But what an option it turned out to be! The USA RV Park was just about the most patriotic place I've ever been. The proprietor, John, was super helpful and friendly, even more so when he found out I was a vet. John kept the RV Park spotless, I probably could have ran my toothbrush around the toilet bowl and used it with no ill effect. Anyways, USA RV Park in Gallup - if you are in the area, check it out. Active Duty Military stays for free if any of y'all have a cross country PCS in the future.
In the morning, on John's recommendation, I had breakfast at the El Rancho Hotel, my first big stop in my quest for Historic Route 66 authenticity. El Rancho has served the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and Ronald Regan (before he was President). They've been serving up their "Bunkhouse Special" - 2 hotcakes, 1 egg, meat, biscuit, and coffee - since 1937.
|El Rancho lobby|
|I got my kicks...|
I purposely timed my arrival in Albuquerque to coincide with the International Balloon Fiesta. And what a spectacle that was. Despite my 0400 reveille, I missed the "mass ascension" of 500+ balloons in the morning when it was cancelled due to high winds. But I made up for my disappointment later that evening when I returned for a "balloon glow." They keep the balloons tethered to the ground, but the fill them up and use their giant propane torches like hundreds of oversized candles in the night. It's really beautiful.
Just outside of Albuquerque, and totally unexpected, I came across Petroglyph National Monument. This little gem is quite literally in the suburbs of town (don't come here for the solitude!) but preserves over 800 images on the rock. I figure myself to be pretty knowledgable on our National Park System, yet I was blown away by the fact that Petroglyph National Monument even existed, especially when contrasted with the quantity and the quality of the glyphs. Some of my favorites below:
|I called this one "turtle man." Turtles play an important role in Native American creation stories|
However, in the interest of fairness, I would like to point out that I had my own UFO encounter shortly after leaving Roswell. So maybe there is something to be said for all that...
|Look 1/3 to 2/5 the way into the sky above the telephone pole|
|UFO or Government weather balloon coverup? You decide|
I lucked out and was able to tag along on an "adventure tour" of the cave, taking the place of someone who had dropped out they day before. It was fun to do some real spelunking; I've not gotten the chance to do any since Boy Scouts. We had to pass obstacles such as "The Pinch" and "Castration Rock." I'm happy to report that I didn't get stuck and I brought back everything I started with.
|The Devil's Pipe-organ|
|The Great Phallus|
|Dr Evil and Mini Me|
|Jabba the Hut|