Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

A Windy Walk

Tuesday, May 24,2011
Cactus RV Park,
Historic Route 66,
Tucumcari, NM

David here
I've been asked to write this day’s blog
since I was the only one who did anything today.  :) 

Just kidding - Sherry is always busy doing something. 
But, you see it was an extremely windy day
with constant winds of 30-40 mph
and gusting to 60 mph,
so we stayed inside. 

By the mid afternoon, I was getting restless
and needed to get outside,
but Sherry was not interested
in going out in the sun & wind
to see any more old relics from the past. 
I think she a case of nostalgiaphobea. 

So, I set out on a long walk to see more
of the historic remains of the 'Mother Road'
as some call the old now historic route 66. 

I believe it was the first two lane highway
from Chicago to California and like the railroads,
if this road came through your town,
there were business opportunities and development
to cater to those brought to town on this road. 

Service stations, eateries and motels
were the primary enterprises
and the two mile stretch of old route 66
running east & west from the Cactus RV Park
is strewn with with the legacy of the boom days. 
Everything changed when Interstate 40
came through here apparently in the 60s
and took all the traffic away from this strip. 

At least half of everything along this road
is now in decline or abandoned. 
The businesses that survive are a combination
of the most successful from the heydays
and the current crop of entrepreneurs
taking advantage of the cheap commercial real estate
to try their hand at business. 

One of the things I noticed right away
was the many murals painted on the sides of buildings
all over town -
including this one on the side of the Chamber of Commerce.


Tucumcari is also the name of this mountain or butte
just a couple of miles south of town
but visible from pretty much anywhere not blocked by a building. 
It is very flat here - great for running, but that is tomorrow.


You may have noticed on the first picture
that this town was once named
'Six Shooter Siding' -
in fact that was the original name. 
This little saloon keeps that memory alive.


The surviving restaurants include the two most famous
- Del's and Kix on 66 -
still in business serving up American road food. 



Also surviving are some Mexican influenced spots,
one new and the other still here from the days of glory.



Among the many service stations along the strip,
most of which are closed and in disrepair,
this one has been nicely preserved
although it appears for no purpose but show. 
The second is a rather busy little drive through smoke shop
where I saw some people still driving through
to buy cigarettes without having to get out of the car.



Motels were a big business on this strip
– more so than any other type of business. 
The Blue Swallow survives today
not only because of its fabulous neon sign,
but surely also on the "100% Refrigerated Air",
but most importantly because many if not all rooms
also had a garage adjacent for your car! 
Talk about extravagance in the 50s!



Other motels somehow still open from that era include
the Tucumcari Inn ("American Owned" on their sign
must attract some customers or perhaps they think it will),
the Motel Safari (very original retro) and the Pow Wow Inn.




And some of the less fortunate motels still remain to remind us of their former glory.




Some of the failed motels have been converted to RV parks
- including the one we stayed in (Cactus RV in neon) while another RV park clearly from an earlier age was just shut down and left empty (Hunt's Trailer Park).



Just across the street from our RV Park was another
- this one being "Veteran Owned". 
I suppose that might attract some folks.


I'll close with some of my favorite of the very fine murals
painted mostly on the walls of buildings through out the town.






And last, my very favorite neon from the night before,
is atop a laundromat.




  1. David,
    Loved your post and the pictures. We left that area, going opposite of you, about 2 weeks ago....loved the history of Route 66. Thanks for the pictures!


  2. Enjoyed the post David. It was a nice tour of that part of Rt 66. Really liked the Murals!!

    Hope the winds calm down and you both get out and about ;o)

  3. I loved the way all the states, in their own way, welcomed u to their state, with statues,monuments, overpasses, the welcome centers, art on the overpasses. It was all neat!!
    Love the car pictures and the neon ones too!

  4. Very nice pictures of the strip. We would really like to get out there when we go full time.

  5. Great post David! Love your photos. Those murals are amazing! This is a definite 'must see' for us. Thanks for the tour :)

  6. Really interesting post David! Nice walk back into days gone by.

  7. Refrigerated air - we could have used some of that on the east coast last week!


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