By Ryan Lengerich
In the early evening Thursday, two men and one woman sat surrounded by empty tables and chairs at the Pow-Wow Inn on W. Tucumcari Blvd. With cold beer in hand they relaxed from a 10-hour road trip that covered 494 miles.
Don Garvin, wife Alice and friend Joel Mayer have spent several nights at the Pow-Wow during past travels. This weekend, in a Dodge diesel truck pulling a small trailer, the three Rye, Ariz. residents made Tucumcari the first stop between home and Castlewood, S.D., 1,600 miles away.
Don said they make a point to stay at the Pow-Wow because of the great food.
“And we can’t go any further because we get awful dry,” Don said.
Joel agreed as he pointed to a Miller Lite beer can, “Good cocktails.”
The three were leaving Friday morning destined for their next lay over in Belleville, Kan., via Highway 54 nearly 700 miles northeast of Tucumcari. For Alice, an antique show awaited in Castlewood. Don was looking to buy a farm, somewhere to go for the summer. Joel was at the wheel, Don called him a professional driver.
All three of them had an affinity for Tucumcari, they stopped here twice just last year. But even these out-of-towners concerns weren’t much different than the local citizens and city leaders.
“We love it, we don’t stay here long but we love it,” Don said. “It’s a shame the old 66 — you see it going down.”
Joel shook his head, the explanation was simple.
“The bureaucratic interstates took everything away,” he said.
Joel remembered his first stop in Tucumcari nearly 50 years ago.
“The first time I stopped here was 1955, at the Tucumcari truck terminal there, the old Shell,” he said. “So that was a few years ago.”
Amid constant joking the three described Rye, a town of about 80 people along Interstate 87 between Mason, Ariz. and Phoenix. All three have lived there for the last 14 years. Don was born in Castlewood, Alice in New Hampshire and Joel in Minneapolis. They couldn’t really explain what brought them to Rye.
Until recently, Don and Alice owned the only bar in town appropriately named Rye Bar and Steakhouse.
“We had a restaurant and bar there for about 10 years and the nice thing was we knew everyone,” Don said, as he grinned. “And if you got 32 people sitting in our bar you know what you got — a full set of teeth because they all got one.”
The Hog Creek Fire Department in Rye has a fleet of three trucks. Don said you need a two week reservation to have a fire. Town citizens once built a miniature model western town to raise money for a young girl with a hole in heart who needed a transplant. The effort raised nearly $5,000.
“You see a lot of that in small towns,” Don said. “Somebody that needs help and can’t afford it, well, they’ll do a benefit for them to raise as much as they can.”