap Meet junk shop and a great neon sign at the long-ago closed Bluewater Motel.  We saw a great-looking old barn between Bluewater and Grants.  We saw black lava beds near McCartys as well as the ruins of a Whiting Bros. service station.  We saw an old café in San Fidel and old cabins in Cubero.  The Budville Trading Post looks great in Budville, but it was not open – not sure if it is permanently closed.  We saw a trading post in Paraje, a flower shop in New Laguna, and a bridge in Rio Puerco.  There wasn’t much to see, but we were on the real Route 66 for much of the drive.


Grants is a good-sized town.  We enjoyed the park with a beautiful waterfall fountain and a wonderful Route 66 sculpture.  We took a number of other photos in Grants.  While I do most of the photography, Bozzie Jane will take shots out the car window on her side of the road.

We rolled into Albuquerque on the interstate, and we were surprised to see a sign that said “Albuquerque – Next 17 Exits.”  That’s a lot of exits!  We drove the length of town on Route 66 (Central Avenue), and we once again saw a tremendous number of old motels with great neon signs.  We stopped in Old Town – old buildings with tourist-oriented businesses.  We had excellent Mexican Food at La Placita.


Albuquerque has an especially beautiful old theatre – the Kimo.  You’ll notice that my photo is off center.  We were approached by a man who said he was a Navajo.  The top was down on the car, and I was 20 feet away.  He wanted to steal my camera, and he kept trying to get close to me.  It was a scary deal.  I managed to get back to the car and get us out of there.  We understand that Albuquerque is a pretty rough place.


The Aztec Motel is a landmark…and really quirky.  All kinds of stuff is stuck on the walls.  We would have explored more closely, but we came across three rough-looking characters walking down the street when I was out of the car taking photos.  I put the top up and locked the doors the rest of the way through Albuquerque.  We stopped at a nice-looking-on-the-outside “Giant” gas station, and there was a beggar stationed in a wheelchair right outside the ladies room.  The lock didn’t work on the ladies room door, and the men’s room was completely closed and not available for use.  The place was filthy.


Most of the gas stations that we have hit from California to New Mexico do not take credit cards at the pump, and many do not take credit cards at all.  This is a hassle that we didn’t like.


We took the “back route” to Santa Fe – Highway 14, known as the Turquoise Trail.  It is scenic, and one of the sights I have most wanted to see was just off the highway.


Tinkertown is everything I hoped it would be and much more.  It was billed as the world’s largest miniature western town, but it is really an incredible art gallery of the life’s work of Ross J. Ward.  For over 40 years, Ross Ward did woodcarving to create and then expand Tinkertown.  His woodcarving is incredible, but his overall artistic ability and the way everything on the property looks is what really blew me away.  Ross was also a philosopher, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the philosophies that were sprinkled in along the way.  Tinkertown is truly unique and represents an amazing accomplishment.  I have to rank it as the best attraction so far.  Ross died on November 13, 2002 at the age of 62.  He had quite a sense of humor as he prepared a death announcement plaque to go on the wall; it appears to be painted on a toilet seat, and the message includes “That’s the Capper.”


Please go see Tinkertown when you go to Santa Fe!


We passed through Golden, Madrid, and Cerillos on the way to Santa Fe.  We will stop in those little ghost towns tomorrow after we see Santa Fe.  We did meet Ben, a photographer with a fancy old camera on a tripod.  He was taking an old building with light shining through the remaining slats of the roof.  I took the same photo he was taking, and I got a nice shot of him and his camera with the old building behind.


Barbara and the kids have been to Santa Fe, but I somehow missed it until now.  It’s a beautiful city.  The sky and the clouds have a beauty that I have never seen anywhere else.


When we checked into the Eldorado Hotel, Boz realized it is the same hotel she and the kids stayed at 15 years ago.  Great hotel near the Plaza.  Patrick was the desk clerk.  We were about to head to our room when something was said that got us to talking.  Patrick got very excited when he learned about our trip, and he recommended a number of places for us to go in New Mexico.  It turns out Patrick is a photographer, and we arranged to meet him at 3:30 tomorrow to see some of his photographs of places he feels we should go.  What a delightful encounter!


We walked around Santa Fe through sunset.  The sky was incredible, and I got some great photos – even if they are over the tops of buildings and electrical lines in Santa Fe.


