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Archive for July, 2007

In the glow of late afternoon sunlight, I crossed the old toll bridge from Illinois Rte 14 and entered the town of New Harmony, Indiana. The warmth of the sun rolled over my skin as I pulled the car over and stepped outside to look around. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Everything felt right about this town.

New Harmony was founded in the 1800’s in the hopes of establishing a utopian society. First attempted by the Harmonie Society, the same goal was later sought by a scientific/intellectual group led by Robert Owen. Neither attempt was successful, but the basic search for spirituality and peace continues today through history, restored buildings, calm surroundings, educational tours and workshops.

I was immediately taken with the historical structures in this National Historic Landmark town. Each was unique and architecturally different, creating a mix of styles throughout the downtown area. I snapped some photos while the sunlight lingered and then headed over to the inn to check in.

The New Harmony Inn and Conference Center is not a historic lodging establishment, in spite of being surrounded by many 19th century structures. But it is wonderful – a modern multi-building facility that still blends in with the nature around it, including lush lawn areas, a small lake, gardens, contemporary art sculptures and an indoor pool, enclosed in a large greenhouse.

A family of ducks waddled across the grass as I pulled my overnight bag from the car. Several guests wandered by a waterfall in a wooded corner of the lake. An employee of the inn sat under a gazebo, enjoying the garden while on a break. I climbed a flight of stairs and settled into my room, which was furnished with a comfortable, elegant simplicity. It offered a perfect combination of modern amenities and a peaceful, retreat-ish atmosphere.

It was early evening by then and I was in need of a good meal. I found exactly that at the inn’s restaurant, The Red Geranium, where I enjoyed a dinner that was luxurious, compared to the basic food I’d had in the previous towns. Surrounded by white linens and dark woods, I gazed out from my corner table at brightly colored artwork hanging on the cozy restaurant’s walls. An ironwork sculpture of dancing figures ran the length of the fireplace mantel. Soft music seemed to flow straight out of the air itself.

Enthralled with the surroundings, I barely noticed a basket of asiago cheese bread slide onto the table. I rarely ever order meat, but decided to try the Coffee and Pepper Rubbed Pork Chop, which they served with cheese grits and fresh green beans. (Note: the cheese grits were a substitution for me, instead of a potato side that was made with sour cream.) Everything was fabulous, including a unique dessert that I was almost afraid to try: Home-Made Zucchini-Cinnamon Ice Cream. My adventurous side paid off – it was delicious. And the service was excellent, down to the last detail.

I took a quiet walk through the grounds in the dark, returning to my room to enjoy luxurious bedding and wireless Internet access, followed by a night of deep, peaceful sleep.

Morning found me back in the Red Geranium for a breakfast of (I kid you not…) French Toast Stuffed with Bavarian Ham and Cheese, which was dipped in a vanilla-cinnamon batter and dusted with powdered sugar. A choice of entrees was offered, including a Malted Waffle with Berries and a Harmonist Omelette, made with mushrooms and goat cheese. Add to that fresh fruit and just-brewed coffee and I was back in the same dining fantasy world that I had been the night before.

(Note: I have to pause to point out that, in spite of how extravagant this all sounds, many of my lodging choices on these trips are based on special deals being offered. This was one of those amazing finds that offers far more than you pay for. The New Harmony Inn’s summer special is 99., which includes a room and breakfast at The Red Geranium. Dinner, of course, is extra. They’re wonderful, but not crazy.

After breakfast, I set out to explore the town, starting at the Atheneum/Visitor Center, a modern building designed by architect Richard Meier, which stands in stark contrast to the remainder of the town. Here I picked up a printed walking tour of historic points of interest. I photographed a series of log cabins, carefully restored. I wandered past houses with varying histories – when they were built, who lived there, etc. There were many, too many to fully appreciate in one day. I took a little time to enjoy Carol’s Garden and a lot of time to walk quietly through the Roofless Church, an amazing and peaceful open air sanctuary for worship and meditation.

Crossing the street from the Roofless Church, I found the Cathedral Labyrinth, patterned after the labyrinth at the Cathedral de Chartres. Here I took the time to slowly walk the single path to the center of the design. I paused to reflect on the stress I’d been carrying on my shoulders for the last twenty-four hours, long enough to realize there’s no purpose or benefit in letting my mind and heart be filled with personal disappointments and business complications. Before reversing my steps and following the path back out, I sought to release the anger and resentments I was carrying around – a complicated and continuous process, I realized, but in the middle of the labyrinth, I felt a small beginning.

