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The Adventures of Big Al, Big Rig Trucker: El Rancho Hotel episode

When last he left us, Big Al was in mortal shock after seeing the WWII prophylactic poster in Big Rig Trucker: Big Al visits USS Texas in Houston. But we've caught up with him at the The El Rancho Hotel, in another exciting serial installment, "Big Al & Armand Ortega, Candlelight Culinary delight," highlighted by the finest sirloin beef fajitas at $13.95 he's ever eaten, and his near close encounter with Batman Val Kilmer.
Click to read full episode and to look at the picture(s) -CM

By Big Al Owens, the Big Rig Trucker

Last Saturday morning, the Big Rig and Big Al pulled out of the terminal in Campbellsville headed west to Las Vegas. I was kinda dreading the trip but up for whatever adventure came my way.

On Wednesday of last week as I was pushing those 18 wheels towards Mississippi I saw signs advertising the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico. On my way in I saw a familiar face but could not place in my mind, who this person was. As it turns out this was Bruce Wayne, Aka Batman, Aka Val Kilmer.

Armand Ortega told me that when he was just a young lad at 14, he had the pleasure of working here. He said that he always wanted to build a place as beautiful as this for his mother, he never got an opportunity to build that place but was able to buy the El Rancho before his mother passed away.

The El Rancho was opened in 1937 in the heart of Indian country. The hotel is located on Route 66.

The El Rancho was a gathering place for the stars as it was the central location for many films.

The guest register has many names such as Ronald Reagan, Kirk Douglas, Katherine Hepburn, and Gregory Peck. One of my favorites was Jimmy Stewart. I still cry when I watch It's a Wonderful Life.

After spending an hour or so admiring the beauty of this exquisite place, and looking at the many framed photos of the stars who have spent a night or two here, I headed down to the dining room.

I was greeted by Lily, who just graduated high school, and seated near where Mr. Kilmer had just finished his lunch. At first I was served their delicious chips and salsa, then I was treated to the the finest sirloin beef fajitas I have ever tasted and at $13.95, this was a steal.

Most of the menu at this culinary delight is named in honor of the many stars and according to their favorite treats. Alex was a fantastic waiter, and I had the pleasure of conversing with Peddro, who had served Val Kilmer. I also was introduced to Debbie and Cameron who were visiting from nearby Australia. Okay, maybe it's not that close.

If you are ever out on a Sunday drive and have some time, you should make it a point to visit the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico where the stars visit. I was in awe from the moment I saw the place...

Where will Big Al, the Big Rig Trucker, be next? What culinary delight will he discover? Who will be the next celebrity honored by making Big Al's acquaintance? What restaurant will gain new international fame and fortune with a favorable review? What world famous whiskey will Big Al soon be hauling? Is it for the company which employs Columbia's most famous Major Events Director (M.E.D.) for the World's Greatest Spirits company? And what is the coincidental connection between the Big Rig Trucker and the M.E.D. For the answer to (some of) these and many of the other questions troubling the minds of the Adair County diaspora everywhere, stay tuned to this station . . . - CM

This story was posted on 2011-05-30 07:22:13
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El Rancho Hotel newly famous after celebrity visit

2011-05-30 - 1000 E. Hwy 66 Gallup, NM 87301 - Photo Innocent Bystander.
On the surface, this would appear to be a perfectly ordinary, run of the mill motel on old Route 66, but it is newly famous after a celebrity visit by Big Al Owens, the Big Rig Trucker.

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Epicurean Kentuckian: Big Al discovery in New Mexico

2011-05-30 - 1000 E. Hwy 66, Gallup, NM - Photo by Big Al Owens.
Big Al Owens, the Big Rig Trucker has the Kitchen Sisters beat for finding great meals in the most surprising places. He says this simple fare above, spread for him at the El Rancho Hotel, "Is the finest sirloin beef fajitas I have ever tasted, and," he adds, " at $13.95, this was a steal." If you go: The El Rancho Hotel is just 1,490 miles from the famed Dreamland Motel in Columbia, KY. Just under a breezy 24 hour day's drive. From 510 Burkesville ST, Columbia, KY, head south on KY 61 past and hang a right onto the Louie B. Nunn Parkway (Corridor I-66) and head southwest. Consult Google Map for twists and turns.

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Meeting of Armand Ortega, Big Al Owens, Gallup, NM

2011-05-30 - 1000 E. Hwy 66, Gallup, NM - Photo by Innocent Bystander.
Two legends meet at the El Rancho Hotel: Armand Ortega, left and Big Al Owens at Ortega's El Rancho Hotel. Mr. Orgeta began working at the hotel at 14. He has now fulfilled a dream he had then, to one day own the hotel.

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