Westward Ho: Day Seven

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We have made the official shove-off from town life. Albuquerque has been left, quite literally, in the dust — lots of it. We have traveled north on I 25 and are now on a bbbbbuummppppyyyy road, headed east to pick up the Turquoise Trail, which will wind us north again through lots of little mining towns until we finally reach Santa Fe. We have opted for the rougher road. It is becoming clearer as we drive further into the pinon trees and the sagebrush, and as the road gets rockier. It’s not working so well for me that I just drank an entire 32 oz. Nalgene of water. There are barbed wire fences along the way. The vertical portions of the fence are mostly branches and sticks — really, just sticks — that the wire has been crudely attached to. I think the wire is even attached to the odd tree that happens to be in its path. Okay seriously, my teeth are about to fall out of my head with travel on this pock-marked road. My contacts might even pop out of my eyes and the dashboard might dislodge from the impact, so I’ll be chiming in again when we’ve reached a smoother surface.

We are now driving on actual pavement with actual double yellow lines running below us. Just after I signed off a while back, the woman in the truck in front of us waved her dark hand out the window and asked “Would you like to buy some jewelry?” Her name was Fanny Garcia and she and her daughter-in-law were on their way to the small town of Madrid to sell to the little stores there. Mom and I stood at the tailgate of their pick-up and combed over their wares. Mom and I both chose turquoise necklaces for the lowlowprice of $25 each which is a steal, considering I almost bought a much less lovely one in Albuquerque for $50. We stopped in Madrid and shuffled through a couple of shops (saw some bad Gatlinburgish glass art), the second of which is owned by a man whose former occupation was as a display artist for Anthropologie. I could have spent much, much more time there. Everything was so artfully, cleverly displayed. Bundles of raw twig pencils, old pairs of shears collected in apothecary jars, a rusty, mint green mine shaft car topped with glass serving as a table, about fifty or so old Mason jars hung with natural twine from a huge pulley over a table which will soon be wired as a chandelier, rough mountain rocks used for display in the jewelry cases, original art by the owners of the store and local artisans, just a little too much for me to take in all at once. I admit I bought a little something…s.

We ate lunch at a little spot called the Ghost Town Cafe, a.k.a. The No Pity Cafe. We sat next to a fountain and underneath a lovely tree. We shared an egg salad, cucumber and avocado sandwich on warm flatbread and a warm beet and blue cheese salad with spicy cayenne walnuts. I think the goodness was probably amplified by the cool mountain breeze, the turquoise sky and the twittering birds, but man-oh-man, it was good.

When we finally arrived in Santa Fe, the sky was bluer and the adobe walls everywhere glowed bright golden-orange against it. We strolled around the square and dropped into a few musty shops where it seemed that everything comes from India or China instead of the surrounding areas. Um, no thanks. The black socks and fanny packs that appear on the bodies of all manner of tourists still amaze me. People actually spend time thinking about it and ultimately decide that those are good ideas. Incredible. We enjoyed an enchanting alfresco dinner at a little place just off 285N called Gabriel’s. After being seated in the courtyard, we completely forgot that the driveway to the place was right off the exit ramp. The only clue was the odd Harley grumbling by. A young fellow made guacamole in a large, black molcajete by our table and our margaritas were ice cold with rims perfectly salted. Our table had a view of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the air was crisp and cool. The beef, red snapper and scallop fajitas, the homemade tortillas and the generous side dish of green chile sang with flavor and freshness as we moaned our way through dinner. Oh, heaven and earth, it was dreamy. As we floated out through the arbor corridor to the parking lot, we felt the satisfaction of knowing we had just had the very meal for which we traveled all this way.


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