Standing On A Corner In Winslow, Arizona

“Morning has broken like the first morning.”(Apologies to Cat Stevens)   In all of my 68 years, I have never seen the sight that greeted us on this morning.  Just over the Wigwam Motel sign was a double, full rainbow, 180 degrees…two rainbows.  There was a brief rain just before dawn that provided us with this glorious sight.

Double Rainbow

When we were done basking in the beauty of the rainbows, we prepared a gourmet breakfast between our beds on our little camp table.  That is how small the room was.

Breakfast at Wigwam Motel

Then I had to snap just a few more photos of the Wigwam Motel outside art.

Chevy at the Wigwam

Pontiac at the Wigwam

We got on our way after a final look around Holbrook.  Our next stop was Winslow, AZ about 32 miles down the road.  And did we ever have fun there!  “Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see.  It’s a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford slowing down to have a look at me.” (Eagles, Take It Easy)  And there we were standing on that corner with the flatbed Ford.

Nancy “standing on the corner”

Polly “standing on the corner in Winslow, AZ”

After contributing a substantial amount to the Winslow economy in the form of souvenirs, we spent some time at the La Posada Hotel(designed by architect Mary Coulter).  The architecture and artwork are remarkable.  We could have spent the day there.  Click on the link to read more about it.

La Posada Hotel

La Posada Hotel

La Posada Hotel

From there we made our way to Flagstaff and up Highway 89 toward Kanab, UT, enjoying dramatic landscapes, crossing the impressive Glen Canyon Reservoir , and celebrating in our usual fashion as we crossed the state border.

Glen Canyon Dam

Utah Border

Our Own Grand Canyon

Amazing Landscape

Earlier in the day I had looked for lodging in Kanab, knowing we would arrive there near sundown.  Trying to find quaint mom and pop motels I found the Sun n Sands Motel on Trip Advisor.  I had given the clerk my credit card number to hold the room.  When we drove up, Polly immediately recognized that it was not a good place to be.  The smell of stale cigarettes in the lobby (no one there) confirmed our suspicions.  Quickly getting back in the car, I called to cancel.  Luckily the clerk was agreeable.  Finding the Holiday Inn Express completely full, we pulled in at the Victorian Inn.  Once again luck was with us.  We got the second to last room in the place!What a nice place.  And we found food (and a “horse”) at Spurs Grill just down the street.

Polly found a horse

Portobella Mushroom Stir fry

The bed was a welcomed sight after a long day of 288 miles.

October 12, 2012

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Charm of Yesterday, Convenience of Tomorrow

It was with bittersweet feelings that we said goodbye to David and Alison.  Witnessing the mass ascension of vibrant colored hot air balloons, riding the train to Santa Fe, petting alpacas and feasting on succulent Southwestern food were all experiences of a lifetime.

Ballon on Tuesday

But, the highlight in Albuquerque was surly time spent with family.  Several times, thoughts of our parents (Howard and Nita Belle Bland and John and Madeleine Hudson) crept into my mind during this visit.  I truly believe that they would be pleased at our ongoing family contact.

Route 66 is absorbed into I-40 for much of the route today.  However, we managed to forsake the fast-paced highway for scenic towns along the way.  Our first stop was Gallup, NM for lunch at the El Rancho Hotel for lunch.

El Rancho Hotel Sign

El Rancho Hotel

Built in 1937 by Raymond E. Griffith, it was a favorite with movies stars for the beginning.  By the 1960s, no fewer than 15 movies had been shot there, using the hotel as headquarters.  The movies included Sundown, Streets of Laredo, and The Hallelujah Trail.

