Our journey started here. And this is where it continues.
There's something about a cross country move that makes you incredibly restless. Or maybe it's just me. It took us one day to drive from West Richland, Washington down to Utah, where we spent a week with family and friends. From there we allotted five days for our drive south, down into the heart of Texas. Five days of driving with a list of interesting attractions, not much of an itinerary, and no scheduled hotels or camping spots. Not having a plan drives me crazy. But the easiest way to avoid having something not go according to plan, is to not have a plan at all.
So from Mesa Verde we drove, down into New Mexico, where strange rock formations prompted me to ponder the great lakes and ocean waters that once covered this area. Some rock formations, like the mesa tops and plateaus, made sense. Others, like the one in the photo above, made no sense. How did that get there? How did we get here?
We passed miles of plateaus, then miles of open land, then miles of rolling hills, the remains of an ocean floor. Spotting horses through our bug-ridden windshield, we asked ourselves if we would ever live out there. The answer is still pending. Because for all the heat and harshness, there was beauty there. The sunset set the sky on fire, and then the rock formations turned a complementary purple to the dimming yellow light. I could imagine myself roaming those rolling hills for miles, searching for historical clues of the land and the people who once inhabitated it. But imagining how much water I would have to bring along to even go three hundred feet made me think driving was a much better mode of transportation in this desert plain.
We did a funny little circle: Utah into southern Colorado, Colorado into northwestern New Mexico, and New Mexico into the top north-easternmost corner of Arizona. Because of course we had to go to the Four Corners National Monument. And of course we were going to pay the $5.00 per person entrance fee to stand atop an aluminum-bronze plate, determined by 19th century land surveyors to be where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet. Luckily, we went near closing, so we ignored the signs that demanded we limit our photos to 3 per person, and asked the straggling travelers around to snap more than a few of us. Best $10.00 I've ever spent. We retraced the winding road back into New Mexico, ready to cross the state's expanse after a break before Albuquerque. And I'm still impressed with myself that I can spell that without looking it up.
It took a long time getting through New Mexico. It doesn't look all that big, but goodness we drove and drove and kept driving until near nightfall. Most of what we saw reminded me of a dry southern Utah landscape: red rock, plateaus, cool climbing spots, desert shrubs, and our old friend juniper. Juniper actually followed us from the tips of Eastern Washington to all the way in Texas. We've seen some folks have it planted in front of their homes down here, as an ornamental tree even. So there we were driving like it was our job. Bless those truckers' hearts, I'd never be able to do that. But I do have to vouch for New Mexico's radio stations. There were some pretty sweet vibes had as we listened to old true country, alternative indie, and, for the handsome husband, the classical music stations. Other times we drove in silence, or he listened as I read aloud A Prayer for Owen Meany. For such a long drive, you'd really need an eight hundred page book like that.
Eventually, after truckin' on through, and after learning the true deliciousness of chile rellenos and aguacates rellenos, we saw the sign.
Texas at last! At this point, we were on the old Route 66. We tried to stop and get some Kicks, but couldn't quite figure out what that means. We also tried to stop and get some milkshakes, but by the time we got to a town, everything was closed. So we settled for checking out the Cadillac Ranch.
As an art installation, it was cool, but probably would have been more interesting if I knew more about it. That's poor planning on my part. But as a measure of humankind's ability to make beautiful places into trash piles, it served as condemning evidence. The farmer's corn crops surrounding the Cadillacs were spray painted, and the cans left littering the colorful mud and ground nearby. We hung out for a few minutes, dancing from foot to foot to avoid both mosquito bites and quicksand-like mud, snapped a few photos, and trudged back to the car, headed to find a place to rest our heads for the night.
The rest is a blur in my memory. After a night in Amarillo, we were two days ahead of schedule, but didn't have anything else to do. Once we go into Texas, the only noteworthy places were Cadillac Ranch and the growing empire that is Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas. We've been to the Silos before, and we were so done with driving that we didn't feel the need to go out of our way to go again. On to College Station we drove. I don't remember if we stopped for anything but bathroom breaks, and an hour-long stay at Freddy's, where we ate something other than peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and waited for our pseudo-landlady, Barb, to message us back about arriving early.
After being given the green light, we made it to Bryan-College Station in the near dead of night. As we unpacked all of our worldly possessions from the back of the Focus, I wondered what lay ahead. We had taken our journey from Washington and Utah to Texas, from familiar to new, and the journey was really just beginning. A large and dark shape in the sky caught my eyes, and I looked up to see the soft landing of an owl in the tree across the street. I'd never seen an owl before this trip. One I saw amidst the landscape of Mesa Verde, and one I saw in that tree in Bryan, bookends of the drive, guardians of the travelers excited but afraid. Seeing such a large creature gracefully transition from flight to rest, I followed suit. Our drive is done, and here is where we will rest until the wind pulls us up to journey once again.