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Published: June 16th 2013
Main Street Gallup, NM
Trading Posts and Pawn Shops Galore plus Trains pass through every 15 minutes!
After a restful night at Bluewater Lake State Park, Kenny and I headed out bright and early to Holbrook, AZ, home of The Petrified Forest and The Painted Desert. I had visited them both with my family when I was about 12 years old and I remember being totally awestruck and amazed. I was really interested to see how my " adult" viewpoint compared with my "childhood" viewpoint.
We decided to make a side trip to Gallup, as we had always heard of Gallup, New Mexico, but did not know what to expect. We pulled over on I-40 in Gallup and had a good breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel is always a good bet on the road with a motor home because there is always room to park and the Sourdough French Toast is yummy!
After breakfast, Kenny made sure it was okay that we unhook the car and leave Stormy ( the motor home) in the parking lot while we took off in the car to check out the town of Gallup.
Gallup was a great surprise. The town was a huge Indian Trading Post in the late 1800's and remains one today. There were tons
Famous El Rancho Hotel, Gallup
Many Movie Stars Stayed Here During Filming of Movies in the Area.
of Trading Posts and Pawn Shops with the most beautiful and amazing Native American jewelry, art and rugs we had ever seen. The granddaddy of all the Trading Posts was Richardson's Trading Post and Pawn Shop. The store had the most amazing collection of "new" jewelry meaning fairly new pieces with new stones and "old" jewelry meaning pieces dating back to the 30's, etc that we had ever seen. Some of the stones, primarily turquoise, in the "old" pieces were absolutely huge with massive settings. A separate room held a huge assortment of beautiful handmade Native American rugs. One of the employees, a sweet lady with family in Elk City, OK, told us the Richardson family had run the Trading Post for 200 years and the store held collections back to that time.
We also had to make a stop at the famous El Rancho Hotel in Gallup. Many movies had been made in and around Gallup and lots of stars stayed at the Hotel, including Ronald Reagan, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. The rooms had been named for the stars, such as the Humphrey Bogart room. What a hoot!
After a short drive, we arrived in Holbrook.
Inside the El Rancho Hotel
Some of the rooms are named for the Movie Stars that stayed there, such as the Humphrey Bogart Room.
Holbrook was once a thriving town during the heyday of Route 66, but, unfortunately, is somewhat depressed after I-40 took the tourists away from the Mother Road. So many of the old Motels and Restaurants from bygone days are still standing but many are closed and in disrepair. However, some remain, such as the famous WigWam Motel that can be seen in many recollections of the glory days of Route 66. The TeePee rooms are still being rented today.
Holbrook is the closest town to The Petrified Forest so the town if full of rock shops also. The best is Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Co. There was tons of beautifully colored petrified wood, some made into bookends, wooden animals, etc. I even got to pick a small piece from a huge pile to keep for free!
Later that night we ate Mexican food at an old Route 66 restaurant, Joe & Aggie's Cafe, and watched a local display of Native American dancers. Kenny and I even joined in one of the dances, very fun!
The next day we headed off early to The Petrified Forest. The park opened at 7 am and we were there soon after,
Richardson Trading Company, Gallup
The most beautiful display of old Native American jewelry, rugs and art.
trying to beat the heat! We started off with a movie explaining how the fossil trees were formed and lived over 200 million years ago, and saw fossils from the Triassic era. We walked several trails viewing scenic wonders and colorful badlands. Our favorite was the Blue Mesa, the badlands colored blue with Benzonite. The Painted Desert surrounding the Forest was beautiful with hues of many colors. Both the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert definitely lived up to my childhood memories.
Friday morning was spent exploring Holbrook including a tour of the supposedly haunted County Courthouse and Jail ( it was featured on the TV show Haunted Travels / The Ghosts of Route 66) and Friday afternoon was spent in Snowflake and on up into the White Mountain town of Pinetop. Amazing how quickly the terrain changed from Desert to pine covered mountains. So wonderful to see all the vegetation and feel the cooler temperatures after spending the last couple of days in the hot desert sun.
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