Generally between 1926 and 1964, U.S. Route 60 (US 60) was a major trans-continental federal highway extending from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Los Angeles, California. It has been decommissioned in California and replaced by I-10 from downtown Los Angeles to the Brenda Junction, about 12 miles east of the California/Arizona border. A roughly 18 mile segment of the former U.S. highway is now signed as California State Route 60 between Beaumont and Riverside. However, US 60 is largely intact and serving motorists well outside California.
Mountainair, New Mexico is at about 7,000 feet elevation. Nearby are the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, Manzano Peak (10,095 feet elevation) and spectacular scenery.
As I packed the car, everything was covered with snow. The storm had passed and the early morning sky was clearing. The outside temperature was a brisk 23 degrees, prompting an extended 1,500 rpm warm-up period that morning.
Driving east and descending to lower altitudes on US 60, the scenery quickly changed from mountains to high plains. Outside temperature was still in the 20’s and snow was still on the ground. But the highway was safe and open to normal traffic, what little there was of it. I very much enjoyed the traffic situation; concluding that most sensible people chose to stay home that morning.
Above: The New Mexico snow storm had passed but evidence of it was everywhere. The air temperature was below freezing but the direct sunlight on the asphalt was enough to melt the snow there.
The small communities of Encino, Vaughn and Ft. Sumner (where Jesse James was killed and subsequently buried), New Mexico greeted me in turn as I drove east from Mountainair. The spectacular scenery and almost complete absence of traffic was a delight.
The car was running beautifully, seeming to actually enjoy all that cold air flowing through the engine deck lid grille into the twin air cleaner housings. I was traveling alone but felt safe and confident. Being a Los Angeles area resident at the time, I also enjoyed every minute of cold weather cruising in the mountains and high plains of central and eastern New Mexico.
I arrived at Clovis, about 7 miles west of the Texas border, in the late afternoon. I spent my third night there.