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My overnight stay in room 9 at the Sunset Motel in Gallup, NM

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
About a year and a half ago a friend of mine gave me a copy of the mini-series "The Lost Room" to watch.  He's a sci-fi fanatic and talked it up pretty passionately; so already being a fan of Peter Krause's work from "Six Feet Under", I said why not.  Imagine my surprise when I see that the story centers around a place called the Sunset Motel in Gallup, NM.  "Hell, I've stayed at the Sunset Motel in Gallup, NM" I say to myself.  So after watching all the episodes I eventually got motivated enough to dig out my old photo albums and look for the pics from a road trip I took to California back in the Spring of 1995.  I vaguely remembered having a shot of the neon sign in front of the Sunset, but didn't know if it would show the name or not.  Well, after blowing up a scan of the photo I found that you could indeed see the name pretty well.  But, all I had was that pic and three others of inside the room as proof to my buddy that I'd actually stayed at what up until now he had thought to be a completely fictional place;  I needed more.  The jackpot came when I looked thru one of the envelopes of receipts, brochures, and memorabilia that I used to compile for most of my vacations back when I was a younger, more exciteable traveler.  Once again, imagine my surprise when I find that not only does the receipt have Sunset Motel Gallup, NM printed on it as opposed to being one of the hand-written types common to the kind of motels you find on Route 66, but that I had stayed in room 9 as well (evidenced by the #9 written in the top right-hand corner of the receipt).  I know, I know; I probably wouldn't believe you either.  But my friends do believe me, and would tell you that I really don't give a shit enough about anything to care to lie in the first place.
 
Anyhow, it was a rather uneventful stay.  I think I got some Taco Bell to eat back in the room (couldn't find a receipt for it though), watched some of their heavily touted COLOR-TV, and made a ridiculously expensive collect call back home, as that was the only way the front desk would let you make anything other than a local call.  God bless today's free nationwide roaming cell phone plans, eh.  I actually had a cell phone at the time, but back then you paid a $3 per day tower charge and 99 cents a minute for calls made out of your home area, so "collect call to Mom from Jay" it was.   I got up fairly late the next morning, had a conversation with the owner of the motel about my car which had gotten the hell beaten out of it in a hail storm in Texas two days earlier, gassed up the car right down the road, and hit the highway headed west toward the Painted Desert.
 
So back to the fairly recent future: I promised my buddy I would e-mail him the pics and other info I had found just as soon as I could get it all together.  Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into a year and a half.  While digging up what online info I could find, I realized there are more than a few people out there who are quite fond of this film.  I figured some of them might be interested in this info as well, so I decided to just put it all here for anyone who wishes to see it.
January 23, 2012
 
 
 
(click on any of the pictures to enlarge them)
 
 
 
 
 
 
The fictional Sunset Motel in 2006 as depicted in the film "The Lost Room" 
 
 
 

The real Sunset Motel in 1995 (view from outside of room 9) 

 

 

 
My receipt with room #9 written in the corner by the desk clerk
(the number 1762 is bleed-thru from a carbon copy fuel receipt on which I had marked my mileage from home to Gallup)
 
 
 

  
 
 
 So what does the inside of room 9 look like?  Not much like the film, as it turns out; not as brightly painted and not nearly as clean.
The tiles in the bathroom were a very cool shade of turquoise though from what I remember.
 
The only reason I even have these interior shots is because I wanted to show the folks back home what an honest to God vintage Route 66 motel room looked like.
 
 
 
 
 
 
All that's missing is a coin operated vibrating base 
 
 
 
 
 
Had I only known the importance of that lackadaisically placed room key
 
 
 
 
 
The bathroom was the one area that still looked '50s vintage as opposed to '70s remodel
 
 
 
 
 
 Everything's bigger in Texas, especially the hail
 
 
 

 
 
 
So let's go find the Sunset online and see how it's doing these days, you say.
 
Searching Google on October 7, 2010 I indeed found the Sunset listed, but upon going to the Google Maps page I had some difficulty tracking it down.
I had no idea where geographically in Gallup I had stayed in '95.  Before settling on the Sunset I had literally driven the full length of town several times just looking around at all the neon signs and such.   So when Google Maps showed what was obviously not a motel, I thought I might have to scroll all the way thru town to find it.
 
Turns out they dropped the place pin about a quarter of a mile east of the actual location.
 
 
 
 
 
 
1305 W Hwy 66 is the street address
(anyone familiar with travel knows that east and west designations of highways often throw map programs off)
 
 
 
 
 
Arrow showing actual location of Sunset Motel as opposed to where Google says it is
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
Unfortunately when you go to Google Street View instead of finding the Sunset Motel you're going to see the newly renovated Gardenia Inn
 
 
 
 
 
 
They've changed the name and colors, although it's obviously still the same sign.
 
 
 
 
 
Hell, the blue car even looks almost the same as the one in my photo from '95
 
 
 
 
 
And there's the railroad across the street from the motel, just like in my photo
 
 
 
 
I found a guy on Facebook who stayed at the Gardenia Inn in May of 2011 while traveling cross country on a bicycle, though he didn't post any pictures of the motel itself
(his choice was apparently based on the cheap rate, the same reason I picked it 16 years earlier; that and the zigzaggy neon running along the front of all the rooms)
 
 
 
 

 

 
I also happened upon an image from July of 2007 of the motel where the sign looks exactly the same as it did in 1995, but the name is missing, at least on the side you can see.
I'm assuming it was probably still called the Sunset Motel in '07 although the author of the blog doesn't mention the name at all.
 
 
 
 

 
This guy took interest in the sign because it's apparently one of only a few remaining Route 66 signs advertising "COLOR-TV"
(looking back at the Gardenia Inn sign from above one sees that "Free High Speed Internet" is the new "COLOR-TV"
 
 
 
 

 \Note the 1305 W Hwy 66 address painted on the pole, eliminating any doubt that this is indeed the Sunset Motel from the Google listing above

 
 
 
 
This is the location coordinate information the author had linked to in Google Maps; approximately 100 feet west of the sign in the middle of the Sunset's parking lot
  
 
You can take a look at the page for yourself at Rusty Lopez's blog
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
GPS coordinates of the motel for those who would like to stop by are:
 
35.522229, -108.760968
or
+35° 31' 20.22", -108° 45' 39.58"
 
 
 

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