When I got to Albuquerque and settled into lunch, I called Tony -- more for validation I guess than for permission. He encouraged me to go for it. (See his comment on the previous post). I have always thought that if I could travel back in time to any era it would be the immediate pre-war or post-war years of the 1940s. That's when trains were still the way to travel, road trips really were an adventure, and the westward migration down Route 66 was just getting going. It's when the Blue Swallow was built. I think I would have fit right in back then and loved it. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade out my cell phone, I-pad and laptop for anything. But I'd love to go back in time and spend a month in that era and just tour the country. Since there are no time machines -- I'll have to go now and enjoy what is left.
But leaving Gallup this morning was another tough one -- given both the time change to Mountain time and my mood at the time. I didn't really hit the road until almost 11. It took me almost 3 hours to go the 130 miles to Albuquerque, and most of it was on what's left of the old road. Gallup itself is a quiet little town, with more Indian trading posts and jewelry stands than I've ever seen. And shortly after leaving town, the old road was paralleling I-40 and was lined with billboard after billboard advertising a trading post that sat atop the Continental Divide. The billboards were old -- the paint peeling off, and advertising "Kodak Film" (you all remember film don't you?) and Indian jewelry and moccasins and ice-cold pop etc.
It was slow going as the road wound east -- travel was slower back in those days. As they say in the movie Cars -- the road "moved with the land" and didn't cut across it. I didn't mind -- I was enjoying the sun and the quiet. In it's prime though I can imagine a car load of kids, playing count the license plates and board games, and pestering Dad to stop at every curio stand. No cars with DVD players in the headrests and cell phone for texting. If you weren't careful you might actually learn a few things -- like other states and geography. The road clearly wouldn't have been able to handle the volume of traffic that today's Interstate does either.
Further down the road I ran across the relic of a Whiting Bros. gas station/motel. It's the second or third one of these ruins I've seen on this trip along Route. I remember Whiting Bros. They were still in existence when I was a kid -- I'd see them in Wyoming or in Southern Utah, looking out the window of the cab-over camper we traveled in and that instilled in me the wanderlust that I still have to this day. I'm glad the "litter police" haven't been by to knock down the old signs.
East of Albuquerque it got warm and as always happens in the West, the afternoon desert heat causes thunderheads to form. East of the city the old road is often one of the Interstate segments, as when they were grading for I-40 they used the original two lanes of US-66 as a segment and only had to build half a road. However, about half the time they left the old road -- either as a frontage road, or because it moved with the land so much it couldn't sustain the volume and speed of traffic on an Interstate. Of the 130 miles to Tucumcari, about half were on I-40. And I really didn't mind for the most part those segments that weren't-- except for the wind. We had a gusty south wind that was hitting me at about 40 mph, causing me to "lean" to the right to keep the bike from going to the left. This was fine and dandy except when the wind suddenly stopped or was blocked by a truck or overpass. In those moments, I'd start to quickly drift to the right, until the wind returned suddenly and blew me back over. Moving trucks caused an interesting vortex as well -- some sort of whirlwind that had me feeling like the shirt was about to be torn from my back, or that a twister was about to descend ala Wizard of Oz. No I was not screaming "Auntie Em! Auntie Em!'. But it made for quite a work out I will admit.
(There are a lot more pictures on my FaceBook gallery; www.facebook.com/album.php )