Crossing the Divide and Painting the Desert

          We started out again in the morning. The Chicago to Oklahoma part of this trip has people and green stuff. This end of it has rocks and sand and places that used to be. We struggled a little bit in the morning but then we crossed the Continental Divide. It would be all downhill from now on. On the road, I mean, at least that’s what the sign suggests.

DeeVided

            We felt very optimistic about this leg.  We were ready to do a long run then we came across another of these signs.

No Go

            Not the first, not probably the last, these signs just mean we have to do some creative map reading to find the other end of this broken segment.  Unless it means something sinister…

            We came across this fellow in Gallup, New Mexico.  His brothers pointed the way on the first leg of the trip from Chicago so we know we were back on track.  I can’t tell if he is saying thumbs up or thumbs down for the trip.

Two Thumbs Giant

            We saw the best and the worst on this leg of the trip.  This is the Historic El Rancho Hotel built by D.W. Griffith’s brother in 1937.  The early greats of Hollywood stayed here and some have rooms named after them, everyone from Alan Ladd to Zackery Scott.  It may be a little tired these days but then again, so am I.

El Rancho de Magnifico                  

                                                    The lobby still holds its movie star charm.

Lobby of the Stars

            We then headed to the other end of the spectrum.  Route 66 was, and still is, known for the basket’s full of useless souvenirs you can buy.  Some places cling to the tacky image.  This place had some great plastic animals hanging around.

High Class Crap

          Why these yellow horses are so real, I had to wonder how they walked up there.

Old Yeller

 Before you make fun of these noble creatures, remember, plastic animals are just as real as you and I are.  Well, me especially.
 This version of the Route 66 giants was a little menacing.

What the How

            He left us a clue as to which way NOT to go.

Get the Point

            Feeling a little intimidated, we stopped for help at a U.S. Calvary outpost…I think.

Tower of Doom

            This fort would make anyone feel protected, unless they watched F Troop on TV in the 60’s.

Where is Sgt O'Rourke

            But all we had to do was cross this bridge of no return and we were in the Painted Desert.

Sandy Bridge

            Somewhere out there were the remnants of our route.

No where, There

Still No Where

 

            In the distance we could see a piece of road with a car on it.  A clue to finding the old road is to look for the old telegraph lines, and follow them.  Sometimes it works out.  For this guy, maybe not.

Engine Missing

            As I was posing for a picture the car came up behind me and I had to leap out of the way. 

Watch You Back

                                                       As the car passed, a lovely lady waved.

Millie, No

WAIT!  That was Mille!  THE GIRL!!

 

 

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Back on Route 66

          Before Bubba took off for Havana, Columbia, and Tucson (only in Bubba’s world do they fit together) he was cruising on old Route 66 with us. He made it as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was freaked out by a balloon race. He rejoins us now on the road, west of Albuquerque.
          After escaping the floating objects in the big city, we headed west on 66 until we needed a stop. In 1937, Roy E. Cline built a store at the intersection of Route 66 and U.S. 285. Being the only thing out here, it grew and grew to the 30,000 square foot behemoth it is today.

Clines Corners

            They have food, water, gas, and any kind of southwestern “thing” that you can imagine.  I was in urgent need of relief so I asked the guy at the door.

            “Hey, where is the restroom?”  He was very wooden in manner and pointed.  He offered me a cigar which I turned down after imbibing a little too much in Cuba.

Big Chief

            After we filled the cars tank and drained our own, we headed out again.  After a few miles, we got hungry and started looking for a good place to eat, or just a place to eat.  We came across this place that seemed to offer giant pollen samples or maybe a mutated desert virus.

Desert Virus

We decided on this fine eating establishment instead.  They served a Northwestern lumberjack version of desert Vietnamese food.

            The birds seemed to like it.

Axe Chef

            The fusion cuisine did not agree with my acrylic insides.  I now understood why someone would need a large, mobile muffler.

Muffler too big

            We arrived at our hotel but it was still early and I was a little skeptical about their truth in advertising.  The only trees I could see were under the sign.

