It seems that many people in Taos don’t ever leave town. (That is, except for the occasional trip to Santa Fe to go shopping.) As such, me and the lady decided to explore some towns that are within a day’s drive from Taos and document our little adventures. We hope to inspire you to get behind the wheel and drive someplace you’ve never been before. Besides, there’s nothing like a trip to Clovis to make you ecstatic about living in Taos.
In this episode, we visit a dear friend, Sarah P., in Portales, NM. The drive from Taos to Portales takes about five hours and is really quite lovely much of the time. You start by heading southeast through Mora. The drive down to Mora is alone worth the trip — absolutely beautiful. You keep going through Las Vegas with more gorgeous scenery and cool old junk to look at. You’ll keep heading southeast, even hop on I-40 for a bit and finally end up in Portales.
Portales is about twenty miles west of the Texas Border, and it’s a completely different vibe from the most of the towns up north. You kind of get the feeling that you have stepped back in time while driving up or down the one-way configured, main thoroughfare. Lots of classic mom and pop businesses sandwiched between corporate franchises. And yes, they do have a Walmart.
We finally made it to Sarah’s lovely home, spent some time catching up, hit a few lukewarm ones and then the hay.
We spent the next day exploring Portales as well as Clovis (about a twenty minute drive from Portales), and learned some pseudo-interesting facts about the area:
- Portales is home to Eastern New Mexico university, the third-largest school in the state.
- Portales got its name from a waterfall that looked like a porch.
- Clovis was an epicenter of the Rock ‘N Roll movement of the 1950’s, the Norman Petty Recording Studio produced hits for rock legends such as Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison.
- Portales grows a lot of peanuts.
- Portales produces a lot of dairy.
It can be incredibly windy in Portales. While on our trip we experienced wind in excess of sixty miles per hour. It was also incredibly dry so the whole day was a huge dust storm. We saw a sheet of plywood fly out from nowhere and hit a guy’s truck!
We drove up to the Rock and Roll museum in Clovis, but it was closed (don’t attempt to visit the museum on a Saturday).
We went to the Train Museum in Clovis, which was actually wicked rad. Entering the museum is yet another time warp. Lots of great train souvenirs and memorabilia. The museum features several really cool model train sets. Each one has a button to activate the trains and some of the tracks and models are actually quite elaborate. This place is a must if traveling with kids or if you have any interest at all in train culture. There was also a pretty classic DVD presentation of some old guy going on and on about the history of the rail system in the region — a must watch. The museum also has a huge collection of beautiful, vintage model trains. I highly recommended visiting the museum if ever you make it to Clovis.
After the trains we went thrift store shopping. There seems to be a plethora of great secondhand shops and antique dealers in Portales. I actually found some clothes that fit!
We ended the night off with a couple drinks at a Portales bar called the Dawg Houze. The name of this place coupled with the spelling made it irresistible — we had no choice but to check it out. Local bros and babes abound! Lots of flat screens, projectors, and Jager Bombs.
We ate a great breakfast at the local Diner. Also, don’t miss the local brewery; the pizza at the brewery was some of the best I have ever eaten!
The moral of the story:
The next time you think about spending your Saturday in Santa Fe shopping for embroidered/jeweled-ass-pocket jeans at Ross, don’t be lame — go somewhere else instead! Hey, if I can find clothes that fit, you can too!