“They took one look at me, and then you, and the guy felt sorry for me that I’ve spent almost 3 weeks on the road with you,” I said with my tongue-in-cheek.
“It’s a good thing you’re standing way over there else I’d punch you,” Charly yelled back.
“Come on,” I said, “let’s check out some of the shops.”
It was early in the morning, and most of the places weren’t open, but there were already tourist on the street.
“Hey, Brent,” Charly said as she turned towards a Route 66 Gift Shop, “I think this place is open.”
We went inside. I ended up buying some stickers and postcards to send to the grandchildren.
Williams was crowded due to its proximity to the Grand Canyon. It’s kind of the crossroads where you turn off Route 66 or I-40 to head north to the canyon. Even though businesses weren’t open, there were still people on the sidewalks, and parking was impossible.
We headed west on Historic Route 66 towards Siligman, Arizona.
I stopped to take some pictures and Charly jumped out of the car, and stated, “You know, that wasn’t very nice… what you said back there about him feeling sorry for you. I’m going to get a ride to Kingman.”
She walked to the other side of the street and stuck out her thumb and yelled back, “So, is this how you hitchhike?”
I could hardly hold back the laughing. While I knew she was kidding, I was trying not to let on, but I just couldn’t hold it. My lips flapped together as I burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” she yelled from across the highway.
“Oh,” I said choking back the laughter, “nothing… much.”
“WHAT’S SO FUNNY?” she demanded.
“Well,” I said, “You’re on the wrong side of the road, or your facing the wrong way. Take your pick.”
“Isn’t this the direction we’re going?” she asked in a confused voice.
“It is if you’re on this side of the road. On that side, you’ll need to turn around and face traffic, but that will take you back to Williams,” I said with a smile.
Winslow Arizona is on the list and I can feel we’re getting closer. As a teenager I’d drive down the road singing, “It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.” In the meantime, there’s a lot to see today.
“Charly? Have you ever seen the Painted Desert?” I ask.
“Nope. Why do they call it the Painted Desert ?” she legitimately asks.
I explained, “It’s because the sands have these beautiful colors and patterns like a painting.”
Continuing, I added, “My grandmother gave me a shot glass she picked up in the Painted Desert . I had that as a paperweight for years. I wonder whatever happened to it. It was filled with layers of sand, supposedly from the desert itself.”
“That’s cool.” Charly said, “I would like to have seen that.”
“Perhaps we might find one at a gift shop, or some place,” I concluded.
About then we pulled in to the museum at the Painted Desert. A large adobe that fits right in with the southwestern desert facilitates the museum.
I pointed out a few things about native art inside.
“That’s Kokopelli“, I said while pointing at a piece of pottery with the design painted on it, “I’ve seen all sorts of plays on it. One was Bike Kopolelli – a Kopolelli riding a mountain bike.”
We both chuckled.
“Hey, Brent,” Charly said getting my attention outside, “I’m a Kopolelli,” as she danced across the patio.
“I’m going down stairs to check out what’s down there,” I responded as I got to roll my eyes this time.
She followed me down the stairs and sat down.
“You go ahead, I’m tired. We started early this morning,” saying as she yawned.
I strolled around the sparse museum, and when I returned, Charly sat there sound asleep.
“HEY,” I said loudly causing her to about jump out of her skin, “I’m ready to move on.”
Heading Towards Winslow Arizona
We were just about to exit the Painted Desert Park when we came upon a very old, very straight, section of old Route 66.
“Charly, check this out,” I said pointing west, “Old Route 66 went straight through here.”
“How do you know? There’s no road down there, just sage brush… that is, what you call it, isn’t it?” She asks.
“Yes,” I answered, “that is what you call it, and I can tell by the remains of some old utility polls that ran along the side of the road.”
“Oh, I think I see what you’re talking about,” she said squinting. “That’s impressive you noticed that.”
Running out into the desert, she struck a pose.
“Brent!” Charly shouts to me, “Check out my new ride!”
