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  • Nov 10, 2010
    Get Your Kicks...

    Hello again, Chasers. 

     

    SNC played a fantastic show on the Vegas strip on Sunday, November 5.  Our next show was in Midwest City, Oklahoma on Tuesday, which meant we had a long drive.  Along the way, some of us were lucky enough to spend some time in a great New Mexico town which reminded me of a few things.  Allow me to explain:

     

    First off, you should all know that my kids are obsessed with the movie Cars.  Thanks to the genius marketing teams at a certain unnamed worldwide media conglomerate, my family owns hundreds of videos, books, toys, and matchbox cars.  We have Lightning McQueen, Mater, Sally, Doc Hudson, Luigi, Guido, Lizzie, Red, Sarge, Fillmore, Mac, Chick Hicks, The King, Ramon, Flo, Ferrari, Tex Dinoco, Pitties, Bob Cutlass, and Daryl Cartrip, not to mention the specialized versions like Tires McQueen, Dirty McQueen, Cruisin’ McQueen, Radiator Springs McQueen, Dinoco McQueen, Dinoco Chick Hicks, Crashed The King, Cactus McQueen, Dinoco Chick Hicks, Green Ramon, Gold Ramon, Scuba Mater, Mater the Greater, El Materdor, New Mater, the Hudson Hornet, and I’m sure others I can’t remember.  Needless to say, I have seen the movie easily fifty times. 

     

    Why am I bringing this up?  Because I think we may have been in Radiator Springs on Monday.

     

    Moriarty, NM, as I tweeted (@breakofdon for those of you who don’t follow me), was not a place I expected to spend time during this tour.  When I thought of cool places I would have a chance to see for the first time, I was thinking the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.  And our first few minutes in Moriarty didn’t do much to get me excited.  The five of us on the buses got there at about 2 in the afternoon (the rest of the guys spent the night in Vegas and met us in OKC).  We were leaving just after midnight, so we just got one hotel room so that we could shower before the rest of the drive.  Shortly after getting to our room, we found that the facilities were…um…not facilitative.  The water wasn’t running in the sink, the shower, or the toilet.  This posed a somewhat significant problem, as the other useful facet of a hotel room (the bed) was of minimal value.  When Ryan called, the very kind woman at the front desk explained that there was a citywide emergency and there was no water.  She went on to tell us that they hoped water would be restored “soon.” 

     

    Yikes.

     

    We set out in hopes of finding something delicious and local to eat.  Following our iPhone maps’ directions, we headed east.  In the first ten minutes we spotted not one, but two separate drifters headed east from Moriarty.  For those unfamiliar with central New Mexico geography, they were apparently headed to Amarillo, Texas.  I expect they’ll be getting there in about three weeks.  Needless to say, we were somewhat concerned about the town we were in, to say nothing of our dining options. 

     

    Moriarty is about thirty miles east of Albuquerque.  Like Radiator Springs from Cars, it is on the Mother Road, Route 66.  And, like Radiator Springs, Moriarty is just a few miles off I-40, causing most travelers to drive on by without experiencing this jewel of Torrance County and the Estancia Valley.

     

    After walking a mile in the wrong direction, we got directions from Old Man Lewis (I’m not kidding), turned around, passed the hotel, and rolled into Moriarty proper in about a half of a mile.

     

    We were hoping to find a decent place to eat; what we found was a town remarkable in its history and its character, and yet so unmistakably American that anyone living in a small town anywhere across this country will find echoes of their own hometown in this tiny southwestern village.

     

    Our sojourn took us by many businesses, some still open, some long closed, some indeterminably in between:  Trading Post-Mining Co. (closed), Moriarty Flea Market (unclear), Lisa’s Truck Stop (open), Connie’s Grill (open), Get More Thrift Store (open), Frontier Bar (unclear), Blackie’s Bar & Grill (unclear).

     

    We settled on dining at El Comedar de Anayas; probably because of its Yelp ratings, but maybe because it had the brightest sign in town (and a sputnik-like star above it).  Our decision proved to be a good one.  Not only did El Comedar have fantastic food, we got a history lesson unlikely to be found in many other restaurants.

