July 02, 2004

Long Way Home (Day 1)

We started out this morning with every good intention at leaving Lake City at 8 am... at which point we were sitting around the table in Anna's parents' house eating eggs. But we really did get on the road at 8.15 (Mountain Daylight Savings Time) and started the trek out of the mountains.

Several hours later, we passed through the bizarre little town of Chama, we stopped off at a gift shop where we ended up spending 45 minutes browsing around looking at antiques, knick-knacks, t-shirts, indian blankets, and the stuff in the pawn shop next door. Guh... so now we're an hour behind. I would take this time to point out that the trip from Lake City (where we were) to Amarillo (where we stay between Lake City and Longview) is typically about 8 hours. However, Anna's brother and sister-in-law are looking at taking a youth group skiing in Taos, New Mexico and wanted to go through said town to look into lodging, which entails 3-4 extra hours of driving... but I get ahead of myself.

After Chama, we proceeded to drive through the mountains of New Mexico and across some rather barren desert-esque mesas until we arrived in the town of Taos at about 1 PM (MDST.) Back at the pawn shop, one of the workers had recommended Michael's Kitchen and thus we stopped there for lunch. Holy crap... that is the best Mexican food I have had in a very long time and quite possibly the best sopapillas that I have ever had. Our conclusion was to recommend the place to anyone we know... and it was with fully bellies and Moore-esque contentment that we headed out to find the Taos Mountain Lodging Center.

After backtracking a little ways out of Taos and a false start that took us 8 miles out of our way, we actually managed to find the Lodging Center, nestled in Arroyo Seco (a little town just outside of Taos, on the way to the slopes.) Before I describe the Lodging Center, allow me to describe Arroyo Seco. Take a mental picture of a little tourist trap of about 500 people set in Southwest Pueblo style (with the typical baked mud houses and the green, red and yellow paint and roof tiling and the like.) To that, I want you to add several trailers and the accompanying detritus would be found in a poor Appalachian setting. To finish, I want you to visualize a poor urban setting and take the feel of insecurity, the graffiti, and the feeling that nobody cares. When you have all of that in your mind, that's how the town of Arroyo Seco feels like, though not necessarily containing all parts in all areas. The Taos Mountain Lodging Center was the complete blending of all of those parts, complete with rusted-out trailers and Indian tipi's together on the lawn with chickens and peacocks running around, barbed wire fencing, and graffiti.

Eric and Amanda never did find the owner to talk to him, but suffice it to say that the visit was more than enough. The lodge itself reeked of cat piss and looked like it had seen better days. Thus, about 2 hours behind schedule now, we pressed on eastward, at least content that Eric and Amanda had narrowly avoided taking kids to stay in the Taos Mountain Lodging Center.

The drive eastward for the next two hours was typified by a stretch where we were navigating mountain roads with a speed limit of 40 MPH with a truck in front of us towing a trailer with no tail lights and a cop driving behind us. Thus, after getting out of the mountains, we stopped for a change of drivers. As luck would have it, we found a prospective short-cut that turned out to save about 40 miles on driving. As it turned out, that short-cut was a beautiful stretch of empty road with a posted speed limit of 50-65 and a realized speed of 70-75. It was here that we made up a little bit of time, and as we neared the interstate I was appointed to drive into Amarillo as Anna dislikes city driving and Eric had driven most of the day.

As I began driving, I was noting that the time was headed for 8.45 CDST as we crossed the border into Texas. I continued to run at 80 MPH accordingly, so as to get to Amanda's grandparents' house in Amarillo by about 9.30. Sadly, about 40 miles out of Amarillo, a nasty smell emerged and white smoke began pouring out of the back of the truck. Thus, we pulled over and got out of the car as Eric began looking it over. The transmission had declared its undying hatred for us and was noisily expelling transmission fluid, oil, and water from the bottom of the vehicle.

Fortunately, Eric figured that staying out on the side of the road wasn't a good solution. So we babied Eric's Blazer to a gas station, got some transmission fluid and oil, and refilled it. In response, the car's engine temperature came down and it didn't seem to leak any of said fluid out. This began the stressful and slow trek to Amarillo, which gracefully ended without further event. The evening ended with a nice dinner fixed by Amanda's grandmother and declarations of uncertainty of what to do the following morning, culminated by all of us crashing so as to be ready for what the morning would hold.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at July 2, 2004 11:22 PM | TrackBack