I guess the lesson we learned today is that it doesn’t take a lot to make a day special.  There just wasn’t a lot to see or do in the seven hours it took us to drive from Gallup through Albuquerque.  But then we loved Tinkertown, met a special person in Patrick, and enjoyed beautiful Santa Fe and its incredible sky.




May 4, 2003

8:45 36664 49 degrees It rained during the night but that doesn’t count against us, but the clouds are pretty dark.

The Holiday Inn’s hotel lobby was like the nicest hotel in downtown Dallas, the rooms were the second worst that we’ve seen but they’re getting ready to remodel.

At least the rain has caused the winds to stop. Folks at the hotel were commenting on that at the hotel, it’s been blowing like crazy here for as long as they could remember.

The first train of the day.

Richardson’s Pawn Shop has been opened since 1913 unfortunately it was closed this morning and we could not get in.

After seeing one little dumpee small motel after another, we finally saw a parking lot full of cars and it’s the Hotel El Rancho—“the charm of yesterday, convenience of tomorrow.” The place dates back to 1937, the place is huge. It must be pretty good, there’s a lot of people there.

Another train.

There’s pretty scenery on the outskirts of Gallop; there’s nice mountain and rock formations.

Vernon Hamilton Construction Company outside of Gallop gets the worst company award for placing its grotesque sand and gravel business right next to one of the more beautiful mountain and rock formations we’ve ever seen.

Red Rock State Park 36679 10:00am

Another train.

We quickly drove in Red Rock State Park but I tell you as you look at these red rocks Gallop has red rocks with as much beauty as Sedona. It’s not as pretty a setting, the town’s just laid out on a strip the length of the railroad tracks but it’s pretty.

36697 10:23am We pulled off for the town of Coolidge. There’s not much here so far. I took a picture of an old abandoned building. There’s kind of a entrance to town underneath the highway going through a little tunnel—spooky.

Coolidge may not have a lot going for it, but it has some beautiful scenery.

Bozzie’s taking a picture.

We’re at exit 47 off of I 40 36700 10:30am We’re at the Continental Divide on Route 66.

7250 feet elevation level here.

We saw a sign that says “Seewald  Estates.” 36712 10:50am but we don’t see any estates.

There’s a little shed.

Another train.

We’re in Prewitt 36719 10:55am

36723 11:00am We just passed by the Route 66 Swap Meet which is just kind of a junk shop on the side of the road outside Prewitt heading towards Blue Water.

We took a picture of Mt. Taylor from the Highway near the Swap Meet 11,300 feet.

We took several photos of Alan’s Garage just outside of Grants.

Blue Water 36728 11:10 It’s 57 degrees and the wind’s still blowing pretty good; our suntans are fading.

I took a picture of a barn between Blue Water and Grant. I got another train.

Malan 36734 11:20am There is a very blue sky with some pretty white clouds that look like they’re painted. We just passed through a red dust storm, but here just a few feet away you’d never know it.

We’re taking a picture of the black lava beds called the Malpies.

Grants 36737 11:26am

We got a picture of Charlie’s Radiator Service in Grants.

Took the Lux Theater in Grants

Took the Grants Chamber of Commerce and Mining Museum and the Uranium Café just across the street. Unfortunately, the café’s closed.

Took the fountain and the sculpture in Grants—very nice

Took a shot of the West Theatre in Grants now featuring X-Men 2

It’s a bad placement of the Route 66 sign as you exit the east end of Grants. It’s past the point where you need to turn.

Passing by McCarty’s 36754 12:05pm

Took an old building in McCarty’s

Took an picture of the old torn down Whiting Brothers just outside McCarty’s

San Fidel 36758 12:10pm

Picture of the San Fidel Café or what used to be the San Fidel Café

Took a picture of a place that you may be able to see cabins in the community of Via de Cubero

There’s a gas station here with a lot of business.

Budville Trading Post 36763 12:21pm It’s closed up but it’s probably still in business, but I’m not sure.

Another train

36767 12:26pm Paraje There’s a trading post and a few houses.

We have reached New Laguna 36770 12:30pm

Sweetie’s Flowers and Gifts in New Laguna

Another train

We’re very surprised to have so much Route 66 to drive. It isn’t signed as Route 66 everywhere, but it is Route 66 and we’ve been on it nonstop today.

I got a flag and a fence post.

It’s a pretty drive as you leave Old Laguna. The road’s a little rougher but you come down through a canyon—Red Rock Canyon.

