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  • Writer's pictureGareth Owens

Route 66 - Day 13 - Santa Fe to Gallup, NM

Google mileage: 198

Actual mileage: 204

Total trip miles: 1724

We set off a little later than usual this morning. I think this is because we are now fully on US time and so are finding it harder to get out of bed in the morning.

The ride today was 198 miles from Santa Fe to the excellently titled Gallup, New Mexico. The route was pretty straightforward with not much in the way of sights lined up, so we took our time and enjoyed a leisurely ride. 

Passing through Albuquerque was interesting, the route was easy to follow and there was lots of old Route 66 buildings and signs left to look at as we waited at various sets of lights downtown including the Art Deco-Pueblo Revival style KiMo theatre. Around midday we grabbed a drink and some apple pie to keep us going at Nick's Crossroads Cafe.

Art Deco-Pueblo Revival style KiMo Theatre - Albuquerque

After Albuquerque we followed the Santa Fe Railroad west toward Grant. The road was mostly straight, but zigged and zagged in sections to work its way around the Mesas which are now a familiar feature of the terrain that we are travelling through. One of these is called Dead Mans Curve, and sure enough, propped up against the rocks, there was a photo of a motorcyclist who one has to assume has come to grief on the bend.

A grim reminder of why this corner was called "Dead man's curve"

A traffic Jam on the Interstate I-40 as we ride down the empty frontage road

Arriving at Grant, we had lunch at Blake's Lota Burger which is a slightly old fashioned burger chain that appears to be a New Mexico staple. 

Alisa has a break at a Blake's Lota Burger

From Grant to Gallup is a straight run, but the ride was livened up by watching the massive freight trains heading east-west and vice versa. They are huge. On the first one we saw, we managed to count 72 trailers on it. We were sure others were longer! 

Later on during the afternoon we pulled alongside one of the trains which was doing about 45 mph and slowly gathering speed up a long incline. We waived at the driver as he pulled alongside and he blew his horn for us. I raced ahead so that I could stop and take a couple of photos of Alisa and the train, and again, he blew his horns and waved out of the window. He really livened up our ride and I think we must have livened up his day too.

Playing with the freight trains on the Santa Fe Railroad

We pulled into the town of Gallup at four in the afternoon and checked into the famous El Rancho Hotel whose sign proudly proclaims that the establishment offers the "charm of yesterday.... convenience of tomorrow". A very kitsch and slightly tourist trap, the hotel that has been a Gallup standard since the 1930's when it was home such stars as John Wayne, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, Humphrey Bogart and numerous others while they shot films in the locale.

El Rancho Hotel - "The charm of yesterday, the convenience of tomorrow"

While relaxing in the lounge we met Clare and Craig from Yorkshire who are doing Route 66 on a Harley Davidson Electroglide, (you can find their blog here). It was good not only to meet another couple of Brits, but a younger couple like ourselves. We had a great evening swapping stories of the trip over dinner and a couple of beers as well as checking out each others bikes before the days ride finally caught up with us.

Wonderfully kitsch Lounge at the Hotel El Rancho - Gallup, NM

A rusting T-bird in an abandoned garage - Gallup, New Mexico

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