For the first time since arriving in the USA, we allowed ourselves to sleep in on our seventh day. We were staying at a motel in Albuquerque after spending two nights sleeping in the car. Because we didn’t go to Death Valley after Las Vegas and went straight to Grand Canyon instead, we saved a day and decided to split up the last day before Oklahoma City, so we would only have 5 hours of driving each day instead of 10 tiring hours in one day. That also meant more time for sightseeing!

At 11.30, we were ready to drive away from Albuquerque, following Central Avenue, which is the original Route 66 stretch through the city. We first took a 60 miles detour to Santa Fe, a city that is known as America’s most beautiful. Since we were so close to the city, we felt like we had to see it.

Santa Fe is the fourth-largest city in New Mexico, and the capital of the state. The area where the city is now situated has been inhabited for many thousands of years by the indigenous Tanoan people, and in 900 AD, the indigenous Tewa people built a village on the spot of today’s Plaza, known as Ogha Po’oge. The city of Santa Fe was founded by Spanish colonists in 1610, and is thus the oldest city in New Mexico and the oldest state capital in the entire country.

Today, Santa Fe is known for its legendary visual arts scene, which includes everything from ancient traditional art to contemporary art reflecting the multicultural character of the city, as well as its unique Pueblo Revival style architecture.

We both loved Santa Fe. The city definitely lived up to its reputation! Just look at how cute and artsy it is!

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We spent about an hour and a half in Santa Fe, and then we were off to Blue Swallow Motel on the Route 66, located 167 miles from the city. This was the longest stretch we had done thus far without stopping.

Driving through New Mexico wasn’t quite the authentic Route 66 experience we had hoped for, in fact it’s the state where most of the route is built over with Highway 40. The scenery along the road also wasn’t as interesting as Arizona, but New Mexico has a lot to offer in cultural aspect.

At one point, we turned off the highway to try to follow Route 66, but it was impossible and instead we ended up driving along a country road, before being able to turn onto the highway again. But by doing this we saw some of New Mexico’s local farmlife, which was much more interesting than the boring highway.

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After many miles of driving on the highway, there was finally a turn-off for the historical Route 66 going through the center of Tucumcari. Along this stretch there were numerous abandoned motels and service stations.

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But there was also the Blue Swallow Motel, an authentic Route 66 motel with original architecture, built in 1939. This motel is one of the longest continuously operated motels along Route 66 in the state of New Mexico!

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From the motel, it was actually possible to follow the historical Route 66 for quite a while, all the way over the border to Texas. Halfway along the road it suddenly turned to rough dirt road, which might very well have been original Route 66 road. On the way, we saw some small turtles and stopped to take pictures of one of them. When I then picked him up to carry him off the road for his own safety, he PEED on me!! haha

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My peeing friend

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Just as Route 66 stopped, we had entered the state of Texas and came straight to the Texas First/Last Motel, which is now very much abandoned, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also haunted. The motel is located in the tiny abandoned village of Glenrio, and was actually built as a kind of “last chance” for the village.

As you may have guessed from its name, the motel is the first in Texas for those heading east (which we were doing), and the last in Texas for those heading west. It’s also the first/last building in Texas, as the border to New Mexico runs right against its western wall!

Today, all that is left are remains of a long forgotten happy era, when Glenrio was a popular stop for travellers heading east to Chicago or west to Los Angeles.

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The time had now changed an hour, meaning that we had lost an hour. The sun was about to set, so we hurried (without speeding ofc) to our next stop, the legendary Midpoint Café from 1928, which is the oldest continuously-operating café on the entire Route 66!

The café is located right at the very midpoint of Route 66, 1137 miles from Los Angeles and 1137 miles from Chicago. Unfortunately, the café had closed for the day a few hours earlier, so we drove on after taking some photos.

As the café’s slogan says “when you’re here, you’re halfway there” – we were halfway on Route 66!!! How exciting and surreal that felt!

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The last thing we wanted to see before getting to Amarillo was the Cadillac Ranch, a public art installation and sculpture from 1974, which consists of old Cadillac cars which have been sprayed with paint by Route 66 travellers through the years. Unfortunately, it was too dark to see anything when we got there, but nightlight on my camera helped me snap these few (terrible) photos below.

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We then drove to the Amarillo Travel Information Center, where we could park the car and sleep in it for free. There was even free wifi and really nice restrooms! We found a new way to arrange the car, so we could both sleep comfortably, as I had slept in the front chair the other nights and had massive back pains the day after.

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The next day was finally the day where we made it to Oklahoma, where we stayed with my good friend Alexandria for two nights. Stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “Driving Historical Route 66: Albuquerque through Santa Fe to Amarillo”

  1. A turtle peed on you, poor Mel! Well, I believe she wanted to mark you in her unique American way! Santa Fe looks like museum and everything is so colorful and full of life!

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