We put in another solid 400 miles today, beginning in Tucumcari, New Mexico and ending in Holbrook, Arizona.
The last couple of days have seen the landscape change significantly from the green, flatness of Oklahoma to the dry, yellow flatness of Texas, becoming more hilly with scrub vegetation through New Mexico, gradually changing to the mountainous terrain of Arizona.
All of these states seem dry and windy, the wind making for lots of interior road noise that might not be so noticeable if we had a radio and A/C (not complaining, mind you, just remarking). We stopped in Albuquerque at the brain injury rehabilitation center within the Lovelace Medical Center.
We were very graciously greeted by management, then taken on a brief tour after which we spent some time speaking with staff. Mark left some copies of his book, Realistic Hope, and felt that he would likely hear from them again. It was rewarding to see the commonality in purpose and understanding between Mark as a victim/survivor/adapter/a advocate and the dedicated brain injury professionals who Mark firmly believes, do not get recognized or thanked enough for the great work they do.
After that visit we moved on to Old Town Albuquerque, a very interesting and historic area just off Old Route 66. It reminded Steve of the Jackson Square area of New Orleans with a central, open square surrounded by blocks of buildings with a variety of uses and activities. With its history and multitude of wares for sale, it seemed like one could spend the better part of a day here without getting bored or tired.
We did have lunch in Old Town, taking the recommendation of a handmade jewelry maker/vendor, and ate at the Church Street Cafe, which is housed in one of the oldest buildings in New Mexico, dating to the early 1700s. The rest of the afternoon was spent traveling westward and we decided to pick Holbrook because of the number of Old Route 66 aspects available to view and experience.
We stayed the night at the Globetrotter Lodge, a quaint 1950s motel that is being brought back to life slowly but surely by a family very committed to doing things right. From the small, but inviting, oval swimming pool to the handcrafted touches in each room, to the breakfast (think more B&B than chain hotel), it was evident that the reviews on the Internet were most deserved–wed recommend that you try it! Incidentally, the Globetrotter, along with the Blue Swallow in Tucumcari, New Mexico and the Midway Cafe in Adrian, Texas are all examples of small businesses that were either brought back from the brink (in some cases already closed) and/or significantly upgrade to be interesting and inviting.
The owners are committed, cheerful and personable–rather easy to engage in conversation. It is refreshing to see such dedication to customer service and excellence. We suspect that there are more such examples along Route 66, too many for us to research on this trip, but giving a new lease on life to much that is vintage while bringing back aspects of towns that had seen better days, really contributing to a resurgence of activity and pride.
After settling into our room, we walked to dinner at the Butterfield Stage Co. Steakhouse (yes, the steaks were great)–to get there we walked past the Wigwam Motel, a collection of about 15 tall wigwams/teepees, yet another quaint, interesting place that begs to be photographed.
So, in one small town, three quite interesting places within a quarter mile stretch with more still in sight–what a treat. It is easy to see how some of our fellow travelers with whom we spoke decided to take a rather leisurely pace to take in more of this rich experience.
Still hoping to hear from Dennis Miller.