Go West Old Men: A Travel Memoir. Part 9

Photo by Andy Staver on Unsplash

This is Part 9 of the story, follow these links to see Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8

So. Much. Road.

Our third day was about getting there. Our goal was to get from Tulsa to Albuquerque by early evening because Santa had dinner plans with Santa, and also Santa.

We started with a leisurely time over coffee and breakfast with Tabb and Mary. Then we loaded up again and hit the road.

Our goal for the day. Albuquerque.

Early on, I got the lyric to Lady’s Maid from Titanic (the musical) stuck in my head.

There’s a place in America, called Albu-que-que…if you know you know.

But before New Mexico, there’s Texas. And even if you’re just going across the northern part of Texas, there’s a lot of Texas.

We saw more windmills than oil wells. I didn’t remember that from watching Dallas. Then again, we didn’t go through Dallas.

At a welcome center the guide gave us some promotional materials about Texas. Great, but we weren’t staying. I still have about a dozen or so “Don’t Mess with Texas” sticker that I’m not sure what I’m going to do with.

We didn’t make Amarillo by morning (if you know, you know) but we made it by lunch time.

By this point, we’re officially on Route 66 and getting some appropriate kicks.

Our cultural highlight of the day was a brief visit to the Cadillac Ranch.

Cadillac Ranch is a unique public art installation located along Route 66 near Amarillo. Created in 1974 by

Scott and Mike at The Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

the art group Ant Farm, a group of art-hippies from San Francisco, it features ten Cadillac cars buried nose-first in the ground at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Over the years, visitors have been encouraged to leave their mark by spray painting and graffiti, turning the cars into colorful symbols of American pop culture and artistic expression.

When we crossed from Texas into New Mexico, the terrain and the skyline were familiar, even though it had been forty-three years since I spent my time on the reservation. I began thinking about my time near Shiprock, and about my friends Rick and Kathy. I saw them once in 1986 and we lost touch. They later left World Gospel Mission (WGM) and while I tried a few times, I could never connect with them.

Scott was driving, so I tried one more time and finally found a connection. They were both mentioned in an obituary for Rick’s father who had died some years back. In the obituary, I found that Rick had passed a few years prior to that. I still don’t know what happened. But it reminded me that we need to value, and maintain, our relationships.

Rick was a friend, a mentor, and a great guy to go hiking with in the Colorado Mountains. I’m sad that we didn’t get another chance to do that.

We made Albuquerque by late afternoon and checked into a hotel that, fortunately had an outdoor pool.

But we had a dinner date.

If you haven’t picked up on it, in November and December I’m a Santa Claus portrayal artist.

Way back during the year and a half of Two Weeks to Slow the Curve (™), I met dozens of other Santas online as we worked to save the magic of Christmas and developed plans for virtual visits throughout the 2020 Christmas season.

Santa Skip, Santa Ron, Santa Mike

One of those Santas I met was Santa Ron who lives just north of New Mexico. So we planned to meet him for dinner. We met at The Range for a great Mexican/Southwest dinner. Ron brought along Santa Skip and we had a great time telling Santa stories.

Scott enjoyed being in the presence of three magical creatures.

After dinner Scott and I entertained the prospect of a nighttime swim in the hotel pool.

Mother Nature had different plans and entertained us with some pretty spectacular sky fireworks.

But it was all good. We knew that we would reach the Canyon the next afternoon.

Or would we?

At least I finally made that left turn in Albuquerque.

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