Mesita 36778 12:42pm

I took an Indian Arrowhead Highway sign and a Mesita sign

Route 66 gets considerably rougher outside of Mesita

We’ve decided to back up at Mesita, get off this really bumpy road which goes a big loop that’s kind of out of the way, because we want to see the bridge we would miss otherwise.

We’re exiting at Exit 126 because it says Route 66 36793 1:03pm

Rio Puerco 36807 1:15pm

Took a picture of the Rio Puerco bridge. It was built 1933, 250 feet long, one of the longest bridges in New Mexico.

We’re at a sign that says Albuquerque next 17 exits; I’ve never seen a city with so many exits. 36817 1:42pm

We exited at 149 36819 1:44 And we’re back on Route 66

Albuquerque city limits 36821 1:47pm

The steakhouse was the first picture coming into Albuquerque, then a motel.

36825 2:02 We’re crossing the Rio Grande River on Route 66. This is a pretty big deal!

36826 3:10 We’re just leaving Old Town after having a nice Mexican lunch, buying a Christmas ornament, and paying $2 to park. Now we’re rolling.

We tried to get a picture of the Keybo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque and some Navajo Indian came up to us harassing us and wanting money and trying to steal our camera.

We got a picture of the 66 Diner in Albuquerque. Route 66 is called Central Avenue in Albuquerque.

36830 3:25 We’re at the University of New Mexico.

36831 3:33 Incredible Aztec Motel. There’s stuff all over it.

The giant service station restrooms in Albuquerque get a low mark; they have a beggar waiting outside the door. You have to get a key to work allegedly, but the only one that works is the women’s. They’re filthy. A general complaint about gas stations from here to California: most of them don’t allow you to pay by credit card at the pump; you have to go in and pay before you pump your gas which is very difficult because a lot of them don’t take credit cards, you have to give them a lot of cash. They are very unpleasant to deal with.

36844 4:07pm Teeharas and we’re starting at the Turquoise Trail—Hwy 14 heading to Santa Fe. We’re hoping to see some people who will attempt to rob and kill us so that we can photograph them. We may have to cut over to the interstate to get the robbers and murderers.

We actually just reached Teeharas 36844 4:08pm

36845 4:09 We’re at the junction of 14 North

Sandia Park 36851 4:17pm

We left fabulous Tinkertown and we’re San Antonito 36853 4:57pm

Tinkertown is completely unique. The talent of this man Ross Ward is unbelievable; he died November of 2002. The artistic ability of the layout and design and assemblage of all this stuff is even more impressive than the woodcarving.

Golden 36865 5:09pm

36874 5:19 We came up to the top of the mountain and came over the other side and you get an incredible view all the way off to snow-capped peaks in the distance with various mountains and hills and valleys in between.

Madrid 36876 5:24pm This is an artist’s community and there’s all kinds of funky cool little stuff. There’s little huts, a little jewelry place.

We met Ben who said he’s an amateur photographer but has a mighty impressive camera that shoots special quality film. He was taking a picture of a barn because you get really interesting light shining through this time of year and day.

Madrid is a really cool old mining town, turned into an artist’s community. When it’s artists who are doing artwork it doesn’t bother you as much as when it’s a place that’s selling T-shirts and everything else. They of course maintain things in a way that is so artsy and ties into the land and buildings. It’s awfully enjoyable to see. There’s a gypsy festival; that would be cool to attend.

City limits of Santa Fe 36898 We missed Serrios. We saw about 5 dinosaurs in a building in Madrid, we saw a giant flag, we just saw a cool neon sign, but we’re out of memory space so we have to remember to take pictures when we come back.

We met Patrick, the desk clerk at the hotel. He was extremely nice and got real excited about the trip. We took a picture of the Institue of American Indian Arts Museum, the Cathedral Park, and a sculpture at the Frank Howell Gallery.

We met Bruce Cody at the Charlene Cody Gallery. Barbara noticed paintings of service station fronts and the kinds of things we’ve been photographing. We commented on how nice they were and it turned out he was the artist. We took his picture. We walked to the very pretty plaza, saw a couple of policemen and asked them the best place to eat. They told us the Plaza Café which we were standing in front of. It was great. They’ve been serving since 1918 on the Plaza in Santa Fe.

Last night we shared a turkey club at the El Dorado Hotel. We saw a guy in what looked to be an orange Camero who was up to no good on the drive up to Albuquerque.

