It’s warm outside, the kind of day I can imagine getting into a car, our bags packed in the back, and setting out on the road. A bit of a breeze in the air, wind is never fun when you’re driving the highway, but the temperature’s just right.
Jim and I get into air-conditioner fights on the road. He’ll turn the fan on high, and I’ll point all my vents toward him, close the one on the far right, so that even he gets chilled enough to turn the thing down. I can withstand heat in a car, will in the winter sometimes sit in the driveway listening to the radio and absorbing the sun trapped inside.
Last road trip we went on was to Carlsbad, Thanksgiving weekend. We stopped at the UFO Museum in Roswell, walked up and down Main Street, pointed out all the big-headed, big-eyed creatures that adorned almost every storefront, except for the Mexican panadería where we bought pan dulce for the last leg of the trip.
At the bottom of the road winding up to Carlsbad Caverns National Monument, there’s the completely abandoned White City. That was once one giant Roadside Attraction, an Old West movie-set-looking place. It had a saloon made of wooden slats, complete with swinging doors, and a series of white adobe casitas, which is where workers used to live.
White City went on the market last July, I think, and I’m trying to remember if we found out who’d bought the place or whether it was still for sale. It must have been a popular destination decades ago, or so the series of weathered billboards on the highway wanted you to believe. Best food around! Cheap gifts!
I can’t imagine anything thriving there now, especially not a junky souvenir shop. Seems the gift shop and restaurant at the National Monument visitor center satisfy most tourist needs, and once you finish winding through those gentle Guadalupe Mountains and finally hit the bland highway back to Carlsbad, you’re kind of happy to be back in the privacy of your own car.
On the drive back to Albuquerque Jim noticed a piece of art, if you can call it that, parked on the shoulder of the road outside Artesia. There was an old RV, on its roof a male mannequin, falling head over heels as he helped a female mannequin up the RV’s metal ladder. We pulled over, snapped a shot, then sped away before the owners of the house came out to see what we were up to.
It seems people still get into the act of entertaining road weary travelers. Some don’t even try to make a dime from it, although I think the main reason Dad never stopped at Roadside Attractions was because we’d all end up wanting to buy something like tumbled rocks in a little fake suede pouch or Mexican jumping beans. I don’t think we ever stopped at the teepees outside of Holbrook, Arizona, the old Wigwam Motel. They had rattlesnake eggs, you can still turn ’round and see ’em, I remember passing the last sign and feeling like we’d lost our chance forever.
We did stop at Stuckey’s, got a box of peanut brittle with the purchase of a tank of gas. My whole family loved peanut brittle. It was long gone by the time we got to California.
-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS