And just like Willie would say, the life I love is making music with my friends…
After fourteen months of lockdown and about seven months since our trip to western Colorado to check out the fall foliage, we hit the road for a family visit to Southern California last week. We traveled south in Utah through Moab and then west in Arizona through the Navajo Nation to Flagstaff enroute to San Clemente. It was nice to have some extended dashboard time through desert, across the reservations and just to see some different scenery.
On day two, we broke off from the semi-filled Sunday morning interstate for a time to get some kicks on Route 66 between Seligman and Kingman, Arizona. This country is a beautiful and diverse expanse of land and the drive west through alpine, desert and into tropical landscapes only served as a reminder of how amazing the scenery is.
Crossing into California, we joined the massive trucks, campers and trailers aplenty to cross the Mojave Desert stopping off for lunch just before Victorville so we could watch the locals shoot firearms at abandoned appliances, toilets, televisions and, well, just the hill side. Good times…
To the coast we headed for a beautiful ride from Newport to San Clemente overlooking the Pacific for a smooth, cool, relaxing ride into the town of our destination.
As I’ve posted about previously, San Clemente may have one of the best beaches and be one of the best beach towns on earth and it did not disappoint yet again. We took long walks daily after work and multiple walks on weekend days. The miles of hard packed sand on relatively empty pre-Memorial Day beaches helped wash away a year of being inside and apart from others. Therapeutic for the mind, body and soul.
For our return, we chose the southerly path through the desert and then up through central Arizona with a stop in Prescott and then across the high desert near Santa Fe with a stop just outside of Taos.
Prescott was Arizona’s original capitol and Barry Goldwater announced his presidential run on the steps of the Yavapai County Courthouse here in 1964. Also home to the Palace bar, the oldest saloon in Arizona. We got take out from Farm Provisions, which we would strongly recommend. This cool mid-Arizona town in the mountains of the Prescott National Forest is a great stopover for an overnight or more.
An aggressive day of driving followed from Prescott to Taos NM back through Flagstaff, past the Grand Canyon (next time, too many miles ahead) and back across the reservation towns with their many abandoned gas stations and vacant jewelry stands while being buffeted by high winds, blowing dust and tumbleweeds. Into New Mexico we went through Ship Rock and Farmington with their many laundromats, pawn shops and loan shark storefronts. Times are seemingly tough in this neck of the woods only made worse by bad outbreaks of COVID last year. Health warnings and mask reminder billboards abound.
Off the Reservations, we drove through the high desert, entertained by the massive and magnificent red dirt buttes and plateaus of the Santa Fe National Forest which hug and cradle ranch land, cattle and homes and between which our slender path slips, each mile revealing a site more awesome than the last. On we drove through this winding path into the panorama of rain in the snow capped mountains of Taos where we stayed in an amazing Airbnb way way way off the beaten path.
We awoke in Taos following a night of on and off rain and thunder showers to the strong smell of pine and the sounds of the season’s first summer and hummingbirds and sipped coffee as we plotted our return taking in the mountain air. Our final day brought a return to one of our favorite drives in Colorado and, frankly, anywhere on US 285 from Taos to Denver. If you’ve never taken it, it’s like driving through one the paintings on Santa Fe’s Canyon Road and it’s easy to see where many of the New Mexican artists draw their inspiration.
It’s been too long and it was nice to put some miles on the Volvo as we prepare to return to Europe for a time and to mix up our now very familiar routine at home.
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