Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Day 13 - A shocking lack of cactus

Before leaving Santa Rosa this morning we made a quick stop at the Blue Hole.  It's a circular pool that is 80 feet deep and is in popular use by divers.  Of course Rachael found another use for the rocks that surround one side of the pool and managed to startle a seriously cute grey squirrel in the process.  Since neither of us were in a swimming mood we just took some pictures and got on our way.

The lizard found a tasty rock to bask on and saw off the competition (a grey squirrel).
Todays route took us north off of main route 66 in search of pre-1937 Route 66 in search of the city of Santa Fe.  Now called the Santa Fe loop it's an alternate route that you can take from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque instead of the straighter road that now shadows Interstate-40.

A helpful sign - New Mexico is better than some states (looking at you Texas) but Illinois still rules on signage.
It was a lovely morning as we left Santa Rosa and having spent a very comfortable night at the Best Western Santa Rosa Inn, we were well on our way to Santa Fe by 10am.  The journey north also encompasses part of the Santa Fe trail as well as many roads that contain absolutely NOTHING at all.  Not kidding about this.  Rachael and I are loaded to the hilt with technology and 4 different devices that can communicate if we need them to.  However, in New Mexico there does seem to be an awful lot of NOTHING and not much data signal to speak of (voice/text coverage is very good).
Our trip yesterday down to Roswell had a great deal of open road and today was very similar.  During this stretch Rachael saw our first cactus - but it appears to have been the only visible one on the road to Santa Fe and we didn't get a picture.  There better be more tomorrow or there will be trouble.
A road completely devoid of cars. And cactus. And tumbleweeds. Fail.
This one has a car! Oh wait... it's ours. Probably doesn't count. And still no cactus or tumbleweeds.
We arrived in Santa Fe just before lunchtime and after figuring out where to park we took a stroll around the historic square, multitude of gift shops and got some advice about where to eat from the visitors centre.  We bought a few souvenirs but most of the shops were full of super expensive turquoise jewellery so we didn't buy much.  We did see a counting book for children - Pride and Prejudice version which I regret not buying even though all the kids I know can count already.  It was batshit and appealed to my sense of the ridiculous. (2 wealthy gentlemen, 5 Bennett sisters, etc) A lovely chap at the visitors centre recommended a restaurant called Pasqual's which turned out to be an organic haven of good cooking where we enjoyed Bison burgers.  The Bison burgers were really tasty even if they did screw up giving them to us so I got Rachael's medium and she got my medium well and we were more than half into eating them before we realised what they'd done. Medium well is such a subjective order it would seem - so many places I've been to I get steaks / burgers anything from light brown to a bit bloody.  I should probably just order medium and have done.

Santa Fe itself is adorable. It's very low-rise and most of the buildings are adobe structures and are very old.  It looks fantastic in the sunshine but it got a bit overcast when we were there and it was equally heartening to see otherwise lovely places also look depressing when its dark and raining!

Leaving Santa Fe mid-afternoon we had a reasonable run back down to Albuquerque when we hit rush hour traffic and things got boring very fast.  Rachael did snap a few good pics of roadside sights in ABQ but we were in a hurry by then because our hotel reservation in Gallup was still about 100 miles away. We were quite amused by some of the place names we went through - especially Los Lunas - the moons. We also liked this little town because of their cool banners.  It was somewhere on this stretch that we saw our first tumbleweed.  Admittedly it was stuck under the back of someone's truck but it totally counts! Especially as it fell off and tumbled towards us - looking forward to seeing them loose by the road.
Lovely banners in Los Lunas - not strictly signage but they really made an effort.
The skies were interesting as we left Albuquerque for our drive to Gallup.
Another interesting sky - the light was amazing but sadly we also had quite a bit of rain in this stretch.
We did decide to bin a little bit of the route between Albuquerque and Gallup.  There wasn't much on the road that would have been open and it was getting dark plus there was "weather" threatening - so we took I-40 for most of it in order to get to our hotel in Gallup at a reasonable hour.  This proved to be a good decision because we got here before the restaurant closed and if we'd stuck to the 100% route we'd probably have gotten here 2 hours later.

Our Gallup hotel is El Rancho.  It's another Route 66 legend.  It was built to house the hollywood stars who came to shoot westerns etc. near Gallup so it's a level of luxury that Route 66 is not usually known for.  It's been restored and has almost a hunting lodge type atmosphere inside. Outside it has some of the tackiest neon we've seen on the whole journey.  Which made us smile quite a bit!
Charm of yesterday - convenience of tomorrow. Oh really?

The slogan written in bold neon on the front of the hotel is a bit misleading.  The rooms are lovely and have flat panel TVs with lots of channels but the only wifi available is in the lobby.  This is hardly convenient.  And for double the price of the Best Westerns (which all have fantastic in room wifi) it's a bit of a cheek to be honest.  But our room is named after Tyrone Power and we have Mae West next door so we really shouldn't complain I suppose.
The beautiful lobby at El Rancho where I am currently sitting as it's the only place in the hotel that has wifi.
Tomorrow we head into Arizona and part of the trip Rachael and I have been waiting for - the DESERT!

1 comment:

  1. For some reason I picture the two of you in a Blue Ford Thunderbird. Even though you've said it's an SUV and shown a picture, I'm still going to be picturing you in a convertible.