When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator. ~Mahatma Gandhi
That noise in the car turned out to be a soda can that had been in the parking space we pulled into when we stopped at McDonald’s… I’m not sure what it was vibrating against but as soon as we reversed out of the space and headed across the street – it stopped and it never came back. It did make me think though that we were driving out in the williwags on a weekend and if something happened to the car … well, we’d be delayed for sure. I had built in an extra day to our ‘timeline’ just to be on the safe side but it was our sightseeing time and neither one of us wanted to ‘see’ a dealership waiting room for longer than a hot minute.
We were on Day 4 and had a lot of motivation to get as far Northwest as we could and so we drove, and drove. Our conversations had dwindled down to “see those massive cotton bales” and Erin’s annoyance with me became apparent so I suggested we listen to a book. Since Shonda Rhimes was an inspiring figure to her, I had downloaded the audio book “A Year of Yes”, Shonda’s recent memoir. It has charm, humor, and some sound thoughts about living life proactively. It’s insightful but not terribly deep yet I think there is a solid message in the book. She addresses moving out of your comfort zone, taking chances, managing risk, and paying attention or learning how to be present – all things that most of us need to learn and/or refresh our memory about. It was good to listen to and of course it is ‘my kind of book’ in that I listen and then think about my own life – where can I apply the reflections?
I’d like to pass along two thoughts. First, she speaks about saying “yes” to things that she has long been saying “no” to and yet she also touched on something that she hadn’t realized she had been saying “yes” to all along… it made me think about the things in my life that I am saying “yes” to but with shallow awareness. I was pensive about whether or not I wanted to continue to say “yes” to all of the things that I am currently allowing… definitely worth thinking about. The second is the difference between a ‘dreamer’ and a ‘do’er’. Most of us dream but then there are people who actually DO. Be a DO’er. No matter what happens from this point forward – Erin knows she is a DO’er – she had a dream and then she did something about it. Dreaming without doing is nothing.
We made good time driving. Erin pushes the accelerator down a bit further than I do and I think she drove more that day and so we hit I-40 a bit earlier than I had anticipated. As I looked at the map, I realized that we were only about 50 miles south of Santa Fe – a town I’ve always wanted to visit as I’ve heard that it is a great city. “Erin, how do you feel about a little detour?”, I looked at her with raised eyebrows and hope in my face. “Ok, what’s in Santa Fe?” she concurred with curiosity as I reprogrammed the GPS. “Mountains and cute Adobe stuff”, I replied not really knowing. Of course, Santa Fe sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains and Erin’s never seen a snow-capped peak except on television and in photographs so as we began to climb, I got excited to see her expression.
We’ve lived in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US all of her life and so her experience with mountains is limited to the Pocono range and a couple of car trips across the Appalachians during summer months… neither one of them shake a stick to the peaks of the Rockies. I vividly remember seeing them for the first time after growing up in northeastern, Pennsylvania and I was awe struck with their magnificence. I hoped she would be wooed as well.
While the mountains were certainly beautiful they were more distant than I had thought but she did get a glimpse of their majesty. What stood out even more to us was the architecture. That Adobe look was everywhere and it was gorgeous! I have always had an affinity to that style and I couldn’t take it all in fast enough. Suddenly, I wanted to move there… to retire in a little clay house with wooden beams surrounded by sagebrush hedges. The houses – entire neighborhoods – were tucked into hillsides but camouflaged as their Adobe exteriors blended into the high red desert landscape. It was awesome and in our enthusiastic observations both of us neglected to reach for our camera.
We decided on TexMex for dinner and headed into the ‘town center’ – a setting that Google maps offers. It was still early for dinner and traffic, both on the road and pedestrian, was light. The streets were delightfully decorated with lights and there were galleries and shops along both sides with small restaurants scattered throughout. There were very few people around and so when we found a restaurant we were seated immediately. It was a pretty typical TexMex menu and I opted for enchiladas, Erin for fajitas – both of them a go to for us. There was a huge bundle of red chili peppers hanging almost right over my head and as soon as I took a bit of the salsa on the table, I realized that it wasn’t left over from late 90’s decorating schematic, it was a theme of their gastronomy. Holy Cow! My palette still hasn’t forgiven me. There seemed to be a ‘smoky’ essence to all of our food as well – perhaps that’s the TEX part of the cuisine.
We walked around just a bit – it was cold and there was a fair amount of snow/ice on the sidewalks. Erin and I both packed with the idea that we were headed SOUTH with a final destination of southern California and so we simply did not have the attire to allow us to be warm and comfortable in all of the cold weather we were experiencing. In addition, we wanted to drive out of the city in time to see the sun set over the mountains and we would have but… Erin prioritized filling up the gas tank…..
We don’t know what we don’t know and she didn’t know how magnificent that sunset was going to be. I was the driver and it ultimately was in my hands but my promise to keep the peace by saying “OK Erin”, was engraved on my heart and so I pulled into a gas station as the sun settled into the skyline and disappeared over the New Mexico mountains before we were able to hit a vantage point. We did enjoy some gorgeous colors as the sky darkened but I vowed to make that the last sunset on the trip that we miss.
It was a push to get as far as Gallop that night – almost to the Arizona border – but we had big plans for Day #5 and we were motivated to push as far west as possible. It was dark and we were in mountains, or plateaus I think – I couldn’t see anything and I was a bit sorry that we were missing the scenery yet I knew there were some amazing things in front of us. I was really excited to share a couple of my favorite places on Earth with my daughter!
To be continued…
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