Walking in the footsteps of Billy the Kid and other roadtrips I want to take

Billy the Kid Week

Brian has given us a good assignment this week. He wants us to plan the ultimate pop culture roadtrip. I have already gone on several geeky roadtrips in my life thanks to having been a traveling IT consultant for about 8 years.  I’ll start chronicling more of those soon. I already talked about two Star Wars Roadtrips that I’ve taken (Star Wars Celebrations I and II).  But I think Brian’s idea is to plan a road trip that you want to take.

There are several I could do, but one is definitely at the top.  And I’ve discussed it before, both on the Nerd Lunch Podcast and here on the site.  I want to walk the Billy the Kid Trail in New Mexico.

Billy the Kid

I’ve been a huge fan of Billy the Kid since high school.  I’ve read a ton of books about him (and other gunslingers).  Plus, my wife is from New Mexico, so it’s totally doable.  There are several places in New Mexico pertaining to the famous outlaw.  The biggest would probably be the Lincoln State Monument in Lincoln, NM.

Lincoln Lincoln County Courthouse
(Via Jeff Arnold’s West)

The little town of Lincoln has been preserved almost exactly as it was back in Billy’s day. You can still visit the courthouse in which he was imprisoned and then famously shot his way out of, killing two deputies in the process.  There’s also the Wortley Hotel which was once owned by Pat Garrett, the man who shot Billy.  The hotel was also the final dining place of Bob Ollinger, who was one of the deputies Billy killed in his getaway.  Not only would this place be awesome for Billy the Kid buffs, but the town is almost exactly how it was in the Old West.  It would be great to see how things were back then as I’m fascinated with the time period.

My next stop on the trail would be in Fort Sumner, NM.

Billy the Kid Museum
(Via Roadside America)

In Fort Sumner you can visit the Billy the Kid Museum and the grave(s) of Billy the Kid.  I put grave in plural because there are two museums in Fort Sumner claiming to have Billy’s burial site.  Billy was buried in Fort Sumner, but, honestly, no one knows the actual site.  Floods in the early 20th century washed away all the original wooden grave markers so the actual resting place is a guess.  And the stone marker that was erected to replace the wooden one has been stolen three times since the 1950s.  But, like I said, to be there where Billy lived and died would just be awesome.

These are the two main New Mexico attractions featuring Billy the Kid.  They are several hours apart and I think they are 5-6 hours south of where my wife’s family lives, but I still want to make this happen some day.

So, that’s the road trip I badly want to take.  How about a few other stops since I’m already out galavanting around the country?

Roswell UFO
International UFO Museum (Roswell, NM) – Since I’m in New Mexico anyway, I may as well make a stop in the UFO capital of the world. It would be fascinating to walk through the International UFO Museum just to see what they have.

Skywalker Ranch
Skywalker Ranch (Marin, CA) – This one is a sore spot for me. You see, I’ve actually been here. Back in early 1998, I was in San Francisco, CA for work. I stayed there for three months.  My cousin had a friend that worked at LucasArts and, as an employee, could get me a tour of “the ranch”.  However, he could only do it on weekdays.  I was still fairly new to my job so I was reluctant to take a full day, plus things were actually pretty busy so it would have been tough.  But to this day, it’s my biggest regret that I didn’t take a f**king sick day and tour the place.  IT. BURNS. MY. ASS.  Months later before I left San Fran, a friend and I ventured out into the hills of Marin and actually found the front gates to the ranch, but obviously we weren’t getting in.  I would like someday to “make things right” with myself.

Liberal, KS - Land of Oz
Land of Oz Museum (Liberal, KS) – Given my recent proclivities towards this property it should be no surprise to anyone that reads this blog that I want to go here.  Liberal, Kansas has adopted themselves as the hometown of Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz. Baum actually never mentioned what town Dorothy is from, but that isn’t stopping the town of Liberal (similar to the town of Metropolis, IL). They have museums, exhibits and gift shops all devoted to the Land of Oz.  And, my dad is from Independence, KS, so I have an “in”.

Kool-Aid Museum
Kool-Aid Museum (Hastings, NE) – Yes, the Hastings Museum has a permanent exhibit devoted to Kool-Aid.  And I want to go to there.

South of the Border
South of the Border (South Carolina) – A cheesy, side of the road gift shop extravaganza.  At some point in my life I will stop here. We have friends in Columbia, SC, but it would be an extra few hours to visit this place. But I will do it. See the official website here.

Other Pop Culture Road Trips from around the League:
1. Brian from Cool and Collected goes to an “unofficial home”, Metropolis, IL.
2. Shawn from Branded in the 80s visits several movie locations including the houses from Goonies and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
3. Shez Crafti hits nearly every major geek sweet spot you can think of.
4. As does Green Plastic Squirt Gun. I’m surprised he didn’t mention South of the Border as well.

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3 Responses to “Walking in the footsteps of Billy the Kid and other roadtrips I want to take”

  1. I’ve been going to Myrtle Beach every summer since I was a child, traveling from Maryland, which is about an 8-hour drive. I always stop at South of the Border, mainly because there’s a long stretch with no decent rest stops before it, and it’s become kind of a little tradition now. And sometimes I’m vacationing with someone who’s never seen it, so I stop there and let ’em experience Pedro’s crapfest of wonders.

    You need to keep your expectations in check for this place, however. It’s pretty much a colorfully-painted shithole of broken-down attractions and cheap souvenirs. There was probably a time when it was awesome, but these days not so much. One year when I was little my family drove to Florida (a 16-hour road trip!) we made the mistake of staying overnight at South of the Border. There were roaches and bedbugs and disgusting pink toilets. It was seriously one of the worst nights of my life.

  2. First–ignore my Fort Sumter comments twitter–autocorrect was hating me and I gave up looking up the correct spelling of Sumner. Like you I’ve always had a fascination with Billy the Kid. I thank watching Young Guns II for this (wasn’t allowed to watch the first since it is R…). The grave site we went to was right behind the Billy the Kid museum–we drive through Sumner on the way to Taos but just looked up Lincoln on the map and it is WAY out of the way. Not sure I’d be able to convince Scott to head there–although if we ever go to the Albuquerque Balloon fest I might be able to make an argument (or it might lead to an argument…).

    I LOVE roadside attractions. And roadtrips. Incidentally I JUST discovered Roadside America website yesterday and am wondering where it’s been all my life. A post idea that I’ve had floating in my head is about roadside attractions but I just haven’t had the time to put it together. One of my favorites is Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo and one of the biggest detours we’ve made on a roadtrip is to Carhenge in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. Both very cool.

  3. jonnymayne Says:

    Wow that looks really cool! Billy the Kid is such a fascinating piece of history isn’t it? I remember reading about the floods you were talking about there a while back. There had been some controversy over whether or not he was actually killed but it said that nobody knew for sure where his body was now anyway. Can’t remember where I was reading that. Really good post though! I didn’t realise there was so much of the history left until I read this. Nice pictures too. Good job!

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