     

    El Comedar’s walls were lined with remnants and remembrances of what seemed a totally different Moriarty from the one we had just seen.  The Anaya family has run the restaurant since 1953.  For reference, New Mexico has only been a state since 1912.  That means that the restaurant has been going strong for the vast majority of the time New Mexico has existed. 

     

    We learned a bit of Moriarty’s history.  Michael Moriarty (no, not Professor Moriarty or Dean Moriarty for those literary-minded folks) homesteaded in the (then) territory in 1887, becoming the first resident of the town.  When the New Mexico Central Railway opened a station nearby, the station, and then the town, were named for Mr. Moriarty, the recently appointed Postmaster. 

     

    The Great Depression was hard on Moriarty; luckily when Route 66 was rerouted in 1937, tourists caused Moriarty to grow from its previous population of ranchers and farmers to include restaurants, gas stations, and even gift shops.   (Recall Flo’s V8 Café, Fillmore’s Organic Fuel and Lizzie’s Curios from Cars).  Of course, when I-40 bypassed the city in the 1970’s, those tourist numbers dwindled.

     

    The walls told us of the King family of New Mexico, many of whom had been influential politicians and statesmen of New Mexico.  Notably, when Bruce King, three times governor of the state, passed away in 2009, the New Mexico legislature wrote a letter to El Comedor paying their respects for the loss of one of El Comedor’s “family.”

     

    On a more visible note, we were shown how places like the Frontier Bar and Blackie’s Bar & Grill looked in the past.  They weren’t possibly open and definitely sketchy establishments, they were happening hotspots along the Mother Road, great places for families to stop off on their long drive across this big country of ours.  The pictures showed the Frontier bar parking lot chock-full of old Chryslers and Oldsmobiles, and Blackie’s overrun by then-fashionably dressed couples who had driven from all over New Mexico for a good bite. The contrast between the pictures and what we’d seen just yards away outside was striking, yet I couldn’t help but think how it would likely seem eerily familiar to inhabitants of so many places:  Riverside, Youngstown, or Detroit, just to name a few.

     

    The loss of tourist traffic coupled with our current economic situation has turned Moriarty into something of a ghost town.  Like the Cozy Cone Motel and Luigi’s tires, it appears that Moriarty might open up for business that’s never going to come.  Main Street isn’t main street anymore; lights don’t shine as brightly as they shone before (James Taylor’s words, not mine).

     

    So why am I writing all this? 

     

    For those of us lucky enough to get to spend some time and attention away from our own hometowns, it is places like Moriarty, New Mexico, that deserve that time and attention the most.  By no means am I suggesting you plan your next family vacation to Moriarty.  What I am suggesting is that our country, our states, and our cities and towns contain treasures hidden and stories untold.  I’m suggesting that instead of hoping for that vacation to the Caribbean or Mexico, that we take a much shorter trip (if the Mother Road is available, use it!) and recognize what it is that allows us to hope for vacations much more extravagant.  The strength and beauty of this land is not always found in its towering and crowded cities.  It is often found in the small towns and the people who inhabit them.  It is their history and character that give us some idea of how we all got here, and how this great and ongoing American Experiment continues.  There is sure to be a Moriarty not too far from your front door, with a past as rich as you can imagine, and with its own El Comedor, Cozy Cone Motel, or Flo’s.  Go check it out.  Get off the Interstate for a while. 

     

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    Blog category:
Don_3's picture
on 10 November 2010 - 3:59pm

Hello again, Chasers. 

 

SNC played a fantastic show on the Vegas strip on Sunday, November 5.  Our next show was in Midwest City, Oklahoma on Tuesday, which meant we had a long drive.  Along the way, some of us were lucky enough to spend some time in a great New Mexico town which reminded me of a few things.  Allow me to explain:

 

