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The Painted Desert
Flagstaff, Arizona to Tucumcari, New Mexico
No bruises, no little girls curled up on the floor and Shadow the cat is fine. This morning, we awake in Flagstaff and the destination today is Tucumcari, New Mexico. There are still two thousand miles between Flagstaff and our new home in North Carolina. It is an uneventful and organized departure from Flagstaff. As we drive east from east from Flagstaff, we lose our evergreen trees and the geography transitions to high desert. My passengers are quietly playing electronic games.
We are traveling on a section of interstate 40 that used to be known as "Route 66" and we are about ninety miles from the town of "Holbrook, New Mexico." Holbrook, New Mexico is well known partly because of the "Wigwam Motel" on route 66 which has rooms that are little "wigwams". I remember learning about this motel during my childhood and I hope we pass it.
Although we are not taking any side trips today, the journey itself gives us a lot to look at. The Southwest is stunning: We are driving through the "Painted Desert" which is a backdrop of reds, tans, ochres and browns, incredibly beautiful. These shades against the blue sky explain the popularity of the colors of the Southwest. I would like to stop at "Sky City" or "Acoma;" a pueblo village atop a 370 foot high mesa. I have been there before and it is a great day trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico. There is also a crater one of my son wants to visit. Unfortunately, it is hot and we have pets in our car. The desert plain seems infinite, we climb gentle slopes which conceal the fact that we are actually at or above 5000 ft elevation. The Dodge RamVan is performing well, thank goodness.
The kids are spotting "jack rabbits", they just have to focus on the landscape and they will spot several. The rest stop provides for multiple sightings of "jack rabbits." As we approach "Albuquerque, New Mexico", we climb and descend "Nine Mile" hill, which we understand to mean we are nine miles from Albuquerque. As we descend, we have an exceptional vista of Albuquerque which is brilliant and sparkling after three hundred miles of beautiful but barren desert. We pass Albuquerque through the central city on interstate 40; I enjoy the southwestern motif of the artwork on the sound walls of the freeway and decorating the railings of the overpass. It is very eye-catching and welcoming.
We arrive in Tucumcari, New Mexico; there is a swimming pool at our affordable motel which is of course, a pet friendly motel. There is also "Sonic" restaurant in the vicinity. Perfect. We have never been to a "Sonic," the "Sonic" restaurants have not yet appeared in Northern California. For my passengers, the pool and the "Sonic" restaurant are the best part of the day. The memories of this journey will last a lifetime, but for today, the fast food restaurants and the motel pool are the main attraction.