[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

I think that Day Three was my favorite part of our trip. The weather was gorgeous with curtains of rain over I-40; the temperatures were great for August and I was able to step foot back on the soil of my native New Mexico for the first time in over two years. Plus, we were able to spend two nights in Santa Fe. It was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful (at least in my memory) …

Day Three

Day Three — Flagstaff, AZ, to Santa Fe, NM

Today’s statistics:

We travelled 391 miles from Flagstaff, AZ, to Santa Fe, NM.. Spent $16 on gas, $52.25 on food, and $0 on a hotel (the bill comes due Monday morning), the Best Western Inn Santa Fe on Cerrillos Road, not far from Beautiful Downtown Santa Fe.

Here once again: All the boring, exhausting details, almost as they happened:

I-40E, Exit 89 east of Grants, NM, 15:33 MST | 16-Aug-03

New Mexico at last … I’m finally home. It feels wonderful to return to my native state, as it always does. We’re about 60 miles from Albuquerque, and Frank is driving. I’ll take over in ABQ and drive us to Santa Fe and I can hardly wait to get there. The day began as usual with an alarm clock at 8:30, followed by the discovery by Frank that there was no hot water for the shower. He took a cold one anyway. He’s far braver than I. I called the front desk and they said it would be back in an hour, so we went to eat and managed to find the Galaxy Diner, a ‘50’s/Route 66 place with an Elvis Wurlitzer in the corner and about the best breakfast we’ve had in a long time. We returned to find some hot water running, so I showered and packed everything, including a rather hacked-off beagle back in the Jeep. Was not a happy camper to discover that we’re doing this a third day in a row. Haven’t the heart to tell him that there are basically six more days of it all that he has to endure.

Arizona and New Mexico are beautiful, with the obvious exception of what the damage that humans can inflict on them … junked cars and houses, trash blowing around, etc. But for mid August, the landscape is breathtaking and the off-and-on rainy weather is an added bonus that I wasn’t expecting out here in the desert.

We’ve seen some old Route 66 icons, such as Twin Arrows, JackRabbit and Meteor City. They’re all in various phases of dereliction; Twin Arrows is boarded up and the other two are mere shadows of their former glory. Ever since we hit the Mother Road at Kingman, I’ve been wondering just exactly what the fascination with Route 66 is for many people. There was a reason I-40 was built folks; Route 66 was narrow, curvy, and as dangerous as Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming governor of California. Route 66 killed probably uncountable thousands of people and I-40 wasn’t built quick enough. Yes, yes, yes, I know, it represents a slice of mid-20th-century America that is lost forever and that we all miss. And yaddah-yaddah-yaddah. But right now, I’m sorry, I miss the 40’s and enjoy the nostalgia and the mystique of the Mother Road as much as the next guy, and I hate the blandness and sameness that Corporate Amurrica has wrought on the culture, but I’m also extremely thankful for a wide, four-lane highway with adequate shoulders, reasonably straight and far safer. The speed limits in Arizona and New Mexico are 75 mph; this is a major improvement over what it would have been like on Route 66.

I drove from Flagstaff to the New Mexico state line, where we had the unfortunate opportunity to visit Navajoland, Mother of All Skanky Rubber Tomahawk Shops. Let’s not dwell on it here; Just avoid Exit 359 on I-40 just across the state line of Arizona. The beagle did share an interesting moment with a Jack Russell Terrier, who was behind the glass door of a concrete house next door. They stared at each other and did some posturing and heavy breathing, but I think that both of them were glad there was a door between them and they didn’t have to back up the charade with action. Frank took over and drove us to Gallup, where we had the opportunity to gas up and get a snack at a Love’s Country Store; this one was the Mother of All Skanky Love’s Country Stores.

Frank, being the wise man he is, passed on both ‘opportunities’ and can’t share any insights to corroborate that what I saw in the vanilla ice cream bin at ‘Grandpa’s Ice Cream Store’ within the Navajoland store was, indeed, a very much alive, and very frustrated fly of some sort of large variety.

