Thursday (9/29) rolled around and it was time for us to lift our jacks and bid farewell to Colorado. We spent 8 weeks in Colorado and it was our first visit since hitting the road in our RV and we can safely say that we will be back to spend more time. It was one of our favorite states so far and we only scratched the surface of what it has to offer.
As almost always we lifted our jacks and was rolling at 9am on what proved to be one of the wettest travel days we have had. Not that every travel day we have had in our 4 years of travel have been beautiful we can honestly say that most of them have at least been dry, not all but most. However this travel day had times that I had the wipers on high and almost wished we had yet a higher speed LOL!!
From Ignacio we drove HWY 318 to HWY 550 that took us into Colorado and into Farmington. In Farmington I screwed up and continued west on HWY 64 instead of going south on 371 which added about 10 miles to our drive but hey, it’s all new territory and we ended up in the same spot eventually so no real harm.
Anyway we continued west on 64 until we reached the town of Shiprock where we then headed south on HWY 491 and drove it all the way to Gallup New Mexico. Once in Gallup we jumped on I-40 for 4 miles and then jumped off and drove old Route 66 to our campground (USA RV Park) where we had reservations for 5 nights.
We felt fortunate that the rain had slowed to a drizzle once we reached the campground but just as we finished hooking up it started to pour again so we decided to just hunker down and relax the rest of the day and stay dry.
So how did we decide to stop in Gallop New Mexico you might ask, well we have reservations farther south on October 15th so we drew a line on a map from point “A” to point “B” and just broke the distance down to equal parts so we could spend 5 to 7 days at each spot and Gallup so happened to be in the way and was someplace we had never been. Plus because it sits at just under 7000’ we figured it would still be cooler than dropping down a bunch in elevation just yet.
Gallup was founded in 1881 as a railhead for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad and was named after David Gallup, a paymaster for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. It remains a VERY busy train area, I overheard one storekeeper say that they have roughly 85 trains go through town a day!!! And I think we heard every last one every single day AND NIGHT!!
Gallup is also known as the “Heart of Indian Country” because it is in the middle of the Navajo reservation and home to people from many tribes like the Navajo, Zuni, Hopi, and other’s from what we have read. We certainly was a minority as we toured around but everyone was very friendly that we came across.
Speaking of touring one of the attractions is the historic El Rancho Hotel & Motel that has hosted a number of movie stars over the years including John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Kirk Douglas, Doris Day, Gregory Peck, and Burt Lancaster.
The rugged terrain surrounding Gallup was popular with Hollywood filmmakers during the 1940s and 50s for the on-location shooting of Westerns. Actors and film crews would stay at that hotel during filming.
Some of the films made in Gallup include Billy the Kid (1930), Pursued (1947), The Sea of Grass (1947), Four Faces West (1948), Only the Valiant (1951), Ace in the Hole (1951), Escape from Fort Bravo (1953), A Distant Trumpet (1964), and The Hallelujah Trail (1965) and I’m not sure I have seen any of them.
We also visited the Gallup Cultural Center. Standing in front of the building stands a sandstone statue of Chief Manuelito sculpted by Tim Washburn.
And just to the side but still up front is a 12 foot tall bronze statue of a “Navajo Code Talker”. The Navajo Code Talkers played a major role in winning the war in the South Pacific during WWII by providing an efficient code that the Japanese never cracked. The monument was done by Navajo/Ute sculptor Oreland Joe and was the first monument of its kind dedicated to the Navajo Code Talkers.
Inside the Center were displays of weaving, sand painting, Historic Route 66 memorabilia, handmade jewelry and a bunch of art pieces. Admission was free (donation box) and was certainly worth a look see if in the area.
And Trading Posts are huge in the area so we had to take a look at what they had to offer. They had more jewelry made of turquois and silver than you could shake a stick at and Indian Blankets, well at one shop we had to be escorted into the blanket room so I knew we were in for a treat and they were beautiful but much more expensive than we were willing to even consider. There were blankets in the $5000, $6000, $8000 and up. Of course you can find small Navaho blankets in the $200 and $400 range as well but we were not really in the market so we didn’t spend a bunch of time looking after being in awe of the more expensive ones.
Other than those things we didn’t do a whole lot, we went to Wal-Mart and did some shopping (once again we did this on a Saturday which we always ask ourselves WHY DO WE END UP AT WAL-MART ON SATUDAYS!!! We are retired and can shop mid-week when it’s slower but nooooo.) We checked out the Casino (but didn’t gamble, just looked) and otherwise just killed time. To be honest we booked 5 nights and after only 2 we were counting the days before we could lift our jacks and move on.
Our final day in Gallup was Monday (10/3) and we had planned a hike but it rained and blew most of the night Sunday and the wind continued to blow all day today (Monday) so we never left home, just hunkered down with a few short walks.
The only thing I did of importance all day was talk to insurance companies. Our RV and auto insurance is coming due in November and of course like every year the cost is going up so instead of just absorbing it and bitching about it like I do every year I’m getting quotes from 3 different companies (as much as I hate the process). Well one of the 3 is our current insurance agency (Miller Insurance) who we have been with the last 4 years. They seemed a little put out when I informed them that we were comping them with others LOL, but after a 40 minute phone conversation realized they needed to re-quote us with another insurance company or simply lose our business. After all that IS what they do. We still have 30 days on our current policy so it’s not urgent yet but the next thing you know I will procrastinate until it IS urgent and I have no time to shop around and be forced into absorbing the new inflated price again like we have done the last few years, NOT THIS TIME!! And please don’t tell me that I’m the only procrastinator you know.
That’s it for this update, tomorrow morning we will lift our jacks and make another move. Unless I make the wrong turn again it should be a 140 mile travel day.