Monday, January 11, 2010
Strangers in a Strange Land
We woke up in Gallup and decided to try and sneak into a continental breakfast at one of the many hotels that line the historic Route 66.
We cruised through one parking lot and decided to drive on down the road and try the next one. Unfortunately this one had a big window where the people at the desk can overlook the parking lot. Plus the breakfast area was right in front of the desk. Foiled again.
Next we drove down to the El Rancho, Home of the Movie Stars. Unless the Movie Stars is a Mexican gang I don't think they live here anymore.
"The charm of yesterday with the convenience of tomorrow," it reads above the big wooden door at the entrance.
It was perfect. If someone asked us our business there we could just say we wanted to check out the famous El Rancho hotel while we visited beautiful Gallup. Except that this state-of-the-art hotel didn't offer it's high class guests a complementary donut or banana. I guess they figure staying in the "Lucille Ball" or "W.C. Fields" room is good enough.
We wandered around looking at old movie pictures for a little bit before leaving Gallup in the dust. You can almost sense the prominence this place must have once held when Route 66 still was Mainstreet America and not just a bumpy, unkempt access road off Highway 40. Almost, but not really.
We decided to push on to Albuquerque, pronounced All-boo-kwer-kway.
The drive reminded us of South Dakota. Hundreds of billboards all promoting a handful of hotels, truck stops, tourist traps and casinos.
However, 50 miles outside of Albuquerque it was one of these casino billboards that caught my eye. $10 free gas for out of state guests. Sign me up!
Right off the expressway was the Dancing Eagle casino, a small comprised almost completely of slot machines.
Nikki and I entered, signed up for the players club, received a free pen (in it's own case (classy)) and a $10 voucher for free gas at the gas station across the street, each. Then we each spent a dollar in the penny slots and went to leave when we considered an offer posted near the entrance to the Casino's restaurant: 2 for 1 lobster and steak dinners for $19.99.
I know what you're thinking, "Lobster? In New Mexico." That's what we thought too. And after strongly considering just splitting a breakfast burrito (it was 11:00 am) we finally decided to order the special.
And it was totally worth it.
Chock full of surf and turf we hobbled our way back to the Dod to continue on to Albuquerque.
But not before Nikki demonstrated her Dancing Eagle dance in the parking lot.
Some enthused onlookers drove up and asked for an encore performance. Nikki beamed all day.
Just inside the city line is Petroglyphs National Monument. Since we get into these things for free because of our America the Beautiful Pass, we figured it would be a good idea to stop.
This monument consists of a canyon of sorts, bordered on each side with black rock-strewn hills. It's on these rocks that ancient inhabitants of this area sketched pictures representing their primitive beliefs and way of life. That or some jerk walking by a half hour ago. It's hard to tell, which makes you question every carving you see.
We got bored after the first few and decided to headed back to the Dod.
We cruised through old town Albuquerque, full of Native American art shops and other junk we didn't really care to pay to park and look at.
A little later we wound up in Nobb Hill, a hip area just east of the University of New Mexico campus made up of boutiques, costume shops, bars, coffee houses, and the obligatory comic shop and Urban Outfitters. This comic shop did have a pretty cool mural, though.
After spending some time at the Starbucks we went around the corner to set up shop at the nearby Walmart (again, I know, but it's free).
The next morning we headed out for Roswell, near the sight of the 1947 UFO crash and home of the International UFO Museum and Research Center. I kinda laughed too.
After enduring one of the most boring drives we've encountered since Nebraska we finally made it to Roswell. Boy are they lucky those aliens crashed here. Not much else really going on. Besides being home to every single chain restaurant and store you can think of, the only other shops sell knick-knacks with aliens on them for astronomical prices.
Yep, that's what their street lights look like.
The museum itself it not so much a museum as a high school science fair project that probably would've come in last. Don't get me wrong, the crash and the ensuing government coverup is interesting stuff. But this is basically a small gymnasium with photocopies of documents taped to the walls. There are some pictures, newspaper clipping, and quite a few affidavits from witnesses and their children, though. They cap it off with some other UFO sighting accounts, ancient civilization extraterrestrial encounters, crop circles, and movie posters, including three for the X-files and a reconstruction of the alien autopsy.
Here's a diorama of what the original crash site may have looked like. Seriously, science fair project.
And here's another artist's rendering placed above what we think is some sort of probe or something.
Afterwards we walked across the street to El Torro Bravo for a $5 bucket of Coronas and a combo plate of tacos, tamales, rice, beans, etc., etc.
As my beard grows so do my hands, look how big they are compared to that bottle.
Actually the beers we got were only 7 oz. Coronitas. Oh well.
We hit up a few stores on our way back to the Walmart in town, including a Goodwill where I found 7 choice novels for $.99 each and Nikki found a bag o' yarn for only $2.
Not really sure where tomorrow will take us. Seems kind of pointless really, petrified wood AND aliens. might as well just quit while we're ahead.
New Mexico is home to one of my most favorite signs ever. Even better than the ones in Colorado that warn you about falling rocks and basically looks like a triangle vomiting.
"Gusty winds may exist."
Or they may just be a figment of your imagination.
I think the bigger danger is f-ing with peoples heads while they drive.