Dave and I had a wonderful flight to Denver and then a somewhat wonderful flight (we’re still alive!) from there to Albuquerque, NM, despite the fact that we were quite exhausted from waking at 4:30am-mainly to feed the cats (they’re so demanding!). Dave, being able to sleep just about anywhere, was quite happy with the 2 degree incline of his seat back and proceeded to drift into a refreshing nap. I, on the other hand, resigned to being satisfied with closing my eyes and wishing steadily for a moment of rest and frequently being enlightened with thoughts that I absolutely had to wake Dave to share with him. Mwahahahahaha!
Upon arrival in ABQ we caught our shuttle and made fast for our rental car. After arguing with who was quite possibly the most irritating customer service rep we gave up on our coupon for a free upgrade and decided to go with the economy size. Soon after, we were given, without requesting it I might add, a DOUBLE upgrade from the nice man outside and quickly chose our Olds Alero.
I, being the only individual in our party of car rental age was blessed with driving around ABQ all day, which would have been quite pleasant if not for the pouring rain that began soon before rush hour. Being that we were in a desert town we were in for quite a treat. If anyone ever tells you MN drivers are bad, tell them to come to NM. Fearing for our lives and dreading higher insurance premiums we carefully avoided moron after moron who didn’t know how to use his/her turn signal OR mirrors. The desire to simply stay in one lane and avoid any unnecessary movement was squelched by freeways designed by drunk engineers who thought it would be funny to make nearly every exit an “exit only” therefore causing lanes to repeatedly appear and disappear about once every half mile.
Unscathed we reached the car rental return and only had to drive around in circles for about 15 minutes before we drove without confidence into what turned out to be a good guess as to where to return the car. Still navigating our way around the desert rain that apparently had followed us from MN (the only explanation I could think of–well, that and mountains) we easily found the Sandia Shuttle Express that would take us (thank God) to Santa Fe. (By the way, we had a good, although sleepy time in ABQ-took the tram to the top of the Sandia Mountains where there was a beautiful view, ate at the Route 66 Diner on Central which used to be 66 and where the poor quality food mixed with decent shakes gave us renewed faith in name recognition as a marketing ploy, and took a nice nap in the car in the parking lot of the aquarium, but never actually went inside save to use the bathroom.)
Quite exhausted we were dropped off at the beautiful Hotel Santa Fe and soon picked up by Adam in his “Radiant” car. He took us to a restaurant that served wonderful food and I enjoyed my first time hearing “red or green” referring to my choice of chile. I choose green and my sinuses were none the wiser. After my face turned red and steam starting shooting from my ears I took a large gulp of some of the best lemonade ever. Yes, I cleared my plate (the chiles don’t count-they’re seasoning, not food).
We retired to Adam’s place and fell into a much-needed slumber. The futon was quite comfy and hospitality unmatched.
Normally Adam would leave for work in Los (not Las!) Alamos by about 7 or 7:30am so our plan was to drive there with him and then steal his car for the day to drive through the Jemez mountains and catch some outdoors fun. At 6:30 am we awoke to Adam’s alarm and waited for sounds of his morning stirring. He had alerted us the night before that the lab may be delayed in opening because of snow (yes, snow–remember: mountains) so we weren’t surprised by the lack of movement and drifted back into a still exhausted sleep.
Around 8:30 we all awoke and Dave and I were informed that the lab wouldn’t open until noon so we all could take advantage of Adam’s half day to go out for a traditional New Mexican breakfast. I decided on Huevos Rancheros which for some reason seemed more appropriate here than back home. Once again, I chose green.
Originally when I heard that there might be snow our first day in Santa Fe I was ignorantly thinking an inch or two of nice light powdery snow. My expectations were grossly uninformed. When leaving for breakfast we had brushed at least 4-6 inches of thick packable snow from the car and after we ate Adam discovered that the lab was in fact closed for the entire day and we now planned to take advantage of his full day off to visit some of the many museums.
First we went to the Awakening museum which was quite stunning <www.theawakeningmuseum.com> and afterwards wandered two blocks over to the more somber Georgia O’ Keeffe museum. Museumed out, we wandered to a local coffee shop and wrote postcards and chatted about chameleons.
After our caffeine break we felt prepared to take on more potentially boredom-inducing educational activities and drove towards downtown to visit a few of the many museums located there. Starting with the Palace of the Governors we were told they were shutting down due to inclement weather and that many others would be doing the same.
Not interested in strolling through the continuous bombardment of rather large snowflakes (noting that we could do the same at home) our final destination was to be Adam’s apartment after a quick trip to the grocery store.
Once safely sheltered from the ridiculously inconvenient snow, we soon decided to dig through an assortment of beer Adam had received from friends who don’t drink beer, but who had collected various specimens from party leftovers. I began by setting up an assortment of four beers in a row on the table accompanied by two wine glasses and crackers and Duo (Santa Fean Sprite) to cleanse our pallets. We then proceeded to partake in beer tasting. The first, “Fat Tire” had a bold flavor and was a bit feisty. After cleansing our pallets, and our glasses, with Duo, we deducted that the second beer, “Tecate”, was bad. The last two beers were Canadian Lagers from a company that apparently likes to bottle the same beer with different labels, probably just for fun. They were quite pleasant at first, with an initial lemony flavor accompanied by a buttery after-taste, but soon assaulted our taste receptacles and are now growing flat in the dry mountain air.
I was informed multiple times by the locals (Adam included) that alcohol has twice the effect at high altitudes. mmmmm….intoxicating. And so I now write you this email.
