Monday, March 30, 2015

In Abilene, Sweet Abilene

You would think after a nine hour road trip from Santa Fe, NM to Abilene, TX. I would have have not much to say since the scenery looks pretty much like what I have in these 4 pictures. The road could easily be straight as an arrow, I think they add curves just to keep the driver awake. As I have mentioned before, highway driving is fast out west; if the limit says 55, it's 70 and if it says 75, you better be going 80. In Los Angeles they go fast once they have room to move because so much time is spent in traffic congestion. In Texas they go fast to cover the hundreds of miles between places. We stopped for gas, food, or to stretch our legs three times and once we had to turn around and go back to make the only highway change we needed all day. It was 'Eleanor's fault', the car's GPS which is mostly a help (especially within cities) but can give some very screwy directions too. It was only a 20 minute addition to our day, which is certainly not severe. We double checked every step of the way with a road atlas after that. So what did we see? 
-flat, flat plains
-red plowed earth
-wisps of cotton in the fields from last season's harvest
-rows of irrigation
-endless numbers of cattle in feed lots
-acres of windmills
-mesquite and short pine trees
-more tumbleweeds
-less dust than New Mexico
-real cowboys at McDonalds (hat, belt and bowed legs)
-countless (I DO mean countless) Cudd Energy trucks as we got closer to Abilene which means fracking has been involved, which makes me nervous
-one dead possum on the road
-tiny deep purple and yellow flowers growing low to the ground in ditches along the highway
-massive clumps of prickly pear cactus

So here we are, smack dab in the middle of Texas, over 3000 miles and two time zones away from home and all is good.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunshine from Start to Finish

Strange how there can be so many clouds in the sky and yet sunny here in Santa Fe from sunrise to sunset. After breakfast at El Rey Inn I went to mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi. What a beautiful setting for a Palm Sunday mass!

 St. Kateri Tekawitha

 St. Francis of Assisi 

While I was at mass Chris walked every street in historic downtown Santa Fe. He even indulged me and we walked a little more when I was done with church. We had been to Santa Fe in 1981 and it has changed considerably. Every single shop is filled with Native American arts and crafts or it is a gallery, museum or restaurant. There is a lot to look at, some of the artistry is very beautiful. Chris is so lucky that I do not collect silver and turquoise jewelry! 

Burro Alley

The bartender at the Thunderbird Restaurant is an artist. Just look at this 'salad in a glass'! 

That is where we met Mary, Chris' friend from high school, for lunch and we talked and talked and talked. I had to choose this photo; I just loved the look on the face of the unknown little girl sipping the soda and hugging the popcorn, to the right of Mary and Chris.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Enchanted to be Here

I think I'll start this with some free association:
Pink rocks, mesas, pink highways, fast trucks, so many trucks, gas in Gallup $2.17, loud trains, long trains, trading posts here, trading posts there, trading posts everywhere, tumble weeds and dust devils, alligator skin and dried out eyes. Crossed the continental divide and state lines. Land of Enchantment here we are!

Couldn't help but stop to see one more gem by architect Mary Colter, this one in Winslow, AZ (and yes, the lyrics "Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona" have been my ear worm all day long!
The photos below are of La Posada Hotel.

It is an elegant hotel filled with historic pieces, Native American arts and crafts, and just perfectly lovely in every detail.

The hotel is now owned by Alfred Affeldt and his wife Tina Mion, a world renowned artist. I had not heard of her before today. Her work is very arresting. She has a studio and gallery space at La Posada. You can see Tina Mion's work here.

Although this is not it, La Posada is in possession of the world's largest Navajo rug. The least expensive Navajo weaving that I saw was a table runner for $95. and it was only about 4 feet long. I can't imagine what the one on this wall costs! I don't think I will be buying any on this trip!

And for a totally Route 66 experience, how about the Wigwam Motel in Hobrook, AZ?

