Very specific driving advice needed, ABQ to Smyer TX and back
April 29, 2015 11:08 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I will be in eastern NM/NW TX from Friday to Sunday for a funeral. We will have a Mustang convertible, a tight time schedule, and a first-timers perspective to the area. We need some good advice.

The route we will be driving is as follows:

Pick up rental car at 12:30pm Friday at ABQ airport, get to Lubbock by evening in order to meet up with the wife's extended family. Leave Smyer late afternoon/early evening Saturday and drive to the Blue Swallow Inn, where we'll be spending the night. Leave Tucumcari early enough Sunday morning to return the car at ABQ around 12:30pm and catch our flight home.

Obviously we're on a tight schedule, but we have a couple concerns that we feel like locals might be able to help with.

1. Are there any quick stops along the way that are totally worthwhile. We're stopping at Tinkertown, and the staying at the Blue Swallow on the way back, but we'd love to know of anything awesome that could be done en route and quickly (picture the running through the Louvre see in Bande a Part). Our taste's run towards quirky, but if we could experience some breathtaking beauty in the same condensed format, we're interested.
2. My wife has decided that a whirlwind funereal roadtrip was the perfect time to rent a Mustang convertible (modern, not vintage). We figure it would be a waste not to drive some twisty desert routes; could you suggest any that would be fun, not unnecessarily dangerous, and wouldn't take us far from our main route (I'm thinking no more than a one hour detour from start to finish).
3. And on the non-driving side of things: We'll be spending short periods of time in Albuquerque, Tecumcari, Lubbock, Smyer, and Levelland. Any recommendations for food, drink, and fast sightseeing would be appreciated.

posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear to Travel & Transportation around Hobbs, NM (4 answers total)
When in New Mexico, Gil's Thrilling (And Filling) Blog, discussed previously on the blue, is a good start, but it doesn't look to have anything for Tucumcari. Trip Advisor has a few suggestions, some of which could be quick stops, like the Route 66 Museum, but I'm not sure even that fits into your really tight schedule.

If you're looking for a really quick "destination" detour, you could stop by the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, NM. There's not much to see, but it's an interesting geologic feature.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:29 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

On Saturday you'll pass Palo Duro Canyon on your way between Lubbock and Amarillo on the way to Tucumcari for the night. Would be nice driving in a convertible.

In Albuquerque on Sunday morning, there's the Sandia Peak (a beautiful mountain peak overlooking Albuquerque) tramway ride. Very nice. Opens at 9 on Sunday. Takes about 15 minutes to get to the top. You can have a beer at that lodge thing up there, walk around, imagine the verdant slopes all covered in snow in a few months during ski season, pretend you're in Sound of Music, then head back down. Great view of the Rio Grande Valley and you get a feel for how tenuous civilization in NM is.
posted by resurrexit at 8:17 AM on April 30, 2015

West Texas/Eastern New Mexico is pretty flat until you get closer to Albuquerque. I second the Sandia Peak. The tram ride and the views are spectacular. In Lubbock itself, there is the Silent Wings Museum. There's also the Buddy Holly memorial tourist trap.

The Big Texan in Amarillo is the place where you can try that " eat this ginormous steak" challenge. I don't recommend that, but they have lots of kitschy stuff to try, like rattlesnake appetizers.

You should encounter the Cadillac Ranch on I 40 I think on your way to tucumcari.

You didn't mention your route from Albuquerque to Lubbock; I recommend the state roads through Clovis. It's still flat, but you encounter some fun town names and local hole in the wall eateries.
posted by lysdexic at 9:01 AM on April 30, 2015

Response by poster: Exact route out and back is pretty much undetermined; we were thinking of taking 40 out of ABQ and then taking 84 at Santa Rosa since it seems like the most direct route, but we're open to alternate routes.

Heading back we're a bit less sure, since it seems like there are several ways to get from Smyer to Tucumcari in about 3-ish hours (we're hoping to get there by 8 or 9pm to enjoy the neon). We weren't planning to head all the way north to Amarillo, but the Palo Duro canyon looks tempting.

Thanks for the advice so far!
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 10:50 AM on April 30, 2015

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