Observations from Route 66 in New Mexico & Arizona

Snow, Rain and More Americana on Route 66 in New Mexico and Arizona – This and That

Santa Fe, New Mexico - The Inn and Spa at Loretto
Santa Fe, New Mexico – The Inn and Spa at Loretto

New Mexico

When I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it actually snowed. But not like back home with big flakes. These were small round balls: almost like hail, but not hail.

On Sunday, the south is closed.

I think I’m the only person who drives through the desert and has it rain. Seriously, every time I get in my car…rain!

I saw my first New York license plate in Santa Fe…seven days into the trip.

Sometimes I have to force myself to take the interstate instead of driving Route 66 in order to make up time I have lost stopping for every sign and gas station along the way.

Tumbleweed on the road in Arizona
Tumbleweed on the road in Arizona

I actually saw a tumbleweed blow across the highway in front of me in Texas. I also saw a few more in New Mexico.

During some of my many hours alone I tried to figure out why I love the whole Route 66 experience and the signs and the whole thing so much. The best I could come up with is because of how much I loved Back to the Future as a kid. I was always fascinated by the 50s as shown in Hill Valley and I must know every word of that movie by heart.

After seeing signs that hitchhikers might be escaped convicts in multiple states, I finally saw prisoners on the side of the road. Only they weren’t hitchhiking…they were cleaning the highway.

There are random 10 mile segments of the interstate that are called Safety Corridors where you have to drive with your headlights on and speeding fines are doubled. I have no idea why.

World's Largest Petrified Tree is broken up into pieces and scatterd around a Rest Stop, Holbrook, New Mexico_
World’s Largest Petrified Tree is broken up into pieces and scatterd around a Rest Stop, Holbrook, New Mexico_

The politically correct term may be Native American, but all over the place I see signs advertising the Indian this and the Indian that. And these businesses are RUN by Indians/Native Americans…you choose which one I use here.

Sometimes there is a sign for Route 66 on the interstate but when I get off to check it out it’s literally just a few feet of original road that had some special significance. Then it’s back onto the interstate that same exit.

It’s not good for the future of my lead foot that after being legally allowed to go 75 it now feels like I’m crawling at 80.

In Western New Mexico, there is an Indian-owned handicrafts store every exit…or so it seems.

I crossed the Rio Grande.

The West movie theater in Prewitt, New Mexico
The West movie theater in Prewitt, New Mexico

My cell phone ring is Lime in the Coconut and when the song randomly came on my iPod I had a knee-jerk reaction even before the thought that someone was calling me popped into my mind.

Signs on the side of the road talking about road work say, “project funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.” Your stimulus dollars at work.


New Yorkers find each other. While at the Petrified Forest National Park I met a man from Brooklyn at the first scenic overlook. Of course, I then ran into him at every subsequent one and had to make small talk over and over again.

Arizona is the only state that does not say the state’s name on the Route 66 markers. It just says, “Historic Route 66,” as opposed to “Historic STATE Route 66.”

I got to fill up my gas tank at an old-school service station with the gas pump that counts gallons and price with rotating plastic pieces instead of on a digital screen. The lever you usually lift to start pumping was on the side and had to be rotated down over an opening to get the gas to start flowing.

On Route 66 at the Jack Rabbit Trading Post, Joseph City, Arizona
On Route 66 at the Jack Rabbit Trading Post, Joseph City, Arizona

I’ve got it easy traveling Route 66. Before the mid-90s, there were no National Historic Route 66 signs pointing the way across the country. And there was certainly no Internet to guide the way.

I drove through a dust storm. It’s like driving through very windy fog that pelts your windshield while tumbleweeds blow.

I didn’t stop because it was on the other side of the road, but I saw the World’s Largest Map of Route 66 on the other side of the road near Meteor Crater, Arizona.

My car hit a tumbleweed head on. It bounced off my windshield and flew behind me, but I wonder…could a big enough one damage the car?

I guess part of the reason that the high desert is so cold is because it has an elevation of 6,000 feet.

Is it really asking so much to have beautiful blue skies every day? I swear, it’s been 90% cloudy this whole drive.

Along a long stretch of original 66 north in Arizona, Burma Shave signs still line the road. Appearing in sets of five signs, they tell little rhymes and end with an ad for Burma Shave. One example is “It would be fun. To go by air. If we could put. These signs up there. Burma Shave.” Another is, “If daisies are. Your favorite flower. Keep pushing up. That mile per hour. Burma Shave.”