|Hardly Camping at USA RV Park|
Friday, July 22nd
I left Petrified Forest National Park around 5:30pm, and headed east on I-40 into New Mexico, arriving in the busy little city of Gallup around 6pm. "Route 66 runs through Gallup, and the town's name is mentioned in the lyrics to the song, Route 66, but most importantly, it's the center of commerce for the Navajo people," with trading post after trading post of authentic Navajo art, rugs, jewelry and souvenirs for sale or trade.
I grabbed a bite at Applebee's (it was the first thing I saw, but I should've supported a local business!), then headed to USA RV Park, the only place in town where I could camp legally. After checking in at the registration office for $20, it was a shirt walk right across the road to my site, lol. There was another tent there too, so that made it less of a slap in the face that I was in RV City!
Tonight my laptop charger crapped out on me! With the battery out of life, looks like I need a new one, but instead I should just get a new laptop all together, since I've gone through a few of these chargers already - the computer gets so hot it eats away the plastic ends of the cable!
|One of Many Colorful Murals in Downtown Gallup|
Saturday, July 23rd
This morning I explored Gallup's popular, little downtown district, along a little stretch of historic Route 66 and neighboring side streets to the East. Colorful murals painted on the walls of several of downtown's buildings line the streets, and I snapped photos of 12 of the 15 of them listed in the visitor guide, along with a few unmentioned and a couple of the beautiful, over-sized, painted pots placed throughout town. The murals depict and memorialize several different facets and history of life in Gallup, with names such as Gallup Community Life, Pueblo of Zuni, The Long Walk Home, Coal Mining Era, Navajo Code Talkers and Hispanic Heritage.
I paid a visit to notable "Richardson's Trading Co. - World Famous Traders since 1913," I marveled as I walked through the large store, with multiple rooms of "hundreds of one-of-a-kind Indian art pieces" on display for sale or trade, and some not for available for purchase at all.
I printed a lot of public lands/camping information, courtesy of the down-to-Earth woman at the Chamber of Commerce, which was surprisingly open 'til 4pm on a Saturday.
I hit the road, continuing eastbound on I-40 to the large, pueblo-style Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center, a fantastic stop for boat-loads of useful travel information, and where I took advantage of one of over 30 different informational films of various topics one can opt to watch. I chose the hour long video about Route 66, which joins the narrator as she travels to highlights of the journey from Chicago to Santa Monica, and which explains the history of the "Main Street of America."
|A Peek Inside Richardson's Trading Co.|
I left the visitor and continued on my way on I-40, detouring for little stretches of old 66, before entering Albuquerque, where I got a tent site for a whopping $29.40 (ouch!) at KOA RV Park, one of possibly only two RV Parks/"camping" spots. Can you believe there's not a single campground with 30 minutes or so of Albuquerque?! *Sigh. After registering and checking out the site, I went and got myself a new computer. It's a cheap, $300 Compaq Presario CQ57, which doesn't have good reviews, lol, but it'll have to do after paying a total of $1500 for recent car repairs. I also bought a new laptop charger that's compatible with my old laptop, so that I can start it up and move all of the files on there to my external hard drive, before retiring it. I'll just have to return the charger all nice and neat in the packaging when I'm done.
When I got back to KOA it was extremely windy, and it was an adventure in itself setting up my tent, but I finally did, and then I spent the next few hours at the Rec Hall familiarizing myself with my new computer, before blogging a little before bed.