Hello and welcome to our second installation of On the Road featuring Dave Dash as himself, Katie Bonn as herself, and Adam Engelhart as that guy who escaped the evil lab and saved the sickly people from almost certain death in unfamiliar terrain.
Today’s story begins in the wee hours of the morning when our three superheroes awoke for their daily adventures out west. (Los Alamos IS west of Santa Fe). Excited about the drive that had for some time been the bane of Adam’s existence we oooed and awwwed over snow covered mountains and a really kick ass Camel Rock that really looked like a camel. The fourteen miles of road construction had us reminiscing of our homeland and the approaching Road Construction season. Halfway to our destination I spotted a sports bar in a quite deserted mountainous area and announced, “hey! I could sell pull tabs there!” to which Dave replied, “are you drunk?!”. Pipe dreams, Katie, pipe dreams.
The day before, Adam had given us a map of the Los Alamos area for our touristing pleasure. After we dropped him off for his last day of work where he assembles nuclear weapons and then tests them in the Jemez mountains during his lunch break, we decided to start our tour of the area by taking a nice scenic drive. First we studied the map to ensure we knew exactly where to pick him up at 5pm. There was a star by Pajarito road which I could only assume meant that was our rendezvous point. “no, I think he said something else about that road”, Dave answered. “Well, it sounds familiar” was my reply. After much deliberation, we finally recalled being told that if we were to drive down that road we’d be met by angry men with very large guns.
Having decided NOT to drive down Pajarito Rd., we began our journey into the Jemez mountains. Full of stunningly beautiful views and the occasional turn that’s very appropriately labeled “10 miles/hr”, the scenes around us left us in awe. We were surrounded by cloud aspiring cliffs and majestic snow-covered pines, when suddenly on the right side of the road the mountain opened to an enormous valley, Valle Grande. Interestingly, the once volcanic caldera made me feel like more a tiny insignificant spec earthbound for only a moment than the towering mountains above. We’d tried to capture the sight on Dave’s digital Optio S4 and determined we may at some point be able to figure out how to stick four digital photos together in a panoramic strip without having to print them. Then I told Dave to pee on Adam’s car.
Following about an hour and a half of driving 20-30 miles per hour through meandering mountain paths my hunger started poking at me, poking at me like a Snickers commercial. For those who don’t know, when I get hungry I recommend we stop for food as soon as possible. If, by chance, we have not found a suitable place within 15 minutes, I turn into a horrible unsightly monster. “Rffmmahrrrrrgh! Mbleckbrrrofff!” I growled to Dave. “Katie, I told you before, I don’t speak German.” But he got the hint and we stopped at the first place we could find: Deb’s Delights in jemez Springs, a little mountain town of what looked like 10 people tucked away in a happy little valley. As we pulled up there were four little punks swearing, kicking a little Canadian baby and complaining about their gay dog. (Note: no babies or dogs were harmed in the creation of this mountain adventure.)
Deb’s Delights proved to be an exceptionally quaint and friendly little cafe with excellent food and helpful staff. We stuffed ourselves full and asked for directions to the many sights that were apparently hidden as a test of our deserted-terrain skills. Heading back the same way we came we began our search for the sites we’d passed along the way with no indication but the fact that we’d reached Jemez Springs and therefore obviously gone too far.
The first along our route was the stinky Soda Dam, although not officially called “stinky” it definitely merited the prefix. After giving Dave some sideways glances I reached the conclusion that it was in fact sulphur emanating from the melty structure.
***** ****** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ****** ****** *****
Well, since it’s now the Next Wednesday and I’m still working on this email I think it’s time to give up and get back from vacation to the land of “never-ending business and no time to write silly vacation-time emails”. I’ll just give you a quick summary of the rest of the trip for your perusing pleasure:
Soda Dam was super cool and had a neat steamy cavern that fogged up my glasses.
Next we went to Spence hot springs where there were a bunch of naked people & 1 cute puppy. (oh, and 1 naked old man eating a banana.) It was a longer hike to and from the springs than we expected and we ignorantly did not bring water. The high altitude and no water and hot springs and no water and strenuous hiking with less oxygen and no water did us in. We weren’t feeling too well and by the time we met Adam to pick him up from work I felt the need to be escorted to the bathroom by Dave (cause I couldn’t talk) and proceeded to enter the Women’s room and vomit. I vomited in the rest room at Los Alamos National Laboratory. I want a t-shirt.
Poor Adam had to drive the sickly people back home.
The next day was full of yummy NM food and museums. Y’know, the older I get the more I realize, museums don’t really get more interesting the older you get.
Friday Dave and I went horseback riding in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Quite a view…we saw part of the Colorado Rockies from there. Wow.
When we got back we begged Adam to call some friends to help pack as we were supposed to be leaving early the next morning. I’ll let him tell you how much packing he had done. U-Haul is now on his shit list, I’ll let him tell you about that too. Friday night was spent packing, meeting more friendly NM folks, and eating really yummy pizza.
Saturday we departed and it was snowing again. Snow to greet us and snow to see us off. It was nice ’cause we knew we wouldn’t be seeing snow again for a loooong time.
Saturday was quite a long 14 hours of driving and I didn’t think it could get worse, until it rained the ENTIRE 12 hours of driving on Sunday. I didn’t think a storm could be that big. We drove from Nebraska to MN and it was raining the WHOLE time. I thought for sure there would be disastrous weather reports about the inland hurricane that was taking over continental U.S. Rather, I think the storm was following us. We were being punished. Punished for not visiting every museum in Santa Fe, as if that were humanly possible.
And now we’re home. And there was much rejoicing.