Lee Marvin

The hotel is enormous and resembles a huge ranch house with its solid Western furniture, mounted moose heads and Navajo rugs.  As a contrast to this step back in time, a man was sitting in one of the old leather chairs working on his computer.  Apparently, the hotel has wi-fi!  The massive wooden staircase leads to a balcony with signed photographs from the likes of Rosalind Russell, Humphrey Bogart, Jack Benny and Ronald Reagan.  Alas, the ladies’ restroom reminds one of a bygone era.  Polly and I sat down in the charming restaurant where the sandwiches and burgers are named after movie stars like Doris Day, Errol Flynn and Burt Lancaster.  The “Mae West” is described as “stacked beef or ham”.  I had the Jack Benny, while Polly chose the Roy Rogers.

Polly at El Rancho Hotel

When Polly asked for sweet tea, a couple nearby overheard her.  They are from Mississippi and had been looking in vain for sweet tea.  Strains of Ray Price, Hank Williams and Patsy Cline serenaded us as we enjoyed our movie star lunches.  Have you figured out the significance of today’s title?  It is the slogan across the top of the hotel entrance.

It was hard to leave Holbrook without checking out a few more vintage motel signs from the Route 66 era.

Blue Spruce Lodge

Motel Zia

Lariat Motel

Arrowhead Motel

Leaving Holbrook we decided to try following the old Route 66 that seemed to parallel I-40.  Alas, we seemed to be lost for a while.  And the 4 maps in my lap were of no use.  But all is well that ends well.  We finally found an entrance to I-40.  And then we reached the Arizona state line.

Arizona State Line

Spontaneous decisions often turn out to be hidden treasures.  We saw the sign for the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest.  So we turned off as each of us commented that we remembered coming here with our parents in the 1950s.

Painted Desert

Painted Desert

The Painted Desert Innbegan as a lodge around 1920.  In 1935 the National Park Service purchased the lodge.  President Franklin Roosevelt utilized the Civilian Conservation Corps to overhaul the building.

Painted Desert Inn

The inn opened in 1940.  Falling into disrepair, it was scheduled for demolition in 1975.  But due to public outcry it was saved and designated a National Public Landmark in 1987.

Finally, we walked through the Crystal Forest, with its exquisitely colorful petrified logs that once held glassy amethyst and quartz crystals.  Before thoughtless visitors hauled off many of the remnants, it gleamed more brightly.  Now there the signs everywhere warning folks not to remove the petrified wood.

Petrified Wood

We had decided earlier in the day that we would try getting a room at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook since it had been on our list of “must sees” from the beginning.  (It was known as the Cozy Cone Motel in the movie Cars.)  Since there are only 15 rooms and it was late in the day, we had our doubts.  But, as we pulled up to the motel, the “vacancy” sign was still lit.  Some things just work out.  We had passed a van shortly before arriving at the motel.  We got the last room.  If we had not passed the van we would have missed the room.  It was meant to be.

It was built by owner John Lewis’s father in the 1940s.  He allowed seven other motels around the country to be built using his plans.  But, each had to be equipped with a radio that played for 30 minutes for 10 cents.  We did not see the radio.  More on the Wigwam Motel in tomorrow’s post.

Polly at #15

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Home With A View

Forty-three years ago today, a precious little boy was born.  My son, my son, Matt Towers was born in Boston, MA.

Matt-age 3

So this day is always special to me no matter where I am.  Before the day was over we made contact before Dana and his friends went out to celebrate.

Because we are leaving tomorrow, grocery shopping was a priority.  David and Alison took us on an excursion to Cosco.  Of course most items are packaged in bulk, but we managed to find some cheese and other goodies to eat along the way.

I did find time to snap a few photos of David and Alison’s home.

Outdoor Shower

Eagle at Hudson Hacienda

Gate-Hudson Hacienda

As the sun was shining its last rays on the Sandia Mountains, David, Alison, Polly and I drove up the home of Bill and Alice Willis.  It is perched in the foothills of the mountains.  I have known Bill (from Swainsboro) since 1963 when he came to Metter to work in the tobacco market.  We lost contact after our college years.  When Bill and I went to Santa Fe in 2004 I managed to locate him in Albuquerque.  Since that time we have stayed in touch when he and Alice have come to Georgia or I have been in New Mexico.  We were treated to dinner and a spectacular view of the mountains and of the sunset over Albuquerque.  Bill and Alice, thank you for a memorable evening.