Moving right along. We’ve now entered the Laguna Indian Reservation just east of Acoma Sky City. The mesas are gorgeous, particularly with this storm system overhead providing a light show of high white thunderheads with deep blue bases dumping rain on the desert. We’re 40 miles from Albuquerque. The crosswinds are high, and there are spots of very heavy downpours. There is a big spot of deep blue to the east over Albuquerque [Motto: ‘Home of Ethel Mae Potter, We Never Forgot Her’—and if you don’t know what that refers to, just watch a certain episode of Lucy Goes to California].

We’ve seen a USMail truck with the routing GSOLAX on it. I usually know my three-letter airport codes, but I really can’t think of what GSO is … Greenville/Spartanburg? Gotta look it up tonight …

Beagle is doing well. curled up and very asleep. I think I’ve finally got the loading-the-Jeep thing down to a science; he has more room and is pretty cushy, lying on a bed consisting of layers of blankets, a goose-down comforter and his own beagle bed. I wish we could trade places and he could drive the 3,053 miles to Ann Arbor while I slept on cushy padding. Ah, well. Such is the life of a human. Dogs have it so great. Dogs rule.

More later … time for me to drive us through ABQ to Santa Fe!! Woo-hoo!!!!!!

Best Western Inn, room 321, Santa Fe, NM, 23:15 MDT

Let me just say that it is so good to be back home that I cannot express my feelings here. Santa Fe and the weather are perfect and we just ate at Tortilla Flats, an authentic New Mexican cuisine restaurant frequented by locals, not turistas, and which featured the New Mexico Official State Question: ‘Red or green?’ Meaning, do you want red chile sauce or green chile sauce? I took red on my blue corn chicken enchiladas and it was truly, truly wonderful. Steam shot out of my ears, as it should. Frank took green and I’ve never seen his eyes get so big as they did when he took his first bite of real New Mexican chile sauce. I wish I had my camera handy. Alas, I did not.

I took over driving at a Dairy Queen in Laguna, just 9 miles from Albuquerque. I had a Dilly Bar, another throwback to my New Mexico childhood. We drove through ABQ briefly, [and, special note just for Kit: We found the House of Ho-Ho on Central Avenue near Old Town! Dude! Ho-Ho lives!] We then made Bugs Bunny’s famous left turn at Albuquerque and headed up I-25. The mountains are gorgeous, everyone was driving 90 and we hit town in good time. Our hotel is very nice and comfortable, as well as affordable (for Santa Fe). After a brief rest, we went out to eat, then returned and gave Bayley his first authentic New Mexican sopaipilla, which he loved (see links to photos below).

But now it’s time for a bath and bed; I’m worn out, and there’s so much to see and do around town tomorrow, when I play tour guide for Frank’s maiden exposure to The City Different, the oldest and highest state capital in the U.S. We needed to take a day off the road; the beagle is very road-weary, as are we. But he’s being a very good, if slightly confused, dog and hasn’t caused any problems at all. He’ll be very glad this time next week, when he should be finally relaxing on his own couch on Wisteria Drive in beautiful Ann Arbor, MI.

Today’s trip stats:

• 11:33 — Left Flagstaff, AZ — 0 miles | 0902 total

• 11:49 — (Don’t Forget) Winona — 14 | 0915

• 11:56 — Twin Arrows — 22 | 0923

• 12:10 — Meteor City — 43 | 0944

• 12:20 — Winslow — 55 | 0956

• 12:34 — JackRabbit — 73 | 0974

• 12:37 — Joseph City — 85 | 0979

• 12:47 — Holbrook — 97 | 0991

• 12:53 — Sun Valley — 106 | 1000

• 13:15 — Navajo — 135 | 1029

• 13:40 — Lupton — 169 | 1063

• 14:58 — New Mexico State Line (Time Change) — 171 | 1065

• 15:14 — Gallup, NM — 189 | 1083

• 15:46 — McGaffey — 207 | 1101

• 15:58 — Continental Divide — 221 | 1115

• 16:24 — Grants — 253 | 1147

• 17:02 — State Highway 6 — 303 | 1197

• 17:13 — Laguna Dairy Queen — 315 | 1209

• 19:11 — Albuquerque/Central Avenue — 325 | 1219

• 19:16 — Bernalillo — 351 | 1245

• 19:47 — Santa Fe — 391 | 1285

Good night from La Villa Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assis … y’all!

—Posted by Steve at 23:35 | 16-Aug-03

And here are the Bayley-Meets-Sopaipilla shots as noted above:


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