I was fortunate to have the Cathedral Labyrinth to myself, as there were few visitors in town that day. However, I was not as lucky when I arrived at the Harmonist Labyrinth, located at the edge of town. This 1939 recreation of a maze the Harmonists built in the 1800’s does not consist of a single path in and out, but instead offers a maze of pathways, with multiple openings between rows, allowing the visitor to choose different paths.

A small stone structure stands in the center of the maze, offering a place for reflection. Unfortunately, I had to pause outside while a few unseen visitors shouted and listened, laughing, to the resulting echos inside the structure that’s meant for silent contemplation. Though I assumed these were kids (why wouldn’t I?) I was quite surprised to see an entire family walk out, parents included. But they eventually departed and I had some time for a little quiet.

My visit to New Harmony was too brief. I longed for more time to wander the grounds at the inn. I wasn’t able to get to any of the numerous art galleries, antique shops and cafes in the area. It would have been wonderful to have more time for photography. Looking back, I wish I had stayed an extra day. Or two. Or three. But I left immensely grateful for the time I was able to spend there. I’ve promised myself I’ll go back.

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I had intended to drive through Illinois and into Indiana the following day, but stalled when I reached Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

Research shows that this quaint town, located on the west bank of the MIssissippi River, was founded by French colonists sometime between 1722 and 1749, though on record the town marks 1735 as its birthdate. It has a picturesque downtown Historic District, which is designated a National Landmark. Especially interesting are several vertical log houses, which are carefully preserved to show their French Colonial style. Three such structures are open to the public.

Ste. Genevieve was originally built about two miles south of its present location, on low land adjoining the river. However, it moved north to higher ground after a terrible flood in 1785. With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, it saw many new inhabitants arrive, bringing along families, businesses and varying building styles. However, it managed to maintain its original character and is now considered by many to be the best example of French Colonial architecture in the nation.

I hadn’t been driving long, but the town seemed worth exploring. It wasn’t difficult to find a parking place, so I grabbed my camera and journal and started to wander. I decided to start by getting something to eat at the Old Brick House, the oldest brick building west of the Mississippi, built in 1790. One of several historic eateries in town, there was a buffet set up of what I call “good ol’ home-cooked food.” Nothing fancy, but generous trays of fried chicken, pot roast, mashed potatoes, corn and assorted other calorie-packed items. It took care of the hunger pangs and weighed me down enough that I started toying with the idea of hanging out in Missouri one more night.

And so I arrived at The Inn St. Gemme Beauvais, a bed and breakfast housed in an impressive brick building dating back to 1848. I sauntered in, looking for a brochure, and was greeted by owners Jan (pronounced “Yon”) and Cathy Brans. There were plenty of open rooms, as it was not a weekend night, so I took one on the first floor, close enough to the office to pick up the wireless connection. (OK, I admit it, I love these old buildings, but I love modern amenities, too.)

Had I arrived on a Fri. or Sat., I would have been able to enjoy a meal in the inn’s dining room, where classic french cuisine is offered each weekend. Instead, I rested up a bit, headed down to the Great River Road Interpretive Center for some information and later picked up a salad at The Anvil Saloon, which has been in operation since 1855, not counting five previous years when it housed a hardware store.

Rates at this inn are reasonable, starting at $89., with higher priced suites also available. They offer a full gourmet breakfast, with a choice of entrees, served at a candlelit table in the same dining room that serves as a restaurant on weekend nights. (I went for the Quiche Lorraine and a dish of fresh strawberries and blueberries, though it would have been easy to succumb to other choices, such as stuffed french toast or beignets.) Fresh flowers decorate both the dining tables and rooms. Mid-afternoon tea and late afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres are also included, though I managed to miss both of those.

I also missed meeting the regular innkeeper, Janet Joggerst, who has been with the Inn St. Gemme Beauvais for over 25 years and is said to be gracious, knowledgeable and a fabulous cook.

All in all, Ste. Genevieve was an intriguing town and the inn provided a good, modestly priced place to add to my recommended lodging list. I’d advise visitors to take the time to tour the local historic houses and to venture out into the wine country. A Fri. or Sat. night stay would be a plus, too, in order to enjoy a nice, French meal.

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From Wichita, I headed up the Kansas Turnpike, through Kansas City and continued east. I had thought I might end up in Hermann, Missouri, a 19th century German settlement in the heart of Missouri wine country. But when I arrived, the pieces just didn’t come together.

