Pete & Lorna Go
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Day 9, Sunday, May 28, 2017:
Grants New Mexico -> Blue Water -> Continental Divide -> Lupton Arizona -> Houck -> Querino -> Sanders -> Adamana -> Holbrook Arizona

The day began in Grants NM with the most mediocre breakfast so far. We were a little late getting on our way but hey, it is a vacation! The way out was down the main drag from the heyday of Route 66 that I drove last night. They have added a big Rte. 66 photo opportunity shield. You pull in, set your camera up on the stand, trot back to alongside your car and get photographed. We took a few shots and got on our way.

Heading out of town it wasn't long before we were on the peaceful 2 lane 66 I love. It was a therapeutic ride with mesas, mountains, wide open space and blue sky. We were over taking a freight train that was travelling alongside the road. It was chugging slow so I bolted ahead, found a crossroad and positioned the vehicle to capture it with the GoPro windshield camera for grandson Lex, a big fan of trains. After a few minutes the westbound train came rolling through and it was all going to plan. After a few minutes an Eastbound train came into the picture loaded with double high containers on the far track. With 2 trains going in opposite directions is was a kaleidoscope of color and a flurry of activity. SCORE!

I wanted to try something similar with my DSLR camera and set-up in another spot up the road. Wouldn't you know it, no trains to be seen after a long wait. Believe it or not that is odd in this place. The rail freight moving through here is stunning. It was a good chance to get some pictures of the countryside including a 180 degree panoramic image.

Our next stop was the town of Continental Divide. There are a few Indian trading posts that I photographed in 2012. My attention turned to the 2 rockets over the bridge on the eastbound side. On closer inspection the rockets were a pair of decorated tall sign posts that once supported a significant business sign. And there with the rockets was another abandoned Indian trading post of some sort. The fading sign still stood behind overgrowing trees. "Indian" is clearly visible in the main sign and "Blankets" is my best guess for what follows though "Paintings" wouldn't surprise me. A long solid plank fence conceals the back of the property and a tall blue Teepee is visible behind the fence. There is also a canopy extending from the front suggesting it may have also been a filing station. No trespassing signs prevent close inspection.

Lunchtime brought us to Gallup. Lorna found a place called "Wise Pies" , Pizza & Salad. The ratings on Yelp were good. The GPS didn't have it listed so I keyed the address in and off we went. This took us on a trek to no-man's land on the edge of town. We headed back in and we found it tucked into a shopping plaza we had passed. They made pizza and salads to order working from a salad/toppings bar. We made a pizza and salad to split and share. The pie was thin and crispy and the barbecue chicken combination we concocted worked. It was a good quick lunch and before 2:00 we were on our way.

We enjoyed many quiet miles on 66 as we let Gallup behind. Eventually were on I-40 since it buried 66. This took us to Lupton. We had stopped here in 2012 but it's irresistible. There is an amazing stretch of Indian gift, souvenir and convenience stores, all colorful and with a backdrop of a unique stone mountainside. The place just scream's take pictures". Lorna got a walking stick that she had been wanting. Shen may need to wear an Ace bandage and feign a limp so it passes as an assistive device for air travel.

Something told me to cross over to the frontage road on the other side of I-40 and there, tucked into a corner lot was another long abandoned Indian Market. The building was in the form of a white dome with a sign that resembled a Mohawk hair-cut. A long plank fence was painted in red and white and proclaimed, "Welcome To Indian Market". A Texaco service station was adjacent and abandoned.

Houck was our next stop where we revisited Fort Courage, based on the TV show "F-Troup" The painted guards were gone from the watch tower and the place was permanently shut down and partially fenced off. The place was apparently something of a theme park. In 2012 it seemed reduced to being a gift shop operation though we could have been ahead of the season. We were able to walk into the back lot and see the buildings that were probably some sort of western / fort facades. Deterioration was not hard to spot. Several light poles remained and seemed like an assortment of carnival rides may have been in the center area. Even an online search failed to show much of anything about the park interior. An abandoned Pancake House remains and is also fenced off.

In the guide book Lorna found a section of Dirt 66 in Querino that included the 1930, 269 foot long Querino Canton Bridge. The road was very solid, perhaps loaded with Portland cement binder. It was very hard, more like poor pavement than dirt. The bridge was an amazing vintage structure still carrying local vehicle traffic. The cement abutments and deck had been rebuilt but the steel structure looked magnificent with 2 support towers rising from the canyon floor. We missed this in 2012 however I have pictures of it I took from the I-40 bridge that is the modern replacement. I recall being petrified when trucks were whizzing by behind me! The canyon was dry but the sandy bed shows it sees significant water following heavy rains.

We were hopping on and off I -40 to drive disjointed sections of 66. The next stop was in Sanders where an abandoned Stop and Go service station/convenience store rested. Large vertical tanks in the back of the property remained for fuel or water. Lighting in the back lot indicated it may have been of truck stop scale. If the dials are to believed the last sale on the mid-grade pump was 4 gallons for $6.44.

Our final 66 experience of the day was on Adamana road in the former ghost town of the same name. From this road you get considerable views of the Painted Desert / Petrified Forest national park, we did that in 2012. Clustered around Exit 303 on both sides of I-40 are Native American shops, abandoned and active selling petrified rock and related gifts and souvenirs. When we toured the Petrified Forest we left the place feeling that the specimens seen were like the last Unicorn. We learned as we toured further that there is a lot of petrified wood on Native American territory and they can sell it all they want. Geodes, rocks and jewelry were also sold at the remaining and abandoned sites in the neighborhood. I took many pictures of the abandoned trading post that had no apparent name. Further up Adamana road was a surviving Pony Express station. We took the 5 mile drive to the location but it's on private property and indistinguishable from other buildings on the property.

The last 20 miles or so to Holbrook were on I-40. That took us to the Best Western where they couldn't find our Expedia reservation. After the desk clerk spent 10 or more minutes apparently on hold with Expedia he simply honored the confirmation as a house sale. We have a fine room for night 9. Latter Expedia sent a survey about my check-in experience, they got an ear full.

After dropping some bags we set out to find dinner. Yelp addresses and Google maps weren't playing nice nor was the GPS. We headed down the road and soon stumbled on our first choice, Tom and Suzie's Diner. Located in a former Pizza Hut building they had a diverse menus and I had a nice stir fry dish with some Asian name I forget.

We're travelling with a cooler for water, beverages and other perishables. One product that seems to be non-existent is caffeine free diet soft drinks, notably Coke or Pepsi products. Diet root beer seems to be the sleep safe bubbly for me. The decline of soft drinks is very apparent, they usually only command 1 door in a big cooler wall. Energy drinks get the same or more. Bottled waters get at least twice the space. Back to the hotel it was time to collect picture files and back them up. Arizona does not observe daylight savings time so in effect we went to Pacific Time that is 3 hours behind home. I think that means I gained an hour today. Today is blogged to proof read in the morning then upload.

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Created May 14, 2017