“Hey, we need to dress up like Bonnie and Clyde and stand by it,” I shout back.
“Who?” Charly asks.
“Never mind,” rolling my eyes for a second time today.
Pixar’s Cars made them in to road cones, but there are several places that have teepees for rooms. We stopped at this one. I soon found Charly primping in the mirror of an old truck.
I’ve driven by this 3 times previously, but this time I was determined to stop. I’ve wanted to check out the Meteor Crater for many years. (I also want to see if I can spot where a plane flew in to the side of it years ago.) It’s not far from Winslow Arizona.
The signs leading up to the entrance are funny.
Soon I saw the a painted wall. We just had to stop.
Getting out of the car, I stood by the wall and yelled back to Charly, “Look! It’s a flatbed Ford.”
There I was, standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, and there she was driving by, slowing down, to take a look at me.
“Only in your dreams, Brent,” Charly yells.
Okay, this is getting creepy. Is she reading my mind?
New Mexico to Arizona is our start and end for today. We spent the night in Gallup, and tonight we'll be in Arizona. Charly is in for a treat today.
New Mexico to Arizona is our start and end for today. We spent the night in Gallup, and tonight we’ll be in Arizona. Charly is in for a treat today.
New Mexico is great if you’re in to Native American art and turquoise jewelry. I get the impression a good portion of the state is Native American reservations. I love their laid-back way of talking. It’s kind of relaxing to hear the locals (mostly Native Americans) talk.
Petroglyphs are all over this area. We stopped at a couple of them. We also stopped where there are cliff dwellings. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why?
“Hey, Charly?” I shouted as we got out of the car, “Are you a sleep walker?”
“What? Why do you ask that?” she said with a confused look.
“Imagine your bedroom being on top over there,” I said as I pointed to the structure with a ladder leading to the top.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“That’s where people used to live. See that ladder? Imagine that being your bedroom up there,” I said.
“Whoa! No, I don’t sleep walk, but if I did, I wouldn’t want to have my bedroom up there,” she said with a gaze of amazement.
We studied the cliff walls as we walked around at the base.
“I have this strange feeling like I’ve been here before,” I said, “yet, I know this is my first time in New Mexico… that I know of. Perhaps we took a family trip here when I was a young child and I don’t remember. Unfortunately, my mom isn’t around to ask.”
“Maybe you did,” Charly said.
“Maybe, but this all seems strangely familiar, but here’s the weird part, I feel like I, as an adult, took my Boy Scouts here,” I said.
“That’s really odd. What do you think it means?” Charly asked.
“I have no idea, but this is beyond any déjà vu I’ve ever experienced before,” I said as I looked at places within view and had very distinct memories of a time I was there.
“That’s spooky,” Charly said with her eyes opened widely.
“No, it’s actually kind of intriguing. It’s not creeping me out, or anything, I just feel very familiar with this place. I remember the dinosaur, the fence, the wishing well… it’s all like I’ve been here and have vivid memories of the place,” I said.
(Note: This is really how I felt on my first visit here. I even walked around to see if there were things I expected to see, and there were. And, no, they aren’t memories of Internet photos.)
The Border New Mexico to Arizona
This place is right on the border between New Mexico and Arizona. The line runs right through the gift shop and is marked outside by this little sign.
One of the nearby shops had a sign for Buffalo Jerky (which I’d imagine is really American Bison Jerky, but who knows.) They were closed, and a local told us they already sold out for the season.
We managed to find another place, purchased some and it was quite good.
Red Rocks and Rockets headline the drive today. Before hitting the road, we finished our walk through Albuquerque.
“So, Charly, do you have something in your wardrobe that’s kind of outer space looking?” I asked, not letting her know I had something up my sleeve.
“Yeah, I think so,” she said.
“Go change,” I said looking for a chance to make my break.
Earlier, when Charly was off doing something, I found this cool Rocketeer Suit. (Halloween is just around the corner.) I changed in to it and stood waiting for her return.
