Day 3: Amarillo to Gallup, New Mexico. 423 miles: Trip Total 1533 miles; Crossing the Continental Divide; Beautiful day inside a huge miniature model train set.


I’m hunkering down in Holbrook, Arizona having a cup of coffee, catching up on yesterday.
I headed out in the morning determined not to book a place for the night, considering last night’s disaster. Interstate 40 parallels, and sometimes replaces, the legendary road Route 66. Four years ago my buddy El Jefe and I rode across country and took Route 66 frequently. You can’t take it the whole ways anymore, as much of it was decommissioned but there are still some nice sections, small towns with rustic looking cafes and old fashioned, western style motels.
Leaving Amarillo, I quickly came upon the Cadillac Ranch where, as an art statement, 10 cadillacs are half buried in the Texas dirt.
I only saw one small one armed oil pump as I road through Texas. However, there were miles of wind farms, the huge blades moving like arms of synchronized swimmers or Olympic backstrokers.
Gentle rolling hills, and agricultural fields with those long arm irrigation units, gave rise to flat lands, dotted with scrub brush and small, hardy evergreens. Coming into New Mexico the wind, out of the south, picked up quite a bit and I had to lean into it. I lowered my visor as I rode through a veil of dust blowing across the road. A dead buck lay by the center meridian and caused me to perk up. Later, a crowd was gathered in the median where a tractor trailer had overturned. Omens? I rode on.
About 30 miles out of Albuquerque I began to see pale, gray blue hills in the distance. I rode this beautiful view all the way into the city. The interstate was decorated with beautiful, colorful, Native American art forms.
Leaving, long, tall, flat mesas of different heights began to appear on the horizon. As the sun shone upon them I struggled to come up with a few words to describe their colors: pumpkin, Georgia red clay, magnolia, limestone? Near the road rose grassy, chocolate brown outcrops of rocks.
And then there were trains. Long trains transporting containers seemed all over the place, transporting goods east and west. I raced a few but they couldn’t keep up with Big Red, my Harley. With the beautiful, unfolding landscape I felt like I was a small motorcycle rider in some huge miniature model train set. That was fun.
I decided to stop in Gallup, New Mexico for the night and saw signs for a motel I knew I couldn’t miss. But I saw a sign for the El Ranchero Hotel and something compelled me to cut off the interstate. It was an old rustic hotel built in 1937 for a base for movie productions in the area. I loved it, checked in and spent a few hours in the rustic, western, 49er bar. Who can resist a bar that the actor Errol Flynn once rode a horse into? I couldn’t and didn’t.
Whatever you ride, ride it safely.

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