2003-07-29 - 9:09 a.m.
Where was I? I think we were still in Albuquerque ...
After we hiked around the interior of Rinconado Canyon, we decided to drive up the road a ways and see Santa Fe. We stopped in Cuba to get a coke at a fast food place since most of the restaurants we had encountered served Pepsi. I know, shallow and consumerist. Along the way we saw lots of billboards with great graphics like this:There's a plug there for their group. Don't worry about it.
The organization is called Los Alamos Study Group and I have checked out their site. It's really informative. People tend to forget all of the weird, scary shit that has happened in New Mexico. The bomb, testing of strange new military hardware, etc. More about THAT later!
In Santa Fe we were astounded to see that almost every building, including major chains, was constructed of red clay-colored adobe. To the point where it became highly monotonous. Highly. My parents had told me that when they visited Sata Fe about 40 years ago that it was a nice little town; no more. It's highly commercial. I wonder what it's like to live there. We gave a miss to the "Indian markets" and went to a downtown area for lunch and trinkets. We fed all of our change into the parking meter and hoped it would carry us through. We tried to go eat at the Coyote Cafe but the hostess (?) was extrememly rude, dismissive, and unhelpful. So we crossed the street and had lunch at the American Cafe. The host there was an Arab-American man who was very nice, welcoming, and friendly. In fact, everyone there was most pleasant and the food was excellent. As you can probably tell from the name it was basically a burger joint/sandwich place and the decor was Americana. But it was a cool place.
Then we hit a couple of shops and made it back to the truck before the meter expired - with 6 minutes to spare. Several cars had hot pink parking tickets on them. Whew!
Then we stopped at the Villa Linda mall to get stamps. Verona and I had had an argument about whether there would be a post office in the mall - she was right. Another highlight is that the trip odometer hit 1000 miles in Santa Fe.
As we were leaving town it tuned up to rain a little and I noticed that the rain turned everything the same color of dark blue. Maybe it's like that everywhere, but I just don't notice because the skies there seem so much bigger.
We headed out for Colorado. Along the way, we turned off to see the Echo Amphitheater in Carson National Forest (off of 84). It's a huge natural amphitheater in the face of the mountain with a couple of little trails leading back. There was a necio Texas family there who wouldn't quit - how much yelling, talking, laughing, clapping, etc. to hear the echo can you do before you get the idea that, yes, sounds sent into the concavity will return to you? Apparently, some folks cannot get their fill. In the rare intervals between their noisemaking you could hear the wind pouring around the lip of the mountain, whispers of the distant highway sounds, bird calls, etc. You could hear the roaring echo of the silence ... But some people don't like that.
Someone had scratched a giant peace symbol in the sand at the bottom of the amphitheater. The mom of the family remarked, "Hopefully it'll rain and wash away the peace sign." Why? What does she have against peace?
Then it did rain and we headed back for the truck, leaving them to their shouting.
Between Chama and Monero we saw a tiny white church in a vast green valley with a backdrop of beautiful mountains. Vero stopped to get a picture. She's such a photographer! We listened to her nephew's CD mixes and were listening to "Time Warp" as we crossed the border to Colorado at 6:46 pm. 1143.2 miles "Welcome to Colorful Colorado."
In the San Juan Forest (which was bisected by the road we were on) we crested a hill and saw in front of us at some distance a figure crossing the road. It turned out to be a juvenile black bear. It came onto the road, hesitated when it saw us, and then disappeared into the trees. Luckily, it was not followed by a protective mama bear! It was such an amazing feeling to see that bear. I love knowing that there is still a little bit of wildlife out there. I could also see where all of the hysteria about yeti might come from --- he did have a distinctly human shape.
We pulled into Durango pretty late and found a hotel. It's a lot nicer town than I thought it would be. It's definitely attuned to tourists and skiers, but it wasvery distinctive. Maybe because tourists who go there do more than buy souvenirs and eat fast food.