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Day 4, Tuesday, May 23, 2017:
Cimarron, New Mexico -> Springer -> Wagon Mount -> Valmora -> Watros -> Las Vegas, New Mexico

We awoke in the St. James Hotel in Cimarron this day, in the tall squishy bed where Lorna slept better than I. She may differ, saying I was snoring pretty good. We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, a basic 2 egg affair with the usual's. We took some time to take some pictures of this very unique place including many of the historic theme rooms and the bar. Before long we were packed and ready to explore. We began with the walking tour of the historic neighborhood, they had a map of graves, tghe old jail, church, grist mill and other significant sites in the back streets of Old Cimarron.

We then drove down the street and turned our attention to New Cimarron. Apparently at some point this "main street" running parallel to highway 64 was developed. Shops, garages, eateries, lodging and most of what you'd expect to find on a main drag were developed. Most of them failed but there were also many interpretive signs detailing the town's western outlaw heritage. As we were wandering we looked up a street as saw 6-8 mule deer grazing their way along the roadside.

I was catching glimpses of life across the highway on back streets. We moved along to there and explored a little. There were some cafés and small local business and a nice little park. Looking across the park I saw that the deer had joined us and we got some pictures. The school was also found here. The village is a pioneer of the four-day school week (Mon.-Thur.), which it originally implemented in the early 1970s, during a time of rising fuel and utility prices.

The puddles from the overnight rain were drying up and it was time to leave town on the side road of state Route 21, passing the St. James one last time. This was a nice quiet road. Before long we came upon Philmont Scout Ranch, an extensive "high-adventure base" operated by the Boy Scouts of America. There were dozens of red steel roofed buildings and hundreds of identical tents pitched in row upon row. This place was big and they did it all without selling cookies!

This led to an extensive drive through ranch country. Based on the many gates we passed this was mainly the property of the Express UU Bar Ranch. The Express UU Bar Ranch has cattle and tourism (hunting and fishing) operations and comprises approximately 160,000 acres of land. The ranch also owns the historic St. James Hotel in nearby Cimarron, having purchased it in January 2009. It was a prior owner that donated the approximately 127,000 acres for the Philmont Scout Ranch to the Boy Scouts of America in 1941. We were probably an hour and a half, maybe 2 driving through this ranch territory. The lightly traveled rode just rolled along. Cattle could be seen grazing in small groups. These animals were very spread out, nothing like the concentrations I expected. At one point some had made their way across the fence line and were wandering the road. We got video as we meandered between the cattle and the antelope that were there.

Other ranches also include the Chase Ranch (famous for its heart-shaped brand and allegedly the Marlboro Man's place of origin).

It was nearing lunchtime and we landed in Springer, a town on I-15. Something led us to a local Santa Fe Trail History Museum. It seemed like a good idea since we were spending a lot of time on the trail. Like many of these local institutions they had a lot of artifacts and it made an interesting half hour. We scouted around for lunch but nothing hit the spot so on we went.

I noticed on a map that there was a frontage road connecting the next few towns of interest, much like Route 66 so we decided to enjoy exploring in the slow lane. This took us to Wagon Mound. A Butte high above the town appears as a Conestoga Wagon. The town was a virtual ghost town. About the only place where much was happening was a senior center / food pantry. In its heyday it was a busy stop for the Santa Fe Railway. When I-15 was built along the town the traffic dried up and so did the town. The situation felt much like many places on Route 66 except there wasn't even the hint of any tourist activity. We did get many pictures of the remains of what had been a busy downtown. It was sunny and bright.

The afternoon was getting on and there was nothing to be found in the way of a restaurant in Wagon Mound and we were getting hungry. There was a little convenience store at the interchange but that wasn't going to be the answer. They did have some packaged cheese that looked safe enough so we got some and broke out some crackers we had in the cooler and dined in the parking lot. Back on the road we wandered down the frontage road to Valmora and Watrous. It was nice country driving but nothing remarkable.

Our stop for the night was Las Vegas, NM. We had stopped for lunch at the south end of town in 2012. We checked into the Best Western Plus Montezuma Inn & Suites and went out exploring. The downtown was a nice midsize place. JC's Pizza and Bowling on the Village Plaza sounded promising and was a good choice for salad and pizza. The plaza like in many towns was a city block sized park surrounded by businesses, we see that sort of space in many towns. The Plaza Hotel was one of many majestic buildings. In the park there was a bandstand/gazebo and several art sculptures. People were here and there enjoying the space. We felt like we had visited, it's nice when we can get our feet on the ground in the town we call home for a night.

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Created June 7, 2017