Tinkertown – Day 34


Day 34 – May 4, 2003 – Sunday

46 degrees when we left our motel in Gallup.  It rained during the night, but that doesn’t count against our amazing record of 34 days without rain as we are only counting rain that falls while we are driving or walking around seeing sights.  It is so much cooler in California, Arizona, and New Mexico than I ever thought it would be.


Sunday morning isn’t a great time for sightseeing as most places are closed.


Gallup is filled with old motels with great neon signs.  We thought we saw them last night, but we only saw part of Route 66.  This morning, we’ve seen far more.  I’m sorry I didn’t get these photographed after dark so we could capture the great neon.


The El Rancho Hotel & Motel is famous.  It was built in 1937, and many stars have stayed there.  Most of the motels were pretty empty, but the El Rancho lot was packed.


The scenery on the east side of Gallup is extremely pretty – mountains and red rock formations similar to Sedona.  Right smack dab in front of some of the most beautiful scenery is the Vern Hamilton Construction Company’s sand and gravel plant.  What a blight.


The Red Rocks State Park is very pretty.


We visited a number of tiny towns today that are along Route 66.  There wasn’t much to see.  Coolidge was interesting; the only access to the town appeared to be through a drainage-like tunnel, though the scenery was beautiful.  Continental Divide consisted of two stores; the altitude is 7,295 feet – no wonder it’s so cool here.  If it ever rains, the water will now be flowing to the Atlantic Ocean.  Bluewater had a Route 66 Swap Meet junk shop and a great neon sign at the long-ago closed Bluewater Motel.  We saw a great-looking old barn between Bluewater and Grants.  We saw black lava beds near McCartys as well as the ruins of a Whiting Bros. service station.  We saw an old café in San Fidel and old cabins in Cubero.  The Budville Trading Post looks great in Budville, but it was not open – not sure if it is permanently closed.  We saw a trading post in Paraje, a flower shop in New Laguna, and a bridge in Rio Puerco.  There wasn’t much to see, but we were on the real Route 66 for much of the drive.


Grants is a good-sized town.  We enjoyed the park with a beautiful waterfall fountain and a wonderful Route 66 sculpture.  We took a number of other photos in Grants.  While I do most of the photography, Bozzie Jane will take shots out the car window on her side of the road.

We rolled into Albuquerque on the interstate, and we were surprised to see a sign that said “Albuquerque – Next 17 Exits.”  That’s a lot of exits!  We drove the length of town on Route 66 (Central Avenue), and we once again saw a tremendous number of old motels with great neon signs.  We stopped in Old Town – old buildings with tourist-oriented businesses.  We had excellent Mexican Food at La Placita.


Albuquerque has an especially beautiful old theatre – the Kimo.  You’ll notice that my photo is off center.  We were approached by a man who said he was a Navajo.  The top was down on the car, and I was 20 feet away.  He wanted to steal my camera, and he kept trying to get close to me.  It was a scary deal.  I managed to get back to the car and get us out of there.  We understand that Albuquerque is a pretty rough place.


The Aztec Motel is a landmark…and really quirky.  All kinds of stuff is stuck on the walls.  We would have explored more closely, but we came across three rough-looking characters walking down the street when I was out of the car taking photos.  I put the top up and locked the doors the rest of the way through Albuquerque.  We stopped at a nice-looking-on-the-outside “Giant” gas station, and there was a beggar stationed in a wheelchair right outside the ladies room.  The lock didn’t work on the ladies room door, and the men’s room was completely closed and not available for use.  The place was filthy.


Most of the gas stations that we have hit from California to New Mexico do not take credit cards at the pump, and many do not take credit cards at all.  This is a hassle that we didn’t like.


We took the “back route” to Santa Fe – Highway 14, known as the Turquoise Trail.  It is scenic, and one of the sights I have most wanted to see was just off the highway.


Tinkertown is everything I hoped it would be and much more.  It was billed as the world’s largest miniature western town, but it is really an incredible art gallery of the life’s work of Ross J. Ward.  For over 40 years, Ross Ward did woodcarving to create and then expand Tinkertown.  His woodcarving is incredible, but his overall artistic ability and the way everything on the property looks is what really blew me away.  Ross was also a philosopher, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the philosophies that were sprinkled in along the way.  Tinkertown is truly unique and represents an amazing accomplishment.  I have to rank it as the best attraction so far.  Ross died on November 13, 2002 at the age of 62.  He had quite a sense of humor as he prepared a death announcement plaque to go on the wall; it appears to be painted on a toilet seat, and the message includes “That’s the Capper.”


