17 - 22 August
Today we are driving an historic loop of the old Route 66 – there is not a lot of this road left now and this part has been kept open by enthusiasts in the main. Along the road there are many old diners and run down motels which were obviously the main stopovers for the travelers back in the 50s. The rim of Grand Canyon lies away to our left for most of the way. Pass several groups of old cars travelling together – didn’t spot Chris Wray in his Corvette but I bet he has done this at sometime. It’s a long straight road for most of the way and to keep people from falling asleep there are little wake up signs along side of the road, usually in groups of 3 to 5 which make you take notice and read them. Like:
Thirty days hath September, April, June and the Speed Offender… or Angels who guard you when you drive usually retire at 65…. (65mph is the speed limit).
Some didn't survive................................................................................... Others did.....................................................
Just to keep you awake...........................................................
At Seligman there is lots of memorabilia, old cars and more fifties motels, most of these, however, are still in use and are marked as National Historic Sites. We even found a job as a soda jerk for Col Jessop at a soda fountain in the local diner. Another fridge magnet Faye – you will be running out of space soon!
At the end of the loop, we stopped to have a picnic and met Mark and his family from Belgium. He was so interested in the vehicle, asked lots of questions, took loads of photographs and says he is “going to do it”. Footloose 4 x 4 lookout, you might have a customer when he gets back from his trip, although one of his daughters counted the seats – only three and there are four of them.
Decided to go back into Sedona as its just a little of our route and JC has already been in touch with Matt at Sedona Lube regarding a service. The temperature is 27 – lovely much better than 50 in Las Vegas and just as we check in to our room, there is a massive storm, heavy rain, thunder, lightning – the works. Believe me those beautiful pink sandstone mountains look a lot different in this kind of weather. JC went swimming in the rain – yes swimming not singing! The storm brought the temperature down even further and we headed for the little Korean place where we ate with Jenny and David on the rally – sadly it was closed but we managed to find some good food across the road.
A stormy Sedona... Didn't last long though............................................
Matt and the guys at Sedona Lube were really please to see JC. He was lucky to catch Matt who is off on a 17 day trip paddling the Colorado River – he promised to stop before he gets to the Hoover Dam. Service and swivel joints packed with grease – so we are fit for the road again. Paul sending out new seals and an altitude compensator to meet us in Dallas. Hopefully that should help the Toyota with the “altitude sickness” - wonder if we can get one for JC?
Out of Sedona, we are heading East again looking for more of Route 66 when we come across Winslow – all you Eagles fans will remember “ ..standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona…..” (from Taking it Easy). That is its one claim to fame – they even have a bronze statue at the corner to commemorate it. Sad to say Winslow doesn’t have a lot else going for it that we could see.
Further along the route we pass Holbrook and head for the Petrified Forest National Park. What a strange place – the trees are 225 million years old and the area was once a flood plain. The trees fell into the swollen streams and a mix of silt, and volcanic ash buried the logs. Oxygen was cut off and silica seeped through the logs which crystallized into quartz. The logs were preserved as petrified wood – feels like stone. Beautiful colours, the forests lie within the soft rocks of the Painted Desert and more appear each year as the other rocks erode. Luckily it stayed dry as we walked one of the trails, but later the heavens opened and lightning once again lit up the skies. JC volunteered to get out in a downpour to take some photos.
Out of the storm and back into the sun we can see the Painted Cliffs in the distance as we come back into New Mexico. (JC that is, I haven’t been here before – he did this part of the road, when I was in the UK).
We are back on Route 66 again driving through Gallup, looking for somewhere to stay, when we spotted El Rancho – JC had seen it on the way down. Its one of the original Route 66 stopovers, built in 1937, and lots of old movie stars stayed here – Ronald Reagan, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn to name but a few. We are in the Betty Grable room. It feels like a time warp with the motto “ Charm of Yesterday, Convenience of Tomorrow”. Today’s guest book is filled with visitors from all over Europe – Germany, Italy, Spain and now England!
El Rancho by day and night...............................................
Back on I40 heading for Albuquerque and Santa Fe, we spotted and old Scamp caravan – Grandma’s second home – hope we don’t look like that when we get older! We took Route 66 through Albuquerque, but were disappointed. It just didn’t seem the same, I suppose it is because this is such a big city and modern buildings and renovations have replaced many of the old 50s style stuff – still a couple of diners and hotels though as well as a strange looking vehicle and the obligatory cowboy! From here we followed the Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe in order to escape the interstate for a while.
Wha car?????????????? Seen Meg Richardson........... Along the Turquoise Trail............................................
