October 10, 2002
Long Day

Thank god for the restful day yesterday, because I'm exhausted now. Al drove from Carefree to Flagstaff, and I did the leg between Flagstaff and Grants, NM, where we are now. It was cool to see the scenery change from Saguaro cacti to pine trees as we climbed out of the desert and into the mountains near the southern entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. Flagstaff was at 7000', and the air there was incredibly clean and refreshing—I could have stood in the Safeway parking lot just breathing it in all day.

Luckily we didn't do that, because the leg from Flagstaff to Grants was the longer of the two, and we stopped at Meteor Crater Park to have a look at the hole in the ground left by the first proven meteor impact. The admission price was about double what we thought it was worth, but it was fun to take photos there and see something so unusual.

Next stop was in Holbrook, AZ, for gas. When we first planned the honeymoon, I thought we might stop here overnight, since it was halfway between Carefree and Santa Fe, but we revised our schedule to try to make it as far as we could. The computers were down at the Texaco truck stop we first tried to get gas from, so we continued on to the next exit, which boasted a Chevron. I'm glad we did, because we got to see the part of Holbrook that was frozen sometime in the 60s.

The Chevron not only didn't have a pay-at-the-pump option; it also had analog pumps, the kind I'd learned to pump gas on when I was a kid, and haven't seen in about 20 years. Next door was a Dairy Queen with an old-fashioned blue sign depicting a vanilla cone (I took some black & white photos, but no digital), and down the street were motels, coffee shops, and newsstands that looked like they were part of a movie set. I wish I'd noticed them before I put the camera away.

I had to go inside to pay for the gas, and the shop reminded me of Hillcrest Auto, the place my dad, mom, and later I, as a teenager, worked. There were hoses and belts hanging high on the wall behind the cash register, and the smell of grease and metal and hand goop. "This place reminds me of a shop where my dad used to work when I was a kid," I told the older guy who took my credit card. "That smell... it really takes me back." He half smiled, half gaped at me. "You *like* that smell?" he asked. "It's the smell of my dad," I replied, with an "of course" shrug.

After Holbrook it was a flat-out sprint for Grants. Both Al and I were very tired. When we got to Gallup, we called ahead to Grants to make sure we could get a room, because if we couldn't, Gallup was the only other logical stop. We found a room at the Travelodge ("right next to Wal-Mart!" said the ad in the AAA TourBook), reserved it, and floored the accelerator.

We arrived at 7:20pm, checked in, watched the remainder of Survivor, and then went out in search of eats. We couldn't find anything appetizing, so we went to the Denny's next door. I must say that as a Calforinian, I'm always shocked when I enter a restaurant and am asked, "smoking or non?" Do people really still smoke? Apparently, yes. We got seated a little too close to the smoking section for comfort, so we asked to be moved. It improved the breathability of the air, but not the edibility of the food.

After Denny's, we went over to the Wal-Mart Superstore and bought a few provisions (an apple, some grapes, more chocolate, Twizzlers, a pillow for the car, a collapsible cooler, a large padded envelope for all the stuff we're saving for our scrapbook, and some lip balm). We considered buying a microwave, since we both would rather have had a Smart Ones or a Lean Cuisine for dinner than the Denny's, but we didn't. I think we may do that tomorrow night, if our next hotel doesn't have a microwave, and there's a Wal-Mart nearby. We need a new microwave at home anyway, so might as well buy one now.

Photos from Day 3

Posted by Lori at 09:53 PM | Comments (2) | Permalink
October 11, 2002

One of the things we were struck by on the drive yesterday was how the scenery seemed to change so dramatically every 20 miles or so. Today was no different, though the drive to Bernalillo was much shorter (it took only 90 minutes or so). The most dramatic change occurred when we reached Albuquerque and found that the freeway overpasses were pinkish-orange with turquoise accents. Wild.

The Santa Ana Golf Club, where we'd made a 12:40pm tee time, was on the Santa Ana Pueblo, right next to a casino. The casino and its parking lot were rather small (this we know because we had planned to gamble a bit after golf, but we couldn't find a parking spot), and the road to the course a bit dusty and winding, but the course itself was large and beautiful. Al remarked that if he were ever going to join a golf club to play regularly, this would be the club he would join.