Please go see Tinkertown when you go to Santa Fe!


We passed through Golden, Madrid, and Cerillos on the way to Santa Fe.  We will stop in those little ghost towns tomorrow after we see Santa Fe.  We did meet Ben, a photographer with a fancy old camera on a tripod.  He was taking an old building with light shining through the remaining slats of the roof.  I took the same photo he was taking, and I got a nice shot of him and his camera with the old building behind.


Barbara and the kids have been to Santa Fe, but I somehow missed it until now.  It’s a beautiful city.  The sky and the clouds have a beauty that I have never seen anywhere else.


When we checked into the Eldorado Hotel, Boz realized it is the same hotel she and the kids stayed at 15 years ago.  Great hotel near the Plaza.  Patrick was the desk clerk.  We were about to head to our room when something was said that got us to talking.  Patrick got very excited when he learned about our trip, and he recommended a number of places for us to go in New Mexico.  It turns out Patrick is a photographer, and we arranged to meet him at 3:30 tomorrow to see some of his photographs of places he feels we should go.  What a delightful encounter!


We walked around Santa Fe through sunset.  The sky was incredible, and I got some great photos – even if they are over the tops of buildings and electrical lines in Santa Fe.


I guess the lesson we learned today is that it doesn’t take a lot to make a day special.  There just wasn’t a lot to see or do in the seven hours it took us to drive from Gallup through Albuquerque.  But then we loved Tinkertown, met a special person in Patrick, and enjoyed beautiful Santa Fe and its incredible sky.




May 4, 2003

8:45 36664 49 degrees It rained during the night but that doesn’t count against us, but the clouds are pretty dark.

The Holiday Inn’s hotel lobby was like the nicest hotel in downtown Dallas, the rooms were the second worst that we’ve seen but they’re getting ready to remodel.

At least the rain has caused the winds to stop. Folks at the hotel were commenting on that at the hotel, it’s been blowing like crazy here for as long as they could remember.

The first train of the day.

Richardson’s Pawn Shop has been opened since 1913 unfortunately it was closed this morning and we could not get in.

After seeing one little dumpee small motel after another, we finally saw a parking lot full of cars and it’s the Hotel El Rancho—“the charm of yesterday, convenience of tomorrow.” The place dates back to 1937, the place is huge. It must be pretty good, there’s a lot of people there.

Another train.

There’s pretty scenery on the outskirts of Gallop; there’s nice mountain and rock formations.

Vernon Hamilton Construction Company outside of Gallop gets the worst company award for placing its grotesque sand and gravel business right next to one of the more beautiful mountain and rock formations we’ve ever seen.

Red Rock State Park 36679 10:00am

Another train.

We quickly drove in Red Rock State Park but I tell you as you look at these red rocks Gallop has red rocks with as much beauty as Sedona. It’s not as pretty a setting, the town’s just laid out on a strip the length of the railroad tracks but it’s pretty.

36697 10:23am We pulled off for the town of Coolidge. There’s not much here so far. I took a picture of an old abandoned building. There’s kind of a entrance to town underneath the highway going through a little tunnel—spooky.

Coolidge may not have a lot going for it, but it has some beautiful scenery.

Bozzie’s taking a picture.

We’re at exit 47 off of I 40 36700 10:30am We’re at the Continental Divide on Route 66.

7250 feet elevation level here.

We saw a sign that says “Seewald  Estates.” 36712 10:50am but we don’t see any estates.

There’s a little shed.

Another train.

We’re in Prewitt 36719 10:55am

36723 11:00am We just passed by the Route 66 Swap Meet which is just kind of a junk shop on the side of the road outside Prewitt heading towards Blue Water.

We took a picture of Mt. Taylor from the Highway near the Swap Meet 11,300 feet.

We took several photos of Alan’s Garage just outside of Grants.

Blue Water 36728 11:10 It’s 57 degrees and the wind’s still blowing pretty good; our suntans are fading.

I took a picture of a barn between Blue Water and Grant. I got another train.

Malan 36734 11:20am There is a very blue sky with some pretty white clouds that look like they’re painted. We just passed through a red dust storm, but here just a few feet away you’d never know it.

We’re taking a picture of the black lava beds called the Malpies.

Grants 36737 11:26am

We got a picture of Charlie’s Radiator Service in Grants.

Took the Lux Theater in Grants

Took the Grants Chamber of Commerce and Mining Museum and the Uranium Café just across the street. Unfortunately, the café’s closed.

Took the fountain and the sculpture in Grants—very nice

Took a shot of the West Theatre in Grants now featuring X-Men 2

It’s a bad placement of the Route 66 sign as you exit the east end of Grants. It’s past the point where you need to turn.

