Breakfast at Joe & Aggie’s Cafe
“Green or red chili sauce?” is a question that confuses northerners and foreigners, but it is important you know the difference if you are spending time in New Mexico and want to the local fare. When I eat a breakfast burrito at Joe & Aggie’s, I always go for green chili sauce, because it is hotter and by quite a margin as well. So, if your palette is not predisposed to a fiery assault, play it safe and choose red chili sauce.
I love eating breakfast at Joe & Aggie’s Cafe, there is simply no other place in Holbrook that can match it. Not only is it steeped in Route 66 history, the staff are great and the authentic Mexican food is delicious. It is invigorating to begin the day with the combined kick of green chili sauce and bottomless coffee.
The restaurant was founded in 1942 by Jesus “Joe” L. Montano and Augustina “Aggie” Tafoya Montano. Aggie passed away in 2012 and the restaurant is now owned and operated by her daughter Alice Gallegos, along with her husband, Stanley, and their kids, Steven, Kim, Troy, and Sharlene.
RIP Theodore “Ted” Julien
On my last post, I mentioned “Julien’s Roadrunner” gift shop was closed. I was not sure if Ted Julien had retired or passed on as he was over 80 years old. Whilst eating breakfast at Joe & Aggies, I asked Alice what happened to Julien’s. Sadly, Ted has passed on and the store closed. Worse still, it is unlikely that the store will ever open again. After Ted’s death, his children gutted the store, they removed practically everything not nailed to the floor and sold it. After breakfast, I went across the street and looked inside, the only thing left was empty display cases and dust.
The bad news hit me kind of hard as I had very fond memories of Ted. I originally met him back in 2000 on my first southwest Road Trip. I purchased a few souvenirs from his shop and struck up a conversation. He was a very kind and gentle man with a dry sense of humor. You can still see vestiges of his humor on the artwork that adorns his store.
Over the years, I have returned several times to Julien’s Roadrunner and always chatted with Ted. He was more than happy to talk to you about his days on Route 66 as well as his service in the Navy during World War II. He probably did not remember me, but I could not forget him and his cats. The feline companions were ever present over the years, albeit different ones. Often there would be a cat walking on the glass cases and similar to Dr. Evil’s cat in the Austin Powers movies, there was occasionally a cat stowed away in a drawer under the cash register.
The last time I saw Ted, was in 2013. I told him that I always visit his shop when in Holbrook and had done so for over 10 years. Before I left, I told him, “I hope to see you again soon.” He said, “make it sooner than later, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be around.” Turns out he was right and he’ll be missed by many Route 66 travelers and the good people of Holbrook.
I was only able to find one online obituary for Theodore “Ted” Julien here. I made this video to show how his store looks today and to remember the passing of a Route 66 icon.
Wigwam Village Motel
After learning the sad news about Ted Julien’s death, I needed a distraction and something more light to restore my spirit. So, why not go photograph the Wigwam motel? Truth be told, I’ve already photographed it several times, but I needed some “shutter therapy” today. Yes, they look just like the same photos I’ve taken before over the years 🙂 Who cares, it was fun.
From wikipedia: Arizona motel owner Chester E. Lewis built this Wigwam Village in 1950. There are 15 wigwams on the property and many have a vintage car parked outside. Lewis operated the motel until closing it in 1974 when Interstate 40 bypassed downtown Holbrook. Two years after his death in 1986, sons Clifton and Paul Lewis and daughter Elinor renovated the motel before reopening it in 1988. The Lewis family continues to run and maintain Wigwam Village #6. Near the registration desk is a small room that contains many of Chester Lewis’s memorabilia, including a necklace of human teeth of unknown origin.
Wigwam Village has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since May 2, 2002
Rainbow Rock Shop
Another must see roadside attraction in Holbrook is the Rainbow Rock Shop. There you will find a wide assortment of gems, geodes, petrified wood and old west memorabilia. However, the standout feature are the life size and cartoonish dinosaur figures. It is always a good photo opportunity and it’s a good place to buy a few souvenirs.
Heavy Rain on I-40
My morning fun in Holbrook was done, I had to get back on the interstate and put down a lot of miles. My goal was to ride non-stop until it was dark, this took me as far as Tucumcari, New Mexico, which is 406 miles east of Holbrook.
There was no time left to do any sightseeing today, and that was no easy task for me as I had to bypass scenic New Mexico towns on Route 66 towns such Lupton, Thoreau, Grants, Paraje and Santa Rosa. I would also forgo any further exploration of Albuquerque and just stick to the Interstate.
As I approached Albuquerque, the skies looked angry. I could see rain in the distance and knew it was only a question of time before I’d have to ride through another monsoon. I made it just past the city and pulled into a gas station to put on my rain gear. Within a minute or two, there was a torrential downpour and it was best to wait it out as visibility was practically zero. After 10 minutes, the rain abated and I got back on the road.
The roads were still soaking wet and as I approached the ramp back onto I-40, there was a puddle at least 2 feet deep near the exit. I took my chances and decided to ride through it. Even at a slow speed, the tires carved out two walls of water that left my head and boots soaking wet. Lucky for me, the water did not go into the air intake and I once I was back on I-40, I rode all the way to Tucumcari, NM, stopping only for gas.