Desert Mountain

          Back on the old, not too much used, portion of Route 66, the landscape took a turn for the bleak.   Not too much to see out here.

Nothing here

Still nothing

          The only animal we came across was this owl.  He looked like maybe he had been sitting there for quite a long time.

Owl-ish Rock

                      The signs did not present us with positive prospects.

Dead End

            We found some sign of human habitation.  What does a field of crosses mean? 

Field of Lost Dreams

          We passed through the thriving metropolis of Budville. 

Budville Dude

            It was getting dark as we headed off into the sunset.  Sounds great, looks great, but we were in the desert at night with nowhere to go but down the road.  It gets dark out here.

Desert Sunset

            We came across this fine hotel.  It had electric heat and cool.  That would be good enough.  We’d figure out where we were in the morning.

Southwest Motel

 

Las Vegas to Santa Fe To Albuquerque

            As we headed out from Las Vegas (New Mexico) we found Route 66 and headed toward the big flat mountain.  This was the type of road we have come to expect and to love; quiet, two lane, and scenic.  The mega road of US 40 was usually not too far away but as long as it was out of sight, we were happy.

            We stopped at a very old and very small church.  It was off the main road and a little isolated.  Looking at it we could imagine what is must have been like when it was built.  No cars, no Route 66, and plenty of horses.  In the small, dry cemetery next to the church we saw one of the best tombstones we have ever seen in this country.  I have seen monuments that show people soaring to heaven on wings of angels or held by graceful birds but this has to be a first in heavenly transportation.

            We were told our next hotel was very historic and older than The Palace in Las Vegas (New Mexico).  I really like staying in old places but maybe we pushed this one too far.

            The view was magnificent; the old wagon trail was visible.  We could follow that in the next trip maybe…or maybe not.

            The place may have been old, but the view was worth it.  I felt I could spend the afternoon on our balcony, cold adult beverage in hand, dreaming of times past and looking over the land below.  We were shown to our room but it didn’t have a balcony, or a window, or even a real door.

            It is time for me to step in and correct Bubba.  These are not pictures of our hotel.  They are pictures from the Pecos National Monument.  This is an old pueblo that has the remains of the adobe church and a few of the original buildings including this kiva.

            We rolled into old Santa Fe and stopped off to see the Saint Francis de Assisi Cathedral.  This building was built around 1870 replacing an older adobe structure that was built around 1714 that replaced another church built around 1626. 

            In front and a little to one side is a maze that is patterned off the one in Chartres Cathedral in France.

            I don’t know why we have to travel anyplace else.  We are at a Spanish Cathedral named after an Italian Saint that has a French maze.  A European tour right here in the Southwest United States.

            We all know Franciscan monks like a simple life of poverty and selflessness.  They devote their lives to helping others and rejecting personal pleasures.

     They are not known as party people, except maybe for brother happy feet.

            From Santa Fe we headed to Albuquerque.  We stopped off for a hamburger at this joint.  They had great credit terms; you could pay Tuesday for a hamburger today.

            I’ll bet all you UK people thought Wimpy’s was started in your country.

            While in Albuquerque, we came across this building.  It was designed and the parts were built before it was assembled.  When they got to the location they found they made the building too long so they had to squeeze it together a little.  Some of the floors got bent up just a little bit.

            When I got out of bed the next morning, I was drowsy.  My vision was a tiny bit blurred but I thought I could see a lot of confetti in the air outside. 

            I drank a cup or ten of coffee and looked again.  It wasn’t confetti.  Of course it wasn’t.  It was plain for all to see, the sky was filled with colorful light bulbs.

And off to my left you can even see a giant flying jug.  I closed my eyes and looked again and, sure enough, the view did change.

I’m starting to not like what happens when you stay in a big city.  It must be time to hit the road again.

First Taste of Desert

            Bubba has made it as far as New Mexico and has been warned that the road is hard to find and in very poor shape.  There is always the option of a newer piece or he could even hit the freeway, but we have to give the old stuff a chance first.

            If we were going to be in a bad road / desert situation we would have to top off the supplies.  First stop is to gas up the car at another ultra modern station.

