I am flying to Dallas and driving my new MINI back to Santa Barbara. I need to stay off the big Interstate Highways so I can properly break the car in (vary speed and rpm). Any suggestions for fun side roads, places to see and stay and get some good BBQ? I may bring a tent and sleeping bag.
Did you say BBQ?
Are you a transplanted Texan? Here's my suggestions for you. I would drive US180 to Carlsbad and see the caverns. From there, north up US285 to Roswell and then west to Lincoln and then Ruidoso before heading a bit south to Alamogordo and White Sands Natl Mon. Alternatively, you could head west from Artesia through Cloudcroft (high pine country) and get to Alamogordo that way. From Las Cruces, head west and a bit north and see the Silver City NM area, then take US70 into Phoenix.
I asked if you were a Texan because of your question about BBQ, so here is the most IMPORTANT part of my advice to you: In Phoenix, there are THREE near-perfect barbecue establishments. If you prefer Tennessee-style barbecue (very closely related to North Carolina-style) then visit with Honey Bear's BBQ, either on East Van Buren Street (at about 54th St, which is just west of Tempe) or at their location on Central Avenue south of Thomas Rd (all major streets you can find on the map). The Central Avenue location is about at the center of Phoenix, if you're looking for them. Now, if on the other hand, you prefer Chicago-style Barbecue, my friend Abe at A&J Barbecue is the man to see. His establishment (his wife might argue with you about just whose establishment it is) is a neighborhood gathering spot, and Abe generally has a baseball game on the tube for his guests, or some other fine sport if baseball is scarce. He smokes his own meats right out front behind the counter and his sauce is also excellent -- and very spicy -- he has won "Best of Phoenix" honors for good reason. Now, if you DO go to A&J's, please ask him why he doesn't have peach cobbler on the menu, and he'll know who sent you!
You cannot go wrong in either place (I think Honey Bear's has also won similar distinction, and some airline crews literally come from hundreds of miles to eat their offerings). There is a third establishment that does well called Buckaroo BBQ -- the owner of that place has won awards all over the country for the great meats and sauce he prepares. That shop is on Bell Road on the west side of north Phoenix. Now if you are from Texas, we don't have Texas-style BBQ here in Phoenix, but that is not a BAD thing... try one of these others and I guarantee you won't be disappointed. Heck, call me when you get into town and I'll take you to all of them!
Hey, after visiting all these BBQ places, your Mini is now completely broken in and ready to hum down the road (one of my favorite motorcars, by the way), so you can hit the high-speed lane if you want, but I'd suggest a side trip north to the Flagstaff and Grand Canyon area before heading on west -- there's other posts on this site about all the attractions of central and northern Arizona. If you insist on going directly from Phoenix to Santa Barbara and you still want to take two-lanes, I'd suggest US60 through Wickenburg and west -- in no time you'll be motoring stately into Santa Barbara. Bob
stay S thru El Paso or head N thru Amarillo
There are two routes I am considering: Amarillo-Albuquerque-Flagstaff or El Paso-Las Cruces-Pheonix. I plan on taking 3 days but can streatch to 4 if necessary. My main concern is staying off big Interstates so I can vary my speed. I don't want to travel 65-75 mph for hours on end while breaking-in the new car.
I like the idea of heading North and possibly seeing Santa Fe and Sedona, but then I would miss Carlsbad Canyons.
Bob all that BBQ talk has me hungry for some ribs and chicken and I am not partial to Texas BBQ cuz I am southern Californian thru and thru.
North or South?
Well, I figure there are only slight differences in scenery between the northern and southern routes -- the northern one is a bit prettier in my opinion because it is high desert and in some places you are in red rock country, running down the valley over between Grants NM and the Arizona border, and the Santa Fe area does have a lot of draw. The southern route may be a little more direct if that matters, but I didn't run the numbers so don't know that for certain. AND of course the southern route is more lower Sonoran desert (greasewood bushes, Palo Verdes, and Mesquites). You COULD go out through northern NM and into the four-corners area also -- that's a beautiful drive and the kinds of roads you are searching for, just as the route I initially proposed is (non-Interstate). No matter how you do it, I'm sure you'll enjoy the trip. My lunch today is cold turkey, so I am in empathy with you on that score -- but you know, Honey Bear's is only a few blocks away, so I COULD... Bob
Thanks for the encouragement Bob, I'm still leaning toward heading north and stopping in Alburquerque and Sedona then thru Pheonix and into LA. I'm just gonna take it 1 mile at a time and cruise.
plan in progress
I think i will check out this place i found in Amarillo that has a 72oz. steak, sounds pretty good.
I am also going to plan on stopping at the Giant Truck Stop outside of Gallup. I think it will be a photo op for me and my MINI.
Yes, I've eaten there, many years ago. Needless to say, they don't have to give too many of those away -- very few can get around the whole thing without losing it! I realize you may not even be thinking of eating one, but just in case you WERE thinking about it... I'm a steak eater, but just think how many pounds of meat that is -- even then, it's the FAT in it that will destroy you! :) We're just not made to eat that amount of grease!
No way would I consider eating that, I'll stick to a rib eye or something, just wanted to see the place.
Confirmed, flying into Dallas on 10/24
My adventure will begin soon. I am a little nervous about the drive all by myself but it should be fun.
You're going to love it! As far as that steak is concerned, you COULD get the 72 ouncer and take the rest with in a doggie bag... although I'm not sure -- the Mini might drag a bit with that kind of weight in it! But hey, there'd enough protein there for you, your dog, and anyone else you might meet! :)