Remember my trip to visit Larry in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the summer of 2004? After four deplorable days, we had a gigantic argument, and I packed up my stuff and drove away, never to speak to or hear from Larry again.
During the next three days, I met three guys, and hooked up with one. You have to guess which.
Hint: I hate losing friends, so I was quite upset, and not following my usual rules about public cruising or hooking up with complete strangers.
Tucumcari, an iconic town on Route 66! The stuff of James Dean, Sal Paradise, Peter Fonda in search of America!
I arrived just before noon, had lunch at the Pow Wow Restaurant, and explored. Very run down, a lot of vacant lots and boarded-up buildings, old hotels with faded signs, a thrift store, a Chinese buffet, a boarded-up theater. A community college, a single low adobe building. I didn't see a downtown; there was no there there.
I stopped in Tee Pee Curios, a tee-pee shaped store that sold Route 66 merchandise: t-shirts, books, Stuckey's candy (whatever that was), license plates that read "Bad Girl" or "Billy the Kid," right-wing patriotic slogans, religious slogans. Whatever.
"You must hear about Route 66 so much you get darn sick of it."
I'll bet he never heard that from a tourist before. He looked up with a big smile. "You have no idea, sir! Route 66 this, Route 66 that. We've had an interstate through here since the 1970s. Get with the 21st century!"
"Like Harry Potter?"
Embarrassed at reading a "kid's book," he tried to hide it.
"Oh, I'm a big fan. I especially like how Harry and Ron are so devoted to each other, like a romantic couple."
"Hm...you know, I never really thought about it, but maybe you're right."
"Fan fiction is loaded with Harry-Ron shipping."
The town made famous by the 1947 UFO crash was about three hours south of Tucumcari. I was surprised by the contrast: a beautiful, vibrant downtown with trees and green spaces. Restaurants, shops. A used bookstore. Mexican restaurant for lunch.
The Museum and Art Center, with an excellent selection of Southwestern Art.
Around 4:00 pm, I visited the International UFO Museum. As a long time devotee of the UFO phenomenon, I didn't see much that I hadn't seen a hundred times before.
There were only a few tourists. Later I discovered that a big UFO festival had just ended, so all of the true believers were gone, leaving a nuclear family, a teenage boy and girl holding hands, and a guy by himself, looking at an exhibit with some very muscular classic grey aliens.
"Who knew that aliens worked so hard on their delts?" I asked.
He laughed. "And their abs." He was his 30s, shorter than me, round face, a little beard, solidly built with respectable biceps and a smooth chest visible beneath his half-unbuttoned short-sleeved shirt.
"Maybe there's a Gold's Gym in outer space."
"They've got to do something to pass the time., what with no willies and all."
"I'd think I'd rather have a willy. Especially on Saturday night," I added suggestively. This was definitely a cruising conversation!
"This is Sunday," he pointed out.
"Even worse. Sunday night is the loneliest night of the week." That came out a little more depressed than I intended.
"I hear you, buddy. You traveling by yourself?"
"I was visiting my friend in Santa Fe, but we kind of had an argument."
"Well, maybe it's time for you to make some new friends."
Around 11:00 am, I arrived at Alamogordo, a "big city" of 30,000, including the nearby air force base. An old army town with broad streets and low mountains in the distance.
I went to the New Mexico Museum of Space History, stopped for lunch at the Country Kitchen, and then headed out to the White Sands National Monument, a vast sea of sand dunes with nature trails for hiking.
And, apparently, cruising.
I was staring at a multicolored snake, wishing I was back in nice, safe Wilton Manors, when a tall, husky older guy approached (top photo).
"He's harmless -- as long as you don't get too close."
"Don't worry, I have no intention of saying hello." I turned -- he had a flat clean-shaven face, a little double chin, a barrel chest and thick biceps. Hair was peeking up over his t-shirt.
"Pretty cool, huh? I've been hiking all over the state, but this is my favorite trail. Near dusk you can see bobcats and coyotes."
"I just hope they've had dinner before they see me."
"It's all about the adventure, isn't it? I'm retired Air Force, enjoying life and trying out new things. Meeting new people, too." He held out his hand to be shaken.
On to Albuquerque! I was feeling better, having seen some interesting sites, met three guys, and spent the night with one.
Can you figure out which?
a. The Tucumcari Twink
b. The Roswell Redneck
c. The Alamogordo Gordito
Answer after the break.