McKinney Gypsy Caravan

One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Day 4 – Texas Panhandle into Eastern New Mexico

We started out fairly early for us. I think we were on the road by 7:30am. We knew we had a lot of ground to cover today!

Our first planned stop was Cadillac Ranch on I-40 just past Amarillo, Texas. At the exit is the “2nd Amendment Cowboy”. He’s an old muffler man purchased at an auction in 2014 by this RV Park right by Cadillac Ranch.

I was honestly super surprised at the number of people already out at Cadillac Ranch before 9am. The guy who runs the show out here selling merch, spraypaint and food wasn’t even set up yet. We beat him here! ha

We came prepared with out own spray paint because I figured it would cost $20 a can there. Actually, it was quite reasonable at $6/can… (pending you don’t beat the vendor to their own site)

Norah had been excited about this since before the trip. So she spray painted everything.

Her name.

A tire.

The dirt. haha

Overall, she really enjoyed herself. On our way back, we saw a couple headed out with no spray paint, so we offered them our cans that still had plenty of paint in them and off on our merry way we went. 🙂

Right at the New Mexico line is an exit for Glenrio. Not much left at Glenrio, but I wanted to stop because its such a great (terrible) example of what happened to some of these towns when the interstate highway system was put in.

Every building down through here was just sitting derelict- a casualty of Route 66’s fading of importance. At one time, this place was quite interesting. Sitting right on the border of New Mexico and Texas, the town got creative. Gas tax was cheaper in Texas, so all of the fuel was sold on the Texas side. But Texas was a dry county there, so all the bar and liquor items were sold on the New Mexico side.

We drove through Tucumcari, New Mexico next. Such a neatly preserved Route 66 gem. So many mid century hotel signs. This town actually didn’t feel like it died 40 years ago… it was alive and well. I really loved its character. We planned to go to the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum here, but they were closed on Mondays. Go figure. The Route 66 museums we passed in Oklahoma were closed on Sundays. We should have left 1 day later, I guess!

We did lunch at Blake’s Lotaburger- a New Mexico chain that started after WWII in Albuquerque. They are famous for their chopped hatch green chilis you can add to your burger or your breakfast burrito.

We loved their fries- very crispy and good. Their chicken sandwich that Norah ordered was good… but their burger was just…ok. The hatch chilis on it though were good. I also wanted to sample the breakfast burritos they have…and it was only 10:15am, so I added a carne adovada to our order. and THAT is where the prize is- their breakfast burritos. ha So we’ll have to pick up one of those one morning here before we leave New Mexico.

After leaving Tucumcari, we headed north toward the town of Taos to see the Taos Pueblo.

Finally after winding up through the roads for a couple hours, we arrived in Taos. I knew that we couldn’t enter the pueblo because of COVID restrictions still in place on Indian land… but I figured we could at least look at the outside. Nope. Big blockade keeping anyone that is not a resident out. So that was a big disappointment and 3 hours of driving for nothing. Well, not nothing… I felt like I would really like Taos… so I wanted to explore it. We have entertained a rental house out west- Vegas, Phoenix, New Mexico.. Taos’ hat had been in the ring. It’s no longer. It’s out. ha

Apparently it snows a lot there in the winter and its a ski destination because the elevation is so high (which made me feel better when Kegan told me I WAS out of shape…but I wasn’t just huffing and puffing walking through town because of that. ha I hadn’t even considered the elevation!)

The whole town was under construction that had standstill traffic up and down the streets. We stopped to go to the Kit Carson home and museum- guy standing out front that works there tells us it’s closed for the day. When everything and the signs all said it was open. He told us to come back at 11am the next day (it was like 3pm at the time ha)

We went to get a bite of food and beer at the Taos Mesa Brewery that had “crowlers” to go- basically giant “growler” cans. So Kegan got one. We tried to get a table, but the person working told us it was a 30-45 minute wait but we could order takeout and it would be done super fast. Ok, so we ordered Norah a small pizza- which did look great, by the way… but it took 35 minutes for it to come out. and Everyone around us got seating in less than 15. We bet on the wrong horse. Per usual.

So, with Taos being a bust all around.. we headed back down towards Santa Fe. I had skipped Sante Fe this trip because as I was researching I found tons of stuff I wanted to do and we could see it all on a quick pass through- so we decided to skip it entirely and make a long weekend trip to Sante Fe sometime in the future. Well, now we had 4 hours of evening I didnt plan for… so we headed down the 2 hours towards the city.

We saw Camel Rock along the way. It wasnt very “camel-y” more like Turtle Rock.

We arrived at Meow Wolf Sante Fe, a giant art installation of over 70 rooms with blacklight psychedelic experiences that was actually commissioned by George R. R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame. He actually lives in Sante Fe. When asked WHY SANTE FE?? he said:

“It’s one of the oldest cities in the U.S. Older than anything even on the East Coast. Because it’s a state capital, it has many amenities that you associate with a larger city—great museums and wonderful restaurants. “At the same time, I like the small town thing. You can get in the car and get anywhere in 10 minutes. Of my 10 years in L.A., two of them were on the freeways…” Then there’s the question of addiction. When I got to Santa Fe, I became addicted to green chile. You can’t get it anywhere else. I can’t imagine life anywhere else.”

So, of course- I REALLY wanted to go to this- so I picked this one thing to go do in Sante Fe for the night. Sold out for the evening. Even though they themselves on the Google Reviews said you didn’t need advance tickets for weekdays. (I did try to book online but it only allowed you to book two days in advance) *sigh* another item for the day, closed. So basically we did 6 hours of driving for no reason today except to see the scenery.

At this point, we were defeated for the day- time to pack it in and try again tomorrow, so we headed for Los Alamos. We climbed back up some elevation from Santa Fe and had some great features and views outside.

When we arrived, I was shocked to find that it was a cute vibrant nice town! Its home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory which was the site of the atomic bomb testing or the Manhattan Project in WWII. They have repurposed the old project gate into restroom facilities at the town park.

This hotel ended up being the nicest one we have had yet- it was brand new and its the first one with the pool or fitness center open AND they had a hot breakfast instead of just grab and go. I am SHOCKED at how closed down these hotels are. I personally think it has nothing to do with COVID and everything to do with needed fewer people and costing less money. But maybe I’m just a grumpy Karen. Anyway- this hotel was fantastic and the pool was available “by reservation” so Norah got to block an entire hour for herself to float around. We also found a fantastic Mediterranean restaurant for carryout and I was in low carb heaven (I’ve been really trying to stick to a keto diet this trip… we’ll see how I do.)

They had a shrimp/butter/ white wine appetizer.

Lamb shank that was amazing… I could eat this every day.

Kegan has kebab skewers with gyro meat… and Norah basically ate pita bread because she had the pizza earlier.

So, overall, the hotel and the food ended the day on a high note and made up for some travel bad luck and closures earlier. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

3 Comments

  1. Loving to “travel” along with you. So many of the sites you are seeing we did last year on our Route 66 trip. We stayed at the Blue Swallow in Tucumcari and it was our favorite!!! Enjoy your trip!
    Hope you planned a stop at Petrified Forest national park!
    Susie

  2. Patricia L Woodward

    July 1, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Some things may have been a bust, yet just think of the awesome memories you are making just looking at the sites. Loving the trip!

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