We’re having caramel apple pecan pie which were not sure if it’s better than the Harry and the Natives Key Lime or not. This is really good—it’s #1 or #2.

Barbara pronounces this pie “#2”

Oldest church structure in the USA 1610—San Miguel Church

Vanessa and Monica are artists from Canada.

We took a picture of the entrance to the oldest house in the USA but it was closed.

1200 AD reputed to be a remnant of this ancient Pueblo.

We took Great Tree near the Morning Star Gallery on Canyon Road and the James L. Johnson house garden.

After the 2 skinny women hugging, I took a picture of the residence and studio of Freemont F. Ellise. It’s called the Edwin Brooks house from the 1920’s.

Zaplin-Lampert Gallery Sculputre Garden with yellow flowers

Took a picture of the brushes at artisan/Santa Fe. We met Meg Davenport.

I had a nice talk with Patrick and met Paul in the parking garage.

Patrick told us a great story about when he was in the town of Glenwood. It had been a long day, he was tired and stopped at a sign which said there were rooms. He went into a saloon next to where it said there were rooms and a guy who looked like Z Z Top said he had a room available and asked him how much he wanted to pay. Patrick said $20. At the end of the night, the guy gave him a key to the front door of the saloon and told him he had his pick of the 20 rooms upstairs.

36909 4:00 We’re at Jack-a-loupe.

It’s a huge city. Like Patrick said “it’s nothing you need, but everything you want.” It’s the Home Depot for Santa Fe style.

We tried to go to the fiberglass place but when we turned we got stuck on interstate 25 and had to drive a bunch of miles to exit and go back the other direction. So, there is a fiberglass place with various unsundry dinosaurs. The guy apparently uses it to make political statements. He had Osama bin Laden in the mouth of a dinosaur. We’ll just have to tell people about it instead of photograph it.

36927 4:50 We managed to get pictures of the dinosaurs.

36930 4:55 We’re at the New Mexico State Penitentiary. We’re going to go in and ask them if there’s been any particularly violent criminal who hasn’t had any visitors daily, and we’re here to see him.

Serillos 36942 5:08pm This town was founded in 1879, and turquoise was mined here.

Serillos is a real old town with not much left, and not a single tourist oriented thing in it.

Mom’s taking a picture of the sculpture outside the Turquoise Trail Trading Post just outside Serillos. She’s taking a picture of a place perhaps called Empire Bone Zone. He has bones on his trashcan and all kinds of crazy sculptures. It says “enter at your own risk.”

We met Johnny and he told us that Madred had free electricity, so it was known for its Christmas lights. They had and still do have a tremendous Christmas light display. Back in the old days there was rumor that it helped inspire Walt Disney to build Disneyland because of this oasis in the desert. He also told us that Madred had a minor league baseball team called the Madred Miners and the Los Angeles Dogers once came here and played. The baseball stadium here is the first stadium west of the Mississippi to have lights for night games. Because of the way the stadiums set, when the sunsets it’s only suitable to play the game at night. He said there are a lot of characters here, and it’s a great place to live. We met him when he asked us what Round America was all about. Bozzie Jane has found a dog that looks like it’s dying of starvation, so we’re at the grocery store buying some dog food.

Johnny also told us this is a rough and tough place. Over the weekend Tattoo Tammy got in a shootout with some guys and was in jail. Who knows if it’s true or not but it sounded like fun.

Took pictures of the Oscar Hughbrell Memorial Ballpark

6:12 We’re leaving Madred. We couldn’t find the dog so we gave it to a man who said he would find the dog for us.

36949 6:11pm We had no luck reaching Michael Aster.

We got a picture of the church in Golden.

Cedar Crest 36974 6:56pm

Tiharos 36978 7:00pm

Roswell New Mexico – Day 20

Day 20 – April 20, 2003 – Sunday

Roswell New Mexico

Every day has been an adventure.  Some more than others.  Today, April 20,  was heavy on adventure.  I went on an Easter Egg hunt of sorts.  More about this later.

I stayed at the Loco Motel (better known as the Roswell Comfort Inn).  According to three absolutely delightful ladies that I met at the checkout counter at the motel, when they had their carpets cleaned, it was written up in the paper, and it said “loco motel” rather than “local motel.”