Passing by McCarty’s 36754 12:05pm

Took an old building in McCarty’s

Took an picture of the old torn down Whiting Brothers just outside McCarty’s

San Fidel 36758 12:10pm

Picture of the San Fidel Café or what used to be the San Fidel Café

Took a picture of a place that you may be able to see cabins in the community of Via de Cubero

There’s a gas station here with a lot of business.

Budville Trading Post 36763 12:21pm It’s closed up but it’s probably still in business, but I’m not sure.

Another train

36767 12:26pm Paraje There’s a trading post and a few houses.

We have reached New Laguna 36770 12:30pm

Sweetie’s Flowers and Gifts in New Laguna

Another train

We’re very surprised to have so much Route 66 to drive. It isn’t signed as Route 66 everywhere, but it is Route 66 and we’ve been on it nonstop today.

I got a flag and a fence post.

It’s a pretty drive as you leave Old Laguna. The road’s a little rougher but you come down through a canyon—Red Rock Canyon.

Mesita 36778 12:42pm

I took an Indian Arrowhead Highway sign and a Mesita sign

Route 66 gets considerably rougher outside of Mesita

We’ve decided to back up at Mesita, get off this really bumpy road which goes a big loop that’s kind of out of the way, because we want to see the bridge we would miss otherwise.

We’re exiting at Exit 126 because it says Route 66 36793 1:03pm

Rio Puerco 36807 1:15pm

Took a picture of the Rio Puerco bridge. It was built 1933, 250 feet long, one of the longest bridges in New Mexico.

We’re at a sign that says Albuquerque next 17 exits; I’ve never seen a city with so many exits. 36817 1:42pm

We exited at 149 36819 1:44 And we’re back on Route 66

Albuquerque city limits 36821 1:47pm

The steakhouse was the first picture coming into Albuquerque, then a motel.

36825 2:02 We’re crossing the Rio Grande River on Route 66. This is a pretty big deal!

36826 3:10 We’re just leaving Old Town after having a nice Mexican lunch, buying a Christmas ornament, and paying $2 to park. Now we’re rolling.

We tried to get a picture of the Keybo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque and some Navajo Indian came up to us harassing us and wanting money and trying to steal our camera.

We got a picture of the 66 Diner in Albuquerque. Route 66 is called Central Avenue in Albuquerque.

36830 3:25 We’re at the University of New Mexico.

36831 3:33 Incredible Aztec Motel. There’s stuff all over it.

The giant service station restrooms in Albuquerque get a low mark; they have a beggar waiting outside the door. You have to get a key to work allegedly, but the only one that works is the women’s. They’re filthy. A general complaint about gas stations from here to California: most of them don’t allow you to pay by credit card at the pump; you have to go in and pay before you pump your gas which is very difficult because a lot of them don’t take credit cards, you have to give them a lot of cash. They are very unpleasant to deal with.

36844 4:07pm Teeharas and we’re starting at the Turquoise Trail—Hwy 14 heading to Santa Fe. We’re hoping to see some people who will attempt to rob and kill us so that we can photograph them. We may have to cut over to the interstate to get the robbers and murderers.

We actually just reached Teeharas 36844 4:08pm

36845 4:09 We’re at the junction of 14 North

Sandia Park 36851 4:17pm

We left fabulous Tinkertown and we’re San Antonito 36853 4:57pm

Tinkertown is completely unique. The talent of this man Ross Ward is unbelievable; he died November of 2002. The artistic ability of the layout and design and assemblage of all this stuff is even more impressive than the woodcarving.

Golden 36865 5:09pm

36874 5:19 We came up to the top of the mountain and came over the other side and you get an incredible view all the way off to snow-capped peaks in the distance with various mountains and hills and valleys in between.

Madrid 36876 5:24pm This is an artist’s community and there’s all kinds of funky cool little stuff. There’s little huts, a little jewelry place.

We met Ben who said he’s an amateur photographer but has a mighty impressive camera that shoots special quality film. He was taking a picture of a barn because you get really interesting light shining through this time of year and day.

Madrid is a really cool old mining town, turned into an artist’s community. When it’s artists who are doing artwork it doesn’t bother you as much as when it’s a place that’s selling T-shirts and everything else. They of course maintain things in a way that is so artsy and ties into the land and buildings. It’s awfully enjoyable to see. There’s a gypsy festival; that would be cool to attend.

City limits of Santa Fe 36898 We missed Serrios. We saw about 5 dinosaurs in a building in Madrid, we saw a giant flag, we just saw a cool neon sign, but we’re out of memory space so we have to remember to take pictures when we come back.

