Day 8: Easy Rider Movie Location Tour – Taos New Mexico to Amarillo Texas

Taos New Mexico Easy Rider

I’d fallen asleep early, and woke up early.    Rather than sit with my thumb up my ass, I jumped on the bike.   It had been a while since I’d been here, and never like this.   I ran up to where Easy Rider began.

La Contenta Bar Easy Rider Taos New Mexico
From Easy Rider, 1969, La Contenta Bar,  Opening Scene.
La Contenta Bar Easy Rider Taos New Mexico
La Contenta Bar today. Its now the Red Arrow Emporium, right off the main drag.     Not a Junkyard anymore.

For the movie, Peter fonda wanted to buy junk, in a junkyard.      This place was sold like it was in Mexico, but it was really in Taos.    In the original story of the movie, Billy and Wyatt were carnival stunt men on motorcycles.   Thats why they showed up on dirt bikes for this scene.    It wasn’t until you got to Ballarat in the movie, that they rode Harleys.        In the movie, when they got jailed for parading without a permit (we’d see this location today too) where Billy shouts through the jail cell:

“Parading without a permit? Do you know who this is, man? This is Captain America. l’m Billy. We’re headliners, baby. We played every fair in this part of the country. For top dollar too! Weirdo hicks, man. A bunch of weirdo hicks. “

Quote from the Movie, Easy Rider (1969)

Most of that part of the story got cut on the editing floor. I headed back to the Hotel, had some coffee at the restaurant with the crew, and took some pictures.    This was a 100 year old place, just celebrating its anniversary.      Taos is pretty cool.

waking up, drinking  coffee, getting my morning bearings and taking some pictures. Historic Taos Inn. Its been here for 100 years now.

We had a lot to see today.   Lots of Easy Rider.    To the first stop for today: IMG_0469 Translation:  “Pura Vida Hermano!”  means “Pure Life, my Friend” in English. The guy in that scene was a local musician in Taos, back in the day.      I bet that dude could belt out a good Mariachi song.      I’d pay good money to see it.

EagleRider Inaugural Easy Rider Tour Crew, La Contenta Bar from Easy Rider
EagleRider Inaugural Easy Rider Tour Crew, La Contenta Bar from Easy Rider

I told what I knew:

There is lots of Easy Rider in Taos.     This was the first stop, the opening scene.     We’d ride to more. We rode down to the Taos Pueblo, but we didn’t go in. .     I’d like to do it again.     There is lots of history there.     The scene I wanted to show was this, right by the river.    I’ve been here before, but got the feeling we didn’t have time.    Looking back, I’d have pushed for more time here.

Taos Pueblo - 1969 from Easy Rider
Taos Pueblo – 1969
Taos Pueblo, Easy Rider Location Tour 2013
Taos Pueblo, Easy Rider Location Tour 2013

Next, was Dennis Hoppers House, where he lived for 15 years after Easy Rider.    DH Lawrence lived here too, and now its called the Mable Dodge Luhan House.    It was one of Dennis Hoppers first purchases after the Easy Rider checks starting coming in.

Easy Rider swim Scene
The swim Scenes from Easy Rider were in Taos as well, at Manby Hot Springs, 15 miles north.   (screenshot from Easy Rider, 1969)

Taos has always been interesting to me, and it’s always been connected to Dennis Hopper in my mind.    It’s an artists community, like no other I’ve been to.     I gotta think about why.   Maybe another ride, and another blog post for another day. If I can throw this one out:

Double Standard Dennis Hopper
“Double Standard” – Dennis Hopper photograph from 1961   (click on photo to enlarge)

Dennis Hopper took this photograph in 1961.    To me, it tells volumes about the guy.    First, he was an artist at heart.    A random, but brilliant thinker.       A contemporary, till the day he died, and I think his work showed that.        He was also raised a Kansas farm boy.     “double standard” , I have to think was his mindset at the time.    It certainly was years later.      He directed Easy Rider, was equal parts insane and brilliant, and had an eye to move people.       Dennis Hopper was a hard guy to sum up. But, whatever.    Something to chew on when you’re out on a bike and your mojo is rolling and there is 100 miles ahead of you.     Maybe at least for me. It was memorial Day Weekend, and that’s appropriate to honor the dead.  We rolled up to Dennis Hopper’s grave.     The last time I was in Taos, he was still alive.     This was a first for me.

Easy Rider Tour - Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hoppers grave, Taos New Mexico
Easy Rider Tour - Dennis Hopper
Dennis Had a quiet and inconspicuous funeral. Off the radar, in the town that he loved.   I gotta think, in the exact way that he wanted it.

The whole city of Taos, smells of  Dennis Hopper and Easy Rider.     We were on our way, to Las Vegas New Mexico.    We headed out of Taos, on New Mexico 518.    The weather was awesome, and I couldn’t help but feeling we’d lucked out this trip, weather wise.    It was starting to cloud up, but nothing threatening,  at least this day.    75 miles more, and then more Easy Rider.

We hit Las Vegas New Mexico, where in Easy Rider they paraded without a permit.

Easy Rider Parade Scene Las Vegas New Mexico 1
Parading without a permit – Easy Rider in 1969
Easy Rider Parade Scene Las Vegas New Mexico 2
Wyatt and Captain America, Las Vegas New Mexico 1969
Easy Rider Parade Scene Las Vegas New Mexic
The Historic Plaza Hotel, 1969
Parading without a permit in 2013 from the movie location Easy Rider
Historic Plaza Hotel in 2013

In the movie, the paraded without a license and got thrown in Jail.    In the tour, we walked down to the corner and saw another scene from the movie.   Watch this.    It’s classic Easy Rider.

Easy Rider Las Vegas Nevada - Jack Nicholson Drinking Scene
Aaaaaand, here it is.


Easy Rider Locations - Drinking scene Easy Rider
Graham, Myself and Dr Phil. Nic Nic Nic!

and some of the story behind it: After this, Easy Rider became pretty funny.   On to Madame Tinkertoys House of Blue Lights, Corner of Burbon and Tolouse.       In Real Life, Jack Nicholson was ready to quit acting.     After this, all that would change. We still had 230 miles to go.       From here, we headed into Amarillo.   Day 8, Easy Rider Movie Location tour – 314 Miles View Larger Map

2 thoughts on “Day 8: Easy Rider Movie Location Tour – Taos New Mexico to Amarillo Texas”

  1. It was a fantastic day, but only one of so many. I feel so previliged I was there and in such great company.

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