Friday, February 19, 2010

Road trip, end of day 9

This morning I had to choose between taking I-70 through the Rockies, or taking I-80 as I had done when I came out, or taking a southern route. The weather forecast for the northern routes was very snowy, and though I came on this trip to find snow, I do have to be back at work in a few days and I couldn't really afford to get stuck overnight a thousand miles from San Francisco. So I decided to take I-40, which goes through Flagstaff.*

I headed south out of Colorado Springs, quickly leaving the parts where snow had fallen last night, and drove south until I got to Santa Fe. There I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant in a shopping center, which was ten times better than I've generally been eating, because I had fish tacos and the ingredients were fresh and good. It is true that they got my order wrong at first, and after the waiter had taken away the mistake, I said out loud to myself, "How could they get that wrong?" whereupon the woman next to me said, "At least the proprietor seems to be sober today."

Then south some more, across the New Mexico border and past Raton. I went through Raton in 1976 in the middle of the night, and at the time I got the impression that it was sort of clinging to the side of a mountain. It didn't seem nearly that precarious today. Maybe in 1976 I was at some out-of-the-way gas station. I do remember that I had just woken up, and it was cold at night even though it was late May, and the guy who was doing the driving explained we were in the mountains. I really had no idea which way was up.

Then I turned west on I-40 at Albuquerque. I had another decision to make: stop in Gallup at sunset, or keep going another three hours to Flagstaff. The fact is, last night I was really exhausted by the time I got to bed. So I decided to stop early tonight. The fact is that I'll return on Sunday even if I did tackle another three hours tonight, so I decided to take it easy on myself so that the last full day of driving tomorrow would be more pleasant.

Driving through Colorado and especially New Mexico was just beautiful today -- the red mesas, the snowy mountaintops, the dramatic clouds, the rain showers seen in the distance, the grassy foothills.

* Actually it's supposed to snow tomorrow in Flagstaff anyway, so I might get snow in any case.

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