Route 66: Navigating New Mexico

Amazingly beautiful NM

Amazingly beautiful NM

What an incredible state!  There is so much beauty here that it takes your breath away.  Going through my photos, I found that I took the fewest photos while in New Mexico.  But this was not because there was nothing to see – rather, it was because photos simply could not capture the majesty of this beautiful land!

The reason you drive Route 66 - beauty abounds!

The reason you drive Route 66 – beauty abounds!

That, and I discovered later that I had a fingerprint on my lens.  But bear with me as I attempt to show you a few of the wonders.

Here’s a bit of info for anyone from outside the US: 

each state has its own “tag line” or slogan. 

That is the word or phrase that each state has chosen to describe themselves.  For example, we started our journey in Illinois: “Mile After Magnificent Mile”.  Missouri is the “Show Me” state.  (Not sure why.  Ask someone while you’re driving through.)  Oklahoma has chosen “Native America”.  We’ve just come through Texas, the “Lone Star State”.

New Mexico is known as “Land of Enchantment”.  And truly what an enchanting land it is!  New Mexico reminded me why we get off the highway and drive the Route – it’s so we can slow down and see the beauty around us.  Even though the Route continues to parallel the highway, it’s like there’s a completely different landscape once you are driving amongst the rocks and cliffs.

Granted, you have a choice of routes for 66 in New Mexico.  You can take the northern Route up through Santa Fe.  This will add miles to your trip, but, hey, it’s a car not a horse – it won’t get tired.  Or you can continue down along Highway 40.  I chose Highway 40 for reasons I’ll describe later.  One day I will go back to New Mexico and re-driving this part of the route so I can see Santa Fe.

Circa Espresso, Tucumcari, NM

Circa Espresso, Tucumcari, NM

Tucumcari

Okay, yeah, so I talked a bit about this fabulous little town at the end of Texas.  It’s worth mentioning again just because I loved it so much.  It exists as a stop on Route 66 and is filled with motels and souvenir shops.  It’s pretty and small and I loved it.  If you have a quaint product to sell, you should consider setting up shop here – there are plenty of available spaces!  Far too many shops stand empty, the result of the wavering tourist traffic.

At the corner of my motel was Circa Espresso – a little coffee bar that got me started in the morning.  It was really chilly, too.  I mean, the weather had been warming up across Oklahoma and Texas, so this cold morning caught me by surprise.

Flying C Ranch

The Route continues close enough to the highway that you can see all the billboards advertising every hotel, motel, restaurant and gas station along the way.  Two big tourist attractions along Highway 40 are Flying C Ranch and Cline’s Corners.  As you head west, you’ll come to the Flying C first.  It’s worth stopping in!

Flying C Ranch, NM Available to a good home for $19,999.99!

Flying C Ranch, NM
Available to a good home for $19,999.99!

They don’t really want to sell this magnificent stuffed buffalo, but he’s great for a photo!

Flying C Ranch, NM

Flying C Ranch, NM

Flying C Ranch, NM (Don't touch the bear.)

Flying C Ranch, NM
(Don’t touch the bear.)

And if you don’t want full sized animals, maybe you have a little wall space…

Flying C Ranch, NM

Flying C Ranch, NM

Flying C Ranch, NM

Flying C Ranch, NM

Overall, a fun place with lots of kitsch and toys and stuff to see.

Clines Corners, NM

Clines Corners, NM

Cline’s Corners

This place is much larger than the Flying C Ranch and has a greater array of jewelry and souvenirs.  It’s the sort of place that has contracted with the tour bus companies to bring tourists.  Granted, it’s doesn’t have the same character as the Flying C, but it’s well worth the stop.  They have a huge electronic sign out front advertising the various native art to be found inside.  It also flashes the current temperature – while I was there that morning it was in the upper 30’s!  That’s nearly freezing!  It was COLD!

Have I mentioned before that when crossing multiple time zones and climates, anything can happen?  This proved the importance of having plenty of layers to keep warm.  I chatted with a motorcyclist – the poor guy was chilled to the bone.  He said he’s never seen temperatures this cold this time of year (mid-May), but he didn’t have the luxury of stopping.  I prayed for his health and safety!

Madrid

I’ll tell you up front: I didn’t get any pictures of Madrid, NM.  I’m bummed about this – it was such a sweet, little place.

So, is it ma-DRID, like the city in Spain?  Or is it MA-drid, like in the move “Wild Hogs”?  (Very funny movie, 2007, starring Tim Allen.  Wasn’t actually filmed in Madrid, NM.)  I didn’t get a solid answer.  They have a cafe made up to look like “Maggie’s” from the movie, and they have movie posters up all over the cafe.  I didn’t go in.  It was so incongruous with the rest of the town that it just didn’t interest me.

I’d driven through Madrid, NM some years ago, early on a Sunday morning.  This town is simply a number of shops set up on either side of the road.  That early on a Sunday, the place was deserted and I really got that creepy feeling.  Later that day I was driving through the other way and it was a happy, bustling place.  Just shows how time of day will affect a small town!  So driving down the Route, I decided to make a side trip so I could stop and see Madrid.

If you are an art collector, visit Madrid, NM! 

It’s about 30 miles north of the Route, a very pretty drive in itself.  The town is essentially an artist colony.  But not so much a “colony” as a place where a bunch of artists set up shop to sell their work.  Here you can buy original artwork from the artist.  You will find jewelry, paintings, sculpture, metalwork, and more.  I saw a number of items that I would have loved to take home with me – alas, my budget just didn’t allow it.

