CORNER WINDOW by Jeff Hartzer
#016, April 2008
If you are tired of hiding at home from the dusty Spring winds, here’s a suggestion to take a quick road trip that may make it worth washing your car or motorcycle. While it may still be a little cool to take your super cruiser north to Taos, Red River, and beyond, consider this outing to be a warm-up for things to come.
This is a perfect circle tour that is easily done in three hours (or less, if you trust your radar detector and just want to blow out the cobwebs). At any rate, you won’t see many County Mounties or Smokies on this circular journey. As circles go, you can make this trip in either direction, but my preference is to climb out of the Valley heading north on I-25, then circling east onto I-40 toward the watermelon-colored Sandia Mountains. After zipping through Carnuel with a peek over at the mountain arsenal of H-bombs to your right, exit at Tijeras onto South 14 (aka, State Road 337).
By the time you pass by Roosevelt Middle School, you’ll have completed the most boring part of your journey and even that wasn’t so bad, now, was it? The two-lane stretch ahead of you is a rising, circling sweep through the mountains to an elevation even higher than ‘Burqueville. If you brought along the family pet, there are several quick pit stops for the canines. You’ll pass through forests and open spaces and the vistas out your window will change with each turn in the road. One surprise out along here is the number of farm sites and land that is currently “For Sale”. If there is good news in that, there might be some bargains for your dream retirement home along this curving road through these hills and dales.
Blink or sneeze and you may miss the towns of Escabosa and Chilili, which will pop up and disappear before you. Beware flying cans of cold drinks in your back seat as you brake for the truly sudden Stop Sign at the intersection with State Road 55, which barrels west from Estancia. After cleaning up the whizzing Coke cans, you take a true 90-degree, square-assed turn to the mountains. Ahead of you lies Tajique, as well as the Manzano State Park, just beyond Torreon and Manzano itself. If you have the time and desire, take a rest stop at the two Salinas Pueblo Missions, including the ruins at Abo and those at Quarai. Hope you brought the camera for some tourista shots. Take your time, as you are more than halfway home already.
In the town of Mountainair you can dine at the Historic Shaffer Hotel or spend the night if you dare. State Road 60 slides you around the southern part of the Manzanos and whips you back to the westward swing home. Shortly, you take a right onto the familiar State Road 47. Turn up your music, cuz this is a sweet ride on good old 47, through open spaces toward Belen where you can hit I-25 or continue on 47 through Valencia, Peralta, Bosque Farms, and Isleta Pueblo. Quick, we gotta go potty! We’re back. Welcome home.
Jeff Hartzer © 2008