Although Hermann is home to dozens of B&Bs, the ones I checked were completely booked. The historic district was filled with amazing red brick architecture, yet many structures stood empty with “For Sale” signs in their windows. Driving through the streets, there was restoration under way in more than half of the buildings, leaving them unoccupied by shops or cafes that might otherwise be there. The main street was partially dug up and flanked with road work signs. There were very few people around, though I didn’t stop in at any wineries on the outskirts of town.

Gorgeoue buildings, massive restoration, B&Bs booked and the streets deserted? I didn’t know quite what to make of it all, so I just explored a little while, took a few pictures and decided to drive on. To where? I didn’t know.

Somehow, in trying to get back to the Interstate, I made a wrong turn and ended up on a back road that ran through the wine country. It was still light and the scenery was beautiful. I knew I wasn’t too far from St. Louis, so I decided to continue on and see where the road led, (Note: In spite of the fact it appears I wander aimlessly on these trips, I never go too far from a major city or Interstate during the later hours of the day, in case I need to just grab a basic motel room for the night.)

It was in this manner that I stumbled upon Washington, Missouri, another wine country town alongside the Missouri River. As opposed to Hermann, Washington did not appear to be half restoration project, half ghost town. There was activity along the waterfront, shops and cafes open along the main streets and a general sense of livelihood. I decided to park the car and explore.

While driving in, I had noticed a small winery/cafe with outdoor tables occupied by customers who looked quite content. After walking a few blocks to seek out other spots of activity, I circled back for a better look. And so I came to find La Dolce Vita Winery and Cafe, which conveniently had a small B&B sign.

I arrived just in time to see two employees taking in a sidewalk “Open” sign for the night. Checking my watch, I was surprised to see it was already 8:00 PM. I caught up with them and asked about the B&B and soon found myself in a conversation with the very accommodating owners, Donna and Bob. As luck would have it, the B&B suite above the winery/cafe was not occupied. I promptly took it for the night.

La Dolce Vita is located in the Zachariah Foss house, built in 1846 and the oldest wood framed house in Washington, MO. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and is restored authentically, allowing a look at wood construction of the 19th century. Though the accommodations are large enough to hold a family, they are rented as one unit, so I had two spacious bedrooms, a quaint sitting room and a full bath with garden decor and two claw foot tubs – the sweet life, indeed.

To top all this off, the building is located directly across from the riverfront. From a comfortable deck on the lower level, I was able to watch boats passing by and people strolling through the riverfront park. To add a soundtrack to the scene, trains rolled through the Amtrak station periodically, which was located directly across the street. Though not a quiet getaway, between trains, cars, people and a busy boat ramp, it provided a wonderful feeling of being dropped inside the activity and ambiance of this small town. I loved it.

Once the restaurant closed, Donna and Bob left for their own off-site home, leaving me with chocolate chip cookies and muffins, plus a fruit plate and quiche for the morning. I had not only the B&B suite, but the entire building to myself.

I had missed the hours of La Dolce Vita’s restaurant, so I took a walk along the main street and grabbed a bite at Marquardt Landing – sports bar inside, patio dining outside. Casual, comfortable, clean and good food.

I slept well and had time in the morning to sit on the deck with a fresh mug of coffee, writing in my journal and considering options for that day’s travel. This is one of the things I love most about traveling with flexible plans, being able to fall into unexpected adventures. As the owners and employees arrived to start another busy day, I thanked them, packed my car and headed on down the road.

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There’s an extraordinary history behind the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico. Its past is a collage of moments both inspired and insane, of guests and visitors both famous and infamous.

Wealthy, Buffalo-born socialite Mabel Dodge already had an established reputation for her literary and artistic salons in Greenwich Village, NY, before moving to Taos in 1917. In reading decriptions of the relationships she formed and the gatherings she pulled together, it’s not a stretch to say she had a magnetic, even hypnotic effect on those around her.

After meeting Tony Luhan, a local Tewa native american who would become her fourth husband, she purchased a small adobe house on the outskirts of town and added on guest rooms and common spaces to house the flurry of visitors and activities. That guest list included dozens of highly influential names, including D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe, Ansel Adams, Willa Cather, Carl Jung and Martha Graham. Add to that the Dennis Hopper years – he owned the property from 1970 to 1977 – which added names such as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jack Nicholson and Bo Diddley to the list of guest celebrities.

If the walls could talk, they would tell of love affairs, marriages broken, friendships made and lost, novels written, suicides botched, films edited, drug parties and more. It was a center of much activity and much controversy, as well.

