West of Moriarty, as we began the long descent into Albuquerque, a song by Jim Glaser began rolling through my head. Likewise with memories as I have rolled into this town from the east for more than fifty years.
As we navigated the streets of the city on our way to the Monterey Motel, our favored haven for a restful evening in the city, our thoughts and discussions toward the topic of food and dinner. Our lunch at the Golden Light in Amarillo had been substantial but hundreds of miles of road had passed under the wheels since that stop.
Then we discovered an intriguing little café hidden in the shadows just a block or two north of Central Avenue near Old Town (321 Rio Grande Boulevard NW). As it turned out, we had found a true gem in the form of Monica’s El Portal Restaurant.
The atmosphere was pleasant and almost homey, a place favored by locals. The friendly staff was professional and knowledgeable about the area, and the food was superb. Mexican food in New Mexico is in a class by itself and the food at Monica’s was top notch.
As a bonus, the restaurant was only a few blocks from our motel. The Monterey Monterey is without equal.
It is a vintage Route 66 property, with restored sign, very close to the Old Town district that has been meticulously renovated and that is well maintained. The amenities are basic but there is a laundry room on site.
We have stayed here on numerous occasions and always found it to be very clean, comfortable and quiet, the proprietors friendly as well as accommodating, and the non smoking policy is an added bonus. In consideration of its location, the price (right at $70 with tax) is rather reasonable.
After another pleasant and restful evening at the Monterey Motel, we set out for breakfast with Ward’s, and another pleasant discovery. At the suggestion of Mike, we cruised west on Central Avenue (Route 66) in search of Western View Steakhouse and Coffee Shop.
There was ample evidence, inside and out, that this restaurant has been serving customers for a very long time. Simply put, it was frayed at the edges.
Still, as it was obviously quite popular with locals, I was quite eager to sample the food. We weren’t disappointed. The simple, basic fare was well prepared and reasonably priced.
As always, lively conversation and a meal shared with friends made our stop more memorable. Our paths had crossed with the Ward’s several times on this adventure but now it was time to part ways.
We seemed to play tag on the drive west through a string of stoplights on Central Avenue, then they turned onto I-40 and we continued to Enchanted Trails Trading Post and RV Park as we had a morning meeting with Vickie Ashcraft, a friend as well as member of the New Mexico Route 66 Association, and books to sign.
Our drive west was punctuated with an array of stops for photos and a bit of exploration. I suppose there was a bit of procrastination as we did want the adventure to end.
One of our strangest stops was at the remains of Fort Courage near Houck, Arizona. We had mostly stopped to stretch the legs but could not resist taking a photo or two.
As I focused the camera, a surprising site brought me up short. The place was abandoned. It was on the fast track to becoming another roadside ruin. And yet the lights were still on at the entrance!
Aside from a stop for fuel, our closeout lunch was another opportunity to sample a roadside classic. This one, Romo’s, in Holbrook was across the street from Joe and Aggies.
As it was a true spur of the moment stop (the plan had been to have lunch in Williams), there wasn’t an opportunity to call David Heward, our lunch companion on our first lunch on the road.
Romo’s is another restaurant favored by the locals. In operation for more than forty years, the place is really showing its age. Still, the food was good. However, it was the friendly staff that carried the day and that made this a memorable stop.
Our adventure on Route 66 and the road less traveled was nothing short of amazing. It was an opportunity to make memories with my dearest friend, to sample new foods and see new places, and to visit old haunts.
But what really made the trip special and memorable were the people met along the way. Friends and strangers alike made this an unforgettable adventure.
Thank you Frank and Mike, Bob and Robin, Sharon and Mike, Connie, Bob, and Ramona, Lori and Joe, David and Rich. To each and everyone that made this such a delightful odyssey, thank you.