It had to happen some time.
We left Cimarron on a cold but sunny morning, after paying our respects to the town well, a major centerpiece of the action during the Santa Fe Trail days. It was right behind our hotel.
We then headed for Raton, New Mexico – the town further north that got the benefit of the railroad which by-passed Cimarron. Once we got there, it was like stepping back in time for a moment, as everyone was telling us excitedly, “The pass is closed! The pass is closed!”
It seems that there was a big accident early today further up our path on Route 25 that caused them to close down the road for the whole morning between northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. It was a man-made situation caused by ice on the road, and evidently a tragedy, but it felt like hearing about an avalanche or a blizzard. Or an Indian raid. More on the weather later.
That gave us a great excuse to linger in Raton. We had planned on touring the historic Shuler Theatre, anyway. It was built in the 1914 and we thought we would just find lots of memories of past celebrities passing through on one-night stands.
We got a bit more than that. We met Bill Fegan, the 86-year old “President and Producer” of the Kaleidoscope Players, who came to town in the 60’s for a one-night stand, and ended up staying ever since. What a character. (He hinted that we would want to take a picture of his portrait in the lobby, clearly done a few years ago.) He and Don got to trade theatre one-upping stories for about an hour, and we found out we had some theatre people in common. He also realized Don was good for another week of “and then I saw” so he relaxed and knew he was among friends.
At any rate he runs the very active theatre, and they do summer rep, children’s theatre, host non-equity bus-and-truck shows, musicians, you name it. Oh, and Bill also manages a troop of Chinese acrobats that tours around the country. Amazing – all in this Wild West stop on the Santa Fe trail. It does however, boast a train to LA or Chicago every day, and you can certainly get to New York by going east.
That was great fun. And then we went down the street to Solano’s Boot and Western Wear store, which had everything you need to be a dude, as well as a hat cemetery, where people ditch their old hats when they buy new.
We had a long talk there about ghosts, having just been at the St. James, and the owner shared a photo she took there one night, near the room that evidently housed the prostitutes. Maybe you can see the raised leg coming out of the door on the right? Just thought I would pass it on.
Next we hit the road because word in Raton was “The pass is open! The pass is open!”
Then it started to get exciting. The absolute minute we passed the state line, we were suddenly in a dense fog, the temperature plunged to 24 degrees, and our windshield started icing up. That pass was one scary place to drive.
We had to forgo the Highway of Legends side trip Don had planned because there seemed no point in driving a scenic route when you can barely see ahead of you. We high-tailed it to Pueblo, our designation for tonight, and so there is no scenery to show you today. We haven’t even been able to see the Rockies yet, and we know they were just on our left.
We did manage to fit in one house museum tour once we got to Pueblo. A large pile called Rosemount – built in 1893, the same year as our house – was open for the afternoon, and some very nice ladies showed us around. The house was gorgeous inside (no photos, please!) and the only flaw was that the lovely ladies and their pals had decorated it for Christmas and made it a spectacle to behold. Oh. My. God. There was not a room or a surface left untouched. (And this house has 26 rooms…) But, it’s clear they love doing it and evidently all Pueblo comes every holiday just to see the decorations, so it’s a good money-raiser, as well as a clear insight into Pueblo.
So at the moment, we are hunkered down on our Pueblo Holiday Inn, sans ghosts, and awaiting the arrival of snow this evening.
It had to happen sometime.
3 thoughts on “We hit the winter wall”
What a gem the Shuler Theatre is–and what a great chance meeting with Bill Fegan. It’s the unplanned moments that put the icing on the cake.
What’s the population of Raton?. Big enough to keep the theatre open year round, obviously. Does it fill in with movies too?
We’re kind of glad you gave up on the Highway of Legends trip and saved us a rerun of a Donner party scenario.
We’re pleased to report that independent confirmation from the acting community in New York confirms the existence of Bill Fegan, and validates some of his stories. The population of Raton is about 7,000. According to Bill, a group of local businessmen asked him what it would take to get him and his company to stay, because all they had to do in that town at night was drink. Guess that does get old. And by the way, he is a big Dylan Thomas fan and has visited Wales several times on Thomas pilgrimages. Under Milkwood is part of his repertoire.
In our haste to get over the pass yesterday from Raton, we neglected to stop in nearby Trinidad, Colorado, which we have since learned is the sex-change capital of the world. A doctor there started it all when a patient asked for gender-reassignment surgery, and he went on to perform 4,500 of them. Go know. Maybe those folks passing through help swell the Raton theatre audience.
Bet ‘La Cage aux Folles’ was a sell-out.