Tue. Nov. 3d Update – Over the Continental Divide

Dead Mans Curve Mesita

Dead Man’s Curve, near Mesita NM.

Albuquerque, NM to Gallup, NM
Lots of photos today.

We woke up early. (I will explain, en extenso, below.) It was just before sunup. The cloudless New Mexico sky was a golden glow from horizon to horizon, making it difficult to tell which direction was east.

A civilized cup of coffee in the room, then downstairs for a surprisingly good breakfast. Surprising? The food looked as good as it did in the photos advertising breakfast in the elevators. And it tasted great.

We left Albuquerque to the South, taking a old Route 66 path to Los Lunas. The long, roundabout path eventually turns west, meeting with a newer Route 66 version extending west from Albuquerque. At Correo, we went back up on I-40 to avoid a portion of the old road that was described as being “for four-wheelers.”

Turtle Rock, NM. This internet photo explains the name.

We went back to old 66 as Mesita, where we saw an outcropping called Turtle Rock. (From the road I couldn’t see the turtle.)  But we DID see the next landmark on the map, another “dead man’s curve.” (See photo at top.)Still not the inspiration of the song, but this was about a 300 degree turn. No doubt how it got the name.

From there we went to Laguna Pueblo and through Paraje, Villa de Cubero, and on to San Fidel. There is a story that Hemingway stayed there while he wrote The Old Man and The Sea.  Others scoff at the idea.  All I can say is

Most beautiful uranium miner ever!

that Villa de Cubero is about as far from the sea as can be imagined.

At San Fidel we took I-40 to Grant, where we saw two things. First, we toured the New Mexico Mining Museum, which was very well done. After viewing the film shorts about mining in the area (mostly for uranium), we took an elevator to an underground area where they had recreated mining scenes. Marian and I got in the swing of things and dug some uranium.

The other thing we saw at Grant was El Malpais Natural Conservation Area.

Badlands el malpais NM
El Malpais Natural Conservation Area – The Bad Lands Indeed.

It contains some of the most recent lava flows in North America. The lava rock is practically impossible to walk on. You just go around it. The photos contain a close up of the black lava rock rock covering the aptly-named “bad lands.”

1.1446569976.continental-divide-route-66 - CopyBack on the Interstate for a run to the Continental Divide, the highest point (7,263 ft) on Route 66. We got a photo or two and stopped at a trading post. (I needed some warmer clothing for the weather expected in Arizona.)

Beginning or descent from there, we passed Red Rock State Park; didn’t stop in but got a good photo from the road. Route 66 goes through the lowest part of the mountains here (of course) and the rock faces of the mesas along the road (mostly to the north) contain an amazing variety of colors. Red in the middle, brown below, and in some areas almost a white band above.red rock park nm

I have some interest in geology and I’m fascinated by the various rock strata visible. I also wonder when those huge, auto-sized boulders on the slopes above the roadway will be tumbling down. They look they could go at any minute. This Earth has been around a long time and gone through some amazing changes, with more to come.

church rock NM
Church Rock, NM

We also passed a formation called Church Rock. I figured that one out.  We didn’t get out and hike to it, but a nice lady named Nancy Ferguson did; here is a photo from her blog, which is at


From there we drove in to Gallup, self-described as the Indian Jewelry Capital of the World. Gallup is named after the then-paymaster of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad.  We had made a reservation this morning, and our room was waiting for us at the El Rancho, which bills itself as “Home of the Stars.” The El Rancho was HQ for numerous film companies making movies in the area, and most of the big stars of the 1920s through 1940s have stayed at the El Rancho.  We are staying in the “Robert Taylor” room. (Taylor must have had a thing about closets.  We had plenty!)

Wonderful dinner at the hotel, and then done for the day.


Now, about waking up this morning in Albuquerque.

Last night we stayed in a reputable, national-chain hotel. Nice and clean. You do that because you don’t want surprises. After we checked in I went to move the hotel’s alarm clock beside the bed.

I never use hotel alarm clocks because I can’t figure out how to set them and how to turn them on and off. Instead I use my phone, which works quite well and which I know (generally) how to operate.

As I was moving the clock it started ringing. And it rang. And it rang. I struggled to find out how to turn it out but I was not succeeding. And it was still ringing! Finally, I reached down and pulled the plug from the wall and tucked the clock into a corner.

I believe there is an illegal conspiracy afoot between national hotel chains and the makers of combination radio-alarm clocks that cannot be sold to the general public because they are too hard to figure out how to operate! Some big money, cheap prices or both must be involved because the makers keep making them, regular people keep not buying them, and they still end up in the hotels of America.

hotel alarm clock
Perpetrator of the early-morning atrocities in Albuquerque.

So, fast forward to this morning. In the middle of a sound sleep an alarm goes off. I’m thinking “that is too close to be my phone.” Marian is thinking “why did Jim set his alarm this early.” I struggle to open my eyes and find the source of the noise. It’s the alarm clock–the one I thought I killed last night! My struggle from last night continues, and I’m losing. Finally I’m reduced to pushing buttons at random.  Eventually the clock responds to whatever I was doing and stops. I looked the suspicious clock over, and found it had a battery-powered backup!

Moral of the story: never trust a hotel alarm clock, even a dead one. They are like rattlesnakes, just as dangerous dead as alive. (Well, almost.)

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