2010.07.03 Albuquerque


Several weeks ago, Stephanie attended Boy Scout Camp with Miles in the tree-covered mountains of Southeastern Oklahoma.  While there, she met a man from Amarillo who told Steph to kiss the ground in Amarillo for him.  He explained that he just didn’t like all the trees and hills.  He much preferred the flat lands of Amarillo.  “I like to be able to see for miles in all directions.”  Of course, Stephanie thought he had lost his mind, but she just smiled and nodded.

As we left Amarillo on I-40 this morning, we saw plenty of those flat Texas plains that Stephanie’s new friend loves so much.

We departed Amarillo 1 hour and 45 minutes behind schedule.  You’d better have a good reason for a catastrophe of this nature, and we had one.  Our bag of raw chicken breasts in the bottom of our ice chest sprung a leak overnight, so every single thing in the ice chest had to be washed.  Stephanie evidently has something against salmonella on vacation.

It was raining off and on as we left, and it had rained overnight, so our plans to visit the Cadillac Ranch were shelved.  We had even purchased several cans of spray paint before the trip, so we could paint our own graffiti on those Cadillacs.  No problem, we’ll be back again someday.

Anyone that has driven in West Texas knows there’s not a lot to look at, so you look for anything that grabs your attention.  We were amused by the body shop named “Hail Yes” and the “Stuff It Taxidermy” shop.  Our travel partners in the other vehicle saw a billboard for the Bates Motel that promised “a shower in every room”.  Yes, we were hard pressed for entertainment.


Billboard for the Bates Motel

We even relented at one point during the morning and agreed to let the kids watch a movie on Mallory’s portable DVD player.  The kids wear headphones to listen to the audio, because the speaker is not strong enough to listen to in the car.  But after an hour of this, we decided it was too quiet, so as soon as the movie was over, the DVD player got turned off.  It wasn’t long before Miles was playing us songs on his recorder, and the girls were playing with each other.  We liked those sounds better.


Entertained by a movie.


Nearly every exit for each small town between Amarillo and Albuquerque, was advertised to have a stretch of Route 66.  We actually pulled off the Interstate in Tucamcari and Santa Rosa, and drove through their towns on Route 66.  There were lots of original Route 66-era motels still in operation.

In Tucamcari, we located the Blue Swallow Motel.  Back in the planning stages of our trip, it looked like we might spend the night in Tucamcari, and this was a place we were interested in.  After seeing it in person, this charming little motor lodge had a polarizing effect on our group.  Some of us can’t wait for an opportunity to stay there in the future, and others stated a desire that they would rather sleep in the car.  We will just agree to disagree!


Blue Swallow Motel in Tucamcari, New Mexico


Picture of Route 66 in Tucamcari. Steph stood in the middle of the road to take this shot.


We pulled into Albuquerque around 1:00 and met Stephanie’s Aunt Mary for lunch.  Mary has lived in Albuquerque since the early 1970s.  This is the second time in recent years that our travels have taken us through her town, and we have enjoyed these rare opportunities to see her.


Aunt Mary is a great lunch date!


Mary picked out a local Mexican restaurant named Garcia’s,that has been in business over 40 years.  We settled in for a leisurely 3 hour meal.

Mary is a world traveler and it was neat to hear her plans to visit England and Scotland in November.  Not only that, but she would love to visit Asia in the coming years.  I wonder if she is looking for someone to blog about her travels?  I would be glad to be her sidekick on excursions like that.

It sprinkled for a few minutes while we were eating.  This was big news according to Mary, because last week was the first time it had rained since January.  They would get thunderstorms roll through, but the air was so dry, the rain would evaporate before it would hit the ground.  6% humidity will do that!

While our group was catching up with Mary, the rest of the group (Mom, Dad, Scott & Erin) made a visit to Sandia Peak.  Sandia Peak claims the World’s Longest Tramway.  On the return trip, one of the tram guides jokingly told their group “the tram ride is 15 minutes to the top and 60 seconds back down, so everybody put your hands in the air!”.

Once to the top of Sandia Peak, the thunderstorm that dropped a few sprinkles on us created a downpour for them.  It was supposedly 60 degrees at the top, but Scott & Erin assured me that when the rain came in, it was much colder than that.


Sandia Peak Tramway with Albuquerque in the background.


Scott and Erin at Sandia Peak.


PK and KK at Sandia Peak.


Tram Station at the top of Sandia Peak.


After we said our goodbyes to Mary, we drove to Sandia Peak and met the group at the tram station.  We pulled out of Albuquerque at 6:00, and caravanned together for the first time all day.  Everybody in both cars were amazed that we made it to Gallup, New Mexico, (a drive of 2 hours) without stopping.

We reinforced the idea that we’re on vacation by eating Dairy Queen Blizzards for dinner.  We were so tired of sitting that we took our ice cream into the parking lot and ate standing up.  But would you believe that at 8:00 on July 3rd in Gallup, it was chilly?  I finally had to get in the van so I could enjoy my ice cream.

One final push through the darkness got us to Chinle, Arizona, at 10:00.  The desk clerk at our hotel was expecting us and I bet all of us were out of the lobby in less than 3 minutes.  We appreciated her efficiency!

All three of our rooms were right next to each other.  We enjoyed each other’s company while we unloaded our bags and made our departure plans for the next day.  It was the most time we have had all day to visit.  We drove around 500 miles today.  We’re going to remedy that problem tomorrow, by doing a lot less driving and a lot more touristing and socializing.

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