A typical Albuquerque Route 66 street
Day 13 - Thursday, November 20th - Albuquerque, NM to Gallup, NM
We expected to catch a few things in Albuquerque before we left and then find we actually had quite a bit yet to see. Albuquerque is a great, great Route 66 show if you follow the actual Route. Central Avenue is the nation’s longest main street - 18 miles east to west. It is amazing that we missed so much of this when we were here years ago.
There are hotels, café’s, old timer theater, and more. Even if you are not doing Route 66 and are just in Albuquerque to visit, do not miss Old Town Albuquerque. Old town is filled with unique shops and museums, has the quaint Plaza Don Luis, and the magnificent, historic Iglesia de San Felipe de Neri. This church (iglesia) is the “oldest church in Albuquerque and has served the community without interruption since 1706.” Imagine…1706 until now!! It is marvelously maintained and the history is articulated throughout. No matter your faith, this is a historic site worth a stop. Immediately across the street is a park that commemorates the April 8-9, 1862 Skirmish of Albuquerque.
One can relax in
Albuquerque 2 - Lobo Theater
Old single screen movie theater. The space is available for rent with a variety of events being held here
the park while contemplating the vast history of the surroundings. To sit here, realizing that it all existed over 300 years ago; it’s overwhelming. The time breaks our contemplation. In spite of missing out on the American International Rattlesnake Museum, we move on.
We follow Route 66 out of town, seeing more renovated motels, restaurants, and other Route 66 specific detail. We take deep breaths as we leave, already elated with what we have seen and thinking it will be nice to just drive for awhile. However, awhile isn’t very long because just a short ways out of town, we are compelled to stop at the Route 66 Hotel/Casino. What an absolute stitch! There are gigantic Route 66 gas pumps on either side of the neon sign; a huge Route 66 hot air balloon, and enormous arrows sticking out of the ground. We realize we are already famished so we stop at the Route 66 Travel Center/Diner out front. The food is excellent and the ambiance is extraordinary. Even our waiter is all about Route 66. There is so much to look at - old gas pumps, murals on the walls, cases of Route 66 paraphernalia. The gift shop
had a lot of Route 66 and other old-time offerings. We abstain from purchase and simply enjoy looking at it all. Time is again pushing us to move on. We hit the road, laughing at the adventure we found in such a remote place. Had we the time, we may have spun a few coins in the slot machines. Perhaps lucky for us, we ignore the temptation and move onward and forward in our journey.
The scenery only gets better. We are inspired when we are able to pick out the large lava outcrop known as “Owl Rock” (see picture), and drive cautiously as we take on the notorious “Dead Man’s Curve.” Budville is home to the Budville Trading Company since 1920. It was a Phillips 66 station and garage, complete with car wreck services and a general store (trading post). It was operated by Bud and Flossie Rice until 1967 when Bud was murdered during a hold-up. She continued until 1979. There is an old, old gravity fed gasoline pump still out front, alongside a “newer” one.
More Route 66 reminders are prevalent as we travel past and through various small towns. In between the towns, we
Albuquerque 4 - Stardust Inn
Yep, another Stardust Inn - was a popular name on Route 66
are surrounded by splendid rock formations and rolling hills. A small stucco chapel, St. Joseph’s Church, has two blue, horn-tooting cherubs on either side of the door. It is not that we are so overly religious, there are simply so many historic and well maintained churches; many deserve mention for their architectural and historic significance. The road takes us past another, the Santa Maria de Acoma Mission Church (19933), sitting on a hillside above McCartys. It blends right into the rock hillside; you really have to look for it so as not to miss it.
Rough lava flows (malpais) materialize on either side of the road. We meander through Grants, first settled in 1872. Indians refer to Grants as “Place of Friendly Smoke” in honor of a peace pact reached here between Kit Carson and Chief Manuelito. There was also a Santa Fe train robbery here back in 1887. The $100,000, a huge sum even in today’s world, was never found. Some believe it is buried somewhere in the area. No, we didn’t take any time to try to find it . Vintage hotels line the main street. Uranium Café once served giant, mutated pancakes called “yellowcakes.” Uranium mining
Albuquerque 5 - Mural
Very cute mural on side of building along the route
was significant to the region back then. In fact, Grants provides the opportunity to go underground and experience a typical uranium mine.
More striking rock formations and stunning hillsides make for a very interesting drive. We reach the continental divide at 7,245 ft. Well, to be clear, we saw the sign that said the continental divide occurs here - there was no rain by which we could witness the division of water, one side flowing west to the Pacific and the other flowing east to the Atlantic. It is interesting to note that this is where the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail crosses Route 66 on its way along the divide from the Canadian border north of Glacier National Park to the Mexican border, more than 3,000 miles.
We bypass the Dinosaur Discovery Museum and see more vintage motels and magnificent scenery. We arrive in Gallup, NM at dusk. We tour a little of the city and then check into our hotel. We decide it is a great pizza delivery night. We try a local place over the pizza chains in town. We plan a Route for tomorrow, once again leaving us too tired to post this until
Albuquerque 6 - Street
Another street view - note how the busy Central Avenue is out of place to the surrounding store and food fronts
Day 14 - Friday, November 21st - Gallup, NM to Holbrook, AZ
We have planned a side trip through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest so time for breakfast or lunch is quickly ruled out. We suffice with packaged donuts and coffee that we partake in the car as we leave Gallup. We take the business loop through downtown Gallup, seeing multiple trading posts, art galleries, murals, and unique bars. It is the kind of place that if we had the time, it would have been great to spend more time here, experiencing some of the many historic places. We have already surrendered to the fact that we have to maintain a timetable of sorts in order to complete Route 66. It is a constant battle to decide when/where we have time to stop and visit. We move on.
