Monday, September 5, 2016

Road Trip. Part 1 - Raton, NM

I've always loved to drive, but my '99 Saturn was getting a little too sketchy for me to feel comfortable going more than an hour or so away from Denver. Now that I've upgraded to a 2013 Scion xD, it's time to get my road trip on!

And boy did I break in my new car this weekend (August 20-21, 2016). Yuck!

I was originally planning on doing this whole trip in one day, but at work on Saturday, I decided to get a cheap motel in Raton, NM that night so I would have more time to explore on my road trip and wouldn't be stuck only driving all day.

I booked the motel before I got off work mid-afternoon on Saturday (thanks!), then ran home to pack a bag and hit the road about 3:30.

As usual, I-25 was crowded heading south. There was so much traffic that I wasn't comfortable using my cruise control until I got south of Colorado Springs. Incidentally, I don't think I'll ever tire of the beauty of driving past the Springs. I love how the city butts right up to the mountains. Just one reason I love Colorado.

In southern Colorado - I think somewhere between the Springs and Pueblo, though I forgot to notate it and now I don't remember exactly - I stopped at a rest area. Luckily I didn't really need to pee yet - they were cleaning the women's restroom and there was a line for the family restroom. I mostly wanted to stretch my legs and take a few pics.


Maybe it's just me but it seems strange to honor the Armed Forces at a rest area.

By the time I hit Raton around 6:45, I definitely did need to use the restroom, so I decided to check into my motel room before finding a place to eat. 

The best thing I can say about the Motel 6 is that it was cheap - $57.19 after taxes and fees - and more comfortable than sleeping in my car, although maybe not by much. The mattress felt like a sheet of plywood over loose springs. It was very flat and very bouncy. Oh well. It was still better than sleeping in my car, and at least it wasn't dirty. No bugs!

The shower looked futuristic, but the position of the shower head left no way to escape the spray. Also not good if you're claustrophobic!

I didn't think the lack of WiFi would be a problem, but it turns out Sprint decided I was roaming and didn't get any data, so I unexpectedly found myself cut off from the world overnight, which was unnerving to say the least. I think I could still make and receive calls, but having no access to texts, Facebook, or Google maps to plan the rest of my trip was disconcerting.

Yes, that's a box TV. Why replace it with a flat screen if it's still functional, right?

Alanis Morisette would have us believe irony is "a no smoking sign on your cigarette break." I believe the epitome of irony is a no smoking sticker on the bottom of an ash tray. 

Settled into my motel room, I hit the town to search for a place to eat besides the nearby McDonald's, Arby's, and Denny's. That's when I discovered that while Raton is beautiful, it's one of the most depressing places I have ever visited (I haven't had the opportunity yet to travel to a third world country to see the very definition of poverty in person). Anyway, it seemed at least every third business was shuttered. Restaurants, motels, gas stations - all closed. 

The most bustling shopping center I could find at 7 on a Saturday evening included a Family Dollar and a thrift store. Talk about depressing. KMart seemed to be doing OK, too. After boarded up window after closed sign after decrepit building, I finally found a family restaurant that was open.

I wasn't starving, so I went with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, which was served under a mountain of fries. It was pretty good. Typical family restaurant fare. The service was excellent. I never had to ask for a refill, which is always impressive, and I got my food very quickly.

Here's a view from outside The Oasis. What a beautiful town nestled into the Rocky Mountains. Too bad much of it seems to be deserted. 

After dinner, I stopped by the visitor's center, which was closed for the evening but had some pamphlets outside. I had also grabbed every promotional brochure from the rack in the motel lobby when I checked in, so I had plenty to look through back in my room as I wound down for the evening.

Sign outside the visitor's center.

I woke up at 6:15, anxious to tackle the bulk of my road trip. I wanted to get started early so that I wouldn't have to concern myself with time as I wandered the long way back home. 

After showering and checking out of my motel, I decided to eat at McDonald's for breakfast because I knew they would have WiFi and I needed to use Google maps to finalize my route for the day (too bad it didn't occur to me to download the route - that would come into play later in the day!) I was relieved not to have received any texts overnight and realized I should have told somebody where I was going. Well, I did tell my one coworker, but I really should have told at least my roommates and maybe my mom. What if something would have happened to me? Nobody would have known where I was. So, lesson learned, I'll always tell somebody where I'm headed before going on any more road trips. 

The promotional brochures for downtown Raton looked interesting, so I decided to head there after breakfast and take some pictures before leaving town.

At 7 am on a Sunday, the entire town was still asleep, and the overcast sky helped lend a ghost town feel to the city.

Train station - still used for Amtrak passengers. 

I wish the Alternatives To Violence Thrift Store had been open so I could learn more about it. Sounds like a store with a good cause.

I'm dying to know what kind of business this is!

They may have been "Luxury apartments" once, but I doubt they still are.

One of many closed businesses.

I don't know what goes on inside this building during business hours, but the windows are like a museum dedicated to the Marchiondo family. Pretty cool.

In the window of Marchiondo's Dry Goods.

My macro photography is improving. I thought this bee (or whatever it is) was dead, but it started moving after a couple of pictures. Maybe it was just waking up.

A deserted stretch of downtown Raton.

The town of Raton backs right up to this hill.

Creepy mannequin in a shop window.

This fire escape looked like it would fall apart under any amount of weight. I guess I would risk my life on it if there was a fire behind me inside the building, though.

All the benches had different designs on the back.

I'm not really a big fan of taking selfies, but I want you all to be able to see me in my adventures from time to time. The pendant I am wearing is a Celtic representation of "The Adventuress," (supposedly; I purchased it at the Colorado Renaissance Festival, so who knows for sure), and I try to wear it on all, or at least most, of my adventures.

For more info on the city of Raton, NM, check out Wikipedia.

For the rest of my road trip through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado, including a stop at the Capulin Volcano, check out Part 2 of my adventure!

Day 1, Denver to Raton, NM.


  1. Very interesting. Going to check out part 2!

  2. Awesome idea! Perspectives are great inspiration! Thanks! My mom is Bi-polar but she thinks computers are evil! LOL!