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It’s a bar called The ZOO but the real name is Museum Club

December 2, 2009

Santa Fe, NM to Flagstaff, AZ (continued)

More from my 38 day trip across the west and southern United States. Continued from the last posting on my Blog, I’m on route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Flagstaff, Arizona.

Nearing Gallup New Mexico I began to see signs for the world famous El Rancho Hotel. Built in 1937, the El Rancho is located on historic route 66. Former President’s Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower stayed there as did movie stars like Hepburn, Cagney, Stewart, Hayworth, Tracy, Flynn, Douglas, Peck, Bogart, and the Duke. The assumption in that last sentence is that you are old enough and/or cultured enough OR are being held in a maximum security cell at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where apparently the only channel inmates are allowed to watch is Turner Classic Movies – to know who those legendary last names are.

So after making the decision to visit the El Rancho I moved into the left lane to pass some slow moving trucks. About this time I came upon three vintage muscle cars that were apparently involved in some sort of Route 66 rally. I pulled in behind and waited for them to move over to let me pass. Did they move? Not an inch. I sat there for a while hoping not to have to resort to making a right lane pass, bad form that. But ultimately did as they were absolutely unwilling to move over. Had they driven thousands of miles like this? Car guys? I hope not. By the way I’m not a zoom in and out of the lane, turnsignalless, tailgating squid. I don’t zoom up behind cars on my “GIXXXXER” wearing a t-shirt that’s blowing over my head, shorts and flip flops. I stay back at a reasonable safe distance, and gently approach and pass cars and generally try to make up for some of our less informed brothers – think I-95 between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Muscle cars, expensive muscle cars, why is it that most of these buggies are piloted by cheerless old guys wearing white tennis shoes secured with Velcro straps? Apparently you can’t participate in these sorts of rallies without a large, boldly printed, vinyl “ALL ACCESS/BACK STAGE” type name tag hanging around your neck. So let’s see, you the event participant, are ensured “all access” to what? – the entire world? You are so addled by your love of that (insert any 50’s or 60’s muscle car here) that you need a visual aid to tell who you are and what you drive? Perhaps your single minded obsession with obtaining a numbers matching vehicle at Barrett Jackson has reduced your brain to a dinosaur-like size?

All these thoughts went through my mind in the time it takes to click from sixth to fifth as I gave up and moved to the right lane to pass. Of course when I did this the trio sprung into life and started accelerating to block my getting past them. They weren’t happy with the left lane they wanted the entire highway as their domain. The speedo rose, 80, 90, 100, and then I stopped fooling around and nailed it just for the simple pleasure of getting past. Usually these types of speed duals end when the New Mexico State Police magically appear, but thankfully today they did not. All this took place about 15 miles from the exit for the Hotel. I exited in Gallup and at the bottom of the ramp turned left towards the fabulous El Rancho. There appeared to be some sort of confusion in the parking lot when I realized this was the lunch stop for the rally. Ahh, the sound of slurping soup and esoteric discussions on gear ratios, the next Mecum auto auction in San Jose, and where to buy illegal doses of Viagra. I parked the Aprilia climbed off.

I was not in the parking lot of the fabulous and world famous “El Rancho Hotel” I walked in and looked around. Many, many signed and unsigned pictures of John Wayne, dusty and tired western décor and that’s about it. The Lobby was where the charm ended. I went through the lobby to use the facilities and was confronted with this.

“We are safe in the bunker from nuclear attack comrade…..”

Well, if that’s the charm of yesterday you can keep it. Back in the lobby the car guys were shuffling into the restaurant to have lunch. One thing you can’t fault old classic car guys about is their wives. Most of the cars I saw had California plates and most were equipped with a tall, bored looking, attractive blonde at least half the age of the driver. Most struggled to walk under the weight of their handbags and jewel encrusted chassis.


I bought some postcards; snipped few brake lines on the muscle cars, slashed a few tires, and cut a few coil wires (not really), went back to the bike and climbed on. A short time later I crossed into Arizona.

When arriving in a new state I usually stop into the welcome center and pick up a map. The local state maps usually have more detail than my pocket atlas and the GPS. This is the first rest area I have ever stopped at where there were signs warning of dangerous critters running around.

Coming into Flagstaff it turned colder, lots, lots, colder. I really wanted to find a place to settle down before I got dark. Wandering around price shopping for a hotel room in the freezing cold is not a lot of fun. Usually I use a combination of calling the hotels themselves and internet research to get an informed view of what’s a fair price for a hotel room. I selected a Ramada what was within walking distance of several shops and looked presentable. One thing I learned on this trip was that virtually all of the hotels I chose were very clean (some La Quinta’s were the exception) and well maintained despite what the internet reviews indicated. I find that internet reviews can be very misleading. and Yahoo Travel are two popular hotel review websites that often have skewed ratings. Of course when I ran “the third most popular hotel in Stowe, Vermont as ranked by Trip Advisor” I loooooooooooooooved it. If a hotel has 50 one star ratings that’s almost certainly a place to avoid. If it has five reviews with middling rankings and one or two very negative rankings it’s harder to tell. When I started to use the criteria that if a hotel did not have overwhelmingly bad reviews, the rooms got much, cheaper – and were almost always clean and neat. For whatever reason on this trip the front desk staff seem to be continually giving me handicapped access rooms. The bathrooms are usually larger so I can’t complain but handicapped AND riding a motorcycle… Sheesh. I’m not superstisous but this gave me a creepy feeling. The room though was perfectly located on the first floor where I could see the bike and the hot tub was steps away. As an added bonus on my second trip to the room with gear there was an absolutely beautiful woman in a bikini using it! Bonus!

My Lonely Planet guide book recommended a bar called the Museum Club as the place to see country music and have a good time. Such a good time in fact that the bar was nicknamed “The Zoo” by locals. Anyplace with a nickname like that and I’m going! Wanting to drink a few beers and maybe stay out late I called for a taxi. One tip about Flagstaff is that the taxis are a complete rip off. They want a $4.00 fee for showing up. The ride to and from the Museum Club cost FIFTY dollars! Outrageous! We are talking less than 10 miles door to door.

Beer and shot glass – what can be wrong with that?

Perspective on the size of the shot glass, errr, shot thimble?

Despite the insane price of the cab. I had fun at the Zoo and stayed late. I got back to the hotel and crashed. When I woke up in the morning there was heavy frost on the bike.

Tomorrow: Now the fun begins, Las Vegas, racing a Lambo, and the Trump International Hotel.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul P. permalink
    December 3, 2009 12:58 am

    Enjoying the writing and the pics after seeing the link on ST.N. Keep the reports coming. And with the snow about to arrive here I’m tremendously jealous! Safe travels……… Paul


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