Driving on Route 40, which runs right next to the famous Route 66, I heard my friend Joanna singing “Flagstaff, Arizona,” from “Get your kicks on Route 66” in my head. Per the song, I passed through Kingman and Barstow as well as Winona and Gallup, New Mexico. My two destinations along this stretch were Flagstaff and Sante Fe. However, as I neared Flagstaff, it became apparent that I was less than an hour and a half from the Grand Canyon! So after I set up my tent at the KOA outside of Flagstaff, I jetted off in my Forester racing the evening sun to get to the canyon’s southern rim before sunset. My cousin Heather had raved about it back in Rochester, so my curiosity was piqued. It was surreal to be there and in the encroaching shadows and at the chosen lookout, I could not see the endlessness. However, it was cool to be able to say I had been there! On my way back, almost to the campground, I got pulled over by a trooper. He noticed my wobbly driving and checked to see if I was inebriated. I told him I had been freaked out by a car driving behind me at an angle in the next lane. “Oh,” I added, “that must have been you!” He let me go after signing some paperwork with no fees attached!
It was bone chilling cold in the early morning hours in my tent. I decided that the next night I would sleep in my car because Sante Fe was also desert. Both Arizona and New Mexico had relatively pleasant climates and some lovely desert and tree landscapes. There were some flat, boring spots but not as many as I had imagined. I found the Rancheros campgrounds easily and after a fifteen minute walk on the local trail, I drove twenty minutes into Sante Fe. The town was chock full of sweet adobe houses and winding roads coming to the center plaza, which was sunny and wide with lots of trees and flowering plants. The streets were contrasts of filtered light against the darker clay adobes. I ate a Frito Pie at the Plaza Cafe, which was like chili nacho salad but withhFrito corn chips. I enjoyed the music there, including a Neo Tango song – Paris, Texas – and informed the staff of my pleasure!
Back at the campsite, I was working out my plans for the next day’s drive to Austin, Texas, in the theater room, when a young man popped his head in and chatted with me for a while. His presence reminded me to lighten up and enjoy the moment rather than stress about the future!