Monday, June 4, 2012

Kicks: Day Ten (Albuquerque bound)

IMG_3907smSorry I missed an entry yesterday, but we ended up having a pretty late night (for us) down on Central Avenue and I just didn’t have it in me to stay up and do an entry. More about Albuquerque in a moment.

We headed out of Tucumcari after checking out of the Blue Swallow. We bought a few things in their little gift shop/office and chatted with the owner, Nancy (Kevin is her husband). Super nice lady. They’ve only had the place for 11 months, and she said it’s a work in progress. I told her that they’d done a great job, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

On our way out of town, we made sure to catch the Paradise Motel sign that Kevin had told us about. It really is a cool one, with a bathing beauty diving into a splash of water. Kevin said he thought that the neon still works, but the motel is a private residence now, and the owners never turn the sign on. I told him, “If I lived in a place like that, with a cool sign, I’d turn that thing on every single night!” I would, too!

Although our miles to travel were a little more than the other days, we made really good time (not that that is the goal on this trip). The towns are becoming fewer and farther between, and when there IS a town, there isn’t much to see other than some rather non-picturesque ruins and usually rundown homes (if there are any residences at all). The terrain began to change into more a more rocky landscape, with scrub grass and little bushes. Closer to Albuquerque, we began seeing more pine trees, and it was surprisingly green. (I think this might be the start of the rainy season, but don’t quote me on that. We had rain in Tucumcari the other night, and a little bit of rain here today. I’m guessing that by late summer, it won’t seem quite as green. I’m certainly no expert on this part of the country, though!)

As we were driving along in one area, the train tracks ran alongside the road, as is the case for much of Route 66’s path. A train was chugging along a bit ahead of us, and we were driving along a higher ridge than the train tracks, so we could look down and see it curving off into the valley. I told Ken that it made me think of a passenger train from the 1800s, carrying its passengers off to their wild west adventures. It was a beautiful sight, and I truly enjoyed watching the scenery change. It may be rather desolate country, but it has a strange beauty of its own. Sadly, little of original 66 survives from Tucumcari to Moriarty, so we had to drive I-40. I was itching to get back on the Road! There are is a little strip of original 66 that you can see at a rest area, a little curve south of I-40, and a bit of it that is on private property, but otherwise it is obscured by I-40.

There were a couple of decent-sized towns we cruised through along the way: Moriarty and Santa Rosa. There was some good signage in both. There were also several tiny towns that consisted of little more than a cluster of houses and few dilapidated and unidentifiable structures. There was a town called Wagon Wheel, which is a cute name, and a town called Longhorn Ranch. At first I thought the guidebook meant it was actually a ranch, but apparently it was a little town. Still is, although it’s in pretty sad shape. There was this RV Park nearby, and I’m not sure if you can read that sign, but it says “Temp closed.” I’m guessing “temporarily” has turned into a pretty long time! There is a rundown motel, and a ruin of a sign that stood in front of I-don’t-know-what. Oddly enough, there was also a building that looked like it was in pretty decent shape, with a lit beer sign in the window. We saw a sign that said it was Club 203. We enjoy finding little hole-in-the-wall places like that to quench our thirst, so we were discussing stopping in to have a beverage. As we were trying to make up our minds, I read a little further in my guidebook, where it mentioned the topless bar across from some of the ruins. We pulled up closer to the building and then saw the poster of scantily clad women. Oops! THAT would have been quite a surprise if we’d walked in there! And out in the middle of BFE, I’m guessing that the dancers might not be...well, let’s just say ‘high quality.’ It also gave new meaning as to why the Longhorn Motel is still operating next door, as well as the picture of the mysterious Longhorn Ranch sign...the one that is missing its R and N at the end of ‘Longhorn.’ Ha!

IMG_3924smWe also stopped at the famous Clines Corners, which seems to be nothing but a huge tourist trap gift shop. (It’s a restaurant, too.) And yes, we bought some stuff. Don’t judge. It was crazy in there. Tons of people, kids running around everywhere and asking for stuff, a frenzy of consumerism. It reminded me a lot of the trading posts and gift shops I remember stopping at when I was a kid. I don’t recall seeing any rubber tomahawks there, but I’ll bet you anything they had some!

We eventually got to Albuquerque, and found a hotel without much of a problem. We’re a couple of blocks off of Central Avenue, which is Route 66. Albuquerque has abundant and gorgeous signage, with many surviving pueblo-style motels (that doesn’t mean you want to stay at many of them, but the buildings are intact). Ken has been incredibly indulgent and understanding in my desire to get photos of these signs, both lit and unlit. So last night, we drove around and got lit pictures, and today we got them all in the daytime. Thanks, honey! I have really gone heavy on the sign pictures the past couple of days, so you can head over the Ken’s blog to see pictures of other stuff.

IMG_3937smCentral Avenue is really a hoppin’ place. Lots of little shops and restaurants and bars, lots of neon, and people cruising up and down the Strip. Actually CRUISING! I haven’t seen that for a while, but it’s only fitting that people still cruise on Route 66. We stopped in a couple of places, including one called The Library. We sat at the open-air front and watched the playoff game on one side and the people cruising by on the other. It will be interesting to see if Central is as lively tonight (on a weeknight) as it was last evening. The KiMo Theater is a restored 1927 theater, in what is considered “pueblo deco” style, a blending of Southwestern and Art Deco. A gorgeous building, one that I think is more beautiful in the daytime than at night with its sign lit. (I’ll post a daytime picture later tonight.)

I like Albuquerque a lot. I wouldn’t mind coming back here for a week’s vacation at some point, and we discussed today that it would be a neat place to meet up with our friends Kim and Steve for a vacation. We’ll have to remember to ask them when we see them if they’ve ever been here.

We’ll be heading out shortly to spend a little more time on Central and then I’ll do another entry after we get back. That one might be a sign entry...I’ve got a picture or two. [wink]


  1. Very nice entry.Sound like a fun adventure,I too would turn that neon sign on every night.You two enjoy your travels and keep us posted

  2. Why am I seeing signs in my dreams?


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