Saturday, March 26, 2022

New Mexico Trip 2022

For Wil's 50th birthday we had planned to go to Brazil. Carnaval 2022 falling on Wil's 50th birthday meant we could see the Christ the Redeemer statue as part of our "Seven Wonders" project, plus see the parades in the Sambadrome (a huge dream of mine), see spectacular Iguacu Falls, check out the modern architecture in Brasilia, and see the spectacular opera house in Manaus plus have a little more time on the Amazon. 

But then, COVID. 

I had booked all the hotels, but was holding off on flights and the Carnaval tickets because, well, it didn't seem likely. But in the "vaccine honeymoon" period, I was hopeful. But it wasn't to be. 

So we thought about what else to do. I had left it too late -- again -- to find reasonable accommodations in Hawaii. So that was out. And we didn't want to go too far for my first post-brain-clot flights. And we didn't want to be in big crowds, for the most part. But then I thought, "New Mexico." 

New Mexico feels really different, but it's not super far away. So we decided to book flights -- first class to treat ourselves! -- and I made a plan. 

Day "0" - fly Seattle to Albuquerque

Day 1 - drive Albuquerque to Santa Fe

Day 2 - Santa Fe and Georgia O'Keeffe

Day 3 - Santa Fe Meow Wolf to Truth or Consequences

Day 4 - Truth or Consequences for Wil's Birthday

Day 5 - White Sands and Alamogordo

Day 6 - Carlsbad and Roswell

Day 7 - Roswell to Tucumcari

Day 8 - Side trip to Amarillo, then back to Albuquerque

Day 9 - Albuquerque to home

At some point during the trip I looked to see what was happening in Rio for Carnaval, and was somewhat relieved to see that the sambadrome parades were postponed until after Easter. So it was confirmation that we'd made the right choice. 

I wrote up my notes as blog posts and backdated them to when they happened. I loved New Mexico -- the skies (and, despite it being NM and not AZ) the "little puffy clouds". I loved all the green chile. And I loved that feeling of freedom from traveling again. 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 18

Hi everyone! Over the last 3 weeks I barely touched a needle, I'm afraid. But we did have a great trip to New Mexico, where we ate green chile EVERYTHING, soaked in hot springs, sledded down gypsum sand dunes, explored a massive cave, stayed in classic Route 66 motels, and, one morning, drove 230 miles round trip for tacos. So very little stitching, but a great week. 

Here's where I was last time:  

And here's where I am now:

I finished the column I hadn't finished last time, but not much else: 

Over the next three weeks I'm hoping to finish at least one column to keep moving this project along. But before that, I'm headed over to check out the glorious projects my fellow stitchers are working on: Avis, Claire, Gun, Constanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Renee, CarmelaSharon, DaisyAnne, AJCathie, Linda, and Helen.

See you in three weeks!

Sunday, March 6, 2022

New Mexico day 9: home to Seattle (eventually)

Up very early and out to the airport as we had a very early flight. Of course, it was super quiet, and we were flying first class, so we had no wait at the counter and we also made it through security in a matter of seconds. 

ABQ airport is cute; we sat upstairs in a little lounge and ate a breakfast burrito before making our way to the gate. We boarded first -- of course -- and were happily settling in. I noticed a woman with a dog -- not in a carrier, but on a lead. A passenger across the aisle said, "Oh, what a cute dog!" and the woman said, "It's a SERVICE dog" and huffed past. I remember thinking, "Oh, no, it's one of those people who paid $35 online to get their pet classified as a service dog so they don't have to pay for them to fly." 

But we sat there, I did some writing and some stitching, and relaxed. The flight attendants took our orders so they could start serving right after takeoff. But then we heard the co-pilot come on the PA and say "As a reminder, FAA regulations require all passengers to wear masks during the flight. To be honest, I don't care about your thoughts on the matter. So put on your masks."

We could see the flight attendants anxiously looking down the aisle from up by the cockpit, but we couldn't hear any other hubbub. But then the pilot said that there was a warning light so we would be returning to the gate to have it looked at. (Groan.) So we taxied back to the gate and, when the door was opened, the police were there. 

Eventually one of the officers went down the aisle, while the passengers chatted about "why can't people just put on their masks?" And still we sat there. At some point a guy walked toward the front of the plane, accompanied by an officer. He was shouting "Okay! We put on the masks!" but it was clear his flying was done for the day. And still we sat. 

The captain told us we would need to deplane. We grabbed our stuff and headed into the terminal. We chatted with a few other passengers, especially because it didn't look like the entire plane had exited. 

