Friday, October 23, 2015

Santa Rosa, NM, the Blue Hole and the Mother Road

October 19 - 21, 2015:

It was an easy 70 mile drive from Trinidad to Santa Rosa mostly on route 84 south which is part of the pre 1937 route 66.  It’s all open range land with a few very poor villages that look like something that John Steinbeck would have written about.  This area is heavily Hispanic with much Apache probably in the mix as well.  I came to a village with a nasty looking old corner bar and I had pull over to look around.  I started to walk down the side road and saw a church ahead that was pretty impressive in comparison to the surrounding poverty level houses.  It was then that about three starving neighborhood dogs came out to check me out, looking for food I suspect.  They are not so healthy looking, like junk yard dogs, made me a bit nervous, so I retreated to the safety of the RV.


I really don't know if I'd stop there for a snack ?

The old church a few hundred feet down the road

Our destination, Santa Rosa Lake State Park is about 10 miles outside of Santa Rosa and is formed by the damming of the Pecos River for the usual irrigation, flood control and recreation needs.  Our last 4 campsites have been at Lake front State Parks, sort of weird since we don’t fish or have a boat.  It seems that we have arrived just in time for a least two days of heavy rain and thunderstorms, possibly violent storms of which the weather reporters are very excited.  This is the first lake this year that seems to be filled to capacity, in fact, it is over full.

Santa Rosa Lake is huge covering 3,800 acres

View along the shore of Santa Rosa Lake

Very curious Longhorns across from the State Park

Santa Rosa is famous for its route 66 sights and the “Blue Hole”.  Let’s be honest, Santa Rosa’s route 66 facade is pretty torn and tattered, even I can’t get too excited about it.  The Blue Hole is quite a sight due to the luminescence of the limestone under water, but unless you scuba dive, a few photos and your done.  This area has many fresh water lakes, very weird for a desert landscape.  They are actually sinkholes caused by the dissolving of the underlying limestone rock.  
The most popular restaurant in town appears to be “Josephs Bar and Grill” and for good reason, it projects the route 66 vibe, it is clean, has great food and fast service.  A motorcycle rally group of about 30 people came in shortly after us and we were amazed how fast their orders were filled.  The most iconic and historic Santa Rosa restaurant was the "Club Cafe", with its beloved “Fat Man” logo.  It closed in 1991, sat vacant for a couple of decades until the current owner of Josephs bought it with the idea of resurrecting it.  Ultimately, it was determined to be deteriorated beyond repair and was demolished only a week ago.  The famous “Fat Man” logo now resides on the facade of Josephs Bar and Grille.

Joseph's has taken over the logo of the Club Cafe
and the food was impressive
Site of the Club Cafe, now a parking lot

It is blue !

Santa Rosa was settled in 1865 and was originally called “Agua Negra Chiquita” or "Little Black Water" in spanish.  In 1890 the name changed to Santa Rosa to honor a small chapel, the “Chapilla de Santa Rosa” by the towns founder, Celso Baca.  Santa Rosa remained a small community until the railroad arrived in 1901 and it became the county seat.  The railroad remains in town today, now as the Union Pacific with a huge automotive rail shipping terminal.  This area was settled by Mexicans back when it was Mexican territory and remains predominantly hispanic today, 80% according to Wikipedia. The building styles reflect that heritage everywhere in this area.

The remains of the Nuestra Señora del Refugio Church

Old dam on the Pecos River in Santa Rosa

The Comet II Restaurant resonates with me as I spent
many years on NJ Transit's Comet II railcar project

Guadalupe County courthouse

Rio Recos Ranch neon sign is a classic

The Sahara Lounge is all boarded up

I didn't cross that fence

We take a ride about 15 miles outside of Santa Rosa to the town of Puerto De Luna, "Gateway to the Moon" in Spanish.  It is one of Southeast New Mexico's oldest towns, settled in the early 1860's.  It was a beautiful ride along the Pecos River valley with red rock mountain views and many small farms and ranches.  Oral tradition says that it was a favorite place of Billy the Kid where he had many friends and hung out at the general store.  Yes, we are back in Billy the Kid country here, he seems to have been everywhere. All the towns, no matter how poor seem to have a great old church and this is no exception.

The road to Puerto De Luna

Nuestra Señora del Fugio Church

Real old adobe houses all over around here

The rain has been heavy here off and on with a flash flood warning, as a result it’s a good day for the route 66 auto museum and the very nice town library.  I enjoyed the old advertisements and photos mostly, there are only a few cars there that I had any interest in. I’m not a fan of anything built after about 1968 with a few exceptions.

I do like the flames

Nice retro drag race car

The rain, wind, thunder and lightning continue all afternoon, evening and night.  I’m wondering if the roads will be flooded along our route tomorrow ?  This could get interesting !

Next stop is Ruidoso, New Mexico;
Twinkles and Slick

No comments:

Post a Comment