Last night I was re-reading the blog and realized what a boon it is–to me! I had completely forgotten that I got off to see Knoxville. So, while John Steinbeck has no competition from this writer, at least I’ll be able to remember what I did!
Speaking of Travels with Charlie, I read a blog post (written in 2012) by Bill Steigerwald (‘truthaboutcharlie.com’) which he published (I think?) at the same time as his book (which I have not read) “Dogging Steinbeck”, an ‘expose’ of Steinbeck’s “literary fraud”. The post was a fascinating read for it’s vitriol and lack of damning evidence. Stiegerwald does show that Steinbeck’s travels were not as rustic as the book portrays (but, heck, has he not read “On Walden Pond”? really? the ‘makes a great book, but I still did laundry at mom’s’ approach to literature is not exactly new). But the anger (and mediocre writing) puzzled me. So J.S. didn’t sleep in a van most nights. He spent time in nice hotels during the trip with his wife. He didn’t really rough it. Travels with Charlie is an amazing book. Much better than Travels with Calliope. And–spoiler alert–I write this from a hotel room, not the back of a truck. With a bourbon. So on to the day…
We left Amarillo around 8:30 (by the time I do my yoga, coffee, pack the car, check out–life stuff is time-consuming). It’s not true that the landscape dramatically changes when you drive over state lines, but it does seem to alter, or my imagination makes it so. New Mexico is gorgeous. Stopped at the Welcome to New Mexico rest area (and changed the time on my car clock–gained another hour) and watched a woman drape a green bikini top over the sculpture in front of the welcome center. So I had to ask. “Excuse me, but I really have to ask…” Well she was driving to the Grand Canyon from Georgia and some friends had bought the green crochet (bright lime green) bra top from a flee market and she is taking photos of it all over the place. Yesterday she draped it on the hand of a statue of George W. Bush. She showed me the photo. See? It’s good to be nosey. You get to see ridiculous things. I started talking to another woman who had a Roadtrek–it’s her second one and she has had this one for 10 years. Also travels on her own and has been doing it, apparently, forever. Had a horrid chihuahua (another hard to spell word) that she had rescued and was hoping would become less horrid.
The rest area also had a map of interesting NM places to go, which included Tucumcari, one of the ‘see historic route 66’ exits. I got off… I saw Tucumcari. Well, not really. I saw route 66, as sad as other route 66 exits. But! There was still Santa Rosa and the Blue Hole. Saw signs for it on 40. The women at the Welcome Center said ‘ah yes, the blue hole’. Can I bring the dog? ‘Sure, on a leash.’ So to me the Blue Hole is going to be like Hamilton Pool in Austin Texas–a wild wonderland. I spent $5.00 to park (help them pay the rent on the billboard).
Exciting, right? No.
The Blue Hole is a cute little (really little) swimming hole that you can walk around. It takes about 1 minute to walk around it. I got back on the highway.
Did you know that Clines Corners has been operating 24/7 right off Route 40 in NM since 1934? Did you know the power of billboards? I knew I would regret not stopping for the rest of my days. So many billboards. So I stopped.
This is not an idea of the scope. That would be impossible.
Of course I had to buy something.
That little beauty is a jigger. A solo-cup Clines Corner New Mexico Route 66 ceramic jigger. You would have bought it too.
La Quinta let me into my (sizeable) room at 1. We chilled (literally) for a bit and then went to the Petroglyph National Monument, of which I knew nothing an hour before we went. The petroglyphs (rock paintings made by incising volcanic rock) were made by the Pueblo Native Americans over an astonishingly long period of time. Spanish settlers continued the tradition by putting ranch names, animal brands, etc on the rocks. The Visitor Center had a great little movie that I watched (I let Calli just lie down and she found her way out of the building; I got kind of yelled at, deservedly).
The flowers outside of the Visitor Center:
Then we went on a 2 mile hike that was not a great idea. I had brought 2 liters of iced water and her bowl. I had on sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat. The sand was so hot it was hard on her feet. We stopped every time any of the scrub had low shade and I gave her water.
She was miserable. But kept going. When we were on the back stretch of the hike she knew and really picked up the pace even though she was panting. Afterwards we hung out in the shady place between a privacy wall and the bathrooms (!) so she could cool down.
The walk was really beautiful, in a stark way (and also hard–soft shifting sand is not the greatest walking material!)
We came back to the hotel. I had planned to go to Old Town for dinner. But…maybe for breakfast. I’m tired and sunburned (despite 50 SPF and a hat). Dog is dog-tired.