Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Up the Santa Fe Loop

Wednesday June 6, 2012

We rested well in Tucumcari and headed over to the suggested restaurant for breakfast, “Kicks on 66”.  It looks like it is part of a dormant motel complex. We were a little past the rush (I think) getting there just before 9:00 AM. Half of the 6 parties had Route 66 books and were plotting their next moves. I guess we’re really not alone in this endeavor.

We headed out of town checking out the last 6 or so establishments on the west side. The first leg to Newkirk was on I40 letting us get some real miles behind us PDQ. Wilkerson had an old figural bottle shop, a few gas stations and a small church, all abandoned.

We left Newkirk on old 66 and Lorna started to get into snapping pictures of the terrain. Every curve, knoll or mile down the road brings us to a different scene. The space is broad and open and the surrounding hills, mountains and mesas make it expand and contract as we weave ahead. After a solitary drive down the road we came to Quervo, a town that got sliced in two by I-40. A 2 lane underpass keeps things connected but the interstate must have taken a huge swath out of the town. A number of towns have moved once or twice to dodge highway work.

One abandoned filling station on the north side bad sold BELL gasoline and also served as the post office. From there you could see QUERVO spelled in white on the hillside to the south.

On the south side we found a handsome red block building. The roof  as intact but tired and the windows look to be gone. The stone has an inscription ending in No.6. It looks like it could be a school. Along the frontage road there were a number of small housed left open to the elements. A 1915 red block church looks like it might still be in use. In the streets further back homes were inhabited. There was also some commercial trucking equipment in use. Several generations of water towers were visible suggesting a community water supply.

Along the way Lorna was getting pictures of wild flowers, lot’s nice stuff we don’t see at home. A few times now I have run into “picky bushes” that can leave your socks booby trapped with spiny balls.

We decided to make the loop up to Santa Fe and Santa Rosa was our departure from the I-40 corridor. Santa Rosa was chock full of Route 66 icons, many still in business. It was good to see so many doing well. The town was refreshing, far removed from that ghost town feeling. On a Wednesday morning near noon I didn’t have any trouble walking across the 5 lane main drag. The Silver Moon, Route 66 Restaurant, Joseph’s Bar & Grill and Johnny’s Comet II were all still serving food. Most motels were active but fuels stations and the truck stop at the west end were on hard times. We didn’t stay too long being early for lunch.

From there we headed to Santa Fe for the night. US 84 has replaced 66 for most of this run though there are many sections of the old road available as respite from the 75 MPH highway. This took us up through some really nice country and we made numerous stops to take pictures of the scenery, flowers, cows, sheep horsed and anything else of interest. Today’s image tally was 320. 

In Dilia we found a nice pale yellow adobe Catholic Church that must have been active. While taking pictures a woman pulled up offering to sell us burritos. Maybe she knew something. An abandoned store had been selling antiques, fine art and ice. This Santa Fe loop is a pre 1937 alignment. On the way out we got some nice open road pictures.

After we left I checked the GPS for food. Everything was about 28 miles away in Las Vegas, NM. Driving up through Anton Chico we stopped for lots of nature pictures and enjoyed the open high country.  We had been thinking about Mexican food and happened on the Smiling Faces Restaurant, Authentic Mexican food. It was a letdown with oily tacos that lacked seasoning. The rice was equally bland and soggy. They did have a big collection of smiley face stuff that Jocelyn will enjoy seeing.

US 66 runs alongside many of the highways and there is usually a similar frontage road on the opposite side. To let activity pass there are drive through box culverts under the roadway.  We had been wanting to do some “dirt 66” and decided to see where one of these culverts would take us. We drove down off of 66 and drove through the square tunnel just 1 car wide with height limits.  Once across we were on a dirt road and one direction was closed. We headed down the open side for a few miles passing many remote properties folks called home. Eventually we found the Serafina Post Office and we continued on to the main road. Birds had lined the top corners of the tunnel with mud nests. This road has railway tracks running out back. In order to give the same access across the roadbed to pedestrians and animals a similar tunnel was built under the tracks. It was nice stone block construction with arched passage.

San Jose NM gave us a closed through truss bridge and a nice church. The village is active with many adobe structures. Nobody looks prosperous but the many tan adobe homes of varying patterns fit well. Farther on San Juan NM we found another nice little church and a dead end. We did get to drive along a steep drop off where an amalgam of discarded jalopies could be seen hanging out of the slope above. It gave Lorna the creeps. She wouldn't let me stop to take pictures.

In Canconcito we found historical markers and a chapel that had outdoor items commemorating a Civil War battle. We hit dead ends when trying to find Apache Canyon.  There is so much to explore in these places that you need to make choices and cut losses when it’s not happening.

Entering SantaFe the Bobcat Bite was suggested as a point of interest. It looks to be doing well. Driving 66 to our hotel there isn’t much remaining. I did find the Stage Coach Motel next door that is slated for demolition. A few doors down is a dormant restaurant with what must have been a nice neon sign.

It’s been a string of late nights and I have a chance to hit the hay before midnight so I’ll be skipping some of the other goings on. Tomorrow we will be heading back down to I-40 and should be approaching the Arizona border.

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