“WHAT THE… THE… HECK?” she was at a loss for words.
“Jenny, prepare yourself for a shock: I’m the Rocketeer,” I said quoting the movie.
“Why are you calling me Jenny?” she was perplexed.
“Haven’t you seen the movie?” I asked.
“What movie?” asking more confused.
“The Rocketeer,” I said sticking my chest out and pointing to the sky. “Come on. It came out in the early 1990s.”
“Oh, before my time,” she said.
” Oh, for crying out loud, haven’t you read the papers?” I quoted the next line.
After the Fun
We left Albuquerque and headed west on Route 66. Charly was driving while I navigated and looked for things to shoot.
Just outside Albuquerque are some old Native American Pueblos. It’s like a little ghost town. I had to tell her to pull over so I could get some pictures of this.
Westward and Onward Red Rocks and Rockets
There are some red rock formations in this part of New Mexico. These buttes conjure images of cowboys and Indians in my mind. Growing up near Fort Hall, Idaho, playing cowboys and Indians was the thing to do. Today’s kids have their video games, we had our cap guns or bows and arrows.
We stopped and Charly got out for a stretch.
“You look nice against this background. It goes with your hair,” I said to Charly.
“Thanks. I feel like dancing,” she replied.
“Hey, there’s no cars for as far as I can see. Go for it,” I responded.
“Put on some music!” she demanded.
Digging through my folder of CDs (yes, I brought CDs) I pulled out some Eagles. Popping the CD in it started off with Hotel California.
“That’s not dancing music,” Charly responded, “I want something… something graceful. This place reminds me of soaring eagles.”
“That’s why I put on the Eagles,” I said smugly.
“Huh?” was all she said.
“The Eagles. They were THE band back in the late 70s. That’s who’s playing.” I explained.
She rolled her eyes, only as Charly can do, and said, “No, something with a smooth, ballet like theme.”
I dug around and found some Bill Withers, and put on, “Ain’t no Sunshine When She’s Gone.”
It must have been okay, because as a result Charly started to dance. The rhythm of the music fit in with her moves and I sat back in the car and enjoyed watching the show.
It’s dinner time, and the big question, “Red or Green?”
Albuquerque City was interesting. It wasn’t quite what I envisioned. Because of its proximity to the mountains and Colorado, I expected more of a western feel. Tucumcari was more of what I expected Albuquerque to be like.
We woke and I went downstairs for breakfast; Charly stayed in her room getting ready for the day. Too often complementary breakfasts lack the protein I want. In this case, I was pleased they had the makings for a breakfast sandwich loaded with ham, egg and sausage.
Downtown Albuquerque City
After breakfast we headed downtown Albuquerque City. I wanted to see this “Route 66 Bus Stop”. It sounded intriguing.
We finally found it. I was expecting something much older, but either way, it has a cool retro feeling anyway.
The Roarin’ 20’s (now closed, and the sign is gone) made me think…
“Hey, Charly?” I began.
“Yes?” she asked.
“Do you have something that looks like a 1920’s flapper outfit?” I asked.
“Huh? Flapper?” she asked in a confused voice.
“Yes, that’s what they called girls who dressed in a trendy fashion in the 1920’s,” I explained while pulling up a photo on my phone.
“Oh, I get it,” she said, “I have something that might work.
Charly rolled her hair and braided it and wrapped it around her head to make her hair appear shorter, and then disappeared in to the lady’s room at a local fast food joint. She emerged in a pleated skirt and sweater.
“I guess that will do. I don’t think we’re going to get any closer no planning to speak of,” I responded. “You look great.”
As we drove down I-40 in places, we had to watch for decommissioned sections of Route 66. Charly was navigating and had me pull off. Soon, we found ourselves at a dead-end. Not only was it a dead end, there were directional arrows point only in ONE direction – to the dead end.
Getting out of the car, I pointed and said, “I think we should have got on the frontage road back there.”