I'd picked the course because it consistently makes the Golf For Women Top 100 Fairways Reader's Poll, and it didn't disappoint. While all the staff I encountered were men, the first three women I came across in the pro shop were all dedicated golfers, and two were planning tournaments at the club. They knew all the staff by name, and they were nice enough to give me tips on playing the course: "the greens are very fast, the rough is very rough, and the natural areas... forgettaboutit."

The starter set us off on the Star 9 (there are three 9-hole courses; you never know which two you're going to play until the starter tells you). I teed off fairly long, but right. I was in the sandy dirt about 10 yards to the right of the fairway. I hit my second shot forward and about 5 yards further right than the first, into the natural area. My ball was sitting up, though, so I whacked at it confidently, only to have it go into even deeper brush further right. I hacked through the weeds and managed to just get my ball onto the grass off the fairway. I hit a beautiful pitch shot... right into the bunker. After chipping out and having the ball roll off the green, I picked up, my morale completely shot. I SO WASN'T HAVING FUN.

I ranted a bit to Al in the cart: Why do I play this game? I'm not a golfer. I obviously suck. Why do I do this to myself? I want to have fun, but I'm NOT having fun! I'm not good enough to have fun! So in this semi-weepy state I teed off on the second, and again hit my ball right. I hit a second one, and that one was actually in play, so I sent Al to fish the first out of the brush and continued with the second ball. My second shot was also terrible, and when I went to put my club back in my bag, one of the bag tags that resorts always hang on your bag had blocked the compartment. I tried to push the club around the tag, and it gave way rather suddenly. The 5-iron slammed down into the bag, catching my thumb between its clubhead and that of the 3-iron.

I screamed in pain and immediately burst into tears. These were definitely NOT tears of frustration. My thumb started turning purple and swelling right away. When I got ahold of myself, I tried to hit my next shot, but couldn't grip the club properly, and contact with the ball produced another scream of pain. I started swinging with my thumb sticking out, and didn't do any worse than before, so I decided to continue playing.

Hurting my thumb turned out to be a good thing. It took the pressure off me to play well... and consequently, I played better. After the 3rd hole we flagged down the snack cart lady for a cup of ice and a Snickers (as any Harry Potter fan knows, chocolate is a rememdy for encounters with dementors; I find that it also helps soothe stressed nerves in general). I was able to get the swelling down a bit, but it appears that I've broken the bone just north of the joint; the burning sensation of a broken bone is unmistakable, and I can't grip a coffee cup. (It's also throbbing now that I've been using it to hit the spacebar, but I can't get used to spacing entirely with my left hand.)

We're now on our way to the Days Inn Santa Fe, where we have a reservation for two nights. More news tomorrow!

Photos from Day 4

Posted by Lori at 03:26 PM | Permalink
October 12, 2002
I Inherited That Creepy Dirt Feeling From Mom

We ended up spotting a place to eat after accidentally getting in a right turn-only lane last night, so we had dinner at Luby's Cafeteria before continuing on to the hotel. I remarked to Al that it seemed more like our 50th wedding anniversary than our honeymoon. Al: "Why, because we're eating dinner at a cafeteria at 5:30pm?" The food was actually pretty decent, and very filling. In fact, I'm considering living on mochas for the next couple days, so I can still fit into my pants by the time we reach Dallas...

Anyway, after dinner we poked around the mall in which Luby's was situated, and I found a GAP. I bought three tops and five pairs of socks for $47 (I'd packed really light so I wouldn't have to think too much the day after the wedding, figuring I'd buy stuff on the road); I like the socks so much I'm thinking about going back for more. We then continued on to our hotel.

