We took the Turquoise Trail, one of eight National Scenic Byways in the state of New Mexico alone, and never looked back. It was along this trail we found The Land of Enchantment to mean much more than magnificent mountain vistas, stunning sunsets, and high desert terrain.
For 15 seconds or so, as we rumbled along this small section of Route 66, sans '57 Chevy (so sad!!!), the tune America the Beautiful floated up from the pavement as our tires made contact with a musical rumble strip. What will they think of next?
A little bit of sleuthing after the fact revealed the highway hijinx to be part of National Geographic’s television series about changing social behaviors. And while not the first hijinx of its kind, it was our first encounter with a singing highway. Enchanting!
Each of the small towns along the 65-mile Turquoise Trail (Tijeres, Cedar Crest, Sandia Park, Golden, Madrid, and Cerrillos) similarly offered a unique window into the past, a rich blend of Native American spirituality, Spanish explorers, brave pioneers and fortune hunters.
There were museums, churches, a national park, traces of ancient pueblos, and a former mining town turned ghost town turned funky artist colony, enough options to offer something historically interesting for just about everyone.
“Let’s stop here, Jimmy!”
Blink and we'd have passed the tiny town of Madrid (MADrid), the halfway mark on the historic trail connecting Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Maggie's Diner was a prop built in Madrid for this 2007 Disney movie about four middle-aged friends from Cincinnati (Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy) looking to rev up their suburban routines with a freewheeling motorcycle trip west. Of course the Wild Hogs, as they call themselves, find the world has far more to offer than they'd anticipated. They're not alone.
I haven't seen the movie, but I will when I return home, despite Rotten Tomatoes' Critic Score of 14%. Viewers gave it a score of 63%. That's still passing, right!?
Needless to say, Madrid hadn’t seen this much action during the month-long filming of the movie since the coal mining days of the 1800s. When the coal market collapsed in the mid-1900s, so did Madrid. In 1954 an ad ran in the Wall Street Journal listing the entire ghost town for sale for a mere $250,000.
By the 1960s and ‘70s, Madrid was reborn with the arrival of a few starving artists and drifters looking for a place to call home.
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