Tonight we are in this 1930's motel in Santa Fe, NM, El Rey Inn. It's pretty cozy, and full of charm. We made it here in time to watch the second half of the basketball game; the Badgers are heading to the final four!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Grander than Grand

We heard people rolling around, taking showers and heading out of their rooms as early as 2:30 this morning. We were eager, but not THAT ambitious! We hit the road for the Grand Canyon at about 8:30. 

Then what a nice surprise! Age 62 qualifies you for a $10. Senior Pass that gets you into any National Park in the country.  (Thank goodness I married an older man!)

We entered via the east entrance of the park and our first stop was to this Historic Watchtower which was designed by architect Mary Colter in 1930. Imagine that, 1930, and a woman architect designed this! How come we never heard about women architects when I was in school? 

Photo taken of us on the Bright Angel Trail. We did not do the entire trail down, we saved energy to walk more of the rim trail. 

Below you see the Colorado River from Hopi Point. 

It takes 40 years for a tree to grow one foot at this altitude.

Here I am, all zen like at Powell Point. I have more photos in a Flickr Album.

We saw deer hiding in the shade as we drove through the park. By far the most exciting wildlife sighting was 2 condors at at the top of a tree. A forest service truck was stopped and taking note of them too. Did you know that condors are the only animal brought back from extinction and now all condors are tagged and have names. Every condor alive is known by a name and number. Tomorrow will probably be our longest day of driving. Our goal is to make it to Santa Fe, N.M. 6 hours away, not including breaks! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Navajo Country

As predicted, it was a LONG, 6 hour day on the road! We crossed a state line and a time zone.  I have books, crocheting, and podcasts to entertain me when I am not the driver  but  mostly I just want to gaze out the window. The scenery is so different from home, I just want to soak it all in. We didn't stop to sight see today, these 4 photos were taken from my window where Hwy. 93 cuts through Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

We share the drive time close to 50/50, with Chris doing a little more than me; especially if it is inside of a bigger city. This is the Painted Desert, taken from the car window as we approached Cameron, AZ.

This suspension bridge, which is behind the Cameron Trading Post Lodge was built over the Little Colorado River  in 1911. It is no longer drivable, it is kept just for show. If you look closely you can see the concrete bridge running parallel to the old bridge.

Cameron Trading Post is where we will be for two nights. I can't figure out if it is ON a reservation or just across the street from one. But it is the only gig in town; there is nothing else. The gift store is huge, the restaurant has good ratings, there's an art gallery and gas pumps. The big draw is the proximity to the east entrance of Grand Canyon.  As I understand it there are frequent shuttles to the south rim trail. That's our plan for tomorrow.  But now we are relaxing in our room with our libations of preference; licorice spice tea for me and bourbon for Chris. Only one complaint; the water here has a salty taste. Next time I'll use bottled water for my tea. Chris is losing his 'chill'. He just just told me, "You don't know stress like us sports fans." as Wisconsin has fallen behind North Carolina in the second half (9min 30sec  to go).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Day to Recharge

This is going to be a short post because I somehow deleted the one I began writing an hour ago. Today was a day for a morning run (and getting lost INSIDE casinos), a visit to the Neon Museum,  doing laundry, lounging by the pool and reading, eating hamburgers at Shake Shack (Can't wait till they reach Seattle!).
The Neon Museum was by far the 'highlight' of our day. The museum requires that you go on the hour long guided tour and it is very worthwhile. You learn a little about the history of Vegas along with information on how the signs were made. The guide recommended a Vegas PBS show, Restoration Neon, which I intend to view soon. I took photos of the neon signs that you can view HERE. I think it is best to view them as a slideshow.
Las Vegas is so flashy, so large, and it can be exhausting but it is a great place to people watch. There are people from everywhere. It is one of the few places on earth where you are expected to be from somewhere else. 

Five plus hours of driving planned for tomorrow so I had best get myself some shut eye.
*In case you are wondering, we didn't gamble a cent!