            After getting gas for the car, the natural move is to do the same for us.  We stopped at this drive in and didn’t even have to get out of the car.  The wait time was a little slow but, hey, you wait for quality food, right?

            No body was home at the Home of Quality FOOD so we pressed on.  Our directions were to turn off the main two-lane at the sign painted on the rock wall and head toward the tracks.  The road bridge is next to the railroad bridge.  We located the sign which was very helpful in pointing the way.  They want to make sure you don’t get lost.

            I’m not too sure about this part of the road.  This was not the road on the TV show, well Wagon Train maybe, but not the corvette in Route 66.

            We got to the part where it crosses the stream but there was a minor problem with the bridge.  It wasn’t there anymore.

            Rick figured if we went fast enough we could drive across the railroad bridge.  He said he did it in Wingo, California all the time.  It was about a minute later that Spider vetoed that idea.

            Now I was stuck in the desert!  I didn’t like this place.  The trees are sharp!

            Water, Water!  I was parched.  I needed to find a watering hole.  Any watering hole, even a muddy brown one will do.  I lucked out and found a nice clear blue hole.

 

          

  It is blue and it is a hole and it is water.  We found a little nicer road and headed off.  I wasn’t sure where we were right then but the sign said Las Vegas was up ahead.   I heard somewhere that some of the best casinos are on the outskirts so we stopped at this place to celebrate our victory over this part of the desert.  Oooo! The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas.  Look at all that neon.

            Maybe we took a wrong turn somewhere.  The barkeep said we were still in New Mexico.  He said we were just outside of Las Vegas, New Mexico.  Actually it is not a bad little town.  We stopped off at the Plaza Hotel for a little slice of the OLD, old days.

            After we figured out exactly where we were on a spur of Route 66, we rested up.  Tomorrow we would hit Santa Fe.

Big Texas Stuff, the Midpoint, and New Mexico

            At the end of the last post Bubba parked the car with others belonging to people who drive like him.  When we started out in the morning, he backed into one of the legs of the water tower.  We decided that it was time to get out of town.

            Passing through Amarillo Texas, we were told we had to visit a Big Texan.  “A big Texan what?”  I asked.  We found a Big Texan Boot.

            We found a Big Texan Cow.  You could get a free Big Texan Steak if you wanted to fight the cow for it.

            This guy claimed to be The Big Texan but the lace cuffs on his pants made me suspicious.  He claimed they were painted on boots and that made things sooo much better.

            Finally, finally we found the real Big Texan.  He treated us to a 72 oz. steak from The Big Cow.

            Just outside of town we found this interesting natural rock formation in an empty field.

            As we got closer we saw that it was some more of that Big Texan Parking.  This time it was with Cadillacs.  They have a vehicle placement problem here.

            I don’t know who did the tagging.  There was a security camera nearby; maybe they got a photo of whoever did the spray painting.

     We briefly considered stopping here for the night.  We found a fabulous hotel.  It had 50 rooms but only 40 were fabulous enough.

            Instead we continued on to the town of Adrian, our last Texas stop and the midpoint on our journey.  As you can see, the whole town turned out for our arrival.

     I had a decision to make.  I really wanted to see my mystery friend, Millie.  Was she ahead of me?  Was she behind?  Which way to go?  I made a decision…this way.

Maybe I should have gone the other way. 

            We crossed into New Mexico and stopped at a place to do a little shopping for luxury items to bring back to our friends.

            It was time to stop and settle in.  We had a choice.  This first place we looked at advertised “Squeaky Clean Rooms”.  Instead of a pool, they had a sand box to play in.

            The name may have been a little misleading since, in my mind, a safari conjures up visions of a lush jungle.  I had not seen a whole lot of foliage around here, lush or not.  This place looked a little more inviting.  It had Refrigerated air.  Not just some of it, but 100% of it.

            In one of the highlights of our trip we were able to see the Tucumcari Museum whose grounds had, the sign claimed, rocks and plants.  It was actually a very nice slice of life from a small desert town.

            We have been told that the road “has issues” ahead.  We will leave that for next time.