Greetings from the Road: New Mexico

The night before the morning we left for New Mexico we said goodbye to Flagstaff in the Beaver St. Cafe.

beaverst.

That’s where we met “Abdhi,” who was seated with friends in the booth next to ours. He turned around and asked if he could look through J.C.’s camera lens and J.C. asked if he could take a photo.

Olympic Man

Then, Abdhi said, proudly, with his big smile: “I’m a runner and a three-time Olympian!”

In case we doubted him, his friends readily backed him up. Aren’t people amazing. You just never know who might be sitting next to you.

Speaking of amazing, the next day, off the I-40, we saw this giant postcard planted on the side of the road near Winslow, AZ as we neared the New Mexico border.

Postcard WinslowIt was from Elvis.

But, even that couldn’t top New Mexico…

Entering New Mexico

This uplifting, gorgeous blue sky made me think of my friend, ME. When it came to having a good time, she’d always say that finding a good parking space right from the get-go meant that the remainder of your night would go perfectly.

That’s how I felt upon crossing the border into New Mexico. This perfect blue sky and abundance of puffy clouds meant that the rest of my visit would be truly unforgettable.

And it was.

Landscape 1 New MexicoEvery landscape seemed to invoke Georgia O’Keeffe.

Church New MexicoSee what I mean?

Well, except those in the big cities.

We’d planned on spending the first night in Albuquerque — that is, until we got there. Albuquerque looked like Phoenix with clouds. So, we turned off the I-40 and drove south.

We passed small town after small town, and, because the sun was setting, chose to look for a hotel in a town called Socorro. Something about the name sounded familiar to me.

Then, I remembered why. We’d recently re-watched Martin Scorcese’s film “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” In an early scene, New Mexico housewife Alice, played by Ellen Burstyn, throws open her front door, sticks out her head and screams, “Socorro sucks!”

Not the best reason to look for a hotel room in that particular town, but it was better than no reason at all.

The town was dead, it’s true, and might have sucked for some of the residents, but it worked for us. We dropped off our bags and went out for Mexican food at Frank and Lucy’s El Sombrero restaurant.

We had pretty decent veggie burritos, ice cold Coronas (served in an ice bucket) and a waiter whose voice sounded as if it were being squeezed through the knotted end of a balloon.

Memorable.

The next day we drove to Truth or Consequences, N.M., a town, according to my friend A., that got it’s name after winning a contest thrown by a classic T.V. game show.

A cute, quirky town with lots of colorful adobe structures and arty businesses, we drove by the Happy Belly Deli. Just by the looks of it, we knew there had to be something vegetarian on the menu.

HappyBelly

When Linda, the owner, consented to have her picture taken, she told us that she’d known we were from California as soon as we ordered the humus sandwich.

Belly Deli OwnerShe also clued us in on a little town north of T.or C., called Chloride. Our interest was further piqued when she told us that a tombstone in the cemetery there said the person buried beneath it was “killed by indians.”

After we finished our humus and sprouts, we drove to Chloride. What a find. If you are ever in New Mexico, you must go to the Pioneer Store Museum. FYI, Harry Pye, we came to learn, was the guy “killed by indians.” They were Apaches. His cabin is on the museum’s land:

pyecabinOnce a mining town, Chloride is a time capsule of pioneer life in New Mexico. So many artifacts have been preserved, documented and put on display in the restored structures from which they originated. An ongoing project, all of the restoration has been and continues to be done by one family — the Edmunds.

Daughter Linda, gracious and deeply informed about all things Chloride, is on hand to share fascinating anecdotes and her deep knowledge of the town’s history.

Woman Museum New Mexico

We were so fortunate to have met the first Linda in Truth or Consequences, which led us to the second Linda in Chloride.

On our drive down the snaky road leading back to Rte. 25, we hit the breaks, at first, when we spotted these two cops parked in their vehicle around the bend:

Police Car Then we had a good laugh.

To top off a fun-filled, beauty-enriched day, we decided to drive north to White Sands, N.M. I’d seen a movie of the same name, starring Mickey Rourke, years ago…now it was time to see the real thing.

Sand Dunes New MexicoWe arrived shortly before sunset. Utterly spectacular. Acres upon acres of pristine, WHITE sand dunes, punctuated by reedy cacti. A strong, steady wind blew over the sand, scattering it just inches above the dunes, and etching herringbone patterns into the surface. White Sands is a national park that abuts a U.S. Missile Range.

Very surreal…

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