Sunday, January 8, 2017

Travels on the Mother Road, Route 66 - Part 8, New Mexico

Let's continue our drive along The Mother Road, Route 66, into New Mexico, the "Land of Enchantment." Crossing the border from Arizona to New Mexico, I was running short on time and could not follow all sections of old 66. In many areas, 66 followed the frontage road paralleling Interstate 40 - I think the original pavement is gone. I headed to Gallup to find a hotel.
The famous El Rancho Hotel is still in business. The western motif is possibly a bit over-the-top, but this is Route 66, and the El Rancho really does ooze the ambiance of the old west, glamour, and movie stars. Numerous stars stayed here while filming classic westerns during the 1930s and 1940s, and the rooms are labeled with their names rather than numbers. Today, European and Asian tourists love the place.
It would be hard to find a more exuberant lobby than this amazing timber and portrait-filled space with two stately curving wood stairs leading up to the rooms. There is a tiny elevator off to one side, and the desk clerk needs to operate it with a manual lever. I wonder if they once had a fellow dressed as an Indian Chief run the lift?
They assigned me to the Lorraine Day room, which was cosy. The compact bathroom had a tub and plumbing fittings similar to the ones in our 1920s house. The restaurant in the El Rancho is not very inspiring.
Unfortunately, the rest of Gallup is uninspiring, as well. Other than the El Rancho, the other lodgings looked rough. In the morning, I packed up and departed.
I had to push on and continued east. Wow, many people drive 90 mph along Interstate 40. At high altitude, I had to push the old Volvo hard - pedal to the metal. Fortunately, I was able to find gasoline stations with 100% gasoline (meaning no ethanol), which runs better in European cars that predate the ethanol boondogle.
The "top of the world" is the North American Continental Divide, here at an elevation of 7,245 ft (2,208 m).
This map shows the western continental divide, generated from various data sources at (hosted by Esri  (a.k.a. Environmental Systems Research Institute)). West of this dividing line, rainfall flows to the Gulf of California or Pacific Ocean, while rainfall to the east makes its way into the Mississippi River basin and, eventually, to the Gulf of Mexico. In Arizona and west New Mexico, although water flows into the Colorado River, very little reaches the Gulf of California because most is diverted along the way for agriculture and urban use.
Continuing east, I reached Grants, a town in Cibola County, about 80 miles west of Albuquerque. The old Swap Meet had not been swapping for many years.
The pawn shop was a bit more active, with plenty of "old-fashioned" stuff to give it the antique look. The Continental Divide Trail passes near here, and many through hikers pick up supplies or rest in Grants.
The historic Rio Puerco bridge, crossing the Rio Puerco, was built in the 1930s under a program funded by President Roosevelt's administration. It is a Parker truss design bridge, common in the 1920s and 1930s. Interstate 40 now carries traffic across the valley, and this old bridge is for pedestrian use only.

Next stop: Albuquerque.

Photographs taken with a Fuji X-E1 digital camera with various lenses. I broke my film camera earlier in the trip and therefore could not use any black and white film.

1 comment:

  1. Nice report on Route 66. I had not heard of the El Rancho before. I'll stop in there next time I visit Gallup.