03 May 2020


“I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah...”
And I have, too. The line with the town names in it is a verse in a famous 1970s song.
The towns are in, respectively, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Nevada.

When you drive east from Santa Fe toward Tucumcari (pop. 5,000),
the landscape gradually goes flat and the horizon becomes, well, horizontal.
The drive takes about about three hours. There's not much traffic.

I like flatlands. They make for big skies. And they remind me of home.
Where I grew up, on the North Carolina coast, what land there is is flat. And there's a lot of water. It's flat too.

So eastern New Mexico appealed to me. It was more arid in character than the flat places I've lived in,
including central Illinois and its prairie, but it was otherwise familiar.
These are high plains, at an altitude of 4,000 or 5,000 feet (1250 to 1500 meters).

Even the buildings are horizontal. Below is the motel we stayed in when we spent the night in Tucumcari.
From a room here on May 1, 2003, I telephoned the moving company in California and told them
to go ahead and ship our container-load of belongings to France.

And this is Tucumcari's train station. I'm sure it used to bustle, back when people rode trains from cities
like Chicago all the way to Los Angeles, passing through here. In 2003, the station clearly wasn't bustling.

Tomorrow: Tucumcari itself. I had never been there before 2003.


  1. We followed about the same route one year from California to Arlington, Va.

  2. We stayed overnight in Tucumcari just so that we could say we did.

    1. So we did! We were coming from Soccoro where we spent the night.

    2. In fact, we stopped several times in Socorro on our regular cross country from California to Virginia. The first time because I wanted to see the VLA (Very Large Array) on the plains of San Augustin of which we had talked in TOPIC. Those towers are really impressive. I think they're distant one mile apart.

  3. Saying Tucumcari makes me smile. ;)

  4. We spent the night in Winslow, Arizona at the Posada Hotel which is near a train station like the one in Tucumcari. Trains still stop there. Your posts are making me wish I were on the road going somewhere. There's a motel just like the one you stayed in in Oxford Alabama- I think the colors are still the same, but I'd need to check that out.

    1. The place where we stayed in Tucumcari was a Motel 6. We stayed in Motel 6es all the way across the country, because the chain's policy was to accept travelers with their dogs. Besides, back then, the chain was French-owned. All the ones we stayed in were fine, with the exception of one in Atlanta later in May 2003.

    2. We too used Motel 6 in al our cross country trips, and were very happy with them. I don't especially recall the one in Tucumcari, but it might have been the same as yours! The one in Soccoro was very nice.

  5. I like the train station as well. Probably has historic designation. Had no idea motel 6 was French owned and that it was called that because they charged $6 a night in the 1960s.


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