We met Patrick, the desk clerk at the hotel. He was extremely nice and got real excited about the trip. We took a picture of the Institue of American Indian Arts Museum, the Cathedral Park, and a sculpture at the Frank Howell Gallery.

We met Bruce Cody at the Charlene Cody Gallery. Barbara noticed paintings of service station fronts and the kinds of things we’ve been photographing. We commented on how nice they were and it turned out he was the artist. We took his picture. We walked to the very pretty plaza, saw a couple of policemen and asked them the best place to eat. They told us the Plaza Café which we were standing in front of. It was great. They’ve been serving since 1918 on the Plaza in Santa Fe.

Last night we shared a turkey club at the El Dorado Hotel. We saw a guy in what looked to be an orange Camero who was up to no good on the drive up to Albuquerque.

We’re having caramel apple pecan pie which were not sure if it’s better than the Harry and the Natives Key Lime or not. This is really good—it’s #1 or #2.

Barbara pronounces this pie “#2”

Oldest church structure in the USA 1610—San Miguel Church

Vanessa and Monica are artists from Canada.

We took a picture of the entrance to the oldest house in the USA but it was closed.

1200 AD reputed to be a remnant of this ancient Pueblo.

We took Great Tree near the Morning Star Gallery on Canyon Road and the James L. Johnson house garden.

After the 2 skinny women hugging, I took a picture of the residence and studio of Freemont F. Ellise. It’s called the Edwin Brooks house from the 1920’s.

Zaplin-Lampert Gallery Sculputre Garden with yellow flowers

Took a picture of the brushes at artisan/Santa Fe. We met Meg Davenport.

I had a nice talk with Patrick and met Paul in the parking garage.

Patrick told us a great story about when he was in the town of Glenwood. It had been a long day, he was tired and stopped at a sign which said there were rooms. He went into a saloon next to where it said there were rooms and a guy who looked like Z Z Top said he had a room available and asked him how much he wanted to pay. Patrick said $20. At the end of the night, the guy gave him a key to the front door of the saloon and told him he had his pick of the 20 rooms upstairs.

36909 4:00 We’re at Jack-a-loupe.

It’s a huge city. Like Patrick said “it’s nothing you need, but everything you want.” It’s the Home Depot for Santa Fe style.

We tried to go to the fiberglass place but when we turned we got stuck on interstate 25 and had to drive a bunch of miles to exit and go back the other direction. So, there is a fiberglass place with various unsundry dinosaurs. The guy apparently uses it to make political statements. He had Osama bin Laden in the mouth of a dinosaur. We’ll just have to tell people about it instead of photograph it.

36927 4:50 We managed to get pictures of the dinosaurs.

36930 4:55 We’re at the New Mexico State Penitentiary. We’re going to go in and ask them if there’s been any particularly violent criminal who hasn’t had any visitors daily, and we’re here to see him.

Serillos 36942 5:08pm This town was founded in 1879, and turquoise was mined here.

Serillos is a real old town with not much left, and not a single tourist oriented thing in it.

Mom’s taking a picture of the sculpture outside the Turquoise Trail Trading Post just outside Serillos. She’s taking a picture of a place perhaps called Empire Bone Zone. He has bones on his trashcan and all kinds of crazy sculptures. It says “enter at your own risk.”

We met Johnny and he told us that Madred had free electricity, so it was known for its Christmas lights. They had and still do have a tremendous Christmas light display. Back in the old days there was rumor that it helped inspire Walt Disney to build Disneyland because of this oasis in the desert. He also told us that Madred had a minor league baseball team called the Madred Miners and the Los Angeles Dogers once came here and played. The baseball stadium here is the first stadium west of the Mississippi to have lights for night games. Because of the way the stadiums set, when the sunsets it’s only suitable to play the game at night. He said there are a lot of characters here, and it’s a great place to live. We met him when he asked us what Round America was all about. Bozzie Jane has found a dog that looks like it’s dying of starvation, so we’re at the grocery store buying some dog food.

Johnny also told us this is a rough and tough place. Over the weekend Tattoo Tammy got in a shootout with some guys and was in jail. Who knows if it’s true or not but it sounded like fun.

Took pictures of the Oscar Hughbrell Memorial Ballpark

6:12 We’re leaving Madred. We couldn’t find the dog so we gave it to a man who said he would find the dog for us.

36949 6:11pm We had no luck reaching Michael Aster.

We got a picture of the church in Golden.

Cedar Crest 36974 6:56pm

Tiharos 36978 7:00pm