Friday, October 26, 2012

Wrapping up Tucumcari

First, let me say we have left Tucumcari and have headed west.  We were there from October 1 to October 18.  We had a couple of very frustrating and tearful days, but for the most part we were blessed with meeting some good friends, meeting up with some old friends, and caching places that we’ve never been.  These are some of our favorite memories:

Boredom in the Motel


New and old friends.

We did have some fun times eating and geocaching.  On Friday, the 15th, on the recommendation of Rich and Frances, we went to lunch at the Watson’s Bar-B-Que.  This is the twice a week restaurant next door to the amazing eclectic Tucumcari Farm Equipment Supply, both owned by Jim and Stella Watson.

While eating our deeelicious lunch we looked out the window and saw A BUZZARD.  We walked outside and spotted 2 more buzzards. Now Tom’s Indian Guide name when he was the YMCA Longhouse chief was Big Buzzard. Jenny was Little Bird and Jason was Road Runner.  When we saw that Buzzard we knew we had to place a cache there.  We check with owners, Jimmy and Stella Watson and they were so excited to have a cache at their store and to learn about caching.  We were fast friends and were on each other’s Facebook within hours.  That cache has now been found 3 times; the first to find was a local insurance lady that the Watson’s didn’t even know was an avid cacher.  We were beginning to love Tucumcari.

While in Tucumcari we were invited to join Richard and Frances and Robby and Carol at the Mesaland’s Rodeo.  This is a Junior College competition and quite highly rated.  There were cowboys and cowgirls from as far away as Australia. These are some of the exciting moments at the rodeo.  I am happy to announce the bulls, calves, and bucking broncos won.

I even have a T-shirt that Tom caught when they were chucking shirts to the crowd.


One of the most interesting thing we discovered in Tucumcari was the painted walls.  Remember the old pool at 5 Mile Park in the last Blog?  Well, it is found in a couple of Wall Paintings.

We decided on our last day to see as many of the Painted Wall that we could. We ran out of time, but here are some of the best.

That has been our time in Tucumcari. We missed the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta but there will be another Fiesta. I doubt we would ever have stayed in Tucumcari a half a month were it not for our break down.  In hind sight it was a blessing. I think we have learned to slow down, when handed lemons… make lemonade, and to be thankful for every day we have on the road regardless of if it is our plan or not. 

So we will be on the road again caching places that we’ve never been.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Our Last Days in Tucumcari

Last Sunday friends, Richard and Frances, came by the hotel and we all piled into DA TOAD and we drove out to Rich and Fran’s ranch. They have 160 acres that are being planted by a sharecropper who farms about 10,000 acres. We drove DA TOAD all around the property and walked to the only building – a boxcar.  The boxcar is inhabited by 2 barn owls.

We were treated to lunch at the Russell Truck Stop about 10 miles from the ranch.  It was good lunch, but the free museum inside the truck stop was real interesting. There were cars including a 69 Corvette and 4 Shelby Mustangs, collectibles – lots and lots of stuff, and history.



We then drove back to Tucumcari to sit in on another practice session of the Blue Grass Bank, Old Gray Cats. They were just great and we are sorry we will not be here for their performance.


Later that evening we went to Denny’s with Rich and Frances, Robby and Carol. We laughed and carried on so I thought they may ask us to take it outside. We’ll miss these great friends.

Monday we did some caching and had some unsettling and conflicting information from the insurance company.  It was later resolved and it was agreed the shop had to tear down the engine to examine the piston and rod on the number 1 cylinder. That lead us to Tuesday.

Good news. The insurance company agreed to pay for the parts and labor to replace the head, head gasket, and rod.  There are a number of things they will not pay for. They will pay for the oil but not the oil filter. What’s the logic there?  They started on the repair. After that news we went Geocaching. We had placed a geocache near the truck repair shop and needed the agreement of our friends, Rich and Frances, to maintain it for us. We decided to drive into Logan and get some caches and talk with Frances and Richard. We discovered a cache just next door to Rich and Frances’ house and they didn’t even know it was there. On our way out of Logan we placed another cache and picked up 2 more before eating dinner.