By the way, the reason that I chose to drive the southern “Route 40” leg of Route 66, rather than go up through Santa Fe, was because I had decided that if I stayed the night in Albuquerque, then I could go to a particular church on Sunday.  It was recommended to me by a friend, and I did really enjoy the worship.  That meant I needed to arrive on Saturday night.  And, frankly, by arriving then, I could schedule my trip to arrive in CA by the following weekend, thus worshiping with dear friends on that Sunday.

Albuquerque

Forgive me – no pictures of Albuquerque, either.  This town boasts the longest “Main Street” in the US.  Route 66 is Albuquerque’s main street and runs 26 miles from end to end.  From the east end of town, the street numbers are declining till they reach zero right around Interstate 25.  Then the numbers start increasing again as you continue west.  This is important because I was having difficulty finding a couple of the restaurants/motels listed in the dining guide – and google map wasn’t helping.  It wasn’t until as I was heading out of town, that I found the motel I’d originally wanted to stay at.

I stayed at the Ambassador Inn on the east side of town – and not a very good part of town, I’ll say up front.  Paid only $45.30 for the night, so it was in my budget, and they had a laundry, but I wouldn’t recommend the place.  It was clean and warm, but I didn’t feel entirely safe.  Laundry cost a total of $3 for washing, soap and drying one load.  I was pleased to have clean clothes again.

Land of Enchantment

Land of Enchantment

So I’d been on the road for two weeks at this point, traveling every day.  This was a mistake!  My recommendation to anyone and everyone traveling anywhere is that you should schedule some time to rest on Sunday.  Plan on staying an extra day where ever you land so that you can recharge.  I attended church on Sunday morning – and it was wonderful to worship with like minded believers – but then I continued on.  And I discovered that the museums and some points of interest around Albuquerque that I wanted to see were closed on Sundays.  Had I given myself an extra day to rest, I would have seen more places and enjoyed the trip more.  God made us to work 6 days and rest the 7th.  If you spend Sunday in worship – great!  If that’s not your thing, that’s fine, too.  But you need to rest.

Interstate 25 runs North/South through the entire US.  That is, it runs through Denver.  I was so tired that I was tempted to cut my trip short and just head home.  I missed my dogs and loved the idea of saving all that money… but what about my sense of adventure?  Driving the entire Route 66 at one shot is something so few people do!  Plus, I had friends to see in California.  So I opted to continue on.

Continental Divide

Continental Divide, NM

Continental Divide, NM

At the Continental Divide, NM

At the Continental Divide, NM

It’s high, it’s windy, it’s a photo op.  Stop and take your picture.  It’s what tourists do.

Gallup

So follow with me while I set up my mindset as I continued across NM.  I’m loving the scenery, but I was tired.  I had a fabulous breakfast in Albuqurque – Lindy’s, I highly recommend – but then I didn’t eat any more for the day.  I don’t know why.  I had plenty of food in the car, but I just didn’t think about it.  So when I rolled into Gallup, I was frustrated that I missed out on certain museums (closed on Sunday), tired from the drive, hungry… and I could not find a place to stay.  I stopped at 3 different motels.  2 of them had no one at the desk, and one was booked solid.  So I decided to get some supper and use my phone to search for a place.

I love Cracker Barrel!  This is a chain restaurant across the entire country.  As much as I wanted to avoid chain restaurants, when you’re overly tired and hungry, this place is always a winner.  And they have a great gift shop.  They manage to have the feel of a country diner at every location and their food is delicious.  Not too expensive, either, relatively speaking.  Thing about Cracker Barrel is that they are almost always right next to a major hotel or two.  I ordered supper and pulled out my phone.  The hotel closest to the restaurant (across the parking lot, to be precise) was booked full.  Seriously!  What was going on?  Was the entire country staying in Gallup, NM on that exact Sunday?!  Three other hotels nearby were all out of my price range, but roughly equal in price, so I opted for the one with the best reputation that I knew:  I stayed at the Hilton Hotel.  With my AAA club discount, it only cost $100.85 for the room.  Their service was wonderful, the people so nice, the room so big and comfortable!  Also, their checkout time the next day was noon.  Most places have a checkout time of 10am or 11am, so this extra hour gave me time to putter.  I rose at my usual time, but I took a slow shower, I organized pictures, I played a silly computer game – in short, I rested.  It was wonderful!

Outside Gallup is the Red Rock Park – here are some pictures that don’t do it justice.

Red Rock Park, Gallup, NM

Red Rock Park, Gallup, NM

Red Rock Park, Gallup, NM

Red Rock Park, Gallup, NM

Red Rock Park, Gallup, NM

Red Rock Park, Gallup, NM

And here are a few more pictures that I snapped after cleaning my camera lens.

Land of Enchantment

Land of Enchantment

Land of Enchantment, NM

Land of Enchantment

Land of Enchantment

Land of Enchantment

Land of Enchantment

Land of Enchantment

The weather was warm, I was rested, and all was well with the world.  I was ready to head into Arizona: The Grand Canyon State.  Stay with me!  I took the most pictures of my trip in AZ, over 600!, but I’ll try to whittle them down so you can see how fabulous it was.

The Save

Jeanne H.

Servant at God's Kingdom
I am a food lovin', wanderlustin' quilter.
I am searching for the other side of the next hill where I am certain I will find new recipes, new sights and new fabric.

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