Route 66: Into Santa Fe

Day 18: Friday, May 17, 2013
Start: Tucumcari, NM
End: Santa Fe, NM
Miles Driven: 201
Total Miles: 3,053

Today’s voyage was more Interstate than back roads, but we made a couple of side trips off the Mother Rode that made the travels very worthwhile. Much of Route 66 is either impassable, rough road or under I-40 from Tucumcari to Santa Rosa. So, first thing out, we sped down I-40 near the speed limit. We reached Santa Rosa and drove around the downtown area…not much to see so we moseyed on.

Along the way, we paced a freight train. For whatever reason, in this setting, even a train is dramatic!

Train

Racing the train

We soon came to the Highway 84 (Route 66) turnoff towards Santa Fe. It was a long, straight highway with little traffic and dramatic views of mesas and desert. We loved it! We reached I-25–our turn-off to Santa Fe–but instead of heading South towards Santa Fe, we decided to go a bit North to visit Las Vegas. No, there isn’t a casino or glittering signs. It’s a small town of less than 15,000 people. Established in 1835, it’s the ‘original’ Las Vegas.

The Original Las Vegas

Vegas Baby! Well, the ORIGINAL Las Vegas.

Our route today also put us on the Santa Fe Trail (I-25, today) as well as the Old Pecos Trail (in Santa Fe). We were just steeped in history today!!

Santa Fe Trail

On the Santa Fe Trail

We really liked Las Vegas. It was a charming little town. We walked around the town square, and voila! There was a quilt shop! The ThreadBear Quilt Shop is owned by Ann & Michael Siewert. However, today, a nice lady, Martha, was there to chat (and sell me fabric, of course!). When I was getting ready to leave, Tom came in with the pups. Of course, Martha swooned over them. It turns out that she had Dachshunds when she was growing up.

ThreadBear - Las Vegas

Whoop! Quilt shop! ThreadBear Quilt Shop in Las Vegas, New Mexico

Martha

Martha, the kind clerk at the Thread Bear!

Las Vegas was a satisfying stop. We got our fix of small town America and sweet people (Tom chatted with a guy while I was in the quilt shop). We then hit the open road again. While I-25 was speedy, it was still magnificently beautiful. It was a far cry from the Texas Panhandle. When we were experiencing our open road driving the Panhandle yesterday, it was a dry and desolate drive. Tom said to me, “Hey, there’s oncoming traffic!” I looked down the road and said, “It’s a building, honey.” Today’s drive was a bit more…picturesque. 🙂

Today's open road

Today’s open road

Driving up I-25, I noticed a big green space on my GPS. It turned out to be the Pecos National Historic Forest. We decided to make a second side-trip to take a look-see, and we’re very glad we did. We stopped in the Visitor’s Center where Tom was able to use his National Parks Senior Pass and get us in for free (WHEEEE!). We learned that there had been a huge Pueblo here, now in ruins. We watched the short film describing the history of the Pueblo and then went out to see the ruins of the Church that was built by the Franciscan Monks to try to ‘save’ these doomed pagans. Fascinating stuff!

Church Ruins - Pecos National Forest

Church ruins at the pueblo at the Pecos National Historic Forest

We got back on the road and headed for our destination for the next few nights, Santa Fe. We booked a room at the Eldorado Hotel and Spa in the heart of Old Santa Fe. We’re just a block from the Georgia O’Keefe Museum! While the location is nice and the room is comfortable, I have to say that we had MUCH better and FRIENDLIER service at the Drury Hotels. I am not really impressed by the lack of staff here and the cold, rather snooty service. However, I am looking forward to exploring Santa Fe and to my Spa treatment on Sunday! 🙂

Pups

The pups make themselves at home at the Eldorado in Santa Fe

As usual, the pups have made themselves at home here in Santa Fe. Juliet continues to amaze us with her change in demeanor and her real progress in socialization. She’s finally becoming less timid and is more willing to explore and greet other dogs.

We had a nice dinner at the Blue Corn Cafe–just a light dinner of soup and salad tonight. We plan on hitting Tia Sophia’s for breakfast tomorrow and going museum hopping! I also found a REAL rubber stamp store about a block away. I haven’t seen one of those in years!

Blue Corn Cafe

Balcony view from the Blue Corn Cafe

We plan on staying in Santa Fe until Monday. It will be fun exploring this town and tasting the lively cuisine here!

