Day 5 – Santa Fe to…Santa Fe…and Finally Onward!


The "Un-named" Brake Repair Shop

Another delay today. The brake problem had worsened so I used up my valuable morning getting front brakes and rotors. I also woke up with a nice little shiner. Too much to drink last night?? Just kidding. Last night a bungee cord snapped and hit me on my right eyelid. Didn’t seem hard but sure hurts today. Talk about a fun morning.

4 ½ hours later – finally – I was able to get on the road north towards Taos. The plan had been to take the scenic route past pueblos and missions enroute to Taos but, as it turned out, I only had  time to visit two locations – Chimayo and Nambe’ Pueblo. (San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe was undergoing renovation and covered in scaffolding – rats!)

I was a little disappointed that the Chimayo Mission, otherwise known as Santuario de Chimayo, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above Santa Fe – and famous for the many healings that have taken place after visiting there. It  had Christmas lights hanging from the crosses and twin bell towers and the outer walls had been “renovated”. A little too much and,  IMHO, it should have been restored to it’s original state.

But it was still picturesque and certainly venerated by many of the 300,000 people who visit each year – to pray, to ask for healing (dozens of crutches hang on a wall, testifying to a healing miracle), or simply to take in it’s history and beauty.

Santuaria de Chimayo

Santuaria de Chimayo

Statue of Benito Ortiz

Santuario de Chimayo

Built by Fransiscans in 1814, the interior of the chapel was beautiful in it’s rustic simplicity and felt very sacred. To sit in a pew where, for generations, people of faith had worshipped was inspiring. (Note: a sign posted at the entrance to the sanctuary prohibits photography – so be cautioned).

The Nambe’ Pueblo was a little off the beaten path – and on tribal property, so no photos allowed. Didn’t spend a lot of time there but it was worth the visit to see the old kiva.

But I did get to see one of the many ancient Indian casinos that proliferate in this part of the country 🙂

"Ancient Indian Casino"

Unfortunately, time was up and I had to get on the road to reach Tucumcari tonight – not too long a drive, but amazing vistas. I know New Mexico isn’t known as “big Sky” country, but it definitely has it.

New Mexico's "Big Sky"

I was looking forward to spending the night on Historic Route 66 at the Motel Safari, one of several motels that have been renovated and re-opened in recent years. (I had hoped to book a room at the Blue Swallow, originally built in 1939 – but it’s 16 rooms are booked months in advance). It’s really unique, with a one-car garage built next to each room.

The Blue Swallow Motel

The Blue Swallow Motel

Now, when you read a real estate ad that says, “quaint and charming”, usually, that’s realestate-speak for “dump”. But when the website describes Motel Safari as quaint and charming, it’s right on the $$. the new owners of Motel Safari have put a lot of love into renovating this classic motor inn originally built in 1960. They advertise “the nicest beds in town” and I believe it. At $49 a night, this is really a gem. No, really. It’s clean, very nicely restored rooms are comfortable and nostalgic – with a few upgrades like flat panel TVs. This one of those times when you get way more than what you pay for. (I wish I could have taken a photo, but the new sign won’t be delivered until next week – rats). Call ahead and ask for Gail.

After some photos of the Blue Swallow, courtesy of owner (Happy Birthday, Bill, and stay tuned – I plan to do an HDR of this image I’ll send to you), and it was time for an ice-cold draught Shiner Bock and a bowl of spicy-hot home-made pozole at the Lizard Lounge. Definitely recommend it. I’ll never pass through Tucumcari again and stay at one of the chain hotels again.

Tomorrow? Continuing on to Adrian on Route 66 (is it possible to stay on the original road? I guess I’ll find out), then I’ll try to make it to Arkansas for the night – but not before stopping in OKC to visit some friends from my Feed The Children days.

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About Gary's Road Trip

Television Producer and Professional Photographer working with humanitarian organizations on behalf of the world's impoverished.
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