Charly stood there with a look on her face as if to say, “Yeah, right,” as she rolled her eyes.
Charly slipped back in to the car digging around in behind the seat.
“I’m hot. It’s hot out here in the desert,” she whined.
The next thing I knew it I felt this hot, heavy burden on my shoulders and back.
“What the heck are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m hot and thirsty and I can’t find any water in the car,” she said in an even whinier voice.
“Gosh, get off my back… literally,” I said.
“How can you stand wearing that jacket in this heat?” she asked.
“It’s actually keeping the heat from hitting my skin. It’s acting like insulation,” I explained.
“You’re nuts,” she said stomping back to the car.
I jumped back in to the car and said, “Let’s go find something cold and wet to drink. There’s a service station just across the road.
Grants New Mexico
We came to the town of Grants. The main attraction here is a Route 66 drive-through sign-shaped structure in a local park. We drove by it the first time, and had to have our GPS tell us where to go. It’s not very noticeable from the road, but we found it.
As I drove through it I heard a scraping sound on my side of the car. I immediately maneuvered the car away from the sign.
Charly jumped out as quickly as I did. I went to survey the damage, and Charly stood there with a look of shock as she said, “You scratched my baby!”
“It’s not bad. I think it is just some paint transfer from this very NARROW opening. I can rub it out and you won’t notice it.
“I’m holding you to that,” she said sternly.
“Hey, I have insurance… I think,” I said as I chuckled to let her know I was only kidding about the ‘I think’ part.
We made one last stop to grab some food before leaving Tucumcari.
“Hey, Charly!” I said, “Since I’m driving, will you go see if they are open? The sign says, ‘Open’, but I don’t see anyone around.”
“Sure,” she said as she leaped from the car to go check.
Pulling on the door, it was obviously locked. Charly then placed her face against the glass to get a better look inside.
“Nope,” she yelled back, “Not a soul in sight.”
She hopped back in the car and gave me the look.
“What?” I asked.
“It’s 10:30 in the morning. Do you expect them to be open for lunch already?” She said in a lecturing tone.
“Well, I’m hungry,” I retorted.
As we drove around the building to leave the parking lot, a man in a white white apron was out back throwing something in the trash. At this point I wasn’t willing to stop. My pride had been bruised and I figured I’d drive a little longer before satisfying my urge to eat.
One Last Stop
We made one last stop as we left town. What drew our attention was this cool sculpture paying homage to Route 66.
It was pretty quiet and empty, but we did find there’s a small museum inside. We wandered around, bought some drinks and snacks, and had a nice talk with the volunteer working at the desk. (A short, but well worth-it place to stop on Route 66.)
Hello Albuquerque, We Finally Meet
I had never been to New Mexico before which meant I hadn’t been to Albuquerque either. I big monument sat at the entrance to town. We stopped.
“Hey, Charly,” I said, “let’s see you immediate that monument with a pose.”
My request didn’t even phase her. She walked over it it, and struck a pose, holding it until I said I got the shot.
Lunch, Check-in and Dinner
We grabbed lunch. Nothing memorable, just some fast food, found our hotel, and then headed to a Route 66 diner for dinner.
Wherever you go on Route 66 you’ll find walls and fences decorated with Route 66 memorabilia. Anything to do with travel on Route 66 when it was a U.S. Highway gets thrown on these walls. From hubcaps of era automobiles, to advertisements and logos from businesses along Route 66 adorn walls, fences and buildings.
Before we entered the restaurant, Charly stopped and asked, “Does this light make my hair look red?”
Laughing, I replied, “Your hair IS RED.”
I deserved the sticking out of the tongue that followed.
Leaving Tucumcari today. We’re heading west to Albuquerque. I get the impression it is hot here in the summer. I’m glad we’re at the end of the summer and not here in July or August.
Tucumcari has a lot of rundown buildings. It’s sad. It really has some neat Route 66 features. When you see this sort of “rust-belt” you have to ask what are all the factors that turned it in to a rust-belt. Taxes? Business environment/regulations? Lack of traffic? Etc.
