Visit Socorro for golf shoot, not burgers

By Grant McGee: Local Columnist

We decided to go on a road trip to Socorro. That’s where the Lady of the House’s oldest son lives. It’s been a while since she’s seen him.

We took the most direct way to Socorro by zipping west out of Clovis on U.S. 60. One thing you may notice along this route is how folks have taken old railroad boxcars, moved them on to their property and use them for storage. We saw one that was being converted into some living quarters. Whether it was for the property owner or his mother-in-law I had no way of knowing.

“I’d like to have a railroad boxcar,” I said.

“Oh yeah, the neighbors would like that,” said The Lady of the House. “Besides, what would we do with a railroad boxcar in our back yard?”

“I don’t know, I think it’d be kind of neat.”

If you haven’t taken U.S. 60 westward toward the Rio Grande Valley you should know there’s pretty much nothing out there. Between Fort Sumner and Vaughn we were struck by the sudden appearance of a man walking westward along the highway carrying a backpack and some plastic grocery bags.

“Wanna give him a ride?” I looked over at The Lady of the House. She answered with a look that needed no words.

We passed through Vaughn, Encino, Willard and Mountainair before we arrived in Socorro, under the shadow of “M” Mountain, so-named because of the large white “M” near the summit.

“You know what that stands for, don’t you?” asked The Lady of the House.

“Probably for the New Mexico Tech team, the Miners,” I said.

“I was told it stood for ‘mountain,’” said The Lady of the House, trying to hide a smile by looking out the window.

The most interesting thing to me about Socorro is the town hosts a unique event every summer centered around golf. It’s called The Elfego Baca Shoot. Named after a legendary New Mexican, it involves knocking a golf ball from the top of “M” Mountain (7,280 feet) down to a designated green near the New Mexico Tech golf course (4,730 feet). It’s limited to 10 participants. I don’t play golf, but it sounds like fun to me.

On this trip I discovered Socorro’s central plaza, just as nice as those in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Mesilla or Taos.

One of the things I wanted to do on this visit to Socorro was have a legendary green chile cheeseburger at a legendary place near the town. Every time I’ve passed the restaurant before it was usually on a Sunday and they were closed. I had waited 16 years for one of these burgers.

When it arrived at the table, my expectations crumbled and blew away like the desert dust in the nearby Jornada del Muerto. Better green chile cheeseburgers may be had here in Clovis compared to the dinky, uninspired creation set before me. The place’s name has been left out because you can get in trouble criticizing legends.

Our return trip took us across another section of New Mexico. We paused for a picnic in the park in Roswell, then came home.

The Lady of the House got to see her son and I got to have that (supposed) legendary green chile cheeseburger. It turns out the best one in the state may be right here in my own back yard.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: blisscreeksw@yahoo.com