"The New Mexican Eating Trip"
The Happy CoupleThe year turned once more and it again came close to the time of our annual Road Trip.

Dee Dee and I began the long, rather ill-defined process of figuring out "Where Are We Going to Go." It wasn't, however, going well, as neither of us had much of an idea apart from "away from here."

Further adding to our frustration, we'd just gotten married (Noon, March 4th, 2005 - yes, I planned it to be "12345" - Let's see either of us forget that anniversary date!), so this trip was also more or less our honeymoon.

With Spring Break rapidly approaching and plans still...well, "poorly thought out" is perhaps the best description they could garner...we decided that what we should really do is go out for dinner...

...in New Mexico.

Day One, Monday - To Diane's for Dinner!:

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The Route of Day One

We are, surprisingly, up at 3 a.m. Even more surprisingly, we're on our way by 3:30 - just when I planned! Right on schedule, we're tooling down the 210, heading east as what was probably an illegally brisk pace.

In spite of the rather flippant "let's go out to dinner, in New Mexico," basis for the trip, I had managed to pull together some ideas of just where we'd go, when we'd be there, and what we'd do at that point over the previous couple of weeks. And there was more to the trip than just going to eat at some restaurants that we really, really liked (but which suffered the defect of being eight-hundred miles from home).

This had been one of the wettest years on record for Southern California and that "wetness" had not been confined to just the Los Angeles Basin. All across the Southwest, rainfall had been making the desert bloom like it hadn't for a good seven years (see 1998's "'Round Arizona" roadtrip report). And we planned to see just how "bloomy" it all was.

Our route on the 210 dived into the 15, then curved onto the 10, which we would follow for nearly the next six-hundred miles.

Dawn Breaketh...An hour or so later, we were passing through the wind-generators that sit in the pass west of Palm Springs, their silhouettes slowly turning against the blue-black pre-dawn sky. Then, just past Palm Springs itself, "pre-dawn" turned into "dawn" extremely dramatically as the sun rose straight ahead of us, right over the interstate...

...and right into our eyes.

With the addition of light to the scene, flowers now became visible, in spots almost carpeting the ground on both sides of the road. Yellow was the most common theme, highlighted by splashes of purple and blue and the occasional sparkle of white.

The sun also rises...The sun continued to rise (soon, fortunately, not right into our eyes) as we bored east. This is an area that's usually in the "Oh My Ghod!" temperature range (I picked up a mild case of heatstroke the last time I was here...in October!), but this day remained in the nicely cool low-60's.

As the day progressed, flower-speckled desert gave way to a narrow belt of farmland that runs along the shores of the Colorado River as we entered the metropolis of Blythe, California. We stopped there just long enough to get gas, then crossed the river into Arizona.

The Arizona desert proved to be just as flower-covered as the Californian as we continued booming east towards Phoenix. A couple of hours later, "towards" became "in" and we again pulled off long enough to gas up, then get back on the freeway to zip through the ever-growing city-center (with less road construction then the last time we were through Phoenix) and curved south, still on the 10, but now heading for Tucson.

Poppies!South of Phoenix, poppies began appearing in vast tracts in the fields alongside the highway. They looked like California Poppies to us, but were probably the closely related (very - they're a subspecies!) Mexican Poppies.

Okay, the picture's blurry - you try photographing out the window at eighty...

Pic..A..Cho!This portion of the trip was very familiar to us from the "'Round Arizona" roadtrip of '98 and soon we were coming up on the equally familiar - if much greener this time around - Picacho Peak. And - like seven years ago - we pulled off there to visit Rooster Cogburn's Ostrich Ranch.

Well, the ostriches remain ostriches - big, rather stupid looking - and horribly greedy for the dried corn you get as the "Feed The Ostriches" food. Their eating hasn't gotten any neater or easier on fingers either. Corn still flies everywhere with each "peck" and those "pecks" can hurt. There are now deer that also share the feeding area and they are a lot gentler on the hands (no pecking!), but a lot slimier too (very wet tongues!), so it's hard to say which one is worse...
Ostrichesand Deer

While we were there we met a pair of English girls doing a tour of the Southwest who told us that their next destination was "Tuss-Kon." We explained that it was pronounced "Too-Saun" and they mentioned "oh, so that's why they looked at us strangely back in Mexico!"

Pic..A..Cho!Then, they looked at us weird when we said "it's so green this year."

Pausing only to pick up an ostrich-feather feather-duster (which works real well, BTW), we got back on the 10 and soon were entering Tucson (pronounced however you like) - at which point we got off to eat lunch.

Seven years ago when we stayed at Tucson, we went searching for a place to eat dinner, sure that Tucson would have many excellent Mexican and/or Southwestern restaurants. And after an hour or so of searching through dark and non-local-safe neighborhoods, we discovered that we couldn't actually find any of these theorized restaurants and ended up at Taco Bell...

Well, seven years has not, for us, defined the location of a Tucson "restaurant row." We drove right through downtown (made more difficult by a demonstration blocking several streets), then down what looked like one of the main drags, 6th Avenue, and finally gave up and stopped for lunch at...


Well, at least it was better than Taco Bell...

Ghods, there's got to be a restaurant area (or at least, a restaurant denser region) in Tucson, so where is it?

Anywho, after lunch, continuing along on 6th finally dropped us onto the freeway on the southern edge of Tucson and we quickly cranked it back up to sixty. As we drove east from Tuscon, the 10 began to slowly climb. Clouds speckled the sky and the land was covered with chaparral interspaced with flowers. The hillsides were fuzzy with green and yellow - where they weren't covered (or composed of) strange rock formations.
Weird rocks...and pretty flowers

The ThingAnother couple of hundred miles later - after passing dozens of billboards advertising "The Thing" and Wilcox Dry Lake (or Playa - and not all that dry at the moment) - we were crossing into New Mexico and minutes later getting off the freeway in Lordsburg. There we make our last gas stop of the day and then are off again, heading north-east up the 90 towards Silver City.

Soon it began curving through the rising mountains. We passed by the occasional small town and/or group of buildings as we climb. We start passing though bands of rain, well, flurries is the only way to describe it, where you could visibly see the edge between "raining" and "not raining" as you drove. Still climbing, the 90 finally connected with the 180, pretty much in downtown Silver City. A quick jaunt east on this and we were at our motel, the Silver City Econo Lodge

(...guests of RoadTrip 2005 stay at Econo Lodge - a Choice Hotel Company...)

Once there, two mixups happened - one good, one bad. The good came first: EconoLodge had done...something to our reservation. Because of this, they had to give us a suite rather than a regular room...but still at the regular room price. This made for a nice free upgrade (thank you, Econo Lodge Silver City!).
Mixup number two definitely came in under the "bad" category, though. Primary reason to visit Silver City (and to leave Pasadena at 3 a.m.) was to eat dinner at Diane's (and as much as possible for the rest of the two days as well). So we call to make dinner reservations...

To discover that...

Worse. We wanted breakfast at Diane's as well - but it turned out that they don't do breakfast except on the weekends!

Heavy sighs all around, it's off to Sonics for dinner, while "breakfast" get's scratched out for tomorrow and "lunch" written in in its place...

To Second Day of Trip

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