Touring N.M.

Traveling Against the Wind

Jon Knudsen, April 2017

U.S. Highway 84 enters New Mexico just east of Clovis, and that is where my wife, MaryAnn, and I stopped for the night. We were pulling our little travel trailer back home from Florida. U.S. Highway 60 joins U.S. 84 through this part of the state. They are both amazing highways. U.S. 60 runs from Virginia to California; U.S. 84 from Georgia to Pagosa Springs, Colo. We had followed U.S. 84 since Alabama.

The winds came up early the next morning, headwinds out of the southwest. We started for home, but the winds only got worse. I was going through gas like crazy. When we got to the town of Vaughn I went straight into the first gas station. Windy? The door to the fuel tank blew shut before I could insert the nozzle. The gas pump was actually shaking and the wind was whistling through the roof over the pumps. I thought I recognized the tune. It was Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.”

“Maybe we should have stayed in Clovis,” MaryAnn said. She started checking out nearby motels and RV parks with her smart phone. I went inside the station.

About the only thing going right that day was the trailer. Although the car would move some in the gusts, that little trailer was not being snatched away from me. It was steady as a rock thanks to the stabilizer/equalizer bars on the hitch.

When I got back in the car I had good news from the station manager: the winds were certain to be less further west. We headed out on U.S. 60 towards Belen. By the time we hit Mountainair, MaryAnn had found us a cafe: Alpine Alley at 210 N. Summit Ave. We hadn’t eaten since Clovis. We sat down and ordered a cup of coffee from our waitress Vicky. She bent a little closer.

“Let me tell you how this place works,” she said. “Next to the coffee urn you’ll find a bunch of coffee cups. Pick one that suits you and pour your own coffee. The owners want you to feel right at home.” I saw a shelf of cups across the room. “Also,” she added, “I will not give you a bill. When you’re finished go up to the counter and ask for it. The owners don’t want you to feel like you’re being pushed out the door.”

MaryAnn and I just grinned. Want a reason to take the byways when you travel? Alpine Alley — we loved it.


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