Then more officers arrived and several minutes later, a woman came off the plane. It was the woman with the dog. She was angrily holding a big plastic cup and shouting. Her boyfriend told her to "STOP IT!" but she was on a roll. Shouting about how she had been given a glass of water (certainly not that size of one!) and "you made the entire plane gang up on me" (no... ma'am, that was you...). Shouting that COVID wasn't real, that we were all sheep, that this country is going to f'ing hell, and that THIS IS A NON-REFUNDABLE FLIGHT TO HAWAII. 

The officers just kept herding her away from the gate and down the terminal. Not touching her, but just shepherding her. She was defiant at that point, but other passengers told us later that she was crying. 

Apparently she had made a threat, so all the rest of the passengers were taken off the plane, and inspectors came on to check everything. 

Finally, we were told we would be boarding soon. The gate crew read their spiel, saying we had to wear masks during the flight, and we all laughed. 

Then back on the plane, and, 3 hours late, we left ABQ. The flight attendants were kind and said "we have your mimosas chilling!" And they did.

During the flight I looked out the window and saw this:

... which reminded me of Georgia O'Keeffe's Above the Clouds, which we'd seen in Santa Fe:

I was happy to be home, but also happy that we'd had a great trip to New Mexico! 

**A quick note about this post -- I'm catching up with my New Mexico memories and backdating blog posts to each day.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

New Mexico day 8: the long way to Albuquerque

Up early on a bluebird -- or Blue Swallow? -- morning.

The only thing we had on our list for the day was to get back to Albuquerque -- not a super long drive. So I looked at a map to get a wider view ... and it hit me. We weren't crazy far from Texas... and TORCHY'S TACOS

I have a deep love of Torchy's from their early location as a truck in Austin. The last time I was in Texas -- after running half marathons in Kansas and Oklahoma, and spending a night in lovely Shamrock, Texas -- I made sure and stopped in Amarillo to eat at Torchy's. 

Luckily, I didn't have to think "is it really a great idea to drive 113 miles -- each way -- just to eat tacos?" (I mean, obviously, it is a REALLY GREAT IDEA....). Because there's another attraction just outside of Amarillo. 


Ten classic Cadillacs of varying vintages, partially buried, nose down, at a precise angle of 51° 50' and 40", the same as the angle of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. The Cadillacs all face west, stretching about 140 feet in a field. On my last solo visit, I was sad not to have paint with me. Nowadays, there's a merchandise trailer that sells paint and other merch. 

It was windy -- crazy, hair-whipping windy -- so we decided to just walk out to the cars to have a look. But when we got there we found bags and bags of spray paint cans. And we couldn't resist adding to the artwork. 

I mainly just walked around looking at the cars.

I was especially fascinated by the layers and layers of accumulated paint. 

I was happy that Wil finally got a chance to visit, too!

All that spray painting -- and driving, of course -- had given us a big appetite. Hello, Torchy's!

We had three tacos each, PLUS chips and queso. Because, well, we won't be near a Torchy's again for a long time. Fried Avocado, Mofaux (with Beyond Beef), and the Migas breakfast taco, too. 

Uncomfortably stuffed we piled back in the car for the drive west. We popped back in to Tucumcari so we could visit Tee Pee Curios, where we bought random items (and really just stretched our legs...).

After that we stopped at the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa where, if it was less windy we might have taken a dip. It's amazing. 

A lot of people learn to scuba dive here. Maybe someday. (And what a random place to learn to dive!)

Then back on to I-40 where we heard about a huge crash, a few miles of closed highway, and 3-hour delays. So we let Google select another route around the backup and closures. 

Except Google isn't always the best judge of roads. 

We started off on a nice little 2-lane highway, one of three cars all clearly following the detour. Then, we were told to turn onto another road... which was a dirt road. 

The first car either missed the turn or was going a different way. The second car turned, seemed to panic, then slowed down and pulled over. So we just passed them and moved along. 

The first car either missed the turn or was going a different way. The second car turned, seemed to panic, then slowed down and pulled over. So we just passed them and moved along. 

Remember, we weren't in our beloved Crosstrek -- we were in some sort of random sedan. But... for a dirt and gravel road, it was pretty well graded and smooth. What we didn't know is how long the road would stay this way. Eventually the directions told us to turn... onto another dirt road. But then, the directions indicated that two miles later, we would turn on to a highway. HIGHWAY = PAVING. 

