Note from Bart & Rorie: OOPS! We meant NO disrespect to our friends in New Mexico, but we goofed and forgot to post this road report. Now, go back few days in time with us…
Our first stop after leaving Texas and passing through the welcoming gates of New Mexico was the quirkiest travelers rest area we have ever been to. Notice how far the Russell family extends!
Besides all the usual amenities, Russell’s Travel Center has an awesome retro-looking diner and a car museum. The museum was packed with gorgeous old cars and life-size replicas of Elvis and Betty Boop. A great find to break up a long drive.
As we drove along I-40 we were blown away by the topography. Everywhere we looked were huge buttes, mesas and plateaus. Buttes are stand-alone hills that are the smallest of the 3 types of landforms and have steep, often vertical sides and a relatively flat top. Mesas are a medium size flat-topped formation that have steep cliffs, and a plateau is a really big flat-topped mountain. They’re all so majestic looking it’s really easy to confuse them. Bottom line–they’re all gorgeous.
Here’s your first test. Butte, mesa or plateau? You decide.
Cruising down the road, we decided to explore the town of Tucumcari (pop. 5,400). Founded in 1901 as a construction camp for the railroad, it was originally called Six Shooter Siding because of all the gunfights. Probably not a great marketing tool when trying to attract additional settlers to town.
Entering the town, we’re pretty sure we were being greeted by a plateau.
Tucumcari did however attract the producers of the hit show Rawhide starring a very young Clint Eastwood who played the role of Rowdy Yates, every girls’ heartthrob back in the day. Many of the show’s scenes were filmed here.
Our rumbling stomaches sent us on the hunt for food and thankfully we found Watson’s BBQ (http://bit.ly/2fm7w4P). It has 5 star ratings on Trip Advisor, Yelp and Facebook. How could you not be drawn to a place with those ratings and signs like this!
The Discover Small Town America Tour-mobile snags a prime parking space.
Owners Stella and Jimmy Watson started serving BBQ out of their hardware store when the Great Recession began in 2008 to “just get by”. Now they estimate 80% of their income comes from their BBQ, and after eating an amazing lunch we can understand why.
Trying to maintain some semblance of healthy eating, we figured putting the brisket (Bart) and pulled pork (Rorie) on top of a salad was the best way to go. Delectable, moist, smokey meat with a great dry rub was a hit. And because we ate such a healthy lunch, we couldn’t resist devouring the homemade hot, right-out-of-the-oven, apple cobbler with a side of vanilla ice cream that Jimmy Watson gave us to cleanse our palates. Jimmy and Stella Watson are great people, who provide great food and great service.
We aren’t the only ones this BBQ hot-spot has attracted. Sports Illustrated did a photo shoot here (we doubt the models ate anything but lettuce) and at the Tucumcari Route 66 Blue Swallow Motel, and musician Alex Sterne shot a music video at Watson’s too. You can see it on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mH76vDHo1Y&feature=youtu.be). If you are anywhere near Tucumcari, New Mexico, be sure to make Watsons a destination and tell them Rorie and Bart sent you.
Continuing on, we spotted a sign for the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, NM (population 2,744) and naturally we had to investigate.
Created out of a sink hole surrounded by red stone walls, this clear, vivid sapphire blue gem in the middle of a place that gets little rain is somewhat of a miracle. The Blue Hole is 81 feet deep and 60 feet wide with visibility of 100 feet and water temperature of a steady 62 degrees. It’s a mecca for scuba divers because of these crystalline waters. We couldn’t believe how clear the water was.
After a full day of driving and exploring it was time to check in to our Airbnb refuge in the hills overlooking Santa Fe. With breathtaking views of the magnificent Sangre De Cristo Mountains, we have never stayed in a more beautiful place. Our private casita (guest house) is a traveler’s dream and our Super Host Sebastian could not be nicer or more accommodating.
Soaring ceilings, contemporary styling, relaxing furniture and large windows looking out on a powerful mountainous landscape make it very hard to leave. If you’re ever thinking of coming to Santa Fe, this is absolutely the only place you’ll want to stay. Here’s a link to reach our Super Host: http://bit.ly/2go2w4K. Tell him folks from the Discover Small Town America Tour sent you.
The change to Mountain Time (another hour earlier) and our exciting day of discovery has done us in. Come along with us tomorrow as we explore historic Santa Fe.