Highlights of things Floridians don’t often get to appreciate. Notes from our time with family in Roswell, New Mexico, and stops along the way to the Grand Canyon 2016.
NIGHT MOVES: STUPID TIRED
9/3: We left Pensacola, FL, at 12:30 am after Mike got off work; he likes to drive at night and knew he would be too excited to sleep. I wish I could sleep in a car like I used to do twice weekly on an airplane, but we are on vacation, so let’s go for it! We alternated driving every 1 1/2 to 2 hours and met our goal of putting in at least 13 of the 17 hours it would take us to get to Roswell.
The scenery in Mississippi and Louisiana is lovely, but the roads are bumpy, pot-holed, cracked and noisy, so it was nice to reach the mostly smooth Texas concrete around sun up. In a bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived stupor just outside of Dallas, Texas, I made a non-refundable online hotel reservation – of course there will be no need to cancel. When we arrived I realized I had made it for the wrong weekend, so we paid twice for a one night stay in Abilene, Texas.We expect at least one major travel Whoops per adventure vacation. We had a power nap by 3:30 p.m., reanimated for ye ole Cracker Barrel for dinner, and hit the sack again early. Hey y’all, we learned there are many wind farms in Texas.
ROSWELL: REEDS, RANCHES, RELICS
9/4: As we approached New Mexico, we began seeing herds of antelope. I delighted in Mike’s enjoyment of seeing them for the first time. Below is Mike having his first authentic Mexican Cuisine at Ramirez’s in Tatum, New Mexico.
We made it to Roswell in plenty of time to visit with family in advance of a dinner at home with The Reed’s. The next morning before sunrise, Mike and I went for a long stroll on the Roswell walking trail in the city park across the street from Aunt Z’s. – extra nice after 2 days of mostly sitting. I was saddened to learn that the park’s “howdy birds”, burrowing owls, had moved away due to all the activity that came with installation of a disc golf course there. I had hoped Mike could enjoy them as I had on my previous visit 10 years ago.
Cousin D and Aunt Z prepared an amazing breakfast of scrambled eggs with fresh green chilies; we talked about books, food, travel places and caught up on family happenings. Next we headed to Uncle A and Aunt B’s to visit at their place where my dad grew up. It was too short of a visit. I wished we had planned for more time in town. Next we arrived at Cousin P and B’s ranch off of Clovis Highway. We had a delicious snack\lunch of red chili asada and then headed out to feed the cow mamas-to-be to give them some extra help…food. It had been years since I’d ridden in the back of a truck for any duration; it felt good to be out in the elements getting a bit wind blown and dusty. My cousins took us to a ghost town on the ranch which used to be gypsum mining area until the 1920’s: The Bob Crosby Draw, Acme Gypsum Factory Site. The only evidence of its existence are foundational remnants, footings of buildings and relics of purple, blue, and green glass, and small metal items near a creek bed. It was fun to explore. Later we perused newspaper articles and old photos of the site when it was in full force. We also visited a small graveyard next to a now abandoned shell of a school that Cousin B’s mother had attended when she was a little girl. Here are photos of the ghost town school.
I have a strong other-worldly eerie feeling anytime I encounter water infrastructure – old or new – as though I spent eons involved in locating or the construction of such things. As a kid, I always planned to become a civil engineer and I did attend a civil engineering program in college. Anyhow this time warp feeling was amplified for me here because walking out west I tend to feel more of a sense of history, of walking on what is or was someone’s homeland. I know this is true of walking in the south or anywhere for that matter, but maybe it is the absence of trees that yields a sense of being exposed, vulnerable. Most likely this awareness is induced by travel and being out of my ordinary routine and surroundings. What a tough life it must have been, surviving and providing for a family in the desert plains way back in the day.
Things Floridians don’t often get to appreciate
Roadrunners. Around sunset at the ranch we were happy to catch a glimpse of one.
Proximity to fuel. I learned that we take it for granted. In our caffeinated excitement to hit the road, we were 30 miles out of town before we realized we forgot to fuel up and we knew were hours away from any petrol. Not trusting the car’s instrumentation of MPG, expecting to barely make it into the next town on fumes, we confirmed our folly with some quick math estimates. We headed back to where we’d started from that morning, to where my cousin had suggested we fuel up.
Tumbleweeds in motion. Apparently September is not the time to experience these things. My aunt chuckled at foreign desire to see them. They are annoying to New Mexico residents it seems. I had marveled at them in the summer as they rolled across the hazy highways and in the winter as they crashed into one another and formed the base of snow-banked sides of barbed wire fences.
Thank you to the Reed’s and Cooper’s for being such wonderful hosts. We loved the food and fellowship.
ARIZONA: SEDONA AND FLAGSTAFF
9/6: As we came into town I sorta learned to use the Outback’s manual drive mode. Lots of twists and hairpin turns at low speeds with cars bumper to bumper due to road construction. This was fine because the Ponderosa Pine forests smelled amazing & the red rocks were aglow. We checked into the Desert Quail Inn, which is about 7 miles south of uptown Sedona. The owners helped us with advice on where to catch a sunset and have a meal that might be vegetarian; we headed to the airport vortex and caught a gorgeous Sedona sunset and then to Cafe Elote for an amazing dinner. No time to hike or explore here. I am into healing arts and what folks might consider hocus-pocus, Sedona-like things, but this was not the time to enjoy them. 🙂
9/7: We rolled into town for a grocery stop and breakfast. Aside from water, we needed bagels for the hike. We almost walked out of the store without them, but a college kid dropped a pack of those discs on the floor right in front of us. Hey Dude, thanks for the reminder.
It was a beautiful drive around town with the surrounding Coconino National Forest, one of the most diverse in the U.S. in terms of ecological zones. Had we more time, we would have gone up to the Arizona Snow Bowlarea and done some hiking, but breakfast at Brandy’s Restaurant and Bakery did us just fine. We road with the windows down to take in the pine aroma and we admired the bursts of yellow along the way.
Winslow: Standin’ on the corner
As we drove through Winslow, Arizona, we could not keep from singing the Eagle’s, Take it Easy. Mike informed me that Jackson Browne had some doings with the tune. I Googled it. He was right. My brother and I loved watching the Flinstone’s when I was a kid. Sadly, we did not make time to visit the Flinstone’s village, Bedrock City, as we turned north in Williams, AZ, on Highway 64 to enter the Grand Canyon via the South Rim.