Monday, February 13, 2006

Santa Fe, NM to Gallup, NM

We got up early this morning, making sure that we were the first guests in the hotel to enjoy the hot breakfast. Wrong. Another couple beat us to it. Anyway, the breakfast was great, and after we packed up we hit the grocery store to stock up on some necessities like chocolate bars and the like. Next, we drove to downtown Santa Fe, parked the car and searched every where for the promised Visitor Centre, only to find it closed. So we had a delicious coffee instead while planning our next move.

Santa Fe is another city that has an incredible number of art museums, galleries, street vendors (mostly Native Americans) selling art. The city isn't all that big, and multi storied buildings are fairly uncommon. It is situated at the foot of a montain range (Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which I presume means Blood of Christ Mountains), on which you can actually see some snow on the top.

Towards the south, the high desert stretches as far as the eye can see. Tumbleweeds grow and die, very short brittle grass occupies some space, most of the ground is covered in coarse stone.

But I digress. Our next move was paying a visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It isn't all that big, but it does feature a wide cross section of her most important work.

Having our fill of Santa Fe, we headed south, back to Albuquerque, then east from there to Gallup, NM, to spend the night. On the way to Albuquerque a giant tumble weed, about 1.5 metres in circumference, blew on the highway right in front of us. At first not knowing what to do, I swerved at the last moment, but managed to keep the Saturn on the smooth part. I probably could've driven right through it, but who knows what it might have done to the vehicle. After that experience, the other smaller tumble weeds didn't present much of a problem.

From Albuquerque, we took I-40 destination Gallup. At first the terrain is kind of boring, but about 50 kms in, red sandstone cliffs like mesas start appearing on the north (right hand side). At one particular spot, we exited the highway and drove mere meters up a dirt road just to enjoy the view of these massive bright red cliffs glowing in the sunlight. Almost immediately, a pickup truck driven by a Native American pulled up, asking if we had car trouble. When we answered 'no', he told us very politely that these were tribal lands and we really shouldn't be there. So, we turned around sheepishly and hit I-40 westbound again...

There are huge Indian Reservations in this area. Notice the use of a politically incorrect term in Canada. This is what they are called here however, so that's the terminology I'll follow while I'm down here.

Anyway, we continued our trip, with the cliffs still appearing now on non native lands. So I pulled of the highway again and got some in the fading sunlight. A cross continental train drove by, adding some contrast to the scene.

Tonight we are in Gallup, population 50,000. Our motel is right on Historic Route 66, that's the street name, actually it now is State Road 118. There are numerous Indian Trading Posts here, some we will undoubtly check out tomorrow.

The motel is again very reasonably priced, $ 30 for the room, including breakfast. We saw rooms as low as $17.95, but then you're probably expected to clean and disinfect and delous your room first.

We found out that the way to get a decent rate at a hotel is to pick up a hotel discount coupon flyer at a visitor centre. You'll find these in just about any half horse and over town. This way you get to select before hand what you want and what price you're willing to pay. Very convenient.

Today's GoogleEarth KML file is here. See yesterday's blog entry from more info.

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