Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

The Road to SMOFCon, Day 5: Albuquerque to Clovis NM

Today's journey was relatively short: Google Maps put it at 229 miles. Compared to Days 2 and 3, that's no big deal, and while we ended up spending about eight hours on the road, that included time to actually stop and look at things.

Billy the Kid Museum

We spent about 90 minutes at the Billy the Kid Museum in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The young outlaw Billy the Kid was shot to death in Fort Sumner, and it looks like about the only thing the town is notable for. Like Fort Churchill near my home in Nevada, Fort Sumner was not open very long, and there's even less of the original army outpost left (like, nothing except some replica walls), and even the current town is not quite where the fort was. More about our visit shortly.

Both Lisa and I work up pretty early: 5 AM. Having been underwhelmed by the included breakfast at the Hyatt Place, we decided to skip it, and once I was showered and shaved, we packed out of the room, checked out, and had breakfast at the nearby Waffle House instead before leaving Albuquerque about 8 AM.

Cline's Corners

Clines Corners, east of Albuquerque where US-285 crosses on its way from Santa Fe to Roswell and points north and south, is one of the relatively few roadside stops along former US-66 that managed to survive the coming of the Interstate Highways. Maybe that's because by the time you get there, even driving in good weather like we were today, if you've had anything to eat or drink in Albuquerque you'll be thinking it's time for a bathroom break. We stopped and browsed the massive souvenirs on offer, and nearly bought some of the non-Chinese-made stuff like replica US-66 road signs, but in the end I just bought another cup of coffee and we headed south.

Lisa drove the next segment as we turned south on US-285. This was the way we went on our way to San Antonio for LoneStarCon 3. (On that trip, we looped north from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to deal with some business with her late father's estate there before heading south on 285 through Clines Corners.) After a while, we came to Vaughn, where the Union Pacific (ex-Southern Pacific) line crosses under the BNSF (ex-Santa Fe) line. The actual crossing was awkwardly located for our line of travel, but I did take a picture of a passing UP freight as it headed for the crossing.

Vaughn Depot

In Vaughn, we stopped so I could take a couple of pictures of the ex-Santa Fe depot there. (Passenger service ceased when Amtrak took over in 1971, the only passenger route in the area being the Southwest Chief via Albuquerque.) This was the first of three depots I would photograph today. I didn't stay outside long. Although it was clear and sunny, it was cold and windy, and the wind cut right through me, sending me scampering back to the warmth of the minivan where Lisa had sensibly remained.

US 60 Rolling Through New Mexico

We turned at Vaughn onto US-60, which seems to roll on forever...

Fort Sumpter

...but eventually after enough hill-and-dale driving Fort Sumner appears in the distance.

When we got to Fort Sumner, we were massively ahead of schedule, having left two hours earlier than originally planned, and I was actually concerned about arriving so early that we wouldn't be able to check in at Clovis, so having a stop to see the Billy the Kid Museum seemed like a good thing to us.

Billy the Kid Museum

The first hall of the museum contains displays and newspaper cuttings about the short life and violent death of the "Kid."

Billy the Kid's Rifle

A display of vintage firearms includes a rifle purported to be that of the Kid, given to a friend shortly before he met his end at the hand of Sheriff Pat Garrett. Below is a curtain whose caption reads that it hung over the door where the Kid was shot.

Billy the Kid Gravesite Replica

The actual grave site (apparently just a guess given that the original wooden tomb marker was washed away) is a few miles away near old Fort Sumner, where there is a second, rival museum. The one in town has this replica tombstone. The stone at old Fort Sumner is strapped to the ground and surrounded by a cage, because it has been stolen several times.

Historical Displays

Over the years, the museum has grown and accumulated more and more pieces of life in the region, such as the old saddles, farm and home equipment, and a replica of a Santa Fe station agent's office.

Vintage Cars in Fort Sumpter

There's also a vintage car collection. Having seen the National Automobile Museum recently helped me appreciate this display better.

Speeder Bear

Out front is a former AT&SF track speeder.

Speeder Bear

travelswithkuma took a turn at the controls, but this speeder was going nowhere.

Kuma Bear had his own adventure in the museum, about which you'll have to go read his journal to find out about him going to jail.

I resumed the driving for the final portion of today's trip.

Melrose NM

Melrose is a tiny town roughly halfway between Fort Sumner and Clovis. The "W" is a "Whistle Post" warning passing trains to sound the horn for a grade crossing ahead.

Defunct Depot at Clovis

The Clovis depot was once the home of a museum and model train display, but it is closed now and there are For Sale signs up around the fencing that surrounds the building.

Clovis NM Harvey House

Next door along the former passenger platform is the remains of the Harvey House, apparently in decent exterior condition.

Half Done Switcher

A little 0-6-0 switch engine sits in front of the Clovis depot in a state of partial cosmetic restoration. We know nothing more about the situation here.

As usual, click through any of the photos above to see more.

Within three minutes of our originally-planned arrival (thanks to deliberately dawdling and touristing along the way and also stopping for some groceries), we pulled in to the Holiday Inn Express, where we checked in and laid up for the rest of the afternoon. Later, we ordered up a pizza for delivery, not wanting to go out any more today.

Tomorrow is another relatively short trip. We could surely go to Fort Worth tomorrow if we had wanted, but there seemed no point. Had I been able to get three free nights instead of two at Albuquerque, it might have been worth it for me to work from there for a second day and save another vacation day, but Lisa didn't like the hotel at all and would have been unhappy about it, and besides, we're unlikely to ever come through this way again, so we might as well take the time to look at points of interest while we are here.
Tags: kuma bear, lisa, new mexico, travel

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