When I set out from Washington, DC, I was unsure of where I would stay in New Mexico, mainly because I was worried about how my car (and let’s be honest, my driving skills) would do in its mountainous curves amid potential snow flurries.
I had a Plan A, which was to proceed to Taos for two nights and enjoy the break from driving for a day.
And I had a Plan B, which was to stay the first night in Albuquerque on I-40, not attempting the 2 hours uphill in the dark, and if it was snowing, forgo Taos altogether and head south; if not, visit Taos for one night and then be on my merry way.
How did I decide? How did I sate that crazy monster inside that loves to hem and haw and put off making decisions that might invite regret?
I asked two natives their opinion on the day of my drive, and after both confirmed a safe route, that was enough. I pronounced it enough.
So, it was a victory for me! Decision made! In less than the time it usually takes me to get to the root of the question!
Following this victory, I enjoyed the atmosphere, the snow, the laid-back small-town feel of Taos.
The last leg of the trip involved a straight shot from Taos to San Diego, CA, where I’d be staying with a friend and basically home-free. I went from Taos, NM to Flagstaff, AZ, then from Flagstaff to San Diego, CA.
Nowhere on the trip did I experience more visible changes in my environment than in this space of time. I woke up in Taos and had to brush off the powdered-sugar snow from my car and wait for the sun to rise above the storm clouds. I drove down through Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Indian City, and arrived in Flagstaff tired enough to fall asleep Before. Eight. O’clock. With no dinner.
Mountain driving! Man, I tell ya.
Waking up in Flagstaff was similar, except instead of powdered-sugar snow, my car had frost like spiderwebs all over it. Thankfully I was parked in the sun’s rays and it thawed pretty quickly. Then I went south through Phoenix (winning a prize for Fastest-Growing-City-to-‘Out-Ugly’-Los-Angeles-in-Sprawl), and west on I-8, which, if you’ve never been on it, IS the Middle of Nowhere.
I left the snow behind, saw the red cliffs in all their glory, passed a forest of tough old cactii, contemplated the low desert, entered sand dune territory, and saw an exit market “Mexico: Next Left.” I could literally see the Border Wall, which was for some reason exhilarating.
I was at sea level, then climbed back up 4,000 feet of elevation to pass into California, cruising back down on what seemed like a cloud: the weather had changed. The arrow now pointed to ‘Perfect.’
The ten days were an adventure, but the last leg seemed like a finale, with even a cymbal-clashing finish. It all seemed to end so quickly, as I felt the California sun again and headed to my sister’s.
That was it? I felt like saying, even though the trip had been full of twists and turns and decisions and mayhem and awesomeness.
Today the trip goes from Stateside to Asia Edition.
Updating as I road-tripped was a little frantic, so I will be hanging this sign while I am off in Seoul and Beijing. I look forward to bringing back tales of delicacies and derring-do!