Saturday, November 1, 2014

Grumpy Bulldog Does America Day 58: Tucumcari Tonite

Last night I fell asleep during "The Terminator" on Esquire around 11.  Of course when I go to sleep early, it means I have to wake up early.  In this case about 7:30.  My nose was all stuffed up; maybe because it was like 35 degrees outside.  The good thing was at least I could go downstairs for breakfast, which was Raisin Bran and half a big waffle.

I left around 10 for Tucumcari.  This time I didn't have to take a wicked shit on the way along US84.  As I said yesterday, there really is nothing there as far as businesses go, just some houses.  There weren't really any other cars, so that made it easier.  Here are pictures from along that stretch:

About 17 miles down I-40 then is Santa Rosa.  I stayed there in 2006.  And then later that year I used it as the town where Samantha Young grows up (the first time) in the Children of Eternity series.  Which that's actually a spoiler to some extent.  I forget if it's an aunt or a grandma she went to live with there after her parents died in a car accident.  Which is kind of the same backstory I used later for Emma Earl.  Anyway, I stayed at the La Quinta back then because it was on a hill and I thought I could get some decent pictures.  Which I got some OK sunset pictures from the parking lot.  Obviously I wasn't sticking around to try that again.

I stopped in a park by a lake there to change batteries in the camera.  You're supposed to pay $5 to be in the park, but fuck that.  The last picture I think is of some Chinese restaurant that used to be a gas station, though now it's not a gas station either.  In case you don't realize it from the pictures, Santa Rosa isn't the most prosperous place.  Really nowhere in northeast New Mexico is; it's all kind of a shithole.

Then it was about another hour to Tucumcari.  For a while I was racing a train.  Eventually I pulled ahead of the train.  Take that 19th Century!

It was noonish probably when I rolled into Tucumcari.  I developed an accidental relationship with this town in 2005.  I was researching New Mexico for The Best Light and keyed in on Tucumcari as a model for the town of Little Mesa.  Basically back in the days of Route 66, Tucumcari was kind of a big deal as a stopover point for people traveling west, and maybe heading back east too.  There was even that slogan "Tucumcari Tonite" or Tonight if you felt like spelling it correctly.  So there were a lot of motels that sprung up and touristy crap.  Basically it was like Vegas without the gambling.  It's obviously not as prosperous today as it was in those days, though since I-40 goes by there it isn't completely gone.  They still don't have a Wal-Mart, just a little K-Mart.  I stopped there to get some water and Reese's peanut butter cups, it being Halloween and all.  The water was on sale for 33 cents a bottle and actually comes from Michigan.  Woo hoo.  The last time I stopped there I got a DSL cord because back in 2006 you had to plug into a DSL modem instead of WiFi and I didn't have a cord.  I was surprised to find something so high-tech there.  I think I still have that cord in my laptop case, not that I've had much use for it since.

For lunch I stopped at Del's, a restaurant with a cow atop the sign.  I went there in 2006.  I think last time I got chicken fried steak.  This time I got chopped steak with bacon on the edge.  They kind of half-assed the bacon part, but otherwise it was decent.  What really annoyed me is they put me in this out-of-the-way corner.  I guess so I wouldn't scare the other patrons.  I mean the old couple who came in after me got seated right in the middle.  I'm not sure if that's conscious or subconscious discrimination but it's happened a number of times, not just there.

By the time I finished lunch it was about 1pm and so I decided to do one of the few things there is to do in Tucumcari and revisited the Mesalands Community College Dinosaur Museum.  Being a community college it's not a real big museum, but they have some neat stuff.  I got to touch a triceratops and T-rex skull--or bronzed casts of real skulls.  They have a few small dinosaurs cast in bronze, which is pretty neat.  And some saber toothed tigers and stuff.  There are fossils and all that too.

By the time I was done at the museum it was only about 2pm.  This isn't the sort of town with a Starbucks or Panera Bread or even an Arby's, so I just went to McDonald's, got a frappe and played Tetris on my phone until after 3.  This kid and his grandpa came outside where I was sitting but while they went to get some toys from the car, a bird came along and stole one of the kid's McNuggets he'd left exposed.  Those thieving birds.

