Route 66: Elk City, OK to Santa Rosa, NM
Day 17 – 4095 Miles
ELK CITY, OK to SANTA ROSA, NM – 372 Miles
Brian and I both awoke salivating for New Mexico-styled grub… with lots of chiles, our culinary staple. So instead of taking the slow road through the rest of Oklahoma and Texas, we blasted out of Elk City, jumped on the Interstate, and burned some miles to get closer to Santa Rosa, New Mexico and Joseph’s perfect enchiladas.
The Mother Road kept calling us back, though, when the superslab monotony became too much.
We nearly got into a heap o’trouble east of Amarillo after passing up cheap gas in Conroy and continuing on old 66 with plans to fuel in the next small town. As we flew through the desert at 75 (the posted limit) I looked down the straighter-than-straight road and watched the asphalt disappear into a mirage at the horizon with no–and I mean NO–sign of civilization. Uh oh. And we already had 139 miles on our tanks.
To give you an idea, at home, under normal driving conditions, I’ll go on reserve at about 125 miles. Even though we’ve been getting extraordinary mileage on the trip (close to 60), we’ve played it safe and usually fuel around 120. So here we are in the middle of Texas with no gas in sight and beyond where our gas tanks usually go on reserve. The iPhone said Amarillo was about 20 miles away, cutting it close, yes, but what choice did we have? Back on the Interstate, and just as I hit reserve at an amazing 146 miles, we saw an exit with gas. Yee haw! Granted it was low octane (90) and the bikes had been loving the 93 in the states east of there, but at least we weren’t sittin’ on the side of the road selling our dirty laundry for gas.
But one ghost town in particular had us intrigued. One we’d seen from the Interstate on our way East. One Brian had read about. One we didn’t know the name of. About fifteen miles past Montoya, we turned around thinking we’d passed it (or rather, I did) and explored a dead-end section we’d earlier ignored. Nope. Just a dead-end.
So we burned it back down the Interstate and just as Brian guessed, we found it about 20 miles east of Santa Rosa, an abandoned town called Cuervo.
Talking to this kind man who stopped to chat, it seems the town died around 1957 when half of it was mowed down by the I-40 construction and the railroad moved some of the workers further down the line.
I could keep posting, but I’m sure you get the idea. Especially amazing are the adobes, that look as if they’d wash away in the rain yet remain standing.
When our stomachs started growling with the proximity to Joseph’s, we pulled ourselves away and indulged in our favorite. Oh darling… How I’ve missed you!