I had visited the current incarnation of this property a few years ago, now used as a bed and breakfast and center for various artistic workshops. At that time, the rooms were all booked, but this time I had planned ahead. In spite of having to shift my reservation to a different night (due to Day Two of this trip, which we will now gratefully forget,) I knew I had a place in the Cather room – a good choice for me, since she has long been one of my favorite authors.

It’s quite amazing to walk into a building, knowing the footsteps of those listed above all stepped through the same doorway.

I entered quietly, found the office, checked in and headed back out through a classic southwestern portal, finding my room two doors down. The room was spacious, one of several with twin beds to accommodate workshop attendees. It had a kiva fireplace, two dressers, an armchair, reading lamps and a private bath. And it was quiet – no phone or television. Wireless access was available in the lobby area.

The rain that had followed me along the High Road to Taos was still drizzling a little, on and off. I wandered around the cobblestone courtyard and garden areas, snapped what photos I could and then made a trip into town, where I continued my New Mexico carb-fest by ordering Mango Chicken Enchiladas (they were fabulous) at The Apple Tree, a well-established cafe a couple blocks from the plaza. I then strolled over to browse plaza shops and galleries before heading back to the inn, where I worked on writing and editing until the day caught up to me. Lights out. Long day. Restful sleep.

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From Ojo Caliente, I decided to backtrack to Espanola. I’d been through the area too many times in the past without taking my intended route. I knew I wasn’t traveling far that day and I had time for a little detour.

The High Road to Taos runs to the northeast side of the straightaway route, passing through the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It is a treasure of a drive, with authentic, non-touristy areas, old adobe buildings, historic churches and some breathtaking scenery. I started off by taking route 76 out of Espanola, heading for the town of Chimayo.

Wisely, I called ahead for a lunch reservation at Rancho de Chimayo, well known for its good food. True to its reputation, a line of people were gathered in the front courtyard, waiting to get in.

Deceiving from the outside, this restaurant has a good amount of space for seating, including both interior rooms and terraced dining on the hillside behind the building itself. I was seated at one of the terrace tables, about three levels up, under the shade of a catalpa tree. The young waiter, John, was helpful with menu recommendations and I ordered Carne Adovada Pequeno, a dish of tender, cooked pork, served with posole and rice. And the bread! Sopapillas – sort of like a pita, but oblong and not cut open – to die for. With a cup of honey, as if the warm, soft, oven-fresh bread wasn’t enough.

It was a delicious meal. I can only imagine what their dinner selections would be like. I know people often drive out of their way to dine at this restaurant and now I can see why. If I could have afforded another night’s delay, I would have booked a room at their B&B across the street, the Hacienda de Chimayo. But I knew I needed to continue on.

Light rain was starting to fall as I left Chimayo, so I didn’t stop at El Santuario. This historic church contains a side room with dirt that many believe to have healing powers, creating nearly two centuries of pilgrimages. But there was no way to know if the rain would become a heavy downpour or not and I knew I had an hour of mountain driving ahead.

I passed through Truchas, where Robert Redford’s The Milagro Beanfield Wars was filmed. As I approached the town of Las Trampas, I had the good fortune of a short period without rain. I was able to stop to take photos of the church of San Jose de Gracia, which dates back to 1760, nine years after the community of Las Trampas was established.. This church is considered to be one of the best examples of Spanish mission architecture in the state.

I continued north, climbing into the Carson National Forest, an absolutely gorgeous drive. I attempted to stop at the Sugar Nymphs Bistro, a brightly mural-painted building, converted from a theatre and adjoining building, but I was dissuaded by a “closed” sign in the window. Later I would regret this, as another travel writer at that night’s lodging establishment would tell me she believed the business was started by two former nuns. (Note: I have not fact-checked this.) Adds a twist to the background and name of this place, doesn’t it? In addition, it is run by the former executive chef from Greens in San Francisco and the food is reputed to be very good. (As if I needed more food after leaving Chimayo…) Anyway, “closed” does not always mean closed if you wander around and peek in windows and talk to people. I’ll have to make a point of stopping there another time.

The weather was terribly uncooperative with photographic opportunities – very dark skies and on and off drizzles – but it was a beautiful, interesting drive. I arrived in Taos about 3:30 in the afternoon, with plenty of time to get settled in and do some exploring.

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I grabbed a cup of coffee from the motel lobby (which was fairly good, surprisingly…I’m not usually a fan of the styrofoam cup brew that is typical of lower-end lodging.) After scavenging up a granola bar from the car, I packed up and hit the road.