Route 66: Texas into New Mexico

Day 17: Thursday, May 16, 2013
Start: Amarillo, TX
End: Tucumcari, NM
Miles Driven Today: 116
Total Miles: 2,852

This morning, we awoke to some terrible news about a killer tornado in Northern Texas. When we had been driving along out of Oklahoma into Texas, we saw some ominous clouds that were…just strange. We checked the forecast, and we didn’t see any tornado warnings, so we just motored on. Seeing the devastation of that tornado gave us pause; it made us thankful for our good fortune.

Before leaving Amarillo, we decided to visit “Antique Road”, AKA SW 6th Street. There’s about 10 blocks of shops, restaurants and galleries on this part of Historic 66. We first stopped at the Lile Art Gallery. It was closed, but there was a phone number on the door with a sign asking us to call. We did. The owner, Bob “Crocodile” Lile, was busy and wasn’t able to come down…or so we thought. A few minutes later, he called me back and told me that he was on his way! Super!

A few minutes later, “Crocodile” Lile pulled up in his car, accompanied by a couple of friends. Apparently, he had been driving one of his friends from a doctor’s appointment, and diverted to meet us! Once again, the kind, welcoming nature of people all along Route 66 has made this a very special experience.

Bob Crocodile Lile

Bob “Crocodile” Lile. GO visit his gallery!!!

We walked around to view the art (his, and that of local artists). The art pictured behind him is made from remnant paint chips from the Cadillac Ranch. He also has some very nice abstract paintings, furniture, decorative items and more at his gallery. We picked up a few cool items (not to be mentioned here in case one of the recipients is reading this). We chatted for awhile, and then went on our way. “Crocodile” was kind enough to give us a little gift as we left. Thanks!!

Walking around the Antique district, we spotted this sign. I thought it was kind of cool:

Sign

Basset hounds?

We bid downtown Amarillo goodbye, and headed for our next stop–Cadillac Ranch. Armed with our cans of spray paint, we left our mark on Texas:

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

We left our mark

We left our mark

Another view of the Caddies

Pretty maids all in a row

But that was not the only mark we left in Texas. In Adrian, Texas, the midpoint of Route 66 (between L.A. and Chicago), the Sunflower Station Gift Shop had an old pickup truck with a “living” guestbook. Of course, we had to sign it. Luckily, I had my trusty Sharpie with me! Whoop!

Guest Book Truck

Guest Book Truck

Adrian Midpoint Route 66 signature

We left our mark at Adrian, Texas

 

Soon after Adrian, we arrived in New Mexico. As we approached New Mexico, the landscape changed. The flat Texas plain was replaced by dry sagebrush and mesas. It was as if someone turned on the New Mexico switch!

New Mexico State Line

Yay! New Mexico!

 

A couple of exits into the state, we encountered the Russell’s truck stop. Crocodile Lile told us to stop–the truck stop houses an impressive collection of vintage cars. now, the museum is free and quite impressive. However, after seeing vintage car after vintage car over the last few weeks, I’m almost vintaged out! 🙂 But it still was cool!

Russell's Car Museum

Russell’s Car Museum – Exit 369

Classic 1959 Corvette

Classic 1959 Corvette

Nice lines!

Nice lines!

We are really looking forward to seeing the landscape across New Mexico. The look of the open road has already changed. We’re SO looking forward to Santa Fe tomorrow!

Today's Open Road

Today’s Open Road (NM)

Soon, we were heading into Tucumcari, our stop for tonight. Our first sign was Tucumcari Mountain. Impressive at a distance…but a little less so close up. What really did get us were the little dust storms on the plain. We thought the clouds of dust were cars driving across the plain, but they turned out to be wind-whipped air swirls (we call them mini-tornadoes). It’s pretty dry and hot here, so it’s not surprising.

Tucumcari Mountain

Tucumcari Mountain

Dust tornado

We kept seeing these plumes of dust. It turned out that they were little dust tornadoes.

We got to our hotel, and the girls got comfy in the room. Juliet is exploring more and more. Jasmine is content just to be up next to me…my little lump.

Peekie Peekie

A dog in motion stays in motion. A dog at rest…is a lump. Peekie Peekie!

We got into town around 3pm (thanks to the time change), so we left the dogs in the room and did a little exploring around town. We found a little trading post (closed), and Tom found another John Deere!

Another John Deere

Another John Deere for Tom.

After a very yummy dinner at Del’s Restaurant (Tom mentions the superb Green Chile Stew in his blog entry), we are happily esconced in our air-conditioned room. We are headed for three nights in Santa Fe…a little respite after some serious time on the road.