Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Galloping to Gallup

Day 6: 325 Miles
Total: 2,463 Miles

I was finally able to post the Day 5 blog a little while ago, so if you haven't seen it yet, scroll down to the post below this one.

Today started out the opposite of yesterday. I got up very early, partly because I gained an hour by moving into the Mountain Time Zone, and partly because I just woke up early. So I checked out of the Blue Swallow Motel and had breakfast at the Kix 66 in Tucumcari. I was on the road shortly after 8:00am.

Most of the first part of the trip was on I-40, so I quickly made it the 60 miles to Santa Rosa where I decided to stop at yet another museum. This one is the Route 66 Auto Museum, and it contains mostly automotive memorabilia and 30-40 cars on display in varying condition. Some were very nice; others…not so much.

I finished up there and by that time I had pretty well decided to skip Santa Fe and take the more direct route through Albuquerque. The only thing I could find out about timing for the Santa Fe trip was that it was “significantly longer” than the other route. An hour or two would have been okay, but four or five hours wouldn’t, so I played it safe and went straight to Albuquerque.

Most of the drive was either on I-40 or along the frontage road. Very few towns, with not much more than several abandoned buildings to look at. But unlike Texas, the terrain was magnificent. Beautiful rock formations and 50-mile views made even the Interstate enjoyable. So did driving 80+mph. I like states with 75mph speed limits! What I didn’t like was the wind. Up to 60mph gusts, and steady 30-40mph all day long. It’s still blowing as I sit here in my hotel room typing this.

I don’t know what I missed in Santa Fe, but I can tell you that Albuquerque was awesome! As you come into the city there are lots and lots of old motels that still look to be operational and in good shape. Lots of old cafes and diners there too. Then you get to the downtown area and you see a steady mix of restored older businesses – theaters, motels, eateries, etc. – and art deco-looking new places. Central Avenue, the original route, pays constant homage to its Route 66 roots. Then you get to the other side of town and you see some of the older, but still nice, places again. Traffic was heavy through town, but unlike Oklahoma City, it was a plus. It gave me lots of opportunities to take pictures.

When I got past Albuquerque it was more of the same experience from earlier in the day. High speed roads, beautiful scenery, but not much to see in the way of towns. I got to Gallup at about 4:30. I considered driving on because I knew I could get 100 miles or so into Arizona – possibly to Winslow. But there was a hotel where I particularly wanted to stay in Gallup if it was available. It’s called the Hotel El Rancho, and it has long been a Route 66 icon. Many famous people have stayed here: Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, and Ronald Reagan, to name a few. The rooms are named after the famous person who stayed in them.

Well, I was able to get a room, so Gallup is where I’m staying tonight. The name on my door? Tom Mix. I’ll bet my mom and aunts remember who he was. Famous cowboy actor who preceded Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, et al. Anyway, this may be the coolest hotel I have ever stayed in. Maybe not the fanciest, but really, really cool. I may hang around the lobby and wait for the ghost of Charlie Chaplin to appear!

Another Route 66 icon, this is a souvenir shop in Tucumcari.

On the drive through New Mexico. Believe it or not, this is Route 66 passing through a tunnel under I-40. And no, a car and bicycle could not pass side-by-side.

Yup, it's a rattler all right. Yup, it's sunning itself on Route 66. And yup, I'm taking this picture from about three feet away (albeit hanging out the car window).

It's hard to miss the automotive museum in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

Central Avenue (Route 66) leading to downtown Albuquerque.

Downtown Albuquerque.

A downtown eatery. Not a gas station.

Yet more downtown.

Drew Dean painted this hotel sign and we have a print of it in our house. I wanted to take a picture of the original when I hit Albuquerque. The name seems to be in question though. Drew labeled it the "El Von" but I have seen it in print in two different places as the "El Don." Great sign, even if the font is hard to tell a "D" from a "V".

Lunch in Albuquerque.

It's a bit hard to see, but that's a big "66" shield in the middle of the archway as you are leaving Albuquerque.

Here is the Rio Puerco Bridge over a bypassed section of Route 66. I-40 is about 50 yards off to the side. The bridge was built in 1933 and is just a single lane wide. It's called a Parker Through Truss bridge, and is 250 feet long. It was repaired and remodeled in 1957. Aren't I smart? I took a picture of the sign with all the details.

Not a great shot, but you can get a sense of the majesty of the scenery. I could have captured a better shot, I'm sure, but this was taken at 80mph through the passenger side window glass. Yeah, I know I'm an idiot.

Here's the hotel in Gallup.

Here's my room.



lankyboys'mom said...

Mike - you passed Zander on this leg of your journey . . . he flew into Albuquerque last week and took a bus up into the Sangre de Christo mountains to start his summer job. Sounds like you're really making tracks now - I love all the photos you're posting. Keep 'em coming!

Sue K

Anonymous said...

Mike,Gordy and I were so impressed with the pic that you took of the rattle snake.Next time,try to capture it and put it in a jar for Gordy.Ha! Ha! You know how he likes to preserve things.We are going to start calling you the "Crocodile Hunter." Enjoy the rest of your travels.Love,Karen & Gordy.

elderaunt said...

Well this aunt remembers good old Tom Mix and his Ralston Straight Shooters!!! My sisters might be a little young to remember this cowboy though. Mona

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike-
Are you going to publish this!?!
You should, you know.
I am sitting at my desk right now,
loving every minute of your trip.
Happy Trails...

Paul G. said...

Hey, I'm glad I'm not the only one that shoots pictures while driving. I've gotten some great sunset in the windshield shots that way, and only drove off the rode once! Great wildlife shot of the snake - I see a potential for an Animal Planet special starring Mike Curtis --- "Animals of Old Route 66". Also, you know we used to live in Albuquerque (for 9 whole days before Dad decided to get homesick) when I was a kid, and I still remember the beauty of the Scandia (sp?) Mountains nearby. Great Mexican food in Old Town, as I recall.

I told Jo Ann I'd give her a tour of your blog tomorrow and Amy's been following along, but not sure about Kevin (I'll check today.)

Anyway, great posts and pics - really enjoying them!

Paul G.

elderaunt said...

75 miles an hour! Yikes! And here I am ready for going way back in time like the Amish and cruise along via horse and buggy.
I second the notion (speling intentional) to have this journal published. I've tried to print it out but it just won't come out right. Aunt Mona

Anonymous said...

I knew you would love the scenery in NM. I've been to Santa Rosa in our travels a time or two. It is amazing how much there is to see there. The 70 and 80 MPH speed limits out there are really a bummer if you ask me, though.