This is the saga of our dinner experience last night.  It was quite an experience getting dinner and desert in Tucumcari. We went to a Chinese Buffet only to find the buffet was only served at lunch. OK, no problem, we like Chinese food ordered off the menu. I ordered Hot & Sour soup and Crab Rangoon and Tom ordered Shrimp and Snow Peas. The family of the waitress came in and sat down next to us (we were the only 2 tables in the room). I was served my soup and rangoons and the waitress’ family was served shrimp, fried rice, and several other dishes. Tom was then served chicken and snow peas. He asked for shrimp instead of chicken. I ate my entire dinner; the table next to us with the waitresses sitting down with them ate most of their dinner. Tom was served his shrimp and snow peas about 25 minutes later.

We were going to stop at McDonalds for a couple of pumpkin pies. When we got there about 6 cars were in the drive thru so we walked in to the front counter. On the other side of the store a Greyhound bus had unloaded it’s passengers, about 50, for a dinner break at Mickey D’s and we couldn’t even see the counter, so we got back in the car and drove across the street to KFC for Apple Pie where no one was at the drive thru. We ordered, drove to the window, our money was taken and then we were told they were going to put the pies in the fryer right then and it would only be a few minutes. We waited about 10 minutes and the drive thru window opened and we were told the cook dropped our pies on the floor and they were cooking another batch… could we drive forward so the car behind us could receive their order. (timing is everything) Another 10 minutes and we had our pies and were heading back to the hotel room. So that’s how we spent a week in Tucumcari yesterday.

This morning we went to the free breakfast again that is served at the motel. Mary, the hostess, is there each morning to greet us; the variety of breakfast choices is terrific. Fruits, yogurt, eggs, sausages, biscuits and gravy, green chili potatoes, Belgium waffles, bagels and cream cheese, and sweet rolls.


Then we drove over to the repair shop and checked out the progress on DA PAD. 


We then went to check out some more geocaches.  We drove west on old Route 66 to 5 mile park.  This has been abandoned for many years and the main building burned down in 2010.  This was originally an Olympic size pool and is now beyond repair. This is typical of the result of the highway passing a thriving town by.



This is a recap of our caching time in Tucumcari: found-26, placed-2. 

Looks like we will be loading all the cat stuff, clothes, and technology back into DA PAD and we will be on the road to Albuquerque tomorrow. Hurray!Open-mouthed smile

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stuck in Radiator Springs

We have been in Tucumcari, NM, for 6 days.  We have driven from the north to south and the east to west; we have seen almost all of Tucumcari and can’t help but think of the movie ‘Cars’.  I decided to look up the the towns that were depicted in the movie on this website. 

“If you are able to drive to only one Route 66 city that best resembles Radiator Springs, I recommend Tucumcari, N.M. It’s a small town that boasts a bunch of vintage motels, a Mexican restaurant shaped like a sombrero, lots of neon lights, a Route 66-themed grocery store, Tucumcari Mountain and the well-preserved Odeon Theatre, which still shows first-run movies.”

These are some of the scenes we found while geocaching in Tucumcari.  This was a challenge. If we did not have the GPS working on our cell phones, there is no way we could have found a cache in this “pickers paradise”.




Another cache was found in the iconic motel, Blue Swallow, also mentioned on the website. “Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel in the film is a composite of the historic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, N.M., and the teepee-shaped Wigwam Motels, with one in Holbrook, Ariz., and the other in San Bernardino, Calif. All of these motels are restored, well-maintained, and worth seeking out for a night’s sleep.”

Of course the mountain shaped like a radiator cap that overlooks Radiator Springs is inspired by Tucumcari Mountain in Tucumcari. The mountain is the dominant feature in that region for miles around. Local high-school students repaint the town’s initial on the side of the mountain each year.

Tucumcari Mountain

We looked for a cache called Zombie Town.  This was the huge Tucumcari Truck Terminal.  There was a restaurant, diesel pumps (where the cache was located), a Shell gas station and store. This was totally abandoned because the Highway passed the town of Tucumcari by.


While we are stuck in Radiator Springs … Tucumcari we have been reminded that like Lightning McQueen we have had been forced to slow down. Whether we like it or not after all the crazy travel from Kansas City to Montana to Sault St Marie back to Indiana and back to Kansas City in just 2 months we slowed down even if we did not want to, just like Lightning McQueen. 