Not long after that we re-joined I-40 on the other side of the crash, and shortly thereafter we arrived in Albuquerque.

Robert from the Blue Swallow recommended we check out the El Vado, another vintage motor court motel along Route 66. But in this case, they made it very chic and modern -- they turned the old garages into glass-fronted suites. The rooms were indeed nice, but our stay was a little less than perfect. 

We walked to Old Town, had a very good margarita and some snacks at a swanky bar, and then headed back to the El Vado. We didn't really fancy any of the food in the restaurant / food court area, and the brewery only had canned cider on hand, so we decided against it. Inside the "guest area", we dragged some chairs and a table over to in front of our suite and sat outside and watched the sunset. 

Eventually the restaurants closed and the music stopped and it was just the handful of hotel guests left. I think we were the only people who moved chairs so they could sit outside; it might have been too cold out for a lot of folks. Sadly, the heaters are only in the restaurant area, and the firepits weren't lit. 

Still, it was really lovely -- I think maybe autumn would be a good time to visit? Before the pool closes, but after the summer rush. 

And, oh, this sign!

**A quick note about this post -- I'm catching up with my New Mexico memories and backdating posts to each day. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

New Mexico day 7: Roswell, Smokey, and Route 66

Woke up after a GREAT night's sleep, grabbed a very nice hot breakfast in the lobby,  and headed out in the morning to explore. 

First stop, the very cute Roswell McDonald's -- there's a lot of cute UFO artwork inside, plus a massive mural in the parking lot. Well done, McD's.

Then we meandered along a "river trail" (no water) and through some neighborhoods just to get some steps in. A short but nice trail, and I always like to see a town invest in parks and recreation. 

Bright and early at 9am we arrived at the International UFO Museum and Research Center. Look, there's part of me that thinks it's highly likely that there's intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. But this "museum and research center" isn't proof of that. Still, for just $5, it's an amusing place to wander around. And I don't think it's going to convince anyone of anything -- whether you go in as a believer or a non-believer, you'll come out the same way. 

Though, with exhibits like these...

"We've crashed and are sad!"

"We've landed in the desert! Sometimes our ship emits fog!"

Clearly an accurate depiction -- right down to the ALIEN METAL bits on a tray!

There was a man chatting on his phone to a friend saying, "No, they're got EVIDENCE here -- I mean, it's all REAL!"

This was possibly my favorite display -- pictures of "merchandise with alien themes... part of a gradual program of global indoctrination". Or just toys. 

Then we went to a very different place -- the Roswell UFO Spacewalk. It's small art installation that was exponentially more fun than the "museum". Who doesn't love black light art?

We also poked around a few shops, but we had other adventures and surprises ahead. What surprises? 

I hadn't told Wil in advance, but hid his Smokey shirt in my luggage and he changed into it when we arrived. I love Smokey Bear, but Wil really does, so he was dorky happy. 

There's a small museum that's stuffed to the gills with Smokey history and merchandise. 

And in the neighboring garden, native plants and Smokey's grave site. 

And this, the sweetest-faced Smokey statue I have ever seen in my life. 

This face!

We continued our trip, heading through Carrizozo to see Intersection Point Zero, and imagined moving to such a place... tiny town, peppered with artist studios and galleries and not much else. 

Back on the road we turned northeast and headed toward Tucumcari, our stop for the night. We drove through lots of semi-deserted towns, wondering what the lives are like of the people who remain. And eventually, we arrived. 

The Blue Swallow is one of the loveliest restored motels along Route 66. On earlier trips we'd seen pictures and wanted, one day, to stay there. We reserved one of the cute little rooms, specifically unit 2. 

The room had a phone -- a rotary phone -- and I was amused to pick it up and hear a dial tone. The room also came with a garage -- after all, this was a motel. Our garage had an adorable Cars mural. 

We hustled up the road to have a quick drink in a classic lounge:

What drink, you ask? Why, the Blue Swallow Margarita, of course!

The lounge was pretty empty -- it was only about 5pm on a Friday, after all -- but that meant we could admire the murals. 

I especially loved these paintings in the booths!

But our real reason to visit Tucumcari was to see the neon at night. So we sat on our cute vintage chairs and just enjoyed the evening. 

Tee Pee Curios, right across the street

The owners, Robert and Dawn Federico, are ADORABLE. We loved how excited Robert was talking about the motel to people checking in, ourselves included. Such a great spot!

**A quick note about this post -- I'm catching up with my New Mexico memories and backdating posts to each day.