Victoria, Jo-Jo, and Ana at the Comfort Inn in Roswell New Mexico - Round America 50-State Trip.  Day 20. 2003-04-20.Ana, JoJo and Betty Boop (Veronica) were a hoot.  All work at the “Loco.”  Veronica gave me a really cute handmade rabbit with a colored egg inside.  She wanted to go on the trip with me in the worst of ways – stuck her leg out and pulled her pants leg up a little feigning a Marilyn Monroe hitchhiker pose as I drove off.

Fun ladies.  A great way to start the day — Roswell New Mexico – Day 20.  I’d hate to guess how many times in my life I have checked out of a hotel or motel and just paid my money without saying a real word to anyone.  I asked about UFO’s or mentioned my beads or something, and the next thing you know, three of us are having a ball telling stories and talking.  I think we all need to talk to each other more.  It makes for a more enjoyable life.

I’ve certainly found that folks in smaller towns are much nicer than folks in larger towns.  I’ve also found that the folks who work in smaller places tend to be much nicer than folks who work in larger places.  Folks who work in less expensive places tend to be much nicer than those who work in more expensive places.  There’s a lot to be said for small.  As we learned on Day 1, there is a kinder and gentler America, and it is alive and well in small towns.

Roswell New Mexico – Day 20

Roswell is cool.  I really liked it there.  The city (47,000 people makes it a big city on this trip) appears to be much more prosperous than most of the towns I have seen since April 1.

The first adventure of the day was UFO’s!  I passed the New Mexico Military Institute on the way to UFO Central, which is right in the middle of downtown Roswell.  I absolutely loved the way so many merchants – even fine furniture stores and investment companies – had aliens and UFO’s in their windows.  Nothing like getting with the spirit!

It was June 24, 1947 when Kenneth Arnold saw a UFO near Roswell.  It was big news all over.  On July 5, 1947, Mac Brazel found debris.  The Roswell UFO incident is the biggest and best documented of the various alleged UFO sightings.

I began my UFO education in Roswell New Mexico – Day 20 at the Crash Down Diner where I met Richard Hesse and his daughter, Melissa.  Melissa owns the Diner, and Richard and his wife, Randhi, own the Starchild Gift Shop right next door offering a truly incredible selection of alien and UFO gift items.  It would make The Shell Factory proud!  I had a wonderful alien-shaped pancake for breakfast, smothered in caramel sauce and topped with ice cream, whipped cream, and nuts.  Yummy.  I met Carl Schlach from Michigan at the Crash Down.

UFO Evidence from Richard Hesse in Roswell New Mexico - Round America 50-State Trip. Day 20.  2003-04-20.
UFO Evidence from Richard Hesse in Roswell New Mexico – Round America 50-State Trip. Day 20.  2003-04-20.

Richard Hesse believes there is life out there.  He says “do the math.”  There are millions of stars, and the odds are that there is something out there somewhere.  It certainly seems possible to me.

In Roswell New Mexico – Day 20, I met two nice ladies who work at the UFO Museum – Phyllis and Wanda.  The museum is really well done with all types of displays about the Roswell incident and others — even has an area representing the position of those who do not believe.  The museum was free, but I made a donation.  I wish I had spent more time reading what was available.  I will return to Roswell with Bozzie Jane; we’ll make a vacation of several days doing Big Bend, Marfa, Roswell, and points in between.  Phyllis said she looks forward to meeting Barbara.

I was delighted to find an Office Max and a Target in Roswell New Mexico – Day 20.  I had been on the lookout for days for a place to get a new tape recorder.  I pulled up, and they were closed.  Easter.  I didn’t stop to think that this would be a factor throughout the day.  When you live in places like Dallas, Cleveland, and Atlanta, you expect to be able to buy virtually anything at any time.

I saw what I was sure was a spaceship as I headed out of town.  I snapped a photo.  Upon further investigation, it was the top of a grain silo, but it sure had the right look in the right place.  Maybe it is a spaceship masquerading as a grain silo.  I choose to be a believer.

Welcome to Roswell Sign in Roswell New Mexico - Round America 50-State Trip. 2003-04-20. Day 20.
Welcome to Roswell Sign in Roswell New Mexico – Round America 50-State Trip. 2003-04-20. Day 20.

Richard Hesse told me to be sure and check out the Roswell City Limits sign.  It says “Dairy Capital of the Southwest.”  What?!  UFO’s put Roswell on the map, and the city fathers are promoting dairy.  Those folks haven’t learned the important lesson that most small towns know: Celebrate what you got!  Roswell New Mexico – Day 20.