Before Leaving Tucumcari
Charly saw this cool steam-powered chopper. (Because this is a fictional story I can create fictional items.)
She looked at me and said, “I’ll be back in a minute.”
An old guy stood close by. He was dressed in brown leathers from his head to his toes, had a long ZZ Top beard and a handlebar mustache. His goggles looked like welding goggles, and his helmet was nothing more than an old leather flight helmet.
Charly returned wearing leathers and began sweet talking the guy. Before I knew it, she hopped on the chopper.
“Does this thing drive like a normal bike?” she asked the guy.
“Sure does,” he said in a gruff voice, and added, “just don’t dump it because it takes a crane to upright it again.”
At this point, I was getting real nervous.
The old guy looked at me and said, “She earned it. Any chick who travels with a get-up like that was born to ride a steam chopper.”
Dirt flew, and gravel too. The sound was that of a Harley crossed with a steam train. It rumbled like a Harley, with the sound of a hiss as steam escaped the cylinder.
I could hear the bike as Charly disappeared from view. While I lost sight of her, I never lost hearing that rumble-hiss-hiss-rumble-hiss-hiss sound.
She soon returned, sweat pouring down her forehead and chest and said, “You should give this a try.”
“No thanks, my bike riding days are over,” I said with a smile.
The old guy chimed in with a tone of disbelief, “You used to ride?”
“Yup,” I replied.
“What did you ride?” he asked.
“A Kawasaki KZ-440LTD2,” I responded.
I could read his mind by the look on his face as if he were thinking, “Oh, a rice rocket guy.”
“The KZ-440LTD2 was one of the first Japanese cruiser style motorcycles to have a belt-drive as well as a bit of a rumble sound,” I said to ease his mind.
“Ah,” was all he said as he took the keys from Charly and said to her, “You have a great day and let me know if you ever decide to go to Sturgis.”
He then winked, and rumble-hiss-hissed down Route 66.
Red or Green on Day 14. When you order New Mexican food, a question often asked is, "Red or green?"It is a reference to the chili sauce they put on your enchiladas. I personally like them both.
Red or Green on Day 14. When you order New Mexican food, a question often asked is, “Red or green?”
It is a reference to the chili sauce they put on your enchiladas. I personally like them both. The green has a smooth hatch chili pepper flavor, and the red has a more robust and smoky flavor.
Glenrio Visitor Center
Our first New Mexico stop was the Glenrio Visitor Center. Charly couldn’t resist putting her feet in the fountain. She said the cool water felt good in that New Mexico dry heat.
It’s about the first thing you come to on I-40. It’s on the same exit you take to get back on the drivable part of Route 66 on the New Mexico side of the New Mexico/Texas border.
New Mexico is a state with lots of Native American history and resources.
Red or Green or Cars
In Tucumcari, New Mexico, there’s a darling motel where you can park your car in a garage. The inside of the garages are painted with various themes. Of course, Pixar’s Cars is one of those themes.
“Oh, Brent,” Charly sighed with that tone that she wants something, “Look, it is Flo and Lightning McQueen .”
“Okay, go stand in there and I’ll get your picture,” I said knowing she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
I stepped back to make sure I got Mater too. In my opinion, Tow Mater is the most adorable character in the movie. Lightening, on the other hand is a bit adolescent in his character.
I found this on Wikipedia, “He’s the new rookie, he’s kinda sexy, he’s fast, he’s different. So he’s invented. We took the best of our favourite things, from GT40s to Chargers… just sketching them out, we came up with what McQueen looks like.”— Bob Pauley, one of two Cars production designers
Until I read this, I always thought LIghtening was based of a Mazda MX5 (the Miata). I still think he looks more like a Miata than a GT40 or a Charger.
An End to a Red or Green Day
We started the day in the dark, and we’ll end it in the dark. After a dip in the hotel pool and a nice red or green (I had both) dinner, we went back to the Blue Swallow Motel for a shot of the Model A pickup and Charly.
