Sunday, August 24, 2003



Tucumcari/Santa Rosa/Pecos/Santa Fe

Decisions needed to be made about how far west we would go at this point. When I left, I figured there would be enough time to reach Las Vegas, then head north on US93 into British Columbia. Some quick math proved this route might make time tight towards the end of the trip. We'd likely arrive in LV on a Friday night, which might have been pricey. At first, thought about going as far as Flagstaff, then shortened that to Gallup. Subconciously, we may have also wanted a day where there wasn't so much driving involved.

Drove through Tucumcari, which is nothing but hotels, active and abandoned. Out of town, all you could was a landscape that was bare except for the odd shrub. Drove along I-40, since parts of old 66 faded into the dirt. Stopped in Santa Rosa for lunch at another 66 landmark, Joseph's.

Though it has been around since the 50s, it recently adopted the symbol of another (now defunct) 66 landmark, the "Fat Man" from the Club Cafe down the street. Another culinary hit - huge servings of Mexican food, along with a regional staple, frybread (which is literaly that - chewy bread that has been fried, with a top like phyllo pastry, great drizzled with honey). Amy's dish was colourful - enchiladas wrapped in blue tortillas.

Rather than drive to Albuquerque, we went on an old alignment of 66 (now US 84) north towards Santa Fe. The landscape changed again, with the first signs of interesting rock formations. Desolate, but interesting to look at.

Decided to stop at Pecos National Historic Park...needed to stop somewhere for a stretch. Glad we did, as it was a park full of ruins of past pueblos and Spanish missions.

Some of remains you can walk through at Pecos

While at Pecos, thought about our plans. Since neither of us wanted to push on much further, we decided to head into Santa Fe and get a hotel room (it was only 3pm). Being early, we'd have time to look around the city.

Turned out to be one of the best ideas of the whole trip.

Santa Fe has been described as the least American looking city in America. The architectural style is different - everything from homes to chain stores have the colonial adobe theme going. Fascinating to look at. After checking in, we headed downtown to get some gift shopping in before everything closed. Amy bought a pile of jewellery, while I bought some coasters to match my copy of the Beach Boys album "Surf's Up". We lingered in a gallery dedicated to animation legend Chuck Jones...though the cartoon they showed was from one of his rivals, Tex Avery (and a classic it was...1949's Bad Luck Blackie). We rested for awhile in the plaza, then headed off to find dinner.

Downtown Santa Fe

Good time to bring this up: one of the biggest disappointments on the trip was the lack of regional retailers that weren't connected to any of the national giants. Almost every "different" grocery store I had to check out turned out to be a variant of Kroger - it became a running joke. Everywhere we went, the stores were all the same. This was true of Santa Fe, though all the national chains designed their stores to match the rest of the city, resulting in the oddest looking Targets, Borders, etc we'd ever seen

Target a la adobe

On the way back to the hotel, we found a grocery store that wasn't connected to Kroger, Lowe's. We noticed a ritual specific to the Southwest in the parking lot - customers lined up with large bags of chili peppers waiting to be roasted. Inside, found all sorts of oddball Mexican/Southwestern foods, from every type of dried chili imaginable to Coke bottles imported from south of the border. We loaded the back seat with goodies.

We ate Indian for dinner...of the Asian variety, not Navajo or Apache strain. Another thumbs-up meal.

A quick dip in the pool, along with trips back and forth to the laundry room, brought the day to a close. Wait...there was the "Mondo" show of people doing bizarre tricks with their naughty bits on MTV or a similar channel. Strange sights to lull one to sleep...

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