Today was a sleeping-in day, a BBC Doctor Who day (the return of Sarah Jane Smith!), and a day when I should have done more cleaning than I did. I just got the second installment of The Jace Letters posted, updated the sidebar of my fiction blog, and set up my entry template for the Jace and Sandy emails instead of the Heirs of Mâvarin excerpts. Now it's after 2 AM, so as usual I'm short on time to write tonight's Outpost entry properly. Oh, well.
On Monday, April 24th, I drove from Socorro, New Mexico all the way back to Tucson, Arizona. But I didn't do so right away! For one thing, I overslept; for another, I was determined to have one more adventure before arriving home. I decided to so see the Very Large Array radio telescope, roughly 60 miles west of Socorro on U.S. 60. Halfway there, I stopped off for lunch at a little town (probably a village, technically) called Magdalena. From what I've read, it's named after a rock formation on one of the nearby mountains, which looked to someone like Mary Magdalene. I have no idea how a mountain can remind you of the physical appearance of a woman who wasn't visually described much in the Bible, but that's the story.
Anyway, Magdalena is the only settlement of any size between Socorro and the VLA. Beyond that is Datil, and then Pie Town, and hundreds of miles later, Show Low, Arizona, I think. I didn't go home that way, but I'm pretty sure that's what I saw on an atlas later in the day.
The first thing I noticed about Magdalena, aside from the reduced speed limit and a couple of possible places to eat, was an historical marker, just one of many along this stretch of US 60. This one was about a nearby ghost town called Kelly. (More on this tomorrow night.) After I checked that out, I returned to Magdalena and took some pictures. Here's the sight that really got my attention:
Yes, it's the marshall's office, looking pretty much exactly as it may have looked a century ago or more. The main difference now is the marshall and deputies park their cars in front of it instead of their horses.
After photographing the marhsall's office, I decided to check out this place on the other side of the main drag (U S 60):
Obviously, the town's bank was here once upon a time. If the marshall's office was always where it is now, that must have been pretty handy for deterring robberies. As I took this picture, I heard one of the marshalls (or deputies, or whatever) pull over an SUV for speeding. I guess the marshall's office is still in a convenient location for the work these guys do!
Even more interesting to me than the word Bank on this building were the words "cafe" and "FOUNTAIN." Was I interested in having lunch at a soda fountain? You betcha! I parked on the side street, missed the main entrance, walked past the front window and entered at the kitchen. Oops!
Inside, just as I'd hoped, was a lot of old junk from the little restaurant's history, or at least the town's history. I won't swear to you that none of the old soda bottles, local photos and clippings, Coke trays and other old stuff were collected from elsewhere, but it seems clear that this cafe, in one form or another, has been in the old Bank building for quite some time, perhaps half a century or longer.
The kid who served me was very modern, though, just slightly Goth and wearing a lip stud. I ordered a tortilla burger with chili. It was very good, but I must have misread the menu. What I got was a tortilla with a hamburger on it, plus a little cup of sliced chile peppers, not chili con carne or chili with beans. I don't eat chiles, ever, but it was in interesting mistake to make!
A couple of minutes after I sat down, two marshalls' vehicles parked next to mine, thus proving that I apparently had parked legally. I'd been a little nervous that I might not be. Three marshalls (or deputies) came in, looking like any other sheriff's deputies. They sat together a few tables away, and the kid with the stud immediately waited on them. I was ready for my check, but didn't mind waiting while the KWAS took care of the local law first.
Back outside, I noticed something aboout the cafe and former bank building that I'd missed before. It should have been obvious. Only the small part of the building where the cafe is remains an intact, working building. The rest is a boarded-up facade with no roof, open to the sky. I'm grateful that even part of the building yet survives!
Tomorrow: the road to Kelly.