A Town Forgotten on Route 66

Tucumcari NM

June 29th, 2006

While traveling through New Mexico, we stopped for a few days in a town called Tucumcari, named after the mountain just south of the city.  Located on old Route 66, it must have been a vibrant town in its heyday. Then they built the expressway.  You can hear the cars whizzing by in the distance, just out of sight.  As I rode my bike down the deserted streets, and passed abandoned buildings and shuttered homes, I wondered what was to become of this place.  That's when I turned the corner, and to my surprise found the wall of the building in front of me sporting a huge mural, painted in bright colors and depicting a western scene.  Suddenly I realized that they were everywhere.  It seemed like every store in this area was sporting some kind of painting.  The 30 some diverse designs that adorn the town are the creations of Doug and Sharon Quarles, a couple who moved here from Louisiana back in 2002.  These two have a passion for the painted wall, and the city offered many opportunities for them to express themselves.  The first mural they created was the now famous "The Legendary Road" which appears on the east side of Lowe's Super Market right on Route 66 at Second St.  It is 114 feet long and 20 feet tall and is a meandering tale of life on the road many years ago.  While standing there reviewing each little item in the scene I marveled at the steady line of vehicles that came, stopped, with driver and passengers getting out to have their pictures taken against the art.  A guy on a motorcycle even pulled up on the sidewalk and had his turn before the camera. As we rented a spot for several days, I had plenty of opportunity to ride the streets and find each and every one of the designs, and to enjoy the stories of the old west that they brought to mind.  If you are ever in this part of the country it is well worth the hour it would take to ride around and see the sights.

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