If you look closely you can see some of the 2 miles of switchbacks descending 500 feet.
After Albuquerque (or before depending on the direction you are traveling) there are two major alignments of Route 66. The earlier alignment goes north through Santa Fe before heading into Santa Rosa, NM while later alignments cut staight east. We decided to take the Santa Fe loop today and spend some time in the city. We were able to spend most of the trip on the backroads close to Route 66 today.
The first feature of Route 66 we saw today was La Bajada (the descent in spanish). This was a major obstacle for early travelers on Route 66. The earilest path of Route 66 (before it was Route 66) went down this 500 ft volcanic escarpment at a 28% grade. It was improved in the early 1900s to have over 20 switchbacks and a more reasonable 7% grade. Later, Route 66 was moved 3 miles to the current location of I-25 and La Bajada was bypassed completely. The last 1.4 miles up to the base of La Bajada was a dirt road so we decided not to take the Bean on it. We could still see some of the switchbacks on the escarpment from that distance.
Santa Fe Trail Marker
this marker was near the Plaza in Santa Fe marking the end of the trail.
far from there is Santa Fe. This alignment of Route 66 did not last too long so there is not much there anymore from that era. Santa Fe has it's own history as the eand of the Santa Fe Trail from Kansas City to Santa Fe. It was one of the earilest citys in the area to be inhabited by Europeans. The spanish have been there since the early 1600s. They built a government seat called the Palace that has been used ever since.
There are many great missions and churches in the town. One of the strangest features is a staircase built in the 1800s. Called the "Miraculous Staircase" it was an engineering marvel making 2 complete revolutions without nails or screws and no visible means of support. It was also built without railings but the bishop of the time had one installed after the nuns complained they were too scared to go up and down it. The builder was a stranger who gave no reason for building it and left soon after it was done.
Santa Fe is also known for its great food and many art galleries. We couldn't spend too much time today sampling either
The Miracle Staircase
This is what the staircase looks like now. It's even been featured on Unsolved Mysteries.
(though we did have lunch) so we plan to return and get to know the city better on another trip.
The clouds started to build again as we left Santa Fe and we could hear thunder in the distance. we took one detour though the small town of San Jose, NM (if it has a Post ffice, then it's a town) to see an old Route 66 era bridge. We could see evidence of rain but we were still dry.
The last 60 miles or so from San Jose saw us heading into a major thunder storm. We had heavy rain from time to time and could see, and hear lightning and thunder all around us. a few strikes were pretty close as we drove between ridges. The rain let up long enough for Michelle and Tony to have a swim at the RV park and for everyone to eat dinner. As the sun set we had another great show that lasted into the evening but stopped before bedtime.
Tomorrow we head to Amarillo, TX.
Tony's Trailering Tips - When you add weight to the BACK of the trailer, you should add weight to
The Miracle Staircase without railings
a concept picture of what the staircase looked like before the bishop had the railings added. I think it was built to access the choir loft.
the FRONT of the trailer to avoid sway.
Michelle's Musings - Long car rides are great chances to memorize songs.
Anne's Annecdotes - The more interesting your surroundings, the fewer pictures you take.
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