We were going to go up to Taos from Santa Fe this morning, and spend the night there before heading on – that is, until I found out late last night that the natural gas to the entire town had been shut off.

The one motel I called that would accept a dog didn’t say anything about the gas, so I said I had heard the gas was shut off, and did that mean they had no heat or hot water. “We have heat, but no hot water,” was the answer, so I declined to go on this trip.

As disappointing as it was to have to skip Taos when I was so close, it also gave me the freedom to head west again, and I didn’t realize until I was driving west on I-40 just how happy I would be to get back on the road.

I was taking in all the vastness of the high plateau, surrounded by mesas of that amazing red sandstone, and ringed by tall mountains further out – all under a blazing blue sky. The red cliffs against all the dry sagebrush and snow were something else.

I was reminded of seeing tumbleweeds the other day as I drove through West Texas, and realizing how happy I was to be driving again, I said out loud, “I’m a tumbleweed!” I am. Tumbleweeds go where the wind – and fate – take them. That’s what I feel like I’m doing. But the other thing about tumbleweeds is they are so exuberant about where they are going – they seem so happy and carefree.

Since I have never given this car a name, I christened him “Tumbleweed” today, although without breaking a bottle of any kind of bubbly over his hood. So, here we are, the three tumbleweeds, heading west for more of the great southwest, and on to the Pacific!

I forget exactly where this was, but we were headed west on I-40 from Albuquerque.

About forty or so miles west of Albuquerque, I saw a billboard for a historic Indian village or some such thing, but what caught my eye was a sign tacked on the side that just said FRY BREAD in big red letters. It was after 12 and I thought I should try this regional “treat” while it was on offer, so I took the next exit to find it.

The exit took me past the turn to Old Laguna Pueblo and as I kept going, I thought maybe it was the old pueblo I should have turned to for the fry bread. Back in Maine, Fry Bread is the equivalent of fried dough, and I’m sure it’s not good for me, but I wanted something greasy, yeasty, maybe loaded with butter and honey or powdered sugar. I wanted to try FRY BREAD!!

I never found it – whether the sign was old, or I didn’t drive far enough, I’ll never know. What I did find was an old adobe church. When I parked and got out to take pictures, two Pueblo men were shoveling the steps and the courtyard.

I asked for permission to photograph, which was graciously granted, and I also asked how old the church was. “Oh, I forget,” said one man. “Maybe the 1700s… I’m not sure.”

What a serendipitous find this old adobe church was! St. Joseph Catholic Church in Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico. And what a gorgeous sky.

Another view of the church, this time from the base of the steps leading to the gate in the adobe wall.

The interior was beautiful.

Continuing on, we started seeing billboards for THE INDIAN VILLAGE at the CONTINENTAL DIVIDE. How exciting was that?! I kept my eagle eyes peeled for the exit so Max and I could get out and get a photo on the Continental Divide:

Yee Haw! Max at the Continental Divide. This boy has the best “sit” I’ve ever seen!

Not the best shot of us, but I had to document us at the Divide!

My intention on starting out west from Albuquerque this morning was to go to Winslow, Arizona (remember the Eagles’ song about it? “Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, got seven women on my mind…”) but I started seeing billboards for El Rancho Hotel and Motel in Gallup, NM.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, the name jogged something loose, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Turns out to be that famous motel built in 1937 by D. W. Griffith’s brother, that drew many film stars of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Seems they all used it as their headquarters when they were in the area filming…

We arrived about 2PM, and I went inside to see if they allowed dogs, and if there was a room available (and affordable!). They did, and there was, so we are on the second floor of the main lodge in the Betty Grable Room, with Jimmy Stewart on one side, Fred MacMurray on the other, and Dale Robertson across the hall!

The lobby is an impressive two-story lodge style with big beams, a massive fireplace, lots of chairs and couches, Navajo rugs, and autographed photographs of famous film stars everywhere. There’s a sweeping double staircase to the second floor, and a balcony around three sides.

A view of the massive fireplace in the lobby at El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM.

