Thursday, 28 April 2011

Day 9: Albuquerque to Gallup

Last night was a bit disappointing as the hotel didn't open the bar (a missed opportunity there, with 53 thirsty Australians staying!) so eveyone dispersed to find their own food and drink for the evening.

I set off this bright and sunny morning west out of Albuquerque, but it was really quite chilly, despite the sunny weather. After an hour I pulled over in a service station to get a coffee and warm up. Who should arrive a short while later? Yes, the Aussies!

Once again they let me tag along with them, as we were all heading towards Gallup for the night. They were visiting Sky City on the way. I thought that sounded like a casino, but it turns out it's an old town built on top of a mesa. In fact it's the oldest, continually inhabited, town in the USA. It's Indian name is Acoma Pueblo. I hadn't heard of it in my research and it sounded interesting, so I went along for the ride. And what a ride it was. Probably the best riding yet this trip. The visitors' centre was OK, but the really good part is going up to the town, and having a guided tour. I took so many pictures up there that it was hard to pick out a few for this blog. All of them are viewable via the map icon below.

 The Visitors' Centre

 From the Visitors' Centre with the mesa in the background

 Up in  Acoma Pueblo, the houses are made from rock, bound together with sand straw and clay. There is no running water, electricity or gas. The town is still inhabited today.

 Our excellent tour guide, English name Gary, who still lives in the town, shows us his back yard!

And from below, Acoma on top of the mesa.

It really was an interesting tour, made even better by our guide, who himself lives in Acoma. I also learnt something of the history of the Indian tribe who lived there, and had a pretty rough time at the hands of the Spanish in the 1600s. A well recommended detour from the route.

I had intended to visit the Ice Cave, but had spent so long at Acoma that I couldn't fit it in. Apparently the ride down to the cave is good, but the cave itself is not that special.

20 or so miles before getting to Gallup is the US Continental Divide. This is the point at which, rain falling to the west eventually drains into the Pacific. That falling to the East, into the Atlantic. This point is pretty high up, at nearly 7300 feet it is even higher than Santa Fe.

From here it was just a short ride to the hotel, El Rancho in Gallup:

This is a famous old Route 66 Hotel, that was built in 1937 by the brother of a movie magnate. Many film stars stayed here when shooting westerns, including Ronald Reagan, Spencer Tracy, Kirk Douglas and Katherine Hepburn. Each of the rooms are named after the stars that supposedly stayed in them. Mine is named after  Jack Carson. No, me neither, but according to Wikipedia, he had a fling with Doris Day, so who knows what he got up to in this room?

Tomorrow the Aussies and I go our separate ways, as they head up to the Grand Canyon, and I go to Flagstaff, Arizona. It has been brilliant riding with them, and they have all made me feel welcome and part of the group. I'd especially like to thank Dale, the tour organiser, and Daniel, the bike leader. I would not hesitate in recommending Dale if anyone wanted to take a guided tour along Route 66. He does 3 per year, and they are all meticulously planned and executed. Here's a link to his website, and you don't even have to be Australian.

All the photos and the route for today are here:

Today's Mileage: 172
Total Trip Mileage:1834

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