Gallup, Laguna and Petrified Forest

I asked the desk clerk as I was checking out to point me in the direction of Central Ave, which I remembered from yesterday, was the road I came into town on, following Route 66.
Central Ave took me through a cool, quirky part of Albuquerque called Nob Hill. It was more upscale than the things I was used to seeing on Route 66.
One of the first things I saw was this bus stop shelter in the shape of a flaming 66. I tried to get a good picture, but alas, driving comes first. I didn't bother to stop.

I also shot random pictures of Route 66 signs that showed up on my trip out of Albuquerque.

It's impossible to capture with a camera the feeling of what it's like to drive on these roads. Especially for someone not photographically inclined and using an iPhone while driving. But it's a very cool pastiche feeling. I love the abandoned motel that is preserved in its decrepitness and sports a sign touting how many thousands of people over the years had enjoyed respite there in its day.

I passed University of New Mexico and the feeling of the neighborhood changed from artistic, quirky to pizza and beer. And then the feeling changed again, as I got into a 'hood called West Central, this is where it turned into check cashing and donut stores.

Route 66 led me right onto Interstate 40 at the edge of town and I followed it for a while, until I saw a sign that I thought said "Lasagne Burgers" at the Pit Stop 66. I had to stop. When I got there, I realized that I had misread the sign, which said Laguna Burgers. I got one of those instead. I'm glad I did. It was actually so good. Much better than I expected when I saw that I was basically ordering a burger from a gas station. But it had cajun spices and green chili and was really good.

River sat at my feet as I ate. We were the only ones eating outside, even though in the shade it was very comfortable.

I got back on I-40 until I got to Gallup.

I wanted to stop and Route 66 through this town because it made the lyrics of the song, and there's a movement that we do in Amazing inspired by the name of the town. It's a "gallop" of course.

Gallup calls itself "The Most Patriotic Small Town in America" but I didn't see much evidence of patriotism. Which is a good thing. I don't consider patriotism a virtue. For a town that calls itself patriotic there sure is a lot of representation of Native American and Mexican culture. The only reason I would see this town being called patriotic is the red white and blue place name sign and the banners lining the road with stars and stripes on them.

As soon as I pulled off the interstate in Gallup, it started to rain.  I rolled the windows down so we could enjoy it. It was so refreshing. And I love the smell of the first rain hitting hot pavement. We gassed up in Gallup where the guy in front of me at the register asked for "Three shots of whiskey." Without hesitation, the clerk gets a bag and drops three airplane size bottles of Jim Beam into it for him. I've never seen anyone pull into a gas station and buy liquor before.

So we got back on I-40 and passed into Arizona. That's when things started getting really beautiful along the highway. The rock formations and the colorful desert were spectacular.

Then I visited Petrified Forest National Park, which wasn't anything like I had imagined it being. I was picturing some sort of rock formations, maybe even petrified trees or fallen logs turned to stone. But what I saw was basically just the Painted Desert. It seems wrong to use the word "just" when describing the Painted Desert, because it was amazing.

We took a hike on one of the trails and marvelled at the sight of the evidence of millions of years of nature. The wind was blowing and the sky was cloudy so it was nice and cool. It was perfection.

And in an unexpected twist of confluence, my National Park bent and my Route 66 bent meet today as I saw a sign explaining how The Petrified Forest National Park was the only one  that Route 66 passed through.
"Petrified Forest is the only National Park in the country with a portion of Historic Route 66 within its boundaries. You are currently standing where the Mother Road used to be, with the line of telephone poles paralleling its alignment through the park. This stretch of Route 66 was open from 1926 to 1958 and was the primary way millions of travellers initially experienced Petrified Forest and The Painted Desert. Imagine driving to this spot in the 1932 Studebaker before you, when this road was in its heyday. "

It was only another half hour on the Interstate to the wasteland of Holbrook, where I'm staying. It is a 15 square mile city at 5000 feet elevation; and the population is about the same.  It was founded in 1881 and named after the first chief engineer of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. There is a street here named "Bucket of Blood Street".

This is the first stop on my trip this year that AT&T doesn't reach. My usual dead zones are more north, in the Dakotas, middle of Nebraska and Wyoming. I wasn't expecting to be incommunicado here in Arizona.

Also, there is very little food option here; especially for someone discerning and with a dog in tow. When I'm at a loss for where to eat, or it's late at night I can usually count on Dominos to deliver a predictably good thin crust pizza. This was only about 6pm, but only options were Mexican and Italian restaurants, both of which I avoid unless they're praised as being of excellent quality. There's just way too much mediocrity peddled under the guise of both of those cuisines. My only choice pizza-wise was Pizza Hut, which I hate. But hunger clouded my better judgement, and I ordered a pie from them. Blech.

During the night, I went to take a big drink of water from my bottle and felt something in my mouth that I immediately recognized as insect. I spit the water everywhere to get the creepy crawling thing off my tongue. I found the bugger, it looked like a tiny baby cockroach.


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