Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Friday, August 21, 2015

Making a Run For It--to Gallup, New Mexico

At USA RV Park, Gallup, New Mexico...

We were pulling out of Las Vegas at 10 a.m. this morning. That may be a new early record for a departure! We were ready to escape the desert heat, and we didn't stop except to gas up at Kingman, Arizona. We made about 400 miles today, twice as many as we usually drive. We stopped here at Gallup because it was getting dark, and I really don't like setting up at a parking spot in the nighttime. Here in the high desert, it was very noticeably cooler outside and, after the sun had fully set, it got cool quickly. Now this is more like it!

We had a nice dinner at Jerry's Diner, and old time Gallup dive that was totally devoid of charm but the food was good. My Mexican combination was covered with their green chile sauce that was unusually spicy, just the way I like it. It was very, very good and very cheap. Winner, winner!

Historic Route 66 provides the main drag through Gallup, and we decided to drive the length of the town, taking in the old motels and restaurants that were obviously built well before I-40 was conceived and Route 66 was abuzz with Buick Roadmasters, Pontiac Chieftains and Lincoln Premieres. Of particular interest was the El Rancho Hotel/Motel, an imposing two story hotel built in 1937 by the brother of film director D. W. Griffith as a headquarters for moviemaking and lodging for movie stars.

Fireplace in the Lobby of El Rancho
This part of New Mexico was very desirable for making western movies back then, and this hotel hosted production crews and stars for movies like these:

  • The Bad Man 1940
  • Sundown 1941
  • The Desert Song 1942
  • Song of the Nile 1944
  • Four Faces West & Colorado Territory 1947-1948
  • Streets of Laredo 1948
  • Rocky Mountain 1950
  • The Big Carnival 1950 (AKA Ace in the Hole)
  • New Mexico 1950
  • Fort Defiance 1950
  • Raton Pass 1951
  • Fort Massacre 1957
  • A Distant Trumpet 1963
  • The Hallelujah Trail 1964

  • Just about every major movie actor of the era was housed in this hotel at some point, and their photos line the walls of the hotel loggia. We stopped and toured the lobby, finding it fascinating and surprising that so many of the old movie stars had stayed here. The rooms were even named after them.

    Well, this was a pleasant stop, for sure. Tomorrow, we're off for Amarillo and the first time we've set foot on Texas soil for nearly two months!

    Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I do not appreciate it enough every day.

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