Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

I DID make that left turn at Albuquerque.

I’m in Raton, New Mexico, and it’s a gorgeous, breezy evening, and though it may rain sometime in the next hour or two, it’s supposed to clear up overnight, so I’m hopeful for a night in the tent. I also have the shortest drive of the trip scheduled tomorrow – just over 4 hours – so even if the tent gets wet, I can sleep in a bit and stick around and let it dry out.

Today’s journey began with about 40 miles of Arizona Route 89 , and the northern half of it was as incredibly beautiful as the southern half (between yesterday and today I pretty much drove the whole thing except for the part through Prescott itself),  though without the 25 mile-per-hour mountain switchbacks into Yarnell that were fun to drive but made it all but impossible to really enjoy the views.

Then I did Flagstaff to Albuquerque on I-40, which I did on the way west, and I think having just traveled it made this stretch seem to go on forever. Easily the longest, toughest part of the drive.

I tried to break it up with a quick spur-of-the-moment detour to Meteor Crater, but the $15 admission price tag meant all you’re going to see from me is this view from its parking lot:

For all I know, Meteor Crater is a truly stunning experience and totally worth that fifteen bucks, but to get my money’s worth out of the climb to the rim and the museum and exhibits and bells and whistles would have taken more time than I wanted to spend on a day when I was already looking at almost 11 hours on the road.

I also considered breaking up the monotony by stopping to stand on a corner in Winslow, but then I found out on the radio that it’s already been a cheesy tourist thing for awhile. No kidding. According to the radio ads, you can even get your photo with the girl in the flatbed Ford.

I did see the Fight Obesity Ride guy heading east on I-40, and eventually I crossed into New Mexico and had to give back one of those hours I picked up on the way to California.

Fortunately, reaching Albuquerque meant traveling a new road – I-25 (so, yes, I turned left!) northbound, and I was surprised at how the landscape changed again. More green entered the picture, dotting and then covering the hills, although the mountains kept their distinctive western shapes.

At one point, I was treated to a storm off to the west of the highway, on a broad flat plain between me and a distant mountain range. What made it cool was seeing lightning strikes that were actually in front of those hills. Most times, back home the horizon is much closer, so even close-range lightning strikes are behind just about everything you can see. Seeing the bolts link the ground and the clouds in the middle distance rather than in the background was awfully neat.

I was listening to a Retroist podcast about The Dark Crystal during this stretch, and the wide grasslands that opened up to the east , coupled with the hills that still ran alongside to the west, somehow fit the moment.

I got into Raton about 5:30 p.m. during a light rain and bought myself a K-Bob’s steak sandwich for supper, since it had been a really long day of driving and I could feel a hunger headache coming on.

Now I’m going to post this and reward myself with some arcade time – the game room here actually has a working Side Arms – Hyper Dyne, which Aaron and my brothers and I used to LOVE playing at Aladdin’s Castle in the mall (sadly, the Pole Position game has sound but no picture) – and maybe even some ice cream after that. Here’s the view from my campsite:

June 26, 2010 Posted by | Games, geek, Travel, video games | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heading back home

San Diego and the gymnastics meet – which was only yesterday – already seem a long way behind me, and not just in that 400-road-miles way. It’s strange knowing that Jenn and Kelsey are already back home asleep in Ohio, but at the same time, I like that I’ve got this drive ahead and the time it will give me to mentally revisit and unpack my memories and thoughts from the trip.

So I left San Diego this morning around 8 a.m. after dropping mom & Jeff & Jenn & Kels at the airport, and over the next couple hours, I realized that I really love the Interstate 8 drive between San Diego and El Centro. I mean, there’s about 5 different kinds of mountains and vistas in there, and it would be awesome to spend a week just driving and shooting photos of the region at all different times of the day.

I mean, you go from scenes like that one up into these towering, rocky piles, and then there’s this absolutely breathtaking drop on the eastern edge, and you come twisting out of the hills to find the desert seemingly miles below (it’s less than 4,000 feet, though), and spreading to the horizon. This doesn’t do it justice, since I was almost all the way down when I took it:

I took a different route back after El Centro, though, and did most of today’s driving off the Interstates and on two-lanes that took me through some neat places like the Imperial Dunes recreation area –

– and a long stretch of single-intersection “towns” in southwest Arizona often consisting of sparsely-populated RV parks and maybe a restaurant and convenience store. Abandoned places, too: Clusters of homes and buildings just left vacant that made me wonder at what point someone last lived there or when it was that a person finally walked out those doors for the last time.

This afternoon, I had the great pleasure of finally meeting another fellow GeekDad writer, Jenny Williams, and her husband and family, who very generously and graciously arranged for tonight’s accommodations here near Prescott. Games – there was Super Circles, and Go Fish and TransAmerica and Chronology – and a marvelous dinner of lasagna and some brownies to die for, I tellya, and the whole evening flew by in a flash of nonstop talking and playing and fun, and once more I marvel that I have had the good fortune to come to know such excellent and kind and generous people who truly made me feel welcome.

We looked at the stars outside for a few minutes, and though they stretched from horizon to horizon, I could also imagine them over the smaller patch of sky in my backyard, bordered by familiar trees and rooftops. Home seems far away and still close in many ways.

June 26, 2010 Posted by | Games, geek, Ohio, Travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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