A Cars Inspired Road Trip, Part 3: Blue Swallow Hotel

There is an item on my bucket list that my family and I have partially completed, a drive from Chicago to Santa Monica along the famous Mother Road, Route 66.  Last Spring we drove half of the route on our Cars inspired trip to Disneyland…

Part 3: Overnight in Tucumcari, New Mexico

I know that it sounds really crazy that when you have a 16 hour drive in front of you to stop for the night only 2 hours down the road, but that is exactly what we did!  

Our first night was spent at the Blue Swallow Hotel in Tucumari, New Mexico…  

“The Blue Swallow has been serving travelers along the Mother Road since 1939, and today, our guests enjoy a pleasant reminder of what it was like to travel across the USA in the “good old days. From the beautifully restored rooms, to the distinctive attached garages, to the fabulous neon display each night, a stay at the Blue Swallow is a unique experience that will leave you rested, refreshed, and with wonderful new memories. Come take a step back to a simpler time, meet your neighbors from around the world, and relax under the glow of the neon lights in the historic courtyard of the Blue Swallow Motel.”

https://www.blueswallowmotel.com/history-2/

And like all stops on this road trip the Blue Swallow has a Cars connection…

The office for Sally’s Cozy Cone Hotel is modeled after the Blue Swallow Office.  And all of the neon used in both the movie and in Carland..look no further than inspiration from the Blue Swallow and Tucumcari.

So how was our stay?

Each of the 12 rooms at the Blue Swallow has been restored to represent a room at a motor court as it would have been in the 1940s and 50s.   We stayed in Room 14 and could not have been more pleased.

The room was comfortable and clean,but best of all was the room decor.  Every room at the Blue Swallow is different and features vintage lightning, period furniture and artwork. Don’t let the decor fool you…the bedding is 600 count thread, the mattresses are premium and the towels fluffy, and yes there is a modern flat screen television and free internet.

The bathroom featured original bath fixtures and tile work, which was beautiful. I am amazed how it has withstood the last almost 80 years.  

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There was even a working 1940s rotary dial telephone, that the #manchild was amazed with.

It was a beautiful night when we arrived, so we spent some time exploring the Blue Swallow courtyard and grounds, before finding a place to eat.  And of course being on the Mother Road we wanted to find someplace that fit the theme of our trip.

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Since 1956, Del’s Restaurant has been a destination break on Historic Route 66. The menu has a little bit of something for everyone including New Mexican favorites and Cowboy Grub. With it being Lent and a Friday, we had some great catfish!

Afterwards, we spent a little time driving down Route 66 through Tucumcari and trying to imagine what Route 66 was like in the 40s and 50s.  

Then it was sweet dreams and an early morning…

Next Stop:  Tucumcari, New Mexico to Williams, Arizona (504 miles)

A Cars Inspired Road Trip: Part 2

In Case you Missed Part 1:  LINK

There is an item on my bucket list that my family and I have partially completed, a drive from Chicago to Santa Monica along the famous Mother Road, Route 66.  Last Spring we drove half of the route on our Cars inspired trip to Disneyland…

Adrian, Texas to Tucumcari, New Mexico

Leaving the Cadillac Ranch we got back onto I-40 (or the highway that killed Route 66) and travel about 40 miles west to a little town called Adrian, the next stop on our Cars inspired road trip.  

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Adrian, Texas is the official midpoint of Route 66, if you travel 1,139 miles in either direction you will find either the start or the end of Route 66 (Chicago or Santa Monica).  

Midpoint Diner Link:  https://www.facebook.com/MidpointCafe/

Adrian is home to the Midpoint Café which at one time was run by Fran Houser, the woman who inspired the character Flo in Cars, and sisters Mary Lou and Christina Mendez who served the famous “ugly crust pies” and inspired the twin-sister Cars, Tia and Mia. Fran has since sold the Midpoint Café, but you can still get a taste of those ugly pies which are also sold at Flo’s Diner in Carsland.  