We have seen the specialness of this small town from the friendly waitress in Pizza Hut that sat down to talk to us to the lady at the hotel breakfast room that greets us each morning with a smile and is sorry we are still stuck here.  While caching today we were sneaking around a little building outside a historic old home when the door opened and Robby, who we had dinner with last Saturday in Logan, poked his head out the door and asked what we were doing and then invited us in to listen to their jam session.  What a wonderful time we had with Robby, Carol and Bob.


I think we are resolved to look on the bright side of this situation and there are really some good things going on.  We eat a fabulous breakfast each morning, we have good internet, we take long showers, everyone is super friendly, and we have gotten almost all the available caches in Tucumcari.  Tomorrow we will get the rest of the caches.

The latest news on the repair is we are waiting for the adjuster to approve the recommendations Cummins suggests when a head gasket is blown.  If they do not the predicted failure will cost much more than the $9,000 of this repair.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Logan NM to Tucumcari Eventually

We drove from Liberal, KS, on Hwy 54 to the little village of Logan, NM.  We have stayed there before because 1) the State Park is a very nice stop, and more important 2) our friends, Rich Dahl and Frances Langley live there.  We tried to call when we arrived at Ute State Park, but we had absolutely no signal, no data signal and no phone signal so we were not able to contact Rich and Fran.  Fortunately, Richard drove up only a few minutes after we were parked.  Frances was suffering from severe allergies so she begged off. Richard took us on a tour of Logan and then we had lunch at one of only two local eateries in Logan.  We had burritos. This is a very eclectic place with lots of ‘stuff’ hanging on the walls.  Tom said it was a picker’s paradise.


That afternoon Richard drove us to Tucumcari because there was a local celebration, Fired Up. This celebration brought back the fire-based exhibits of last year as well as music, performances and railroad-theme attractions that highlighted Tucumcari's restored Rail Depot. One of the music groups was the Blue Grass Band that Richard and Frances play with, Blue Grass and Old Tyme Music.


Because of Frances not feeling good, Richard had not planned on attending so he just enjoyed the show with Tom.


We toured the RR Depot which is being beautifully restored.

We checked out the vendors, demonstrations and even an airplane on a trailer.

Of course Richard tells Tom all about the world according to Richard including lots of factoids. Open-mouthed smile


We then took a tour of Tucumcari; I thought often of the movie, Cars.  This town was once a thriving vibrant community that when the highway passed it by, it almost died.  We saw lots of Route 66 iconic motels and businesses and also many murals that have greatly improved the run down areas of this town.










Then we went back to the Tucumcari Depot and watched fireworks.

We planned to leave the next day so Rich and Fran brought us breakfast burritos and played some Blue Grass for us.  What a treat; we had no idea they were such talented musicians.




Then we said goodbye, pulled in the slides, and started to leave.  There was a stop engine light shining brightly on the dash of DA PAD.  We’ve never seen that before.  Remember we had NO PHONE service. We did try to call out using the State Park Wi-Fi and Skype, but we could not keep the connection.  So we drove over to the Dahl’s to use their phone.  We called Cummins then Coach Net and it was determined we should not move the RV.  A tow truck would be arranged for on Monday, the next day.  By this time it was 2 hours later and we went back to DA PAD, paid for another night, pulled out the slides and settled in for another day. Later that evening we went to dinner at the same restaurant, The Annex Bar and Grill, we ate at on Saturday. We were joined by Robby and Carol, another Blue Grass band couple.  We were entertained by Robby and Richard exchanging zingers all through dinner.  We laughed and talked all evening.

The next morning the Dahl’s came over so we could receive phone calls from Coach Net and the tow company. Finally, the big tow truck came and hooked up DA PAD.  This was quite a lengthy process and these guys were really good.


We said goodbye again and we were on our way to Tucumcari.


We were towed to John’s Truck Service, but because Steve, the head mechanic and John’s son was not going to be back until Tuesday, we stayed in our home on wheels that night.  Tuesday, yesterday, was very stressful.  We did not know what was wrong, how much it would cost, where we would be staying, what about Pansy?   Steve arranged for us to stay at the Best Western at a reduced rate.

We found out today that what caused the Stop Engine light was a blown head gasket.

We will know more tomorrow about the insurance coverage, our costs, the motel coverage, and when we will be able to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  We should have checked in today at the Fiesta, but sadly we are missing the fun camaraderie of our Boomer friends.

We consoled ourselves by finding 7 geocaches and repairing 2.

We are posting information on our Facebook pages so if you are interested in any updates to this saga, tune in there.