Heading out of Albuquerque this morning, there were lots of great old neons to check out and some super old motels. Heading out of town, we chose the Northwestern loop that follows I-40. We drove up Nine Mile Hill and headed on toward Gallup, NM.
Further down the road, near Mesita, NM, we passed the famous Owl Rock and then headed around Dead Man’s Curve, which is a 180 degree bend in the road. I was nervous we would fall off the cliff until I realized there really wasn’t a cliff. Disaster averted.
We continued along Route 66 through several old forgotten towns. When we got to McCartys, we left the old road to head up to the Santa Maria de Acoma Mission Church. It’s a pueblo style building and was built in the 1930’s. From the road it appears to be alone up on a cliff. Once you drive up though, you realize there is a little town up there too.
As we headed into Grants, we saw more old neons and rundown motels. The best stop though was definitely the little park right on 66. The kids were itching to find a park and we happened upon this one at just the perfect time. We spent some time swinging and sliding, then got back on the road.
This part of New Mexico is barren but beautiful. The San Mateo mountains are breathtaking and there is gorgeous scenery as far as you can see. Definitely a change from the flat lands of the Midwest.
Our next stop was the Continental Divide Indian Market where we picked up a few more postcards. They had all kinds of fun souvenirs and Indian goods for sale. Max really wanted to buy some fireworks, but I talked him out of that and we continued toward Gallup, NM.
Just outside Gallup, we headed into the Red Rock State Park. We were hoping to do a little hiking on one of the trails there, but it was ridiculously windy. In fact, I opened the car door to get out and the $40 I forgot was in my lap flew out the door. I chased it across the parking lot like a dumb ass. The people camping there probably thought I was crazy. But I was not going to let $40 escape like that. Luckily I caught up with my money pretty quickly and didn’t fall on my face so as to further embarrass myself.
Since it was too windy for a hike, we drove around a bit on the roads surrounding the park to take in the beautiful scenery. And then we headed into Gallup. We were starving, so we headed to Earl’s Family Restaurant. It wasn’t great, but you can read my full review below. We wanted to see some sights in Gallup, but the kids were tired. So we headed for the motel.
Tomorrow, we will start in Gallup, NM and head to Flagstaff, AZ.
Things I learned today:
1. Lia will eat butter straight out of the single-serve container if you don’t watch her.
2. Wind + grumpy (tired) kids is not a good combination.
3. There are way more trains in New Mexico than there are cows.
4. I never thought I would say this, but thank you McDonald’s for helping me eat healthy on our road trip. Between the fruit n walnut snack and yogurt parfaits, that’s way healthier than what I would have been eating. And I really don’t want to gain 10 lbs on this trip.
5. Buying rechargeable batteries for the kids’ Leapsters was the smartest thing I did before we left for our trip.
6. Do NOT hold money in your lap and open the car door on a windy day.
7. I know I should try not to cuss when I’m mad, but I have to tell you, it was freaking hilarious to here Ava say “Damnit! I cant find the toilet paper!” this afternoon.
Santa Maria de Acoma Mission Church, McCartys, NM 4 stars – This was a neat little church and only about a 2 minute drive off the route. We weren’t able to go inside but I still think it was worth the detour.
Continental Divide Indian Market, Continental Divide, NM 3 stars – This was a neat little store full of souvenirs and handmade Indian items. They had clean bathrooms, but be advised they only allow customers to use the bathroom.
Red Rock State Park, Gallup, NM 4 stars – It’s probably not fair of me to rate this since we didn’t do any of the trails. But it looked beautiful. And we definitely would have done a trail or two if it hadn’t been SO windy.
Earl’s Family Restaurant, Gallup, NM 2 stars – This place was a big disappointment. The food was mediocre at best and the prices were high. There were bugs all over the inside of the window next to our booth. And it was a little weird, but there were people walking around to every table selling jewelry and such, even while we were eating.
Travel Center of America, Gallup, NM 2 stars – They said they had free WiFi and when we got here it was an extra $5 per computer per night. Then we couldn’t even connect to the internet. I’m pretty disappointed.


  • hmmm… so i am watching the route and not really seeing it veering toward portland like i expected. ummm. how are you guys going to pick me up for the rest of the trip?!
    so jealous right now. same trip i wanted to take my kids on last summer. after you get back i’m gonna need to down low 😉
    beautiful images… thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

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