First off, you should all know that my kids are obsessed with the movie Cars.  Thanks to the genius marketing teams at a certain unnamed worldwide media conglomerate, my family owns hundreds of videos, books, toys, and matchbox cars.  We have Lightning McQueen, Mater, Sally, Doc Hudson, Luigi, Guido, Lizzie, Red, Sarge, Fillmore, Mac, Chick Hicks, The King, Ramon, Flo, Ferrari, Tex Dinoco, Pitties, Bob Cutlass, and Daryl Cartrip, not to mention the specialized versions like Tires McQueen, Dirty McQueen, Cruisin’ McQueen, Radiator Springs McQueen, Dinoco McQueen, Dinoco Chick Hicks, Crashed The King, Cactus McQueen, Dinoco Chick Hicks, Green Ramon, Gold Ramon, Scuba Mater, Mater the Greater, El Materdor, New Mater, the Hudson Hornet, and I’m sure others I can’t remember.  Needless to say, I have seen the movie easily fifty times. 

 

Why am I bringing this up?  Because I think we may have been in Radiator Springs on Monday.

 

Moriarty, NM, as I tweeted (@breakofdon for those of you who don’t follow me), was not a place I expected to spend time during this tour.  When I thought of cool places I would have a chance to see for the first time, I was thinking the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.  And our first few minutes in Moriarty didn’t do much to get me excited.  The five of us on the buses got there at about 2 in the afternoon (the rest of the guys spent the night in Vegas and met us in OKC).  We were leaving just after midnight, so we just got one hotel room so that we could shower before the rest of the drive.  Shortly after getting to our room, we found that the facilities were…um…not facilitative.  The water wasn’t running in the sink, the shower, or the toilet.  This posed a somewhat significant problem, as the other useful facet of a hotel room (the bed) was of minimal value.  When Ryan called, the very kind woman at the front desk explained that there was a citywide emergency and there was no water.  She went on to tell us that they hoped water would be restored “soon.” 

 

Yikes.

 

We set out in hopes of finding something delicious and local to eat.  Following our iPhone maps’ directions, we headed east.  In the first ten minutes we spotted not one, but two separate drifters headed east from Moriarty.  For those unfamiliar with central New Mexico geography, they were apparently headed to Amarillo, Texas.  I expect they’ll be getting there in about three weeks.  Needless to say, we were somewhat concerned about the town we were in, to say nothing of our dining options. 

 

Moriarty is about thirty miles east of Albuquerque.  Like Radiator Springs from Cars, it is on the Mother Road, Route 66.  And, like Radiator Springs, Moriarty is just a few miles off I-40, causing most travelers to drive on by without experiencing this jewel of Torrance County and the Estancia Valley.

 

After walking a mile in the wrong direction, we got directions from Old Man Lewis (I’m not kidding), turned around, passed the hotel, and rolled into Moriarty proper in about a half of a mile.

 

We were hoping to find a decent place to eat; what we found was a town remarkable in its history and its character, and yet so unmistakably American that anyone living in a small town anywhere across this country will find echoes of their own hometown in this tiny southwestern village.

 

Our sojourn took us by many businesses, some still open, some long closed, some indeterminably in between:  Trading Post-Mining Co. (closed), Moriarty Flea Market (unclear), Lisa’s Truck Stop (open), Connie’s Grill (open), Get More Thrift Store (open), Frontier Bar (unclear), Blackie’s Bar & Grill (unclear).

 

We settled on dining at El Comedar de Anayas; probably because of its Yelp ratings, but maybe because it had the brightest sign in town (and a sputnik-like star above it).  Our decision proved to be a good one.  Not only did El Comedar have fantastic food, we got a history lesson unlikely to be found in many other restaurants.

 

El Comedar’s walls were lined with remnants and remembrances of what seemed a totally different Moriarty from the one we had just seen.  The Anaya family has run the restaurant since 1953.  For reference, New Mexico has only been a state since 1912.  That means that the restaurant has been going strong for the vast majority of the time New Mexico has existed. 

 

We learned a bit of Moriarty’s history.  Michael Moriarty (no, not Professor Moriarty or Dean Moriarty for those literary-minded folks) homesteaded in the (then) territory in 1887, becoming the first resident of the town.  When the New Mexico Central Railway opened a station nearby, the station, and then the town, were named for Mr. Moriarty, the recently appointed Postmaster. 