When we arrived the café was not open, but we did get a few pictures as the sun was setting.  A man in pick up truck noticed us taking pictures and came to greet us. He was delighted to tell use the story of the diner and of Fran, he even gave us a couple of postcards. Now that the cafe has changed owners, it is open more often and we are hoping to take a trip soon for the famous Ugly Crust pies and burgers!

Another 25 miles west takes us to the deserted town of Glenrio, Texas which straddles the Texas-New Mexico Border. Glenrio is home to the abandoned Little Juarez Diner which in Cars is transformed into the Racing Museum and Doc Hudson Internal Combustion (a wing of Flo’s Diner used for inside seating) in Carsland.  

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Continuing our road trip across the New Mexico stateline we find the town of Tucumari and Tucumcari Mountain.  The mountain, is actually a plateau that can be seen for miles around and local high-school students repaint the town’s initial on the side of the mountain each year.

The mountain shaped like a radiator cap that overlooks Radiator Springs and is prominently seen in the background of Radiator Racers was inspired by Tucumcari Mountain.  Our final stop of the day is only 2 hours from home, but was well worth the overnight stay…

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A Cars Inspired Road Trip: Part 1

KaChow!

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It is no secret that in my house the #1 Disney Movie (still edging out the Avengers, only slightly) is Cars…no, not Cars2 or Cars but the original Cars  The #monsterchild (now 12) literally wore out 3 DVDs when he was little from watching the movie repeatedly.  In fact, I still remember a road trip to Carlsbad Caverns that Cars was played continuously for the 8-hour drive, both ways.  I remember smiling to myself as he would laugh always in the same parts, no matter how many times he had seen that scene and how at 2 years old he could practically recite the entire movie.  #Mosterchild was then and still is Lightnings #1 Fan.

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It was a magical moment at Walt Disney World when he met Lightning in person, or should I say in “car”.

The #monsterchild is not the only one in the house that loves CARS, my husband has been a fan of any kind of car since he got behind the wheel, I won’t tell how long ago that was.  As a teenager he restored several cars along with his brother and father.

Today, that passion of restoring cars continues with #monsterchild and Boo.  Did I mention that we even have a Doc Hudson waiting his turn to be restored to his glory days?

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Cars was set in the fictional town of Radiator Springs, but did you know that many of the places you see in the movie are based on actual places along Route 66 and even some of the characters are based on real life “characters” along the way.

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Last Spring, we took a road trip on the Mother Road to Disneyland and along the way we stopped at those places. Follow along the next few weeks as I look back at that trip and share the real places along Route 66 that inspired the fictional town of Radiator Springs depicted in Carsland and at Disney California Adventure.

Our trip began only a few blocks from our home on Historical Route 66…

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In it’s hay day, Route 66 beckoned millions of travelers to California, but like the road in Cars it was by-passed when the interstate opened (I-40) and literally left the road any many towns along it abandoned.

As we turned onto Route 66 it was just a few more blocks before we came to what I consider to be the first two inspiration points, Flo’s Diner & Sarge’s Garage…

While I know that there are many Quonset huts that can be found along Route 66, but I like to think of the one near my home as the inspiration for Sarge’s, after all it was at one time an army surplus store.

Next door is the remains of an old drive in diner, which you can find in the design of Flo’s V-8 Diner…

Leaving the Mother Road for the Interstate we travel just outside of Amarillo and stop at the Cadillac Ranch…

 

 

Looking at map of the “Carburetor County” region, where Radiator Springs is located, you find the Cadillac Range a few miles away. In the film, it appears as mountain range whose jagged peaks are reminiscent of the famous sculpture, the “Cadillac Ranch”.

Ten Cadillacs were driven into a field, then half-buried, nose-down, in the dirt (supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza). They faced west in a line, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, their tail fins held high for all to see on the empty Texas panhandle, just like the Cadillac Mountains of Cars.  While the Cadillac Ranch is in our own backyard, this is actually the first time the boys have ever seen it up close and personal.

Stay tuned next week as we continue down the Mother Road in our Road Trip to bring Cars to life…