Entrance to Willis Home

Scene from Willis home

Scene from Willis home

Sunset Through A Window

Nancy, Bill, Polly

Bill and Alice

October 10, 2012

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Do You Know The Way To Santa Fe?

Riding the train to Santa Fe?  What a novel idea.  And, that is just what we decided to do.  The Rail Runner Express  is convenient, inexpensive, comfortable and the route is quite scenic.  One station was only a few miles from David and Alison’s home.

Which Way is Santa Fe?

We left at 8:50 AM, as scheduled.  One of the places we passed was Santo Domingo Pueblo(officially changed to Kewa Pueblo in 2009).  In August 2005, Bill, Wendy, Wichelle and I were honored to observe the annual corn dance of more than 2000 Pueblo people who participate.  We saw lots of interesting sites from the window of the train.

LIttle Bicycle Seen From the Train

Arriving in Santa Fe, we rode the shuttle to downtown and met Julie Hall at La Fonda Hotel for lunch.  It was a special time for the three of us, since our dads had been business partners in the 1940s and 1959s.

Polly, Nancy and Julie at La Fonda

Lunch At La Fonda

Having a limited amount of time before our train departed for Albuquerque, we decided that we would like to see the art of Canyon Road.  The photos below depict some of the beauty on that was on that road.

Julie and Nancy

Canyon Road Art

Polly and Julie

Canyon Road Art

Canyon Road Art

Canyon Road Art

Polly and Friend

Canyon Road Art

Canyon Road Art

Cottonwood Tree

Canyon Road Art

Adobe Building

All too soon it was time to tell Julie goodbye and head back to the train.  Our ride back to Albuquerque was just as pleasant as the first one.  I highly recommend trying the train if you are ever in Albuquerque.

Our special meal for the evening was with David and Alison at the Standard Diner.  Like so many other service stations across the country, this one was converted into a restaurant.  I wonder if it was a Standard Oil station?

October 9, 2012

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Lavender Fields and Alpacas

Sleeping in until 7:30 is a wonderful luxury after getting up before dawn two days in a row!  After breakfast, David, Polly and I donned helmets, adjusted bicycle seats and took off for a ride to the nearby Los Poblanos Farm a former dairy converted into an inn and lavender farm.  Two little girls, ages 3 and 5, entertained us with their lack of fear in playing with the friendly milk cow, goat and sheep, while their mother made crafts close by.

Los Poblanos Farm

I had been to this farm two years ago and wanted to go back for some aromatic lavender salve.  After making our purchases, we stowed them in our bicycle bags and pedaled back to the Hudson hacienda.

Nancy and Polly at Los Poblanos

Yet another culinary experience awaited us at the Range Café  in Bernalillo.  Opened in 1992, it is a funky restaurant in an old adobe building.  Green chili stew was the favorite for four of us at the table.  It took several bites before I could enjoy it without needing a sip of water each time.

The Range Cafe

Dining Friends

Green Chili

The Ranges

Silva’s Saloon is next door. Rumor has it that the original owner, Felix Silva, Sr. kept nine loaded guns hidden throughout the building.  It’s walls are coated in newspaper clippings, old photos and other momentos from a bygone time, including one of Julia Roberts in one of her first movies where one scene was shot in Silva’s.  Sadly, Silva’s daughter and current bartender has the business up for sale, but is looking for someone who will keep its spirit alive.

Silva’s Saloon

Silva’s Liquor

Polly at the bar

Old cigarette machine

One last adventure for the day was a visit to Albuquerque Alpacas, an experience recommended by Julie and Lydia.  The photos tell it all.  Yes, I came away with a rug.