On 2/16/2024, the Roswell UFO incident is back in the news.

Today is a big day.  I am detouring several hundred miles out of the original path for the trip in order to see one and only one thing: Pie Town, New Mexico.  The place got its name from a lady who baked pies for the ranchers in those parts.  It has grown over the years from one lady to where it now has a population of 60.  I learned of it several years ago when someone gave me an article about great pie, and the Pie-O-Neer Café in Pie Town, New Mexico was featured.  A “Pie Trip” could not possibly be valid without a visit to Pie Town, so I carefully charted the course.  It’s literally as remote a location as is Big Bend – nothing of any consequence for 100 miles or more.  So, another adventure begins as I roll out of Roswell in anticipation of great pie – multiple pieces of delicious pie!

I saw some surprisingly interesting towns en route.  Lincoln, New Mexico is a neat little mountain town.  Lots of history.  Buildings are restored or are being restored.

Just after noon, I got my first glimpse of snowcapped El Capitan Mountain.  10 minutes later, I was in the cute little town of Capitan.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Capitan is the home of Smokey the Bear, and he is buried there.  I stopped at the Smokey the Bear Museum.

I also stopped at the Shell station to fill up and grab a Coke.  Corinna said “nice beads.”  As I’ve said, women smile and may comment.  But men tend to think I am a deviate of some type.

Since I left Del Rio way down in South Texas, I have essentially been without cell phone service.  New Mexico is no better, except in Roswell.

Most states had sent me a map, but New Mexico did not get one to me before I left, so  the map I got from Cody and Erica was very much needed.  According to the map, I was to be passing near part of the White Sands Missile Range.  That’s neat.  So when the sign said it was just five miles off the highway, the car just headed there automatically.  I had to see it.

All of a sudden I realized where I was!  The Trinity Site – the site where the first Atomic Bomb was tested on July 16, 1945.  This is a serious deal.

I pulled up to the main gate where I was met by Gus, the security man.  His badge looked a lot more official than Dr. Doug Blackburn’s.  I asked if I could go in, and Gus said I’d have to come back in October.  I told him I was just passing through, writing a book, and October just didn’t work well for me.  Gus didn’t think I was very funny.  He said: “October.”  I got the message, so I went to Plan B.  I asked if it was okay to take a few photos.  “No.”  I was wishing Rose was with me.  She knows how to get photos of forbidden stuff.  To Plan C, “Gus, may I take your picture?”  “No.”  Gus was a man of few words.  Perhaps I should always remove my Mardi Gras beads before approaching men with guns at military installations.  So, I hopped back in my car, hooked a U and went into Plan D.  I drove quickly away and snapped a few photos from a distance while Gus went back to reading the Sunday paper.  Rose would be proud.

Daniel and Chris accompanied Bill Windsor in Magdalena New Mexico - Round America 50-State Trip. 2003-04-20. Day 20.
Daniel and Chris accompanied Bill Windsor in Magdalena New Mexico – Round America 50-State Trip. 2003-04-20. Day 20.

On the road again, my next stop was Magdalena.  Never heard of it, but it is a nice little spot that is undoubtedly a small artist’s community.  Probably just a few hundred people there.  I met two nice boys, Daniel and Chris.  They were excited to have their picture taken, and then they got into the spirit of the trip and kept coming up with ideas of spots in Magdalena that I should photograph.  They followed me on bike.  I saw an Easter Egg Hunt in a park area with some great sculptures apparently done by a local artist.  I liked Magdalena.

I kept checking the map as Pie Town didn’t appear to be getting much closer.  There was a huge error on my Excel spreadsheet itinerary.  The number 100 was in the mileage column, but it was more like 300.  I just kept driving and driving and driving.

Pretty scenery, but you know how it is when you are mentally programmed for one thing and your system gets thrown off.  The next thing on my handy Cody and Erica map was the “National Radio Astronomy Observatory.”  I stopped to take a quick photo from a distance.  As I looked back at it in the rearview mirror, I realized what I had just passed.  THAT was The Array!  The site of the Jodie Foster movie, “Contact.”  Excellent movie!  Had I realized and known they have a video presentation, I would have driven over.


UFO’s, White Sands, and The Array.  This is adventure at its best!


