Santa Fe, NM, to Walsenburg, CO

I’ve decided to split my day up into two posts. The more interesting one will follow. ๐Ÿ™‚

Unfortunately, I got to bed very late last night, a combination of having dinner with John (I cooked and he can attest to the fact that I can cook, even with a very limited pantry! ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and the File From Hell that would not finish. So it was a slow and molassy kind of morning for me. My to-do list felt daunting — finish packing up the fifty billion bags I brought into the rig, schlep them all the way to my truck and repack it (John fixed my tailgate again, btw, THANK YOU!!!), and then clean the rig and throw on laundry. Of course, it all came together very quickly. I was ready to pull out at about 9:30, an hour and a half later than I would have liked, but still a half hour ahead of my ‘this is the absolute latest I want to leave’ hour.

John and I both tried to figure out how long I’d been there and drew a blank. I later figured out it was 12 days!!!. My Santa Fe stay really felt like a moment out of time. I am really grateful to have been there as it enabled me to recharge my batteries and my bank account a little as well as do loads of touristy stuff. It was definitely time to move on, but John said I was welcome to return if I wanted to tonight since my day’s fun was to be had not very far down the road. It’s nice to feel that welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚

After getting fuel, it was time to head to Bandelier National Monument, the subject of my next post.

It's unbelievable the places my life takes me...

It’s unbelievable the places my life takes me…

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Right to Bandelier!

Right to Bandelier!

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After several hours of fun that I am convinced Disney World couldn’t rival, I decided to go to Los Alamos for lunch and a bit of tourism.

Los Alamos has great significance for me. Judy Blume’s book Tiger Eyes was one of the defining stories of my adolescence. I must have retreated to this story set primarily in Los Alamos more than a hundred times. It painted a world that was absolutely alien to me and I promised myself that if I ever was in the area, I would check out the town and its environs.

I thought I’d done my research and that Los Alamos is now open, with no more guard houses and plenty of museums and other touristy things to do. So imagine my surprise when there was a checkpoint coming into the town. A surely woman asked me where I was going. I told her the truth, going downtown to have lunch and visit the museums. “You’re on government property. I need to see your ID,” she replied. I handed her my passport and she told me to turn around and go the way I came. So, that was that for Los Alamos. Can’t say I didn’t try. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I did see the canyons that Judy Blume paints so well with words and they were exactly as I expected. I’m not disappointed about not seeing the town as I doubt it would have borne any resemblance to the the 1970’s town she described.

It was then time to head northeast.

Last chance to go back to John's for the night!

Last chance to go back to John’s for the night!

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I put Mount Rushmore into my GPS and it plotted out the same route I had to I-25 and beyond, so I followed its directions, heading northeast through mountain passes. Traffic was very slow through the tourist town of Taos and I had no desire to stop.

Quesnel Road! I wonder how they pronounce Quesnel here.

Quesnel Road! I wonder how they pronounce Quesnel here.

From the mountains, I eventually emerged into a plateau as I entered Colorado. I went to three places in 1996, Quebec City, Colorado, and New York City. If I had known then that of the three, Colorado is the first one I would return to a second time, I would not have believed it.

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Colorado was looking a lot like Florida the last time I was there. :)

Colorado was looking a lot like Florida the last time I was there. ๐Ÿ™‚

Snow capped peaks in the distance.

Snow capped peaks in the distance.

I didn’t want to drive too much today and hoped to stop around 4:00. But motels were far apart and expensive. I decided that I was stopping in Walsenburg, CO, no matter the prices. By the time I got there around 6:45, I’d seen about four roach motels wanting more than 80CAD a night. Google told me that the average price in Walsenburg was about that. So when the first place I stopped in was clean, neat, and 60CAD, my maximum budget, I was done for the day! BTW, it’s cold and rainy; not truck camping weather at all!

Having done so much exercise today, I needed a proper dinner, so I walked the block to a sit down Mexican restaurant. I ordered a beer (Budweiser!) and wasn’t asked for ID. Mexico officially aged me! ๐Ÿ˜€ The menu was uninspiring, just your typical ‘Mexican’ and American fare, so I ordered the two enchilada special (opting for chicken with green sauce). It was tasty enough, spicy as hell, and a good deal for the price ($7). The beer brought the tab up to $10.30 with the tax, still a very reasonable price. The enchiladas were topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and… black olives. Strange. I started to eat olives last summer and haven’t had them since I left home, so I tried one and didn’t hate it, so I ate them all. ๐Ÿ™‚

It was a good day on the road. I could easily get to Mount Rushmore tomorrow, but I’d rather split it up into two or even two and a half days. We’ll see how the weather is. ๐Ÿ™‚