Day 5: June 18, 2003
New Mexico



This morning, as I was getting ready to leave the motel, I discovered that I was not the only one at the Cactus who is heading for the 50th anniversary celebration. Colin and Sue are working their way east on Route 66 after flying to California from Australia. The ZR1 was left at home and they are making do with a rental sedan. Colin will be attending a Gordon Killebrew class before the party in Nashville starts so their schedule is a bit tighter than it might seem. They'll stay on 66 until they feel the need for expressway help to make it to school on time.

There was not much traffic on the old road out of McLean, but larger than normal pedestrians required some attention. The 66 Super Service Station, built in 1930, is deserted but the Baptist church in Alanreed is still active. The church turns 100 next year.

The leaning water tower and giant cross are still attracting attention near Groom. There is quite a bit to see besides the cross at the Cross Ministries location plus there is construction in progress and plans for even more additions in the future. I decided that any place with both a leaning tower and a huge cross working for it might be a good spot for breakfast so I pulled into the Blessed Mary restaurant in Groom. Somehow, my entrance had not triggered the door signal so I was already seated when I was greeted from the kitchen and the cook/owner came out to offer a hand shake. He walked with a slight limp and told me, when asked, that his name was Jim. But, when he gave his name, he quickly added the this was Mary's restaurant. There were a few items on the menu but Jim said he could fix just about any sort of breakfast desired. He volunteered that he had some good bacon so bacon & eggs it was. As he worked, he chatted from the kitchen and came out to personally greet both groups who entered while I was there. There were plenty of religious decorations around the place and each of the twelve tables was named for, I believe, an apostle. I sat at Bartholomew's table - number 6. After the very enjoyable meal, I visited the restroom then stopped by the kitchen to ask Jim what I owed. "There's no set prices," he said, just put what you want in the box by the door. It all goes to charity, anyway." Jim had talked mostly about Groom and I didn't learn much about him except that he's lived there for many years. I have a feeling that he's a very interesting, as well as generous, individual.

Painted ponies! In Amarillo, there are decorated horses as the city does what Chicago started with cows and other cities have done with their favorite critter - Cincinnati did flying pigs. I wasn't hungry but stopped briefly at the Golden Light for a beverage. One reason for stopping was spotting an empty lot across the street where a large collection of old cars had been in 1999. All I learned was that the place had changed hands and the cars were gone. I do have a picture if anyone would like to see what an empty lot looks like.

Stopping at the Cadillac Ranch seemed a good idea but it takes a bit more work west bound than it does when heading east. You have to make an effort to be on the south frontage road around I-40's exit 62. I didn't even have touchup paint this time so made do with a Sharpie. At least it lasted long enough to get a picture.

Glenrio straddles the Texas-New Mexico line and the "First Motel in Texas" was also labeled the "Last Motel in Texas". But Glenrio wasn't just wounded - it was emptied. Today the only life in the town seemed to be one horse, a couple of dogs and photographer Russell Olsen. Russell is preparing a book of landmarks for publication next spring. The book will contrast his own recent pictures with postcard shots from the past. Neither the dogs nor the horse seemed to be working on much of anything.

On the way to Santa Fe, I encountered the second rain of the day. The top had been up for about 20 minutes between Groom and Amarillo but that had been 5 minutes of getting wet and 15 of getting dry. This time, I was in rain for about an hour and the temperature dropped from the mid-80s to about 57. Some of that temperature drop might be due to the 7000 foot altitude. I passed through downtown Santa Fe but being both driver and photographer in a city is not on my list of talents, particularly when I'm under a wet convertible top, so I got no pictures. I did try to capture some of the great views from the city edge and grabbed one of a "standard" Santa Fe building also at the edge. I believe this is a standard since almost every building in the city is within a shade or two of this color and attempts, to some degree, to convey that adobe look. I suspect that sharp corners on buildings are illegal as are streets that go straight for more than two consecutive blocks. Santa Fe was on Route 66 until 1937 and was not on the path I took in 1999.

The day ended just north of Albuquerque, in Bernalillo with this view of Sandia Peak from my motel window.

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