After I left, I went across the street to the Days Inn.  The setup is kind of weird.  There's a door connected to the inside hall and a door on the outside.  Except the stairway is on the inside, so if you're on the second floor, the outer door really has no point.  It's a superfluous door.

I'm glad the WiFi here doesn't have a sign-in screen as it allows me to use my Roku.  I watched "Scream" on Netflix, which I hadn't watched in a long time.  I'm sure some network showed it at some point, but I missed it.  Not long after that was done, the sun had set, so I could go out for some night photography.

Back in the old days, all those motels and such here had neon signs, so it was kind of like Vegas in that way too.  Of course now there's a lot less of that, though some of the older places still have the neon going.  I went out to get pictures of some of it.  It often took a few tries to get it somewhat right as night photography can be tricky.

The Route 66 marker there is backwards because to stop and get a picture you have to park behind it.  It's neat that it has the little taillights going on there.  That side of town is even crappier than the east side.  There's pretty much nothing there except a couple of motels and Radio Shack, which for some reason is still there.  I stopped there in 2006 for batteries.  All they had of the lithium AA batteries at the time was like a 12-pack, so at least I had plenty of spares.  I did need to change batteries after the dinosaur museum but I had a lot in my car, thus no need to revisit Radio Shack.

Anyway, I went to McDonald's again for dinner and then watched Halloween Resurrection on the Roku.  That one of 4 Halloween movies AMC doesn't have; it's on FX for whatever reason.  Really while it's kind of cheesy in some ways, it was sort of ahead of its time in the concept of people going around a haunted house with cameras is like all those stupid "ghost" hunting shows on TV now.  That was part of the failed attempts to revitalize the big horror movie franchises in the early 21st Century.  There was also "Jason X" which I think is kind of fun, even if it is stupid as all hell.  The pitch for that movie was probably:  It's like "Alien" only we replace the bug with Jason Voorhees!  Brilliant!  Then of course they finally had Freddy vs. Jason, which was fucking lame because neither one can die, so they just beat the shit out of each other for a while and then at the end they're both still alive, so who cares?  Probably why there was no round 2 on that.

I'm a little disappointed they don't have all 10 Halloween movies on AMC because that would be better, and less repetitive.  You realize it's been almost 40 years since the first one?  I thought of that when I was looking for H20 and realized it's been like 16 years since that.  So really in 2018 maybe John Carpenter can release H40.  If I had any spare cash right now I'd love to buy the box set that has all 10 movies plus the Producer's Cut of the shitty 6th movie which might actually make some fucking sense.

Now I'm watching "The Crow" because I forgot to watch it yesterday.  I usually watch it on Devil's Night because that figures so prominently in the plot of the movie.  But even if I'd remembered I'd have had to watch it on a tiny screen, so it's just as well I forgot.  BTW, for another book plug, "The Crow" (also Robocop and Darkman) was part of the inspiration for how I rejiggered the plot of Chance of a Lifetime with the idea of having specific villains for the resurrected hero to go after.

Tomorrow I'm going to Roswell.  Hooray, aliens!  Maybe I can find Quark or Bender there, depending which TV series you believe in.  Or wasn't there some stupid WB series about alien teenagers in Roswell? 

I was thinking of going to Carlsbad Caverns since it's like 90 minutes away.  For some reason all the motels in Carlsbad are super overpriced.  I mean the shitty Motel 6 is $86/night!  It goes for half that everywhere else.  I'm not sure what the deal is with that.  I guess if I want to go I might have to just go from Roswell or something since I don't feel like paying $100/night for some fucking 1-star dump.

Anyway, Happy Halloween.  And All Saint's Day.  And whatever else.


  1. I expect a travel book at some point compiling all of this. Grumpy America or something.

  2. I wanna see the dinosaurs.

    And you can really see where a lot of the inspiration came from for the movie Cars in some of your pictures.



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