A day to be breathless for lots of different reasons! We started ours with breakfast at our hotel in Santa Fe and as we started to select our food, who should we bump into but Mark and Linda, the lovely people we met at the Halfway Point Cafe yesterday. It was another opportunity for further conversation and we wonder how many more coincidences we will experience.
No sooner were we on the road than we were experiencing jaw dropping moments as the vast skies and scenery stretched out before us. No matter how many films you see, nothing prepares you for the sheer vastness of the vista. Nowhere in the world have I seen skies which offer sun, small clouds, big clouds, clouds clearly rain laden, and the brightest, bluest sky…all at the same time, just by turning your head.
We just had to go and have a look at Albuquerque (a city with two Qs deserved a look). We serendipitously found Route 66 in the city and, in need of a coffee, happened on Garcia’s kitchen. Was it too early to fit in brunch? They did divine pancakes and Carolyn’s omelette was none too shabby either! After finding our way around some of the ‘Old Town’, we decided to head off towards Gallup.
No journey we have taken has been a straight forward trip from A to B. Where’s the fun in that? Today’s little detour took us about 25 miles off piste to see a volcano and an ice cave. This is where we experienced more breathlessness. The volcano was some 800 ft up a dusty lava strewn track. It was steep (very) and with the wind blowing and a rain shower threatening, I confess it was my idea to bail out of that idea and head for the ice cave instead. (I really don’t think Carolyn was too upset!!). The ice cave involved some considerable exertion too – loads of uneven steps (Carolyn counted 69!) as we descended into the icy chill. The temperature in this cave never gets above 31 F and, as rain water and snow melt into the cave, the ice floor thickens. We looked and then contemplated the return climb up those steps.
We did comment that the whole area was reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, with few people around, deserted roads and dense woodland. I wouldn’t choose to be out there on my own at night. But whether or not the ice cave was the best thing we had seen, the scenery on the journey was jaw-droppingly awesome. As we near Arizona, the mountains, monoliths and pillars are becoming more and more spectacular and I am looking forward to our days amongst the canyons.
For now we are having a quiet evening in Gallup. There are some Route 66 buildings, murals, etc, but this is may be somewhere you pass through rather than stay.
Native Americans still advertise their crafts and curios as ‘Indian’ which seems strange, somehow. However, we saw Apache and a tribe I’d not heard about until today… Zuni.
Shopping in the local supermarket late this afternoon in Gallup, I was struck by the relative poverty of the local people but, also, a feeling of dé ja vu connected to Shanghai in that I was the only blonde in the store! Ok, my blonde comes from a bottle but even so. In fact, thr only grey haired person in the store was my travelling companion! CTMQ.
Another odd driving day with new signs. Firstly, a reminder of American truck convoys with “a bear in the air” which was brought to mind by the first one and the other making comparisons with the U.K. warning signs for animals.
On the next table in Garcia’s Kitchen were two officers of the enforcement agencies looking nothing like our ‘bobbies’. If you imagine the archetypal comic sheriff of Dukes of Hazzard, Smokey and the Bandit or James Bond – they sat there. Overweight, seemingly laconic and with pistols on their hips.
Finally, for this evening as the wifi is particularly slow… Gallup, New Mexico – a name which has a history and a sound of real interest. Regrettably, we haven’t seen that much to excite. Route 66 passes through here and some attempt has been made to capitalise on that. Not really successfully.. #Sorry.
The most impressive part of the day for me was the changing scenery especially the soil. Changing colour from red in Texas to a yellow in New Mexico but as we journeyed West, the layers of so many colours were displayed. More tomorrow.