David, John and Peter

Alpaca Fun

Leslie and her baby

My Rug

Finally it was time to say goodbye to John and Peter.  What a great time we have had.

John, Polly, Nancy and Peter

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Up, Up, And Away

The alarm woke us out a deep sleep at 4:00 AM.  It was the same routine as yesterday, leaving the house at 4:30, riding the bus to the park, finding hot coffee and donuts, and waiting for dawn.  With the help of cell phones and texting, my fellow Metter Magnolias, Julie and Lydia found us before the launch.

Metter Magnolias plus one

As the light dawned over the Sandia Mountains, the first balloons began to raise their heads.  First there was the Dawn Patrol.

Dawn Patrol

Then everywhere we turned there were more and more popping up and ascending into the ever-brightening blue sky.  We kept losing each other in the excitement of snapping photos all over the field.  But, somehow we managed to meet at the designated spot when it was time to leave.  The photos below cannot do justice to the adrenalin rush one gets while watching these giant creatures unfurl in all of their splendor.




Nancy and Balloons




Polly and Nancy


Up, Up, and Away!

Polly, John, Peter, Nancy, David

Somehow in all of the excitement, we hardly noticed that the temperature was dropping.  It became more and more difficult for our fingers to push the camera buttons.  Finally, with hands almost numb and bodies shivering, we decided it was time to seek shelter and warmth.  Catching the bus back to the car, we all agreed that food would be the solution to shaking bodies.  So, off we went to Lily’s, a place that David’s motorcycle friends meet for breakfast.  We were not disappointed.  Then it was back home to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Brunch at Lily’s

Sunday evening John, Peter, Polly and I were treated to yet another epicurean dining experience.  Alison prepared a roasted vegetable medley while David grilled pork tenderloin.  The meal accompanied by assorted wines and a dessert of grilled peaches and ice cream was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

October 7, 2012

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Too Windy To Fly

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta began in 1972 as the highlight of a local radio station’s 50th anniversary.  The manager asked the owner of the only hot air balloon in New Mexico if it could be used as a part of the celebration.  As the two men talked their idea grew to invite other balloonists from around the country.  On April 8, 1972 with 13 balloons launching from a parking lot of a shopping center.  Because fall is a better flying time, the event was changed to October in 1975.  At one time there were as many as 1000 balloons flying over Albuquerque, but the number was lowered to 600 in 2006 due to safety reasons.  At the present time, over 100,000 spectators may be on the launch field to witness the ascension.  The Dawn Patrol, started in 1978, are balloon pilots who take off before dawn to assess wind speeds and directions at different altitudes, advising other balloonists as to whether they should launch or not.  The Mass Ascension is one of the biggest events of the fiesta.  All of the balloons launch at about the same time, just as the sun comes up.  It is a spectacular site.

Early on Saturday morning (4:30 AM), we loaded up and headed toward the balloon park for the mass ascension.  Not wanting to fight the traffic, we opted for the shuttle, which is a great idea most of the time (more on that later).  The weather was quite cold, but anticipation of what was to come warmed our spirits. Once there we indulged in coffee, breakfast burritos and mini donuts.

John’s gourmet breakfast

Mini Donuts for breakfast

Balloon Basket

Up, up, and away

Then came the announcement!  The wind was too strong for a launch.  So there we were with thousands of other people with nothing to do but shop and go home.  Arriving at the shuttle stop we found the line to return to the cars snaked on and on.  It was about 7:30 and the return shuttles were not due to arrive until 8:30.  What could we do? Our local cousin (and tour guide) designed an alternate plan.  We hiked about a mile to a local gas station where Alison (his wife) picked us up.  Back at their home, we all fell into bed for a nap!

But, our day was not complete.  Our meal for the night was at Farm and Table; a restaurant that designs its seasonal menu around locally sourced ingredients.  The photos tell the story.

Dinner at Farm and Table

Farm and Table

What A Meal

Salmon Two Ways


October 6, 2012

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