Gallup to Kingman


I’m quite excited with my huge 50-plus-year-old room at the Ambassador Motel (and for only $20). The only problem is that the floor slumps about four inches from the back of the room to the front. Good thing I’m not drinking…

Gallup is an odd little town with a colorful history as the “drinking and boozing center” for a whole region with a large Native American population. This is mostly in the past now, although I couldn’t quite figure exactly what it is that people DO here (aside from run motels). There’s an interesting downtown area and several shopping centers and fast food joints. It’s obvious that this is a town which grew primarily because of transportation, first the railroads, then Route 66, and more recently I-40.


It’s always a special joy to wake up in a strange motel a thousand miles from home, to smoke that morning cigarette, and begin packing the car. What makes it even more fun is that moment when you notice that you have a tire as flat as a pancake.


Fortunately, that trip to Target prior to my departure prepared me for this, as I picked up a can of new “non-explosive formula” Fix-a-Flat. All the same, I was a touch paranoid most of the day, and as it turns out, I’m still losing air. I would not be surprised to be greeted by a similar sight in the morning. Must be my revenge for being so fascinated by those Highway 666 signs…


Anyhow, I’m on my way to Arizona.

“Gallup, New Mexico…Flagstaff, Arizona…don’t forget Winona…Kingman…”


Despite the questionable tire, it was an entertaining day as I crossed Arizona, through the painted desert. First major stop was Fort Courage, a reservation gift shop and “salute” to F Troop. Then on to Holbrook, home of the original (and still operating) Wigwam Village Motel. It seemed pretty deserted on this particular morning, but fortunately I found a maid who let me go in and see what a regulation sleeping wigwam looks like. I was impressed.


I skipped Winslow because I do not break for Eagles references, and I had no desire whatsoever to stand on that damned corner. I did not, however, forget Winona. There’s nothing there, but I visited anyway. It was pretty.


A few miles past the intersction known as Winona, back on original Route 66, I started spotting the motels of Flagstaff. Flagstaff turned out to be a pleasant surprise.


Like I said, Flagstaff was an unexpected surprise. Not a surprise in that I wasn’t expecting it, but in that I wasn’t expecting to LIKE it so much. I’d never heard much about the place pro or con, but it’s a pretty cool town. Very collegiate, but not annoyingly so. Definite boy-watching haven.


I had lunch in the coffee shop of the Hotel Monte Vista downtown, just because I liked its looks as I drove by. As it turns out, this hotel is one of the few “gay-friendly” establishments in town, per Mr. Damron. I THOUGHT that waitress seemed a little butch…

Then I hit a couple of bookstores, looked over the 66 strip, called Deon to apologize about the change in itinerary and headed west, having opted out of the Phoenix/San Diego leg. Why? Because I’m running two-plus days late, because I’m digging this Route 66 tour an didn’t want to stop, and (I admit it) because I’m finally getting a little tired of driving.


This didn’t stop me from deciding on the spur of the moment to visit the Grand Canyon. This stroke of genius was thwarted, however, when I learned of the $20 “cover charge” to enter the park. Seemed a bit excessive for a one-hour visit, so I filed the canyon away for a future visit and went to the Flintstones gift shop at Bedrock City instead. The National Park Service, which seems to be charging a lot for its attractions lately, once again got nothing from me.

Back to the highway and on to Seligman, a cute town with a neat Route 66 trading post, where I found a reprint of the 1946 guide to Route 66 which I’ve been seeking for a long time. This was the good part of this stop; the bad part was when I noticed that the tire was still leaking.


I decided that (a) I’d skip the winding, old section of road to Kingman and opt for the freeway instead and (b) I’d spend the night in Kingman and get the tire fixed in the morning.

This was a mildly stressful drive, as it was getting dark, the road wound around lots of hills, and I was nervous about the tire. I also got very reflective about various aspects of my life. Remember Nevada? Something about those damn mountains… Anyhow, I’ll spare you those details for now.

Right now, I’m watching “Hawaii Five-O”. Looks like I may not quite make it home tomorrow…