 

The Great Depression was hard on Moriarty; luckily when Route 66 was rerouted in 1937, tourists caused Moriarty to grow from its previous population of ranchers and farmers to include restaurants, gas stations, and even gift shops.   (Recall Flo’s V8 Café, Fillmore’s Organic Fuel and Lizzie’s Curios from Cars).  Of course, when I-40 bypassed the city in the 1970’s, those tourist numbers dwindled.

 

The walls told us of the King family of New Mexico, many of whom had been influential politicians and statesmen of New Mexico.  Notably, when Bruce King, three times governor of the state, passed away in 2009, the New Mexico legislature wrote a letter to El Comedor paying their respects for the loss of one of El Comedor’s “family.”

 

On a more visible note, we were shown how places like the Frontier Bar and Blackie’s Bar & Grill looked in the past.  They weren’t possibly open and definitely sketchy establishments, they were happening hotspots along the Mother Road, great places for families to stop off on their long drive across this big country of ours.  The pictures showed the Frontier bar parking lot chock-full of old Chryslers and Oldsmobiles, and Blackie’s overrun by then-fashionably dressed couples who had driven from all over New Mexico for a good bite. The contrast between the pictures and what we’d seen just yards away outside was striking, yet I couldn’t help but think how it would likely seem eerily familiar to inhabitants of so many places:  Riverside, Youngstown, or Detroit, just to name a few.

 

The loss of tourist traffic coupled with our current economic situation has turned Moriarty into something of a ghost town.  Like the Cozy Cone Motel and Luigi’s tires, it appears that Moriarty might open up for business that’s never going to come.  Main Street isn’t main street anymore; lights don’t shine as brightly as they shone before (James Taylor’s words, not mine).

 

So why am I writing all this? 

 

For those of us lucky enough to get to spend some time and attention away from our own hometowns, it is places like Moriarty, New Mexico, that deserve that time and attention the most.  By no means am I suggesting you plan your next family vacation to Moriarty.  What I am suggesting is that our country, our states, and our cities and towns contain treasures hidden and stories untold.  I’m suggesting that instead of hoping for that vacation to the Caribbean or Mexico, that we take a much shorter trip (if the Mother Road is available, use it!) and recognize what it is that allows us to hope for vacations much more extravagant.  The strength and beauty of this land is not always found in its towering and crowded cities.  It is often found in the small towns and the people who inhabit them.  It is their history and character that give us some idea of how we all got here, and how this great and ongoing American Experiment continues.  There is sure to be a Moriarty not too far from your front door, with a past as rich as you can imagine, and with its own El Comedor, Cozy Cone Motel, or Flo’s.  Go check it out.  Get off the Interstate for a while. 

 

Comments

melisa's picture

ah, yes, the UNNAMED conglomerate.... i know them well. although our stash leans toward all things pink and frilly, i feel your pain with owning every single themed item made. anyway, glad the mother road brought you to oklahoma. the show was fabulous. you should have gone a little farther east to arcadia, ok. you can eat at a place called pops... very route 66 cool. safe travels.
NikNak's picture

Traveling across the USA took me past a few towns like Moriarty, NM, full of history but their facilities were ... yeah. You never know what you might stumble upon .. I love it!!
sunblocker64's picture

Haha great story! It sounds *just* like Radiator Springs. And nice Sherlock Holmes reference :)
Amber Gitter's picture

This is for Dave, SNC manager! Hi, this is Amber again! I bought my two pairs of tickets (4 total) via the WTTW. station/website, which are obviously more money than the ticketmaster route----so now I'm hoping that I have good seats for the 8:00 show in Chicago. FYI: a little confusing when purchasing tickets on the WTTW website, you don't know exactly what the minium or maximum you can purchase. Also, it appears, you are only allowed to buy a minimum of two or buy tickets that are increments of two. You might want to clear that that up as well. :) Sincerely, Amber
PharmerPete's picture

Don, Awesome travelblog! It does make one want to stop at these small towns along the way. Maybe a trip down Route 66 should be in order this summer... See you next Friday in Rochester, NY!!
Kathleen's picture

Please keep sharing with us..this country and all its small towns have so many stories that need to be told and retold. We are a blessed nation..and Straight No Chaser has come to to be one of my favorite stories when I pass on to others what is right with this country.
OsFan09's picture