Wandered around Santa Fe the next day. Lots of beautiful shops and art galleries – not a lot of good to someone like me who hasn’t got any space to carry things. Margy, you would love it here. We did go into The Shop, a fabulous Christmas store run by Rick Griego, and got some red chillies for my tree. Met one of the artists there who makes the decorations and had a long chat with everyone about our journey. If you are ever in Santa Fe you must call in and see them – fantastic Christmas decorations.
From here we took the I25 across the Sangre de Cristo Range. Toyota didn’t like the altitude again – roll on the altitude compensator. Took time to visit the other Las Vegas – that is Las Vegas New Mexico, billed in the Lonely Planet as one of the loveliest towns in New Mexico with some 900 historic buildings. Bit of a disappointment really other than the fact that it had the cheapest diesel so far in the USA. Trying to stay away from the interstate a much as we can, we head South East on a local road hoping maybe to camp at Conchas Dam. Although still quite high, we are out of the mountains and back into the prairies with a narrow strip of road running across vast spans of green prairie with occasional ranches in the distance. To camp or not to camp that was the question. The land around the lake was very sandy and the past couple of days we have had very heavy rain in the late afternoon, early evening - CMC even told us about some campers being airlifted out somewhere. We decided that, if it did rain, we would definitely get stuck in a red swamp or maybe we have just got out of the camping routine at the moment?? Gave up and headed for the nearest hotel.
Saw “Terrible Storm Fay” on the TV news so now understand CMC comments about airlifted campers – as you rightly say can you imagine JC leaving his truck behind. Fortunately it is a long way from us. Nice to get the message from our friends we met in the Badlands National Park hope you had a good trip!
Leaving New Mexico today and heading for Texas, we finally come out of the desert and prairies into flat farming land again. JC and the Toyota are happy that there are no mountains in sight for a while at least. As we enter the “Lone Star State” we lose another hour so we are now only 6 hours difference with the UK. This is the last state we will go through. That’s 12 out of the 50 that we have managed to see – Arizona, Utah Idaho, Montana, Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas – not bad eh? We are definitely in Texas when we pass at least 10 acres of coral filled with “Quality Beef”. What a smell! JC loves it – it takes him back to his youth!
We see crops of maize potatoes and cotton as well as the cattle and the BIGGEST grain stores we have seen so far. Amongst the cotton fields we spot the “nodding donkeys” of oil fields – I suppose if your cotton crop doesn’t do well you can always make money on your oil. Pity the poor farmers in UK haven’t got a couple of oil pumps in the back paddock – it would certainly help this harvest or so we hear! Not many pee stops on these long American roads but at least, in Texas, when we find one we know we’ll be safe from tornados! Pass through HAPPY – “the town without a frown” reminds us of our Turkish friend Mutlu – Turkish word for Happy who we met last year travelling through Turkey.
We planned to stop in Lubbock – the birth place of Buddy Holly and where he is buried. There is a Buddy Hall of Fame there somewhere but we got lost amidst the maze of streets and road works but we played his music as we drove around! After admitting defeat we looked for somewhere to stay in Lubbock. Along one street just of the interstate there were 4 big hotels and not one bar or restaurant in sight. We even asked at one of them where we could go to get something to eat and the receptionist didn’t know! We left Lubbock behind like in the Mac Davis song “happiness is Lubbock in my rear view mirror….”
As usual JC firmly believes that we will find something before we have to pitch camp in a cotton field and, as usual, he is right. 20 miles out of Lubbock at a small town named Post we come across Hotel Garza bed and breakfast. Post is an old American town built in 1907 and Hotel Garza, built around 1915, has been lovingly restored to its original beauty and splendor by Janice and Jim Plummer who welcomed us to their comfortable home. We sat in their garden and planned our next day before strolling down Main Street to George’s family restaurant where we had a great supper for just 20$. Good luck in your retirement to the two of you – enjoy being selfish. Along Main Street the buildings are mostly the same as I suppose they were in 1907 and the Garza Theatre records its past productions by listing them, the players and directors and handprints in wet cement outside of the theatre in true Hollywood tradition.
We kept off the interstate as much as we could today and took the 380 East to Forth Worth. A looooooooooong undulating road with the occasional “nodding donkeys” popping up from behind the hedgerows (first hedgerows we have seen in a long time). Most of the farming here again is cotton or beef. Another Newcastle!! Population 575 – not a lot goes on here. A town called Graham and Lake Graham were our stop for our picnic lunch. JC gave the Toyota a good wash today to make it presentable for Dallas – never know we might meet JR! and of course to keep Rick happy! A good days drive of 420 kms today and as we come into Forth Worth the traffic builds up and we know we have left the farming behind for now when we see the connecting highways through the town. We made it to our hotel though, in the centre, and tonight we are going to have a look at the famous ‘stockyards’ – more on that in our next update.