When we checked in we paid for the two nights we'd reserved, but after taking a shower in the room, I called the front desk and changed the reservation to 1 night. (They said as long as I checked out by 10, they'd refund the cost of the second night.) Nothing was as clean as it should have been (including the phone, which I tried to clean with handiwipes, but after the third one came away still dirty, I used my cell phone to call around for a reservation for Saturday night). I kept thinking of my mom as I got increasingly creeped out by the thought of dirt everywhere. If the phone and the shower were icky, was there any guarantee that they washed the towels or changed the sheets between guests?

That latter suspicion was seemingly confirmed when we pulled down the covers on one of the beds and found a long brown hair and sheets that were pressed into the mattress pad. Fresh sheets don't look like that. The other bed seemed ok, though, and it was actually quite comfortable, so I tried to focus on that rather than where dirt might be lurking. I had one nightmare and one troubling dream, but other than that I slept ok. I woke up at 7:30 and immediately got up and started packing.

When it came time to put on my socks, I washed my feet first with the antibacterial handiwipes, since I'd been walking around the room in bare feet since the night before. Better safe than sorry. I then loaded up the car, waited for Al to be done, and then went to the office at 9:15 to check out and get my second night refunded. I also told the clerk that I was expecting a FedEx package (I forgot some medication, and Al needs his contacts, so Beth sent them off yesterday). It hasn't arrived yet, so I'm sitting in the Starbucks down the street from the Days Inn, drinking a Grande Decaf Soy Mocha and blogging. Al sat with me just long enough to drink his Grande Iced Soy Chai Latte, and then he got bored. He's off trying to find some breakfast. When he returns, we'll go back to the hotel to (hopefully) pick up the package, and then head to downtown Santa Fe to kick around.

Tonight we have reservations for a hot tub and massage at Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese hot tub spa, and for a room at the Radisson Santa Fe. It's three times the price of the Days Inn, but I'm hoping it's ten times as clean.

Posted by Lori at 09:20 AM | Permalink
Hi, Altitude

I keep forgetting we're at 7,000 feet. I couldn't figure out why I was drunk after one glass of wine with our late lunch (which, for me, included a beet and mango salad with field greens and two slices of homemade wheat bread at Cafe Pasqual's—thanks, Clem!) until I read the "High Altitude Tips" in the hotel's guest services directory, which mentioned using alcohol sparingly due to its intensified effects at altitude. Oh well. Hopefully I'll be a bit more sober by 5:45pm, which is when we're due to get in a hot tub (or, more accurately, a warm tub) at Ten Thousand Waves.

Our FedEx package never made it; the boxes on the form are confusing, and both Priority Overnight Next Business Day and Saturday Delivery were checked. That means that the package is here, but it won't be delivered until Monday morning... and we're leaving Sunday morning. Oh well; FedEx supposedly can route it to Dallas for us. As long as it makes it there by Wednesday, when I run out of medicine (and we leave for New Orleans), we're good.

After determining that the package wasn't going to make it, we headed first for Whole Foods (we got a mini Just Desserts carrot cake to relive the wedding reception, and scouted breakfast and lunch options for our long journey tomorrow) and then on to the Plaza. We walked around a little, admired the architecture around the Cathedral, bought some roasted corn from a cart, priced a cool pear painting (too expensive for us) and some metal sculptures (WAY too expensive for us), and then put Al's name on the list for a table at Pasqual's.

Since lunch is over at 3pm and we put our names on the list at 2:40pm, we were in the "one call only" timeframe. If you didn't answer the first call, your name was crossed off forever! When I saw the guy with the list come out about 5 minutes later, I ran over to stand within earshot. He read off three names with no response, and then said, "AL!" "Right here!" I said, motioned to Al to follow, and went to the table the host pointed at.

I ordered a glass of Merlot with the beet salad in mind, but our waiter thought that the vintage was a little weak for $10 a glass. He brought me two other wines to try instead, and I picked his second choice. It was good, which explains my current state. Al had Chargrilled Trout and a do-it-yourself lemonade; he wished someone better qualified had made it for him. The food was nice, the service even better, and I'd eat there again. In fact, if we're hungry after the Ten Thousand Waves, we might.

Photos from Day 5

Posted by Lori at 03:56 PM | Permalink