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Archive for the ‘New Mexico’ Category

During my Route 66 trip in 2008, I shot about five hours of video and edited it into this five-minute film, which won second place at the First Person Impressions national film competition.  See how many sights you can name!

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1472915&dest=-1]

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In 1926, the Whiting brothers of St. John, Arizona realized that with just a little bit of lumber and a couple of gasoline pumps they could turn a huge profit with motorists in the Southwest. 

Among their other target markets was the newly-established Route 66.  Service stations grew into small stores, cafes and motels. 

By the 1990s, the chain was out of business, but during its heyday, the red and yellow WB signs were as frequent as 7 Eleven stores.

West of Albuquerque on old 66 you can still see the ruins of a few Whiting Brothers filling stations and motels.  We stopped by an old one today that probably won’t be around for many more years.  Only one functioning WB store exists on 66 in Moriarty, east of Albuquerque, but it was not on our agenda today.

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Starvation Peak

A famous mountain east of Santa Fe, Starvation Peak was a Santa Fe trail landmark. 

Legend has it that Spanish Soldiers chose to starve to death on the summit rather than fall victim to the Indians. 

This is what happens when you don’t plan ahead!

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Santa Fe Loop

Route 66 has two distinct alignments through New Mexico – the post-1937 alignment goes straight from Tucumcari to Albuquerque through Milagro, Clines Corners and Moriarty.  The Pre-1937 alignment goes north to Santa Fe along the Santa Fe Trail, through Pecos, then along El Camino Real following the Rio Grande to Albuquerque.

Because we’re faux-Okies (Faukies?), and because the Santa Fe loop sounds  lot more romantic, we picked this alignment.

A few notes:  Pecos is really cool.  The National Park there is on par with the best of them.  The Spaniards came to tame the “savage” Pueblo Indians in the 1540’s through Christ.  They settled on the trading town now marked by Pecos.  They built a large, adobe Cathedral.  After about 40 years of being pissed off by the Spanish Catholics and their pushy monotheism, the Pecos people revolted and burned down the mission.

The cathedral has been visible from the Santa Fe Trail and Route 66 ever since the 1500’s.  Excavation has revealed more of the old city.

Santa Fe itself is so crowded with traffic, we didn’t even stop after driving through downtown.  It’s a shame, and we’ll have to return some other time.  We ate wonderful Tex-Mex at a diner on the outskirts.

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Moose and Newkirk

I stopped by the side of the road in Newkirk, just outside of Tucumcari, to take some pictures of a crumbling storefront.  There, walking his dogs, was a friendly local named “Moose.”  The stories he told me of Newkirk were pretty fascinating.

“My aunt and uncle owned Wilkersons, the store that’s all falling apart and caving in.  He had brain cancer in the early 80’s and died not long after, within a short time of his wife.  She would go through the old stone houses and collect [vintage] bottles and sell them at the roadside store.

“That little house to the left was a [provincial] court house.  The judge would come in a couple times a month and give his sentences to people.”  Later, it became part of Wilkerson’s Store.

“The garage on the right was originally owned by a blind mechanic.  That was before my time.  Apparently he was pretty good and did a really nice job.  After 66 was bypassed [another relative] ran the garage for the people around here.

“This whole area was a tent city for a long time.  Lots of workers would come to the store.

“You can go around back and walk inside if you want.  There’s still a lot of junk in there.  Just watch for snakes.”

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The border town of Glenrio, Texas went dark when 66 moved north to bypass on better road.  It is the start of a long dirt stretch to San Jon, New Mexico.  In addition to a long-closed diner and service station, the long-abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel (which also featured a cafe and service station), had a sign boasting its status –  First Motel in Texas and Last Motel in Texas, depending on which side of the Texas border you are on.

Just left of the Texas Longhorn is the ruin of an old bar.  Glenrio was a dry town, but one could literally step next door, across the New Mexico border, for a drink.

Along the dirt alignment, a few miles from Glenrio, lies all that remains of Endee – a couple of cabins and an outhouse labeled “Modern Restrooms.”  Huh.

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