Saturday, March 5, 2022

New Mexico day 8: the long way to Albuquerque

Up early on a bluebird -- or Blue Swallow? -- morning.

The only thing we had on our list for the day was to get back to Albuquerque -- not a super long drive. So I looked at a map to get a wider view ... and it hit me. We weren't crazy far from Texas... and TORCHY'S TACOS

I have a deep love of Torchy's from their early location as a truck in Austin. The last time I was in Texas -- after running half marathons in Kansas and Oklahoma, and spending a night in lovely Shamrock, Texas -- I made sure and stopped in Amarillo to eat at Torchy's. 

Luckily, I didn't have to think "is it really a great idea to drive 113 miles -- each way -- just to eat tacos?" (I mean, obviously, it is a REALLY GREAT IDEA....). Because there's another attraction just outside of Amarillo. 


Ten classic Cadillacs of varying vintages, partially buried, nose down, at a precise angle of 51° 50' and 40", the same as the angle of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. The Cadillacs all face west, stretching about 140 feet in a field. On my last solo visit, I was sad not to have paint with me. Nowadays, there's a merchandise trailer that sells paint and other merch. 

It was windy -- crazy, hair-whipping windy -- so we decided to just walk out to the cars to have a look. But when we got there we found bags and bags of spray paint cans. And we couldn't resist adding to the artwork. 

I mainly just walked around looking at the cars.

I was especially fascinated by the layers and layers of accumulated paint. 

I was happy that Wil finally got a chance to visit, too!

All that spray painting -- and driving, of course -- had given us a big appetite. Hello, Torchy's!

We had three tacos each, PLUS chips and queso. Because, well, we won't be near a Torchy's again for a long time. Fried Avocado, Mofaux (with Beyond Beef), and the Migas breakfast taco, too. 

Uncomfortably stuffed we piled back in the car for the drive west. We popped back in to Tucumcari so we could visit Tee Pee Curios, where we bought random items (and really just stretched our legs...).

After that we stopped at the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa where, if it was less windy we might have taken a dip. It's amazing. 

A lot of people learn to scuba dive here. Maybe someday. (And what a random place to learn to dive!)

Then back on to I-40 where we heard about a huge crash, a few miles of closed highway, and 3-hour delays. So we let Google select another route around the backup and closures. 

Except Google isn't always the best judge of roads. 

We started off on a nice little 2-lane highway, one of three cars all clearly following the detour. Then, we were told to turn onto another road... which was a dirt road. 

The first car either missed the turn or was going a different way. The second car turned, seemed to panic, then slowed down and pulled over. So we just passed them and moved along. 

The first car either missed the turn or was going a different way. The second car turned, seemed to panic, then slowed down and pulled over. So we just passed them and moved along. 

Remember, we weren't in our beloved Crosstrek -- we were in some sort of random sedan. But... for a dirt and gravel road, it was pretty well graded and smooth. What we didn't know is how long the road would stay this way. Eventually the directions told us to turn... onto another dirt road. But then, the directions indicated that two miles later, we would turn on to a highway. HIGHWAY = PAVING. 

Not long after that we re-joined I-40 on the other side of the crash, and shortly thereafter we arrived in Albuquerque.

Robert from the Blue Swallow recommended we check out the El Vado, another vintage motor court motel along Route 66. But in this case, they made it very chic and modern -- they turned the old garages into glass-fronted suites. The rooms were indeed nice, but our stay was a little less than perfect. 

We walked to Old Town, had a very good margarita and some snacks at a swanky bar, and then headed back to the El Vado. We didn't really fancy any of the food in the restaurant / food court area, and the brewery only had canned cider on hand, so we decided against it. Inside the "guest area", we dragged some chairs and a table over to in front of our suite and sat outside and watched the sunset. 

Eventually the restaurants closed and the music stopped and it was just the handful of hotel guests left. I think we were the only people who moved chairs so they could sit outside; it might have been too cold out for a lot of folks. Sadly, the heaters are only in the restaurant area, and the firepits weren't lit. 

Still, it was really lovely -- I think maybe autumn would be a good time to visit? Before the pool closes, but after the summer rush. 

And, oh, this sign!

**A quick note about this post -- I'm catching up with my New Mexico memories and backdating posts to each day. 

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