Exploring Gallup

Saturday I took the bike out to explore the local area. I started with lunch at the Route 66 Railway Cafe. It’s right on Historic Route 66, but it doesn’t have the charm and cheese of the countless Route 66 sites I visited last year. It has model trains scattered around inside, and a lot of the food has railroad-related names, but there wasn’t really anything tying it directly to the railroad either. The tracks are across the street, so it’s not even like this was an old station or something. It’s best to think of this place as your standard diner with a Route 66 and railroad theme. The food was good, by those standards. I had a chili burger, which they wisely served as an open face to eat with a fork and knife, not your hands.

Then I went exploring. I ducked under a railroad bridge, across a sketchy steel grate bridge, and found myself on Superman Canyon Road. With a name like that, I HAD to explore it.

I don’t know where Superman comes into this, but it was a fun twisty section of road that soon brought me to a small village. My Garmin kept desperately trying to take me down this abandoned trail it called a road to get back to camp. The bike and I could’ve handled it, but I also saw cattle all over the field it went across, and I didn’t want to risk getting shot by some rancher for disturbing them. This took me on a random tour of many other paved and dirt roads in the area while ignoring these directions and getting rerouted, eventually back to the same trail that isn’t a road. Eventually, I gave up, went back into town, and took Route 66 back toward camp.

But then I continued down Route 66. There might have been a “road closed sign” involved somewhere. I’m not sure why. The road was in great shape, but it was also straight, flat, and boring. I turned around, went back toward camp again, but then continued past it, up Route 566 to the north. This took me through many red, tan, and similarly colored rock canyons that looked right out of a Roadrunner cartoon.

Finally, the Garmin was useful and told me I was approaching the end of Superman Canyon Road — the same one it had gotten me lost on earlier. I decided to make a loop out of it and took the turn. Not only did the road twist and turn between the rocks and hills, it also randomly switched between pavement, packed dirt, and soft sand, which really kept me on my toes. At one point I ran a stop sign (with no traffic around) to escape a pack of dogs that decided to chase me. That was a little bit too exciting. Eventually, I got back to places I’d already been and went back to camp, really this time.

I took yesterday as an official lazy day. I didn’t do much, other than plan my route the rest of the way to the Grand Canyon. Honey Badger had given me some suggestions, but I didn’t care for the remoteness of a lot of northeast Arizona. I especially didn’t like the idea of crossing Navajo territory with prohibitions on boondocking and even alcohol possession. There was a decent campground or two along that route, but they were few and far between, and I was heading into the work week where I can’t spend that much time behind the wheel between legal places to stop for the night. Instead, I planned a route centered around I-40 and Route 66, drawing on some prior knowledge from last year’s trip for overnight stops. I’ll reach the Grand Canyon in a few days. Where I go from there and when depends entirely on the weather in Quartzsite.

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