Route 66 makes another scenic break away from I-40 where we pass through Manuelito and other towns. Quite unexpectedly, we find the road taking us higher and higher until we behold “Devil’s Cliff.” The road hugs the cliff sides and we notice mesh fencing to protect the boulders balancing somewhat dangerously. The cliff pretty quickly gives
way to rocky hillsides and relaxing scenery.
We cannot help but stop at Chief Yellowhorse’s Trading Post. It is set back into the rocky hillside, locally known as “Cave of the Seven Devils." It is surrounded by historic remnants and has animal figures on the cliffs behind it. At first we thought they were real but quickly realized they were not. We purchase bow and arrow sets for the youngest grandchildren back in Milwaukee - their parents are going to love us (tee-hee). We pass into Arizona, noting that they do not follow daylight savings time. Unlike our Northwestern Adventure, we have tried to stay current on what day and time it is.
Arizona gives way to road side stores, all claiming to have the “best deals.” We have no trouble fleeting by them but then make a quick stop at the Little Post Office Sanctuary. It reads: Little Post Office Sanctuary
Holy Spirit Mail: Sunday, 10am
Special Delivery Teaching: Sunday, 6pm
Pastor: Esther Ortega Andre
We are certain we would have found the Holy Spirit Mail inspiring had we had better timing coming through. We come across Fort Courage at Houck. It is advertised
Albuquerque 8 - Downtown Inn
Old but still in operation as many others in town
as “Home of the F Troop.” There are claims that part of the 1960s TV show’s set was utilized in this supposed replica. It looks to us like a tourist trap more than anything but what the heck, we are tourists so we make a quick stop. Interestingly, the most enticing site to us were a few wild horses meandering through including a very young one that looked healthy, strong, and full of spirit. Unfortunately, pictures from the car were about all we were going to be able to do. Mom was very watchful and protective. No way were we going to interrupt the family.
There hasn’t been a dirt road option for awhile so we decide to take this one as we leave Houck. Our book tells us it is a nice, drivable dirt stretch that crosses a 269-foot Querino Canyon Bridge (1930). It does say take it slow but we find that is a definite understatement. We continue at only 5mph due to the wash-board road and still jostled about. We continue thinking surely it will end and become a better dirt/gravel road. We are so wrong and are so out-of-place that a car with a few
Albuquerque 9 - Dog House
Drive In with 1950 neon sign. When lit, dog's tail wags while eating the neon hot dogs!
locals stops and asks us if we are lost. We confidently reply that we are not lost, just driving “the real” Route 66. They attempt to hide their “stupid tourist” smirks but we can see their disguised amusement. They inform us that the road is what it is and does not get better. Politely, they tell us to go another mile or so and turn left at the first sign of a road going left and it will take us back to the expressway. We watch as they drive off at 15-20 mph, obviously not worried about what the wash-board road is doing to their shocks. We entertain two other cars of people coming from the other direction who look at us like we are nuts. We decide they too are locals, used to driving the rough road without concern for their car. We have guarded laughs as we vigilantly traverse the continuous wash-board road. We almost miss the left turn because “the road” has no sign and looks the same as the road we are on. We hesitantly make the left turn, the road improves pretty quickly, and then we see the expressway. Without question, we make the turn
Albuquerque 10 - Malt Shop/Grill
Route 66 Malt Shop and Grill. In a 1946 Horn gas station (National Register of Historic Places). Green Chile Cheese Burgers - yum?
to head west on it.
There are only short, episodic stretches of Route 66 here and given our desire to tour the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest, we decide to stay on I-40 for the five exits instead of getting on and off repeatedly. We turn to take our side trip. Both parks were official Route 66 attractions back in the day so we do not regret taking time to tour them. We take the actual Park drives to fully enjoy the two unique parks. Both of us have been here years and years ago but now, so many years later, it seems like a new. Route 66 used to run in between the two parks. The pavement has since been removed but thanks to a Route 66 display in the park, we are able to envision its previous course.
At this point, we hope you can take the time to flip through our pictures of both the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest as there are only so many times we can say stunning, dramatic, striking, etc. to describe what we saw. The pictures speak a thousand words. We urge you to put it on slide show
Albuquerque 11 - Old Town
If you're ever in Albuquerque, do NOT miss Old Town
and just watch the pictures flip in front of you. Both parks are unique. We meander through, stopping at most of the pull-outs, meeting folks and sharing the distinctive views. The vibrant colors, varied formations, and informational displays keep us totally absorbed. By the time we are finished, Jerry is especially tired and hurting, having walked many of the outlook pathways. We opt to take a back road into Holbrook rather than backtrack to I-40 as Route 66 would have done. It is dark by the time we get to our hotel. Though exhausted, we venture out for dinner to a local, unique restaurant. With the hunger pangs quieted, we collapse for a night’s sleep that we know will be too brief.
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