Category Archives: New Mexico

A 15-Minute Ride Along Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Tucumcari, New Mexico, the largest town on a monotonous Interstate 40 stretch between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Amarillo, Texas , is a good place to  make a quick trip down memory lane.

You could gas up at the Flying J or Pilot travel stations on the interstate and be on your way, but on a recent trip we took 15 extra minutes to ride along the Historic Route 66 that goes through the edge of town.

Route 66 is called the “Mother Road” because the long route between Chicago and Los Angeles became famous as the one of the original U.S. highways. Built in 1926, it became synonymous with road trips and is immortalized in film and song. Today, pieces of the road remain as an iconic relic of early road tripping.

Most of the motor courts were abandoned after Holiday Inn Express and others opened along the interstate. Some have been restored. Others have  become eyesores. One still had a sign hanging out bragging that Clint Eastwood had stayed there as if it was making a last gasp for survival. (Indeed, Rawhide with Eastwood was filmed in Tucumcari until the early 1960s.

Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico
Blue Swallow Motel Tucumcari, New Mexico

The most photogenic is the Blue Swallow Motel, which looks like it is frozen in time with a Hudson automobile out front and rooms remodeled to every detail including vintage magazines and rotary dial telephones. We were driving through on a late afternoon but next time I’d like to pass through when the Blue Swallow and other businesses turn on their neon lights.

Tucumcari is making a decent attempt to draw nostalgia tourism with its Route 66 Museum and an annual festival called Rockabilly on the Route. Its community college also has a well-regarded dinosaur museum.

Maybe I’ll check out the museum on another trip, This time, I only saw the dinosaurs along old Route 66.

When you are traveling across country seeing how many miles you can cover, you don’t usually have time to take the backroads.  Sometimes just a small detour — 15 minutes in this case — is enough to quench your curiosity and make the drive more memorable.

 

Chiles, Cherries & Chorizo-Santa Fe Farmer’s Market

Red or green?

That’s the question you are asked repeatedly in New Mexico. It refers to how you like your chiles.  I saw plenty of chile and other red and green products on a re ent trip to the Santa Fe Farmers Market, along with splashes of orange, lavender, yellow and just about every color you can imagine.

Lots of root vegetables

The Santa Fe Farmer’s Market in the restored Railyard district is a colorful blend of vendors from small family farms near the Rio Grande with urban gardeners from artsy Santa Fe and Taos.

Lots of greens: Salad lettuces of mixed shades. Fresh green sugar snap peas. Sage sticks bundled and shaped like cactus or crosses. Lacy green carrot tops poking out of backpacks and tote bags.

And reds: Beets. Rhubarb. Hydroponic tomatoes– still too early for the ones grown directly in soil. Red radishes, some fat as softballs; others more like golf balls. Yellow-skinned Rainier cherries blushing with red and $8 a pound price tags. Mahogany red chokecherries, tiny cherries slightly astringent in flavor.

Cherries are in season in New Mexico

Fresh chiles were there in abundance and also dried powders, dried wreath pods, green chile salsa and a  slew of other products. It’s the same pepper; the stage of ripeness determines the color. New Mexico is to the green chile as Louisiana is to cayenne pepper, but did you know the chile is NOT New Mexico’s #1 agricultural food product. It’s the pecan, and we were surprised to see so many lush groves as we drove throughout the state. New Mexico is second to Georgia in pecan production.

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And a rainbow of other colors were there too including blue, orange and red corn.

Since, I was traveling, I had to skip the fresh fruits and veggies  the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market and hang out at the bread vendors. My favorite was  the Intergalactic Bread Company. I originally thought the name came from the Mediterranean flatbreads that kind of look like flying saucers. But,  the vendor corrected, “it’s because the taste is out of this world.”

I recommend the green chile cheese bread.

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