Don Thank you so much for your blog. It is true that we should all spend the time to visit the 50 states in the USA. There is much history to be learned within our own country. Hitting the backroads takes you through some wonderful towns full of history and amazing people. Thanks for brining it to light.
LovedeAcapella's picture

Wow, I feel like I was there. Eloquently put. Thanks so much, Don! I am also a Cars fan, probably more than my kids are. Also, a good friend who works at Pixar worked on that movie, so I'm a bit biased on that account, too. ;-)
jillyj98's picture

I wish you would blog more often! My dad is from Youngstown so I completely understand the reference. Keep em comin! xoxo
Diva_Donna's picture

Don, you must have had some GREAT closing arguments as an attorney!
Joanne Harrity's picture

Thanks for your blog Don. Last year my brother moved to Arizona. We had a caravan going out to help them with their move. It's the first time I have ever been out west and it was awesome. I did get to travel on Route 66 part of the way. My son and I stopped in Elk City Oklahoma, and toured the Route 66 museum. If you guys get a chance go through it it was pretty cool. And your'e right about small towns like Moriarty they are usually pretty cool
Brianna's picture

Always a joy to read your posts Don! Thank you!!
Alexsandra's picture

Great travelogue and tribute to small town USA! Really makes me want to call a "ROAD TRIP!!" You an inspired writer and hope we will be reading more of your journey in future (no pressure!). Now I shall go watch the movie Cars again.....
Kay Lynn Staudt-AuntKLS's picture

Great post, Don--it's a treat to see the 'tour' from your perspective. Like others, I hope to travel Rt. 66 sometime. Thanks, as always, for sharing! Thanks, too, to the Bros. Mickle for keeping you all safe-- not only on the Mother Road, but over mile you cover!
Susan7103's picture

This post is great, and I know exactly what you mean about "getting off the Interstate for a while." It's so true that there are so many fascinating and entertaining little places that we NEED to stay alive, that have so much personality it's completely worth it -- and affordable -- to pay a visit and keep them turning into ghost towns.
Tic Tac Lady's picture

FUN to read Don! What everyone else said... I need to see "Cars"...my kids are in their 20's...we missed that one somehow ^ ~ ^ Have fun and safe journeys as you travel the country! (And please keep telling us about it!!!)
Sarah Louise's picture

This might be an odd question, but I was wondering if you happen to have "Stand By Me" available as an mp3? My boyfriend and I watched your Live In New York concert on PBS and absolutely fell in love with your music! When we heard that song in particular, I got so excited because that just so happens to be "our song." We love it so much that we desperately want to play it at our wedding as our first dance, but we can't seem to find it anywhere online. Is there any way to get a copy of it? Thanks for making such beautiful music! You are such a talented group!
Kalyn's picture

Beautiful post. And it's funny to me because I was also in New Mexico last weekend, before hightailing it home to OKC for SNC's concert this past Tuesday. Which was incredible, as always!
Shaina's picture

1. There is NO WAY you could've named all those characters without Wikipedia-ing, Googling, or IMDB-ing the movie. NO. WAY. (Oh, and speaking of Cars, the sequel looks really cute, and the new ride they're gonna put into Cars Land in Disney's California Adventure is WAY awesome.) 2. You haven't visited LA before?! WELL, THIS is gonna have to be remedied soon! And luckily, it will be! (Less than a month!!) 3. I'm really hoping I'll be able to visit a town like Moriarty one day. I'd really love to just drive along Route 66 on a road trip sometime in the future. I'll have to make sure it's on my stops! Thanks for the blog post, Don! I loved reading it, and I really appreciate the insight into your tour experience so far! See you in LA in less than a month!!!!!!!!!!! (Don't let the multiple exclamation marks fool you; I'm not excited AT ALL.) ;o)
MaryDSinTX's picture

Like the name of your Blog Post. Love that Asleep at The Wheel song...
MaryDSinTX's picture

