This whole retirement thing is still taking some getting used to….especially on this first retirement vacation. We’ve never traveled without timetables and agendas. While working even our “free” time was allocated and time-slotted. Now…we get up when we want to and we drive as much, or as little, as we want to. On this day we opted to drive….hoping to get to New Mexico so we could begin to explore “The Land of Enchantment”.
Driving through Oklahoma one can’t help but to be struck by the many Indian nations you drive through: Fox, Comanche, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Cheyenne…just to name a few. Brings back lots of memories of American history lessons and of watching old westerns. (Do they still make new TV westerns?) It also makes you think about how those Indians from across the nation got concentrated into this state…I remember walking the Trail of Tears in Southern Illinois which is part of the route the Cherokee marched as they were driven from their lands. Not all American history is noble and good.
Amazing to see mile after mile of wind turbines. No longer do we have to travel to Palm Springs to see huge windmill farms. (But, we’re traveling to there anyway!) Our route has been following the famous Route 66. Lots of signs saying “Historic Route 66” and lots of landmarks associated with 66. We stopped for lunch in Shamrock, Texas. After lunch we decided to geocache so we could get some exercise. The geocache took us to the U Drop Inn…a Route 66 Landmark. The U-Drop and the associated Tower Station were the inspiration for the body shop owned by the character Ramone in the animated movie “Cars”.
Next tourist and geocaching stop was The Cadillac Ranch…ten cadillacs partially-buried in a field outside Amarillo, Texas. The cars are aligned with the Great Pyramid by their angle in the dirt and are wildly decorated by spray painting visitors. Very cool! (And cold…it was 47 degrees and the wind was 40 mph!) I’m inspired now and want to visit similar artist exhibits…The Bug Ranch, also near Armarillo, and maybe even the Mustang Ranch in Nevada. (That’s me pictured.)
After Amarillo the landscape started changing. Lots of wide vistas and huge valleys. The sky seemed to get bigger here! Soon, there weren’t many crops; instead, lots of scrub and prickly looking trees. Due to the high winds, we got to see lots of tumblelin’ tumbleweed….a first for me.
Then. almost as soon as we crossed the state line into New Mexico, the landscape changed again. Even bigger vistas and lots of mesas! Beautiful valleys and lots of different shades of red in the rocks and soil. It seemed like everytime we crested a ridge we got to see an even better view! Simply driving through this land was enjoyment!
Back in Decatur we had started doing some GPS tracking. Way back there our elevation was around 670 feet. Once we hit Oklahoma we started noticing a gradual rise….almost a 5 feet rise to every mile we drove. We are now at about 5000 feet elevation and weather permitting,we’ll be going higher later today.
We decided to stay in Santa Rosa…a sleepy little town near the Guadalupe Mountains. Santa Rosa boasts of 20 motels and 17 restaurants, including 6 non-chain restaurants. We chose the Silver Moon Cafe…a Route 66 favorite. Great New Mexican food! Very interesting cigar-shaped chilli rellenos and when I ordered them I was asked “red or green?” …meaning, do you want red chili sauce or green chili sauce. I choose Christmas Tree…both! Mona had chicken-bacon tacos…another staple and also excellent! (What Alien beer? … We didn’t see any Alien beer…)
Okay…now for the license plate statistics:
Mona: 16 states, 2 provinces
Marvin: 13 states (I’m thinking she may be cheating??!!)
Instituted new bets for “firsts”. First one to see a cowboy on a horse – $2. First wild horse – $50, first longhorn cow – $1, first wild buffalo – $25, first armadillo (ALIVE) – $1. No winners yet.
Today is exploring the Land of Enchantment. Our agenda depends upon the weather and our whims.
Off we go!