(Note: I’m having technical difficulties so can’t upload all of the pictures. I’ll get to it when I have a better internet connection. This one is wonky.)

And then it hit me: maybe this wasn’t such a good idea? I’m standing on top of a mesa in Albuquerque, the temperature about 100 degrees, after hiking up in jeans and my Olukai shoes. The thought wasn’t about where I was. It was beautiful. The western “wall” of Albuquerque is a line of mesas filled with petroglyphs. The thought was about how I got there. Maybe I should have gone counterclockwise through the states, hitting the northern ones during the hotter months and the southern ones on my way back as fall hits? But there I was anyway, a bit too late. If I drove for Seattle right now, it would still be too late. My ass is going to be cold at some point. But anyway…

It was a beautiful start to the day. The day before ended in Santa Fe at a hotel I picked from a few hundred miles away. La Posada de Santa Fe was like coming home. It is not so much of a hotel as it is a community of studio apartments–built adobe style. I wandered through a warren of low walls to enter my own little patio with tables and chairs (where I am typing from now). The interior of the room matched the exterior, with white walls and dark brown wood.

After traveling through the heat for a long time, it was nice just to wake up to a chilly morning, low 70’s, to sit outside and sip my coffee. It was still chilly as I made my way down the central square of Santa Fe to have breakfast (and more coffee).

Someone got after me about wearing a mask as I walked. I just find it absurd. Everybody is wearing masks in this “age of masks”—until they enter the restaurant or bar. Aye, I know at least some of the science behind the masks and the virus, at least what the scientists learn and pass on. If you pass someone on the street, right before they die of Covid, and they aren’t wearing a mask, your chances of catching it are slim to none. Sitting downwind from them in a restaurant, though, even six feet away, with improper air circulation? That’s another story.

But I had my breakfast, took my morning walk, and thought of all of the people that would kill to be here. An artist could spend days within one square mile going through all of the jewelry shops, art galleries and wandering through the sculpture gardens. Beale and Bourbon Streets, with all of their bars and drinking holes, has nothing on Santa Fe when it comes to artists.

But why did Bugs Bunny say to make a left at Albuquerque? And can I finally stop typing Albuquerque as I still haven’t learned how to spell it properly? So, I jumped on Route 25 and drove down into the heat of the lower lands. I saw the mesas, went into downtown, or old, Albuquerque, and even got my car washed and did some banking.

An interesting note: 530 miles. Just yesterday, I was at the Red Bird Coffee House. In old town Albuquerque, I found a Black Bird Coffee House. Of course I had to.

I took the scenic route back. No, I did not get lost though it was accidental. Someone mentioned the town of Madrid and how nice it was. It turned out to get there, and back to Santa Fe, you take an official scenic route, The Turquoise Trail, Route 14.

It was a beautiful drive through what I am now thinking of as New Mexico. It takes about twice as long (even longer as they work on that road as well) but well worth every extra minute. I even got some internet music playing while I had service (see video). Madrid is a quirky little town with shops lining the main road and quirky little houses to compliment it.

But back to Santa Fe, with the suggestions pouring in. A couple I met at Petroglyph National Monument said THE BEST place in New Mexico to go, after driving cross country 26 times, was Carlsbad Caverns National Park. That’s a couple hours south, though, and I’m heading north. The simple fact is that I do not have unlimited time and I’ll be missing a lot of things. Many things I could wander for days and I’m just doing drive bys. Something is pushing/pulling me onward, something I haven’t found yet.

On to a completely unplanned part of the journey now. Just a little out of the way. I’ll finally be getting up into the Rocky Mountains and Colorado soon. I just checked the weather: low 60’s at night.

Just a couple last “firsts” that I find interesting that nobody else might. 1) why did the weasel (or mongoose) cross the road with its baby in tow? I don’t know but I had to slam on the breaks for it. I’ve slammed on the breaks for squirrels, birds, deer, etc., but never whatever that was. 2) On the way to the place that I will not attempt to type its name anymore, I saw a road sign, “Dust storms possible the next five miles.” 3) Road crews are smarter here. Instead of having police cars with their lights spinning? The road crew vehicles have the lights.