Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Route 66 baby ~ "FROM LAUNDROMATS TO GHOST TOWNS” (A blog series of our two week adventure!)

Sunday, 5/12/13

Mother’s Day found us deep in the heart of Texas and starting the day at the Laundromat.  Poetic justice or just good timing?  Either way, we had fun at the Laundromat with the owner who was involved in every patron’s laundry business in some form or another.  Equipped with clean clothes for the next week, we headed off in search of the Cadillac Ranch. 

We soon found it and yes, it’s in the middle of nowhere.  For a Sunday afternoon it was busy!  10 Caddies, all lined up in a row, just waiting for us to come along and try to leave our mark with spray paint in the dusty wind.  We wrote out a few messages, shared our paint cans with others and then decided to “Spray It Forward” and leave the cans tucked into crevices of the cars for visitors who arrived without any. 

After the ranch, we passed our only cattle yard of the trip – lucky us as it took the next ten miles or so for the car to air out.  I have never seen so many cows in one place and thoughts of Temple Grandin and her breakthrough on cattle behavior and handling definitely came to mind.  I’d be remiss to not point out it was wicked smelly!

Side note on Texas here – they have the most unusual exit and entrance ramps we’ve seen on any thruway.  Cars fly off the thruway at 65 mph and just appear out of nowhere…hyper vigilance necessary for sure!
Shortly after the Ranch, we stopped roadside for a picnic lunch.  We enjoyed our leftover beef from the Big Texan last night with chips and a shared Lemon Shandy Shock Top from the Anheuser Busch tour.  Fudge from the Largest Gift Shop and Candy Store rounded out the meal nicely. 

After lunch we got to Adrian, Texas and the Midway Point Diner, which was closed for Mother’s Day (good for them!).  The landmark is just what it says, the Route 66 the midway point between Chicago and LA.  1139 miles down and 1139 miles to go!

Straddling the Texas and New Mexico border is the ghost town of Glenrio, NM & TX.  Yes, it sits in BOTH states! Once a comforting stop on Route 66, it now only remains home to critters and tumbleweeds.  At its peak, it never had more than approximately thirty residents.  It’s the very last stop in Texas, actually at Exit 0, and leads to a totally dirt road the takes you into New Mexico.  It was one of the coolest stretches we were on, and was far enough removed from the highway which you often ran just parallel with that you were able to really feeling the desolation of the town. 

The second half of the trip didn’t have nearly as many stops as the first, with much of it just the experience of traveling through the desert and mountains.  That being said, when there are not many sites to stop for, you tend to create your own reasons to stop.   First stop was to take a pic of the iconic Blue Swallow Hotel which naturally afforded us the opportunity to stop for coffee/tea and fudge.  A little while down the road came my Mother’s Day call from Abram which meant a coffee/tea and Oreos break.  And alas…Santa Rose was a quick run to dairy Queen before we stopped at the car museum.  Good thing we walked around the museum quite a bit and to our credit, we did walk the mile or so down the road and back to our restaurant that night, Tortilla Flats, for dinner.  The walk also allowed us both to enjoy a nice tall glass of Sangria with our Mexican fair.

Monday, 5/13/13

Surprise, surprise, the next morning found us really feeling a need to stretch our legs, so a little research during breakfast yielded some information on the Dale Balls Trails.  A beautiful sunny day presented a great opportunity for a hike, and the trail served up awesome views of the surrounding Sante Fe area. We started at 7600 feet above sea level and topped out around 7765.  A picnic lunch afterward consisting of biscuits and peanut butter from the hotel breakfast bar and a few McDonald’s glove compartment cookies rounded out our afternoon and fueled us up to walk around the shopping district.  We lucked out parking wise and ended up right in front of the Chuck Jones Gallery which was a delight to browse! 

Back on the road, we started the hunt for the beginning of La Bajada Hill.  The road on La Bajada was Route 66 from 1926 to 1932. It contains more than a dozen hellish switchbacks, and was so steep in spots that automobiles going uphill had to take it in reverse because gravity-feed tanks couldn’t get fuel to the engine. Although you can’t traverse the hill by car anymore (and we didn’t have the day to hike it) we found the old entrance and then traveled the current route 66 and drove a very rough patch of basically dirt road to get to the bottom area of the hill.  Another awesome “off road” run! 

We traveled a long dirt road and got back to the main route where we pulled over for a roadside picnic of last night’s dinner leftovers.

Here’s a photo of La Bajada Hill from 1928:

Pushing through that evening to Grants, NM., we traveled the gamut from smooth blacktop to rough dirt roads.  We were treated however to a herd of gazelles.  Well, okay, there were a handful that we saw, but it was more than a couple, so I’m going with herd!

A very late night dinner from Blake’s Lotaburger complimented our “Morgano-like” Route 66 wine in the hotel room. 


  1. I have travelled this road all through my life. It's a favorite. Your pictures are wonderful. Have fun. Are you going to the Grand Canyon, too?

    1. Thanks Brenda - we loved it. We've been to the Grand Canyon twice and it was spectacular both times. Would definitely revisit again as well. Enjoy your future travels!

  2. Cadillac Ranch--what fun! I didn't know about the spray paint! (Did you listen to Bruce Springsteen while you were there?) And the Chuck Jones Gallery--I love Bugs Bunny! I guess you didn't see anything related to Georgia O'Keeffe in NM, though? Once again, terrific pictures and engaging writing! I think you should make a book of this!

    1. It was pretty wild Elaine. We listened to Bruce on the way! I searched at the Chuck Jones gallery for my our favorite, the little penguin that cries ice cubes (the store assistant was able to find us a near print on line for about $3800 dollars!-we passed). But it was an awesome gallery. There was an O'Keefe gallery that we didn't get to but I thought of you and your love of her work a lot while we were out there. Thanks for following the series and you make me smile at the thought/suggestion of a book! :)