By Jim Storch
The BMW CCA New Mexico Chapter Spring Tour began in Tijeras, NM on April 1, 2023 under a beautiful New Mexico sky. Heading south on NM 337 toward Mountainair is a nice road that BMWs really like, especially NM 55 at the base of the Manzano Mountains. We stopped at the Gran Quivira ruins, which is part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument for a break and visit. We continued down NM 55 and US 54 for the rendezvous in Ruidoso, NM.
In the meantime the NM BMW CCA Borderland Region group was meeting in Alamogordo, NM and traveling up to Ruidoso where we met up with the northern contingency. We had lunch at The Village Buttery which is always good, especially with pie (buttermilk and pecan are some popular choices). The Chapter President, Phil Undercuffler, gave us an update on BMW CCA regional events after his recent visit to the Central Region Chapter Congress. After gassing up and some sightseeing we had a spirited drive over NM 244 to Cloudcroft, NM. There we walked the Burro Avenue with some opting for a beer at Dave’s Cafe while others went to Noisy Water Winery. Upon returning to our cars, Rob and Christina Anthony found a puddle of coolant under their X5. Adding enough water they were able to limp over to The Lodge at Cloudcroft where we stayed for the night. Our group met for dinner and had grown a bit larger with the addition of John and Rene from Alto. The private room at Rebecca’s was nice for our good meal.
Sunday greeted us with freezing temps but it was still sunny. Some of us traveled back to Alamogordo for the night and in the morning we met others coming just for the day. We then headed up to Cloudcroft to meet the contingent who stayed at The Lodge.
Rob had already located a water pump down in Alamogordo so he and Phil decided to stay and try to change it out and meet up with the group later.
So now the remaining 9 climbed into 5 cars and headed up through Ruidoso and onto the Lincoln Historical Site through the Bonita Valley. This is very picturesque with high mountains tight on both sides. Here we walked in the footsteps of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. Visiting the courthouse where the Kid made his famous escape. There are 6 buildings that have been restored that we toured. Learning how rough it was in the wild west of the 1800’s where violence was common and the Lincoln County War was raging – the history was old, informational and well worth a stop.
By now we were all getting hungry so we pushed onto Capitan, NM. Che Palle Pizza & More had good pizza and homemade cookies, chocolate chip or Mexican. It was hard to tell what spice made it Mexican but we finally decided it was cinnamon. After lunch some members headed back home and others continued on to the Smokey Bear Historical Park. The visitors center was closed but we could still tour the gardens and pay respects at his grave. The original Smokey Bear was rescued in 1950 during a forest fire in the nearby Capitan mountains.
We then backtracked a few miles to Fort Stanton which was in operation from 1855 until 1997 and was first used to control the Mescalero Apache Indians. In 1862 Kit Carson commanded the fort and in the 1880s “Black Jack” Pershing did 2 tours here. Later the fort was used as a Merchant Marine Tuberculosis Hospital, then a World War II internee camp, a training school for the mentally handicapped and finally as a women’s low security prison.
The weather couldn’t have been better all weekend, sunny and cool. Perfect for a drive in our BMWs, top down or sunroofs open and windows down. But it was a long day and everyone was ready to head home. By now Rob and Phil had given up on trying to fix the X5 and were also heading back. They all met in Carrizozo and switched passengers to the right vehicles and drove home on the more scenic state roads in lieu of I-25.
This will be my last event as we are moving back east. I have enjoyed my time in New Mexico and all the friends in the club. I hope to visit back sometime in the future and will be sure to coordinate with a chapter drive.
Photos by Jim Storch, Christina Anthony and Phil Undercuffler