New Mexico is our destination this day. We’re heading to Tucumcari, New Mexico. Neither of us have been to New Mexico before. Today will be a first.
Charly got tired of her jeans and tank top and changed in to a dress. My first impression was, “TRASH THE DRESS”. Trash the dress was something I did a few times in my photography studio. You take a nice dress and then you go wild and turn it in to a piece of art.
“That’s a nice dress,” I complimented her before asking her to do what I was thinking.
“Thank you,” she said with a smile.
“I’d really love to trash it,” I said with a straight face.
“Ha, ha,” she said, “I bet you thought you had me. I’ve seen what you do with your trash the dress shoots. I’m down with that.”
“So, does that mean you WANT to trash it?” I asked.
“Of course,” her voice raised in tone and pitch, “I’ve always wanted to do that.”
“Okay, next stop,” I said.
MidPoint Route 66
We stopped at MidPoint which is Adrian, Texas. We met “Flo”, the lady who is the inspiration for Pixar’s Cars character. However, it wasn’t long before Charly started asking when we were going to trash the dress.
“Hold your horses,” I said.
She asked, “Why are we waiting?”
“We need to find a place suitable for painting. We just can’t pull out paints and start painting in the middle of town,” I explained.
I did a 360 looking around town for a suitable place.
“Hey,” I asked the lady at the cafe, “do you think anyone would mind if we did a little art project over by that abandoned garage?”
She looked at me suspiciously, and before she could say anything I added, “We’re going to paint on her dress. We’ll do it off to the side and we won’t get paint on anything except her dress and perhaps some might drip in the dirt.”
The lady, still looking suspicious, said, “I’ll check with the owner.”
She came back and said the owner said it would be okay as long as we don’t disturb anything.
I asked Charly to take a walk from New Mexico to Texas for the before photo. (Hmmmm… maybe I have this backwards… ah, just assume were going West to East.)
It was now off to the dirt area by the garage to “trash the dress”. Before I knew it Charly was handing me the dress while draped in a towel.
“What in the world are you doing?” I asked, and then added, “I’m sure they would have let you use the bathroom in the diner to change.”
She just shrugged and said, “It’s no big deal. If I moved this towel…”
I stopped her there, but she continued, “… it would look like I have a bikini on.”
“You just stay hidden while I trash this dress. Didn’t you bring something else to change in to?” I asked.
“No, this will be okay,” Charly said, “it’s only for a couple of minutes.”
“A couple of minutes? For me to create a masterpiece dress? And, the paint has to dry too,” I explained.
“Oh… I didn’t know it had to dry too,” Charly said in a low tone, “I think I’ll go put my other dress on.”
Charly made her way over to the car, which wasn’t far. She changed in to another dress in the car and then went in to the cafe to wait for the paint to dry.
Meanwhile While Not in New Mexico
“What can I help you with,” the waitress asked Charly.
“Just a Coke,” she said, “I’m waiting for the paint to dry.”
The waitress gave her a glare and raised her eyebrows, “That’s a first.”
Meanwhile outside I was busy painting. I pulled out some big paint markers and started on the dress alternating with spray paint and markers.
As soon as I was done, I went in to the cafe, “Hey, it’s done, and with that dry heat it shouldn’t take long for it to dry.”
“Okay, change in to something else,” I said, “We don’t want to risk getting paint on the interior of your car. We got our pictures.”
Hello New Mexico
Shortly after entering New Mexico we found a yard full of old cars. The owner gave us permission to wander around and take some photos.
“Brent,” Charly yells, “Does this car clash with my dress?”
“Yeah, a little,” I said laughing.
“Hey, Brent,” Charly, like a kid in a toy store, yells, “Help me push this car over.”
I was more worried about it falling back on her. I ran over to make sure things were safe.
“Gosh,” she exclaimed, “You are a worry-wart.”
“The last thing I want is for one of us to spend time in a hospital,” I said with concern.