|Route 66 Diner|
Sunday, July 24th
This morning I ate a big breakfast of cinnamon apples with granola in syrup, before exploring Albuquerque. I took to Route 66 for about 7 miles, especially enjoying a very popular one-mile stretch through the hip neighborhood of Nob Hill. I stopped at Route 66 Diner, "dedicated to preserving the spirit of the roadside diner along Route 66." As soon as I pulled into the parking lot I stepped back into time, and was completely transported to the malt-shop era and reminded of the movie, "American Graffiti" as I opened the doors and stepped inside the wonderful time capsule, filled with kitschy signs, hundreds of pez dispensers lining the ceiling, the stools, the tables, even the napkin holders - a wonderful memorial of yesteryear. The waitresses (in full doo-wop uniform) chatted me up as I sipped my coffee and snapped pictures. I LOVED THIS PLACE. They gave me a complimentary souvenir pin "I saw Elvis at the Route 66 Diner" before heading on my way :)
I drove through the funky district of Downtown, paying a visit to the historic KiMo Theatre, "a Pueblo Deco picture palace, opened on September 19, 1927. Pueblo Deco was a flamboyant, short-lived architectural style that fused the spirit of the Native American cultures of the Southwest with the exuberance of Art Deco. Native American motifs appeared in only a handful of theaters; of those few, the KiMo is the undisputed king." I oohed and aahed at the wonderfully crafted decor throughout the theatre, admiring all the work that must've gone into it.
|"Old Town" Albuquerque|
Next I went to Albuquerque's Old Town, "the focal point of community life since it was founded in 1706 by Governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdez. Centered around the plaza, Albuquerque's Old Town encompasses about ten blocks of historic adobe buildings, looking much like it did when it was built centuries ago. Its Pueblo-Spanish style architecture with flat-roofed buildings and soft contours of adobe mirror the Southwestern landscape. Long portals (porches) line the fronts of most buildings offering shade from the New Mexican sun. Bancos (benches) are often found built into the back walls of the portals, providing the perfect place for weary walkers to sit and watch the world go by." Only a few steps from the parking lot and you're stepping into a living scene from an one of those old Spanish movies (then add some tourists and take out the subtitles, lol)! There was live music throughout the area, lots of art galleries and gifts, the landmark church on the square, and unexpected alleyways leading to hidden surprises tucked away for curious visitors to stumble upon.
I walked through the sculpture garden at The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, before going inside to find a wonderful exhibition on Clara Driscoll and a brilliant collection of Tiffany lamps her and the other "'Tiffany Girls" came to create.
I hopped back into my car and traveled a few miles to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, whose mission is preserving the culture of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, and "advancing understanding by presenting the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people of New Mexico." I caught some Native American dancing in the courtyard, and browsed the museum's three galleries, including its current exhibition, "Gathering the Clouds - a gallery of Pueblo textiles and pottery that expresses the deep interconnection between Pueblo spirituality, art and nature." The most touching experience during my visit was found in the South Gallery, where I explored the exhibit, "Indivisible: African Native-American Lives in the Americas." "A part of the American story has long been invisible—the story of people who share African American and Native American ancestry. Over centuries, African American and Native people came together, creating shared histories, communities, and ways of life. Often divided by prejudice, laws, or twists of history, African-Native Americans were united by a double heritage that is truly indivisible." I was so thankful for the in-depth look into a history and perspective I was completely oblivious to.
|San Felipe de Neri|
I drove a few miles more to the National Hispanic Cultural Center, which provides venues for visitors to learn about Hispanic culture throughout the world, dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities." On Sundays it's FREE - lucky me! I explored the wonderful galleries of the Art Museum, including a current exhibition on the work of three different, emerging artists (Robb Rael, Jocelyn Lorena Salaz and Vicente Telles), and strolled through the beautiful Roy E. Disney Center for performing arts, where I snapped a couple photos of some Santana memorabilia, poked my head into the History & Literary Arts building (a fiery group of musicians played in the courtyard). Certainly without a doubt, the highlight of my visit was the "monumental 4,000 square foot work, largest concave fresco in North America - Mundos de mestizaje: A Vision of History through Fresco by Frederico Vigil; a mural depicting "over 3,000 years of Hispanic history in the broadest sense, from Europe to Mesoamerica and into the American Southwest, illustrating the complexities and diversity of the Hispanic experience." I must have sat there at least 10 minutes looking up to the top of the tower, completely mesmerized.
I drove an hour north up to Santa Fe, and checked into the humble international hostel for the evening. I had a drink at Rouge Cat bar (Chambord & Sprite, yum!), before turnin' in for the night. Wow, what a full day. And tomorrow might be even MORE full!
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