A bus load of about fifty tourists from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, pulled into Tucumcari Saturday for a brief visit at the Tucumcari Historical Museum. The bus had stopped previously at the Glenrio Welcome Center where tourism officials told the travelers about Native American bread being made at the museum.
The tourists, mostly adult couples, lolled about on the museums’s grounds Saturday, eating fried bread with green chili stew and beans. “This food is a great novelty for us,” said Ursula O’Connaith of Ireland. “It’s very tasty.”
Her husband, Proinsias O’Connaith, said he could not get over how friendly everyone was in the western U.S.
“At the welcome center here in New Mexico, they were giving us all kinds of brochures and booklets. We tried to give them money but they wouldn’t take it.” O’Connaith said he grew up reading about this part of the country. “I used to read comics and novels about the cowboys and Indians out here,” he said. “I was a big fan of The Virginian. Now that I’m here I can say that the land and people match up pretty well with what I imagined except that it was odd to see a cowboy on a horse in Texas yesterday, talking on a cell phone.”
Ursula O’Connaith said that after seeing the Cadillac Ranch in Texas, she was not impressed with that work of art and she now has a suggestion for a new artistic sculpture for this part of the country.
“I think there should be a large statue of an Indian on horseback looking down from the mountain,” she said.
Geoff Foley, of Birmingham, England, said that entering New Mexico was a bit of a thrill for the bus passengers.
“It was so flat in Texas, a little boring at times,” he said, “but as soon as we entered New Mexico we suddenly got to see the mesas. It reminded us all of the old cowboy movies.”
The U.K. tourists began their tour in Chicago and are following the existing stretches of Route 66 all the way to Los Angeles. Peter Cleeve, of Ware, a community just north of London, said it was the people of the high plains that made the trip delightful. “The land has been flat and it’s been really hot,” he said, “but everybody on the bus is talking about how friendly the people are out here.”