New Mexico!


Day One - Pasadena to Santa Fe - Tuesday, April 18th

Okay, since it's only 9:30 at night, it's technically still "Day Zero" if you want to get anal - but as nothing much happens these first two-and-a-half hours but driving, I'm going to consider it part of "Day One."  So there!

I pick Dee Dee up out front of Glendale City College and after a quick U'y, we're booming eastwards on the freeway.  It's stopped raining - though it's still quite overcast - and somewhere 'round midnight, we're pulling into Barstow for gas.

Now it's Dee Dee's turn to drive.  She's nice an alert, while I'm just this side of dozing.  Thus, she's testing the maximum speed limits of a Civic on the 40 while I try to nap.  I don't really succeed, mind, but I drift in and out enough that it seems like a surprisingly short time (given it's nearly two-hundred miles) that we're crossing the Colorado into Arizona.

The First Day's Voyage

'Bout halfway between Barstow and the border, we'd run out from under the edge of the clouds and things had been nice and clear.  But as we pass through Kingman and begin the long (one hundred and fifty mile) climb to Flagstaff, things begin to cloud over again and soon it begins to rain.  And just to make things interesting, soon ice begins to form on the Interstate!  Mind you, this doesn't seem to slow down the other trucks and cars, but Dee Dee's now driving hunched over the wheel, staring desperately into the dark to try and spot the ice.  The strain gets to her and we switch places again in Seligman.

With me driving, the rain (and ice) soon vanish again (not that I'm claiming responsibility - the only "magical" powers I have is the ability to make Dee Dee lose at computer solitaire...) and I can pick up the pace somewhat.  In fact we're making better time than I thought we would...

...which proves to be an annoyance once we hit Flagstaff.

Amongst my diffuse plans for the trip, I wanted to stop at the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff for breakfast.  We both like the place, and my rough estimate had figured us for being there around six to seven in the morning, perfect breakfast time. Galaxy Diner, from 2nd Annual Roadtrip

Unfortunately, due to our impressive speed, we got there more like four-thirty, five in the morning!  Still, even this wouldn't have been a problem if - as I thought - the diner was open twenty-four hours.

It wasn't open - and wouldn't be till six.

With a sigh of disappointment, we headed back off down the 40 - much as we like the Galaxy, neither of us felt an urge to sit around in the parking lot for over an hour when we could be driving.  Dee Dee tried her hand at napping (more successfully than I) as I drove us ever eastwards. The La Posada

It's now dawn and, briefly, we stop in Winslow to check out the restored La Posada Hotel, considered one of Mary Colter's best buildings for the AT&SF Railroad (now BNSF of course). For quite some time it was closed and crumbling, but now it's open again and about halfway through a major restoration.

After we pull up in front of the hotel, Dee Dee pokes her head out the car door and declares it Officially "Too Cold" for her, so I go off to check it out alone.  Since all the doors are closed (hey, it is only about six in the morning!) I can't see much of the inside, but I like the outside very much! Many, many eagles

Coming around the back (where the AT&SF tracks are - it was a railroad hotel, after all), I'm surprised to see a whole flock of eagles - at least twenty of them - just floating above the trees. Now, we saw a lot of eagles on our trip last year to Fort Bragg, but not in this big of a group!  I watch for a little while, then head back to the car and more eastward travel. The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook

Thirty miles later, we make another stop in Holbrook, both to get some breakfast and so I can show Dee Dee the WigWam Motel there - one of the survivors of the Route 66 era.

Not that she hasn't seen it before.  In fact, go back a few decades to her youth and you'll find her and her family staying at the motel, back when Route 66 was still the only road through the area.  According to her, at the time there was a Texas Longhorn in a pen out front.  Now, it's just the concrete tepees, though it still operates as a motel. Me and Dee Dee at the Giant Jackrabbit at Jackrabbit's. Dee Dee seems to think it's cold for some reason...

Breakfast and Route 66 kiche over and we're off to New Mexico once more, stopping briefly at the Jackrabbit Trading Post (another Route 66 survivor) and the "Welcome Center" at the New Mexico border.

Soon we're through Gallup, with less than two hundred miles to go.  But the wind's starting to pick up.  Fifty miles later and it's really blowing - buffeting the car, occasionally quite violently.  We stop for gas in Grants and discover that even the locals think this is an unusually strong wind!

It doesn't get any better after we reach Albuquerque.  We're stopping here to pick up a corset that Dee Dee ordered back in November (hey, it saved shipping costs and we were going through there anyway...) and while on the phone, getting directions to the place we have to go to to pick it up we're literally being sandblasted!  I was tasting grit for the next two days. Bronze dinos at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque

After we got the corset, we headed over to the "New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science."  I'd wanted to go there ever since I saw the cool dinosaur bronzes (at six in the morning!) that stood out front on my "Route 66 Trip" three years ago.  Once again in Albuquerque I now had the chance - and a good excuse, as we hoped the winds would die down somewhat.
Dino insideT-Rex skull


The museum is really cool - in spite of the fact they're sorta in the middle of a massive rebuilding program.  It's basically set up to show the last few hundred million years of life in New Mexico, from dinosaurs to the sea-dwellers that roamed the state in its more oceanic days.  I recommend it.
A frieze at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque


A couple of hours later, we'd seen most of the museum and the winds had died down somewhat, so it was back on the road - that road being the 25 this time - and off to Santa Fe! Santa Fe's 'Outdoors'

That took less than an hour, for Santa Fe is only about fifty miles to the north of Albuquerque.  But those fifty miles included two thousand feet of climbing (the city's at about seven-thousand feet) a nice drop in wind speed, and an unnice (to Dee Dee) drop in temperatures. Best Western Logo

We check into our hotel, the very nice "Best Western Lamplighter Inn" (I recommend it, BTW.  A stylish older motel, very Southwestern, very comfortable), then immediately try to shower off the ton of grit that's now imbedded in every pore of our bodies.  We're modestly successful at this, then we head off for a little walk before dinner.

As we neared the motel, I'd noticed a store called "Jackalope" which had - amongst other things - had a lot of chimeneas (fire pots - basically outdoor fireplaces).  Well, we'd been looking for such, and here seemed to be a good selection to check through.  It wasn't far from the motel, so that was the destination of our walk.

The place proved to be huge, proved to have lots more than just chimeneas and pottery, and also proved to be closed for the day.  We wandered around outside for a bit, made up our minds to come back the next day, then headed back to have dinner at the motel's restaurant "Andrea's."

We highly recommend the place - the best (and most reasonable) hotel restaurant we've ever seen.  The chili salsa is styling, and the only thing they don't do well is coffee - and as I don't drink coffee, this only bothered Dee Dee.

(actually, the number of places east of Los Angeles that do have good coffee is trivial.  Fortunately for Dee Dee, we found three of them on this trip)

We've now been up for about thirty-six long hours, so dinner is followed rapidly by heading back to our room (literally next door to the restaurant!) and to bed.


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