I’ve never stayed in a hotel that was on the National Historic Register, nor have we stayed in anything so swank on this trip! I ordered lunch from the restaurant and brought it up to my room. Every time we walk down that sweeping staircase I imagine what it must have been like back in the day, with folks like Hepburn and Tracy, Jackie Cooper, John Wayne, and Humphrey Bogart wandering up and down…


About Maureen Farr

I am a graphic and web designer – and the publisher of the print version of Arts Guide, a free guide highlighting the arts, dining, events, and more on the coast of Maine. In addition, I am a visual artist working in mixed media and encaustic, as well as creating found object jewelry. I am currently at work revising a short novel that I wrote as a participant in the 32nd Annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
This entry was posted in Eating out on a road trip, New Mexico, On the Road, Random thoughts, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Tumbleweeds…

  1. Steve Murray says:

    Great photography and your usual well written and very descriptive narrative. Loved the little Spanish church. Motel sounds pretty plush, beats Moody’s Cabins! Best to you and Max. Live each day to it’s fullest!

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Thanks Steve! yeah, Moody’s it isn’t! Although the place is wonderful (inside) the view from my room was worse than any I’ve had in the chain motels we’ve frequented. It looked out over the roof of the restaurant (picture all those vents and chimneys!) to a gas station next door. I bet when this place was built and frequented by the stars the view was desert southwest! Oh well, it IS on Route 66…

  2. hank says:

    i have to take issue with this so-called continental divide. east drains east, but to the gulf, not the friggin atlantic. make em fix their sign.

    grumpy (get off my lawn!)

  3. hank says:

    come to think of it, west (from where you are) drains into the sea of cortez. nowadays virtually nothing of colorado river makes it to any sea anywhere, alas. it’s all diverted for big ag and cities (like la)

  4. hank says:

    beautiful pics, and the (slightly less) curly guy CAN sure sit nice. ~: )
    grand canyon?

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Thanks Hank,
      He’s a good “sitter” he is! and I agree – not much of the water in the Southwest goes where it used to – what little of it there is. The Santa Fe river through S F is non-existent for the most part. According to Monica, they swam in it when she was a child and she became a very strong swimmer because of the current.

    • Maureen Farr says:

      oh – I don’t think the GC is in the cards this trip.

  5. Diana Richardson says:

    Wow, Homegirl! You’ve outdone yourself on this post. The chapel…………..oooooooooooh! I’m going!
    And Max! What a guy!
    And the lodge where the stars stayed. Yay!
    And we’ll be away til the 12th, at least………….so plan accordingly! Sounds like you’re tearin’ up the asphalt!

  6. guy oliver says:

    Maureen You might remember them all but not Jackie Cooper, you are much too young to remember him. Every picture you are in you look younger, the trip is treating you well.

  7. Ellie Adams says:

    What a wonderful day you had!!! Each picture was a Wow!! I am just a bit famillar with the south west and its great colors and textures. This vicarious trip your taking me on is taking me back to my “Wowedness” during my own short visit to the area! Thanks!! Being a tumbleweed has brought you to great places!! Thanks for sharing!!

  8. Gandalf says:

    I gotta ask, Mo. Did you surreptitiously plant and leave behind a framed guerrilla photo (signed, of course) of you and Max along side those of all the other famous stars? I would have been sorely tempted. I can remember somebody else who would have, too . . .

    I loved the adobe church interior, especially the beams. The spoke to the builder in me.

  9. Suzanne Gibson says:

    WOW!!! is certainly right on this one, Maureen. So cute that you named the car, the photos are georgeous and so nice that even though we only spent a few minutes together back in Charleston, I feel a little special connection to you. See what handing out your card did!!! Back in the late 60’s my 2 girlfriends and I and a dog named”Feet” (1/2 malumut and 1/2 something else big) camped across the country in a little green VW Beetle…. your NM adventure is bringing back memories!!!! Makes me want to go “on the road again”!!! Suzanne

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Thanks Suzanne, I love that so many people are riding along with us – and that it rekindles so many memories for you all! Can’t imagine three girls and a big dog in a VW Beetle! Bet it was a blast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s