This was a day of exquisite beauty and tangible history. We woke up this morning in the 1929 Hotel Nevada on the Lincoln Highway — the “Father Road” — in Ely, Nev. We are going to bed tonight at another historic hotel on another historic highway: the 1937 El Rancho Hotel on Route 66 — Steinbeck’s “Mother Road” — in Gallup, N.M.
Ron had done all the driving up to this point, but with Route 66 on the agenda, I volunteered for long-haul duty today, logging 600 miles behind the wheel through western Nevada, across Utah, down through Colorado, and into New Mexico. Our path meant that in the span of 12 hours, I would drive on parts of the Father Road, the Loneliest Road (U.S. 50 in Nevada), the Devil’s Highway (U.S. 491, formerly known as U.S. 666), and the Mother Road.
The drive through Utah — which crossed several mountain ranges (best name: the Confusion Range) before taking us south on 191 to skirt Arches National Park — was breathtaking, and I relished our brief stop at Hole in the Rock, which is a glorious bit of roadside kitsch of the highest order. We’ll visit Moab again on another trip, as it’s a cool town that merits further exploration.
Just north of Gallup, at the “magic hour” (photographers know what I’m talking about), we saw a rainbow streaming from a sunset-pink cloud above a gorgeous red rock formation. Hopefully the pictures I shot will do justice to the colors.
We’re now relaxing in the lobby at El Rancho. We’re still many miles from Red Fork, but being back on the Mother Road after so many days wandering down unfamiliar paths, I feel as if we’ve already come home.
Tucumcari tomorrow. Do I have to tell you how good it feels to be less than a day’s drive from the Swallow?