Don, you have outdone yourself with your description of "your Radiator Springs" in NM on Route 66 blog. You are an outstanding writer, and obviously a very attentive Father. KUDOS to you and all good Fathers. The real Radiator Springs, which is where I lived until 3 years ago (the ranch I lived on was 10 miles south of Stroud - no towns for 10 miles in any direction). You were close to it when you were in OKC last night. BTW I met you at the OKC concert when we took pics together as a group last night at the end of the M&G. You guys (clowns) backed away while I was getting a pic with y'all and Randy Stine, leaving us standing alone. Link is below to pic. The real Radiator Springs is on Rt. 66 about 55 miles east of OKC in Stroud, OK. The owner of the Rock Cafe Restaurant in Stroud, Dawn Welch, is who Sally the Porche is actually modeled after. Dawn was the inspiration for her character. Link to a pic: http://www.flickr.com/photos/houlihan/195709802/ There is Pixar Crew memorabilia all over the restaurant from when Pixar was there with Dawn. Now folks go there to see Dawn as well as eat the Buffalo burgers, Schnitzel, and Spaetzel. The menu is eclectic, and the town is exactly what you described in NM, but in a bit better shape, I believe. Lots of cool old classic cars around. Car buffs will love it. If you are on the road again, leaving OKC heading east, take I44, Turner Tpk towards MO and stop in at Stroud - it is right off the turnpike. Meet Sally, I mean Dawn, and get something from Cars to take home for your kiddos!! This is the REAL America, and contrary to some folks ideas on the coasts, it is Not Fly-Over country. Thanks for turning our attention to the America I love and live (even if I have to come visit from Dallas nowadays.) Love you guys and your music!! SNC in OKC last night: http://www.facebook.com/n/?photo.php&fbid=724677423677&set=a.679531411647.2257454.20615258&comments&alert&mid=344d1e4G228056fdG5763420G11&n_m=mdsmelser%40aol.com
bethafoot's picture

Thanks for the great post Don!
SheriS's picture

Great post, Don! Always love hearing from SNC on the road. Great thing about traveling in a bus is you truly get to see the country as it really is--unlike flying! Glad you seem to be enjoying this gig! Can't wait to see you all in 12 days in Virginia! Stay safe, and keep writing!
EileenR's picture

This was a terrific blog post, Don. Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights. And fairly comprehensive list of Cars characters/specialty toys. :)
Tara Marie Ahn's picture

I can't possibly express in words more than what has come before me. :) GREAT POST! Thank you for your time and insights. Do I have your permission to use parts of this with my 5th graders as we are attempting (not so successfully) to revise/rework our personal narratives? If not, no worries! :)
DottieK's picture

I *really* enjoyed reading this, Don! You are an exceptional writer. Thank you for sharing your experiance & thoughts with us!
Christi_2's picture

What an awesome blog. This is an AMAZING country and it's awesome of you to write about it! Creative use of Cars, BTW, and I have lived the world you describe- my sons were OBSESSED with Cars, much as you describe yours are. Books, forks, plates, PJs, the town- we played with these for hours.and hours. and hours. But most importantly, this country is full of the neatest things and people and how great of you all to have the chance to appreciate it! God speed, and keep the music (and great tales like this!) rolling through!
SingForMe's picture

Hey. I don't know if you guys went through Gallup (west side of the state), but with all the mesas that area actually looks like Radiator Springs. Totally awesome drive! Anyway, so glad you could get some *good* out of Moriarty, even if you couldn't get cleaned up. As others have already said, thanks again for taking the time to keep us posted on all the excitement you guys are experiencing! :)
Sarah Liz's picture

I love this blog, Don. Love it. One of the trips on my bucket list is driving as much of Route 66 as possible. I'm fascinated by all of the small town history, especially here in the west. And hopefully if more people have that same interest, some of these dying towns can be revived. There is a town here in California on Route 66 called Amboy and it's actually a ghost town now. But a company in San Bernardino is trying to restore the buildings that catered to the weary traveler back in the heyday of the Mother Road!
Annie L's picture

Don, Another great read from you – I enjoy your writing. As others have already posted, your writing is so vivid and paints a picture for your many readers. I’m glad you’ve had these opportunities to see different parts of the country and thank you for taking time out to share your thoughts with your fans – giving us all to think about and be thankful for. Safe travels to all of you, along the way.

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