A few miles down the road, I realized I had been in a big adventure for some time.  I had been looking for gas, but the little towns either had no gas stations, or they were closed.  When I hit Datil, a town printed in slightly larger, bolder letters on the map, I began to panic when the only gas station there was closed.  The last open gas station I recalled seeing was the Shell I visited 172 miles back in Capitan.  I figured I was good for about 70 miles max.  I pulled out the Cody and Erica map again to see if there was any town that had larger, bolder type anywhere near Datil.  There were no options.  The best bet looked like it was in ARIZONA – a ways past Pie Town!  I knew I couldn’t make it that far.  I began to panic.  All I had wanted to do was eat some pie.


There were very few cars on the road.  No wonder.  There ain’t no gas.


I decided the only thing to do was keep going toward Pie Town.  I passed the Continental Divide the first time at 5:05 pm and pulled into Pie Town two minutes later.  That annoying “you are out of gas buddy” light was shining for the last I don’t know how many miles.


Pie Town is really tiny, so I had no trouble finding the Pie-O-Neer Café.  Despite the gas situation, I was so excited to see it.  I took a few photos.  Then I went up the steps, and I saw it.  “CLOSED.”  No way I have driven 300 miles or so to eat pie and have Pie Town’s pie café closed.  Devastated was not the right word.


I knocked on the door.  A nice lady came.  They had just closed at 5.  I told her I had driven 5,500 miles to eat pie there, and I gave her my card and pulled the photocopy of the article out of my notebook to show her I was telling the truth.  She let me in.  They had just a few pieces of pie left.  I had Apple Walnut Raisin and Peach.  Very good!  I met the owner, Kim Bruck.  She and three brothers moved there from Chicago, so Pie Town had grown to population 65.  She told me that Coconut Cream, Oatmeal Raisin, and Apple Crumb are her best sellers.  I told her if it were not for the fact that I was almost out of gas that I would be in pie heaven.  She gave me a free slice of pie and a little pie-shaped magnet as a gift for Bozzie.

I enjoyed talking with her, but they wanted to close up and go home, and I wanted to see if I could find a landline to call AAA to put their service to a real test – delivering gas a million miles from nowhere.  Kim and her brother told me there might be a gas station open 22 miles west – usually open until 6, but not sure about Easter Sunday.

It was 5:45, so I said a quick goodbye and I drove very fast to Quemado where I could have kissed Robert, the attendant at J&Y Auto Service, when he was still open.

If it hadn’t been for two ladies and a flat tire in a huge RV, he would have been long gone.

Life was good again.  It is a shame that gasoline detracted from the visit to Pie Town, but thank heaven the Pie-O-Neer was even open on Easter Sunday and J and Y Auto Service.  I never thought I would be happy paying $2.89 per gallon, but I was.  Best gas by far.  Ain’t supply and demand grand.

Back to Cody and Erica’s map, I now had to re-route myself to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  I identified a new way to go without backtracking, and I saw some gorgeous scenery in the many mountains of New Mexico.  Because I was driving in the mountains, the sun was shielded and it became dark much earlier than it does out in the desert where I’ve been for a few days.  As it got darker, the mountain roads became less enjoyable.  I passed the Continental Divide again about 9:30.  226 miles from Quemado, I pulled into the Best Western in Truth or Consequences.  The last 40 miles was spent hugging the yellow line as I circled a mountain with rocks to the left and black space to the right and no guard rails.  It was the only time I was glad Bozzie Jane was not with me.  When I told Tyler at the Best Western the road I had come in on, he said: “You drove that AT NIGHT?!” Yep.  I’m glad I couldn’t see; it was too dark to see, and my left eye was hurting the whole day.  At least there were no other cars.  I’m sure most of you are thinking that no one in their right mind would drive that far for two pieces of pie.  You’re absolutely right.  But it will be a fun story to tell.

The lessons of the day include these: Maintain a positive attitude.  Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.  Realize that life in small towns and remote spots has its trade-offs.  It’s unlike life in the big cities where many of us live.  For the most part, life in small towns seems gentler and happier to me, but there are always trade-offs, and one of the biggest is learning how to adjust for a limited number of places to shop and get essentials such as gas.  Unless you are crazy and/or really into pie, I don’t recommend a visit to Pie-Town.  It’s just too far.


Thanks to those of you who have emailed to say you have joined the trip.  I’m sorry I’m behind on the Daily Journal, and I’d love to email back, but I just don’t have the time.  There are 570 emails in my In-Box, and I haven’t even opened 127 of them that appear to be business-related.  The only business I have time for these days is sightseeing, pie eating, writing, photographing, and driving.