Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest – Crossing into Arizona

Leaving Albuquerque, we are delighted to be taking I-40 going West; it’s like everyone else is on I-40 coming East. The drive is smooth, a little road work here and there, but nothing that holds us up in any major way. We cross the continental divide (where all the rivers on the east side flow to the Gulf of Mexico, and those on the West side flow into the Pacific) and we wonder what the divide is called, if anything, that divides rivers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from rivers flowing into the Atlantic?

We are driving along the old Highway 66, too, which is fun, seeing the nostalgic old signs and relics from the 40’s and 50’s, when Route 66 was in its heyday and there weren’t big interstates fully functioning.

From Carlsbad, where we saw temperatures up to 99° F, we have dropped considerably, and hit the road with a temperature around 45°, which rises as we drive toward the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. When we arrive, it is in the 80’s (F) and a bright, partly cloudy day. The colors and the scenery are unimaginable.

I included this one because it made me laugh. These signs are necessary; Americans are inclined to wander off the trail, it’s in our nature, and we need these signs to make us more careful where we are stepping 🙂

As we leave the Painted Desert trail and head into the Petrified Forest area, the weather starts getting seriously complicated and the temperatures start dropping:

I’ve never seen a toilet like this before. It’s amazing:

At the risk of giving you too much information, whatever goes into the toilet evaporates due to the constant wind action. Whoever sits on the toilet has the unusual experience of having a wind-dried bottom:

We start moving a little faster, not lingering as the weather changes:

Can you see how the light has changed? Just after taking this, huge raindrops started falling and we continued on to the end of the Petrified Forest. The temperature dropped to 45° (F)

April 29, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Road Trips, Weather | , , , | 5 Comments

The Magic of Back Roads – En Route to Albuquerque

I love interstate driving, it gets the job done. We love having all that room and zooming down a highway, especially if the highway is empty. We were born to drive.

I also love the backroads, and the USA has some great backroads. Today is almost all backroad, and oh, what a fun driving day it is.

Leaving Roswell, New Mexico, we take a route to Albuquerque through cattle country, and through Billy-the-Kid country, and Smokey-the-Bear country. We come across a giant lava flow, it goes on for miles, with vegetation finding a way to survive – even thrive – in the formerly molten rock:

We find a restaurant with old Homer Simpson in front:

When we were kids, everyone knew the song about Smokey the Bear:

And along this road, we went through Smokey the Bear’s home town!

We merge onto the interstate into Albuquerque, and this time, I successfully call a real Fairfield Inn and find a room for the night.

Now I rarely do this. If there is a place we eat and don’t like it, I just won’t say anything. This time I will say something, because this place, The Quarters, is listed in the Marriott recommended list of nearby restaurants. Hey, and it’s barbecue.

We found it, there aren’t a lot of restaurants around, and this sign was about 2 feet by 3 feet:

Less than a BBQ restaurant, it is very much a lounge, and as soon as you walk in you see men sitting alone at the bar, looking like they’ve been planted there for a century. There isn’t a lot of jolly conversation, just men silently drinking.

There is a separate area for dining, and I will say this, the servers are doing their best to make the best of a bad situation. The dining area has a mixture of bar mirrors and old quilts hanging. We ordered from the menu, and when my BBQ Turkey came, it was like Publix sliced turkey, the kind you buy in a package, on a normal hamburger bun. Their BBQ sauce was good, but this sandwich – it was like you would throw together with scraps you had left over in your own kitchen.

The Quarters has seen better days. It is dingy. The furniture is in bad repair. The carpets are in bad need of cleaning. And it’s Albuquerque – I am sure there are better places to eat. Don’t go there.

April 29, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cultural, Geography / Maps, Road Trips, Travel | , , | 4 Comments