Driving west through Amarillo on Interstate 40, just as we made it past the city traffic, there was the billboard I’d seen many times over the years at various points along the interstate–Tucumcari Tonight! And today that was actually going to be our stop for the night.
Since Tucumcari is less than 200 miles from Albuquerque, it has never made sense in previous travels to stay overnight there. But with some extra time built in this week on our drive from Michigan to New Mexico, Lee planned a Texas side trip to explore Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. From Elk City, Oklahoma, where we had spent the night, the lake was a 2-hour drive west and then north. It wasn’t too far out of our way, since after visiting the lake, it was less than 40 miles to drop down to Amarillo and get back on the interstate. And then it’s just 100 miles to Tucumcari, leaving plenty of time for a hike at the lake.
We found a nice trail that went through a canyon and along a mesa. There were good views of the lake, which is a large reservoir on the Canadian River. When Lee suggested the visit to Lake Meredith I had imagined that it would be a flat, featureless landscape like the other parts of the Texas Panhandle. I was pleasantly surprised at the interesting geologic features and the lush greenery along the trail.
Tomorrow we will have time to check out either or both Ute Lake State Park and Conchas Lake State Park in New Mexico. Even if put together, those two lakes would be a fraction of the size of Lake Meredith. I don’t think there will be trails to hike but we haven’t been to either one so as long as we are in the area we might as well drive by. Who knows if we’ll ever get another chance to visit Tucumcari. There doesn’t seem to be much here except a whole lot of motels. No wonder there are so many Tucumcari Tonight billboards.