After getting in a workout, we headed out of Albuquerque this morning. I was kind of sorry to say goodbye to the city (Shane informs me that it is the Duke City), because I liked it very much. I’m sure we’ll visit again at some point!
On the west side of town, we encountered a few more excellent signs, including that of the El Vado Motel. I was struck by how cool the building itself was…beautiful, bright white adobe. It is all fenced off, but I got a couple of shots through the fence. Apparently, there is a plan underway to save the entire building, but they aren’t quite there yet. I hope this lovely structure is saved from the bulldozer!
As we left Albuquerque, we stopped alongside Nine Mile Hill to look back at the city nestled in its valley. The Sandia Mountains rose behind the city, and it was a breathtaking sight. I bet it looks amazing in the evening, when all the lights are glowing!
A little ways out of the city, we came across the Rio Puerco bridge, a restored truss bridge built in 1933. We stopped to get pictures and walk across this tiny section of old 66. It was in pretty bad shape…I don’t think I’d want to drive it! I looked over the edge, and Rio Puerco didn’t look very rio-y to me! Never fear, I know that out here, the smaller rivers pretty much dry up, but go hog wild (see what I did there?) in the rainy season.
West of Mesita, we encountered another “Dead Man’s Curve” (there seem to be a lot of those on Route 66!), this one looping around a huge outcropping.
Although I still got lots of sign pictures (Grants and Gallup have plenty), the landscape reigned today, at least for me. The vast stretches of open land, sometimes with the railroad tracks running alongside the highway and the occasional train chugging along, the buttes/mesas/plateaus rising in the distance, the layers of sedimentary rock running through them, the orange-red or bleached white or pitch black colors of the rock, the scrubby and scrappy little pine trees dotting the landscape…oh, my goodness. I just wrote to Shane that visitors from Europe and Japan must think this looks like an alien landscape…I’m from the Midwest, and it looks like an alien landscape to ME! But it has such a stark beauty. Maybe it’s because you can see off into the distance so much that you get an idea of just how vast this country is. Thousands of acres of huge, sparsely populated land. WOW! It’s mind-boggling!
One area I thought was particularly striking was near McCartys, where the volcanic rock starts. Apparently these piles of volcanic rock are called malpais, and the El Malpais Conservation Area is near there. It was neat to see the red sandstone (IS it sandstone? I’m not sure.) against this black rock from lava flows.
We stopped in Grants for a bite to eat and a beverage, at a place called La Ventana. Another yummy burger! (Note to Roadies: Grants Café is now closed.)
West of Bluewater, we encountered some ruins. One building was covered with graffiti, but another building was nothing but a foundation. See the doorstep in the front? Sad. We did encounter some other ruins of stone houses, but I wasn’t quite sure where to take pictures, because some of this is tribal land, and it’s not cool to take pictures. It’s not easy to pull off on some of these stretches, either.
Our final destination tonight was Gallup. It’s a good-sized town, and one of the famous ones on the Road. It was a good choice, with several hotel options. I hadn’t planned on us staying at El Rancho Hotel, but they had vacancies, and here we are! This is one of the more famous hotels along the Road, and lots of movie stars stayed here in the ‘40s and ‘50s. They’ve renovated it nicely, and our king room is a very good size. Not so for the bathroom…MAN, bathrooms were tiny back in the day! It looks like the original hexagonal tile on the floor. Cool! The lobby is gorgeous, all southwest-ish with its heavy, dark wood furniture, red upholstery, and big fireplace. I expected Hoss and Little Joe to come strolling in at some point!
They have lots of signed pictures from stars who have stayed here over the years, because various movies have been filmed in the area, going back several decades. I had to get a couple of my favorites, and it’s another place with a real key. The neon is lit, and it seems to be in good shape. All the signs are functioning, as is the neon strip under the eaves on each level.
Speaking of that, we’re on the third floor, and although there is an elevator, I’m guessing that it needs some work, because it says to call the front desk for assistance with the elevator. This is probably the highest elevation we’ve been at, and wow, can I ever feel it! I’m not in bad shape, but I was panting and puffing every time we got up to our room!
And speaking of THAT, we’re staying in the Rita Hayworth room. I think they’ve just tacked the names of various movie stars who have stayed here onto each room; I don’t think Rita Hayworth actually stayed in this room. But still, that’s kinda fun and cool.
I would definitely recommend this for a stay. We had dinner and beverages in the 49er Lounge, and the food wasn’t great, but it was okay. The bartender/server was really sweet, and he had the patience of a saint considering the obnoxious guy at the table next to us. Buzz is 68 years old, he is the sales manager at a car dealer, he likes to wear a big cowboy hat and a gaudy faux silver belt buckle and invites women to bite it to see if it’s real silver, he may not be smart but let him tell you how much money he makes (he never did say…and I wanted to know!), and he was appalled that one of the women at the table had some sort of original document from someone famous that she tore up, and GIRL, you had thousands of dollars there! (Repeat about twenty times in a very loud voice. I guess Buzz doesn’t understand inside voices.) I told Ken that I can’t stand guys like that, and I have no idea how or why any woman would willingly sit at a table and listen to his line of bullshit. I’d blow him off so bad he wouldn’t know what hit him.
Anyway, Buzz did not spoil the coolness of the fabulous El Rancho Hotel. I’m very glad that it worked out that we got to stay here.
And guess what? Tomorrow we’re staying in a wigwam motel!!!