I high-tailed it out of Santa Fe, not because I dislike the town/city, but because it just didn’t seem this was meant to be for this trip. I decided it was time to hit another place that I’d missed on other trips, so I headed north to Espanola and veered north-west from there.

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa has been attracting visitors since the mid-1800s, when prominent citizen Antonio Joseph opened both a mercantile and a health spa there. For centuries before that, however, it was well known to Native Americans and their ancestors. A detailed history of the property is available on the resort’s website.

I was ready to relax and this seemed like the perfect place. I’d been to a few other mineral springs in other parts of the country. But this was my first time here and I was glad to be able to add it to my “collection.” I booked a room in the Historic Hotel, grabbed a bite for lunch at The Artesian Restaurant, conveniently located just across the lobby from my room, and then headed out to the pools.

There are four minerals that emerge from the various natural springs in this area: Soda, Iron, Arsenic and Lithium. Each is believed to have different benefits to those who partake of the waters. In keeping with the modus operandi at these places, I decided to hop from pool to pool, spending a little time in each one before moving on to the next.

I managed to catch the Soda Pool when no one else was using it, which felt like a luxury, considering the resort is a popular spot for both locals and travelers. Located in an enclosed building, it had sort of “secret pool” type feeling to me.

The Iron Pool, located right next door to the Soda Pool building, is open to the skies and sits beside wonderful rock formations (as do several other pools.) Hot, but comfortable once I became accustomed to it, I soaked up the water (along with the smell of iron – not as bad as it sounds) before moviing on to another pool.

Now, the Arsenic/Iron Pools (the two minerals are mixed together) drew comments from more than one person stepping in. I was hesitant myself, never having thought of arsenic in a positive way, but I have to say I liked these pools the most. Backed up against the cliffs and out in the open air, these pools felt spacious to me, in addition to smelling the best, in my opinion.

In addition to these pools, there is a large pool, where children are allowed during limited daytime hours. And then there is the Lithium Spring, which isn’t a pool at all, but a hand-pumped well in the center of the complex of pools.

But, of course, Ojo Caliente doesn’t just offer mineral pools. There’s a full-service spa (massages, facials, body scrubs, etc.) and I decided to give them the money that I didn’t give the hotel in Santa Fe the night before. Ahhhhhh, smart decision. By the time I returned to my room, I was Ms. Tranquility.

I hit the restaurant again for a chicken quesadilla, which was excellent, and then retired to my room to enjoy the wireless access (which was supposedly only available in the lobby, but my room was the first one down the hall.)

All in all, it was a darn good day. I edited some photos, read a little, slept well, had breakfast (not included with lodging, but served in the restaurant) and hit the road once again. I didn’t have a chance to explore the hiking trails or take a yoga class or walk the labyrinth. But you just can’t do everything.

Many believe that the mineral waters at Ojo Caliente have healing powers. I know they certainly healed my disappointment and irritation over the events of the day before. I left there relaxed, calm and ready for the next adventure.

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It seems there always has to be a day that turns into a disaster. Hopefully this would be the only one I have on this trip.

I left Winslow shortly after noon, having stayed at La Posada until the last minute before check-out, in order to soak in the extraordinary-ness of the place. I took the time to watch an impressive video about the restoration of the building, as well as to have an absolutely delicious breakfast in The Turquoise Room. Eggs, shredded beef, red and green peppers, corn, tortilla strips and jalapeno jack cheese, scrambled together. Served with black beans. Worth every penny of the 8.95 price. Comfy booth again, relaxing morning, great meal.

It would turn out to be a good thing I took the time to have breakfast, as it would be my last real meal of the day.

Driving through AZ and NM is generally a breeze, as the speed limit is 75 and the roads straight and open. I knew there would be a little summer traffic, but I hadn’t counted on extensive road work along I-40. My fault for running advance weather searches, but not road conditions. At least four times I dropped to a 45 mph speed limit for construction areas, which was really more like 20 mph because of two lanes merging into one. Watching family campers and vacationing tourists battle out merging priority with big rigs was a little like being back in L.A. Still, it was tolerable – mostly because I knew I had a good lodging plan and plenty of time for a few slow periods of travel.

To make sure I had some variety amongst the day’s delays, I was given a literal push start when I pulled off the road for a restroom stop and was hit from the rear by a blue pick-up truck. This didn’t take much time, though, since he took off as soon as I pulled over to check the car. A few good sized scratches and paint marks were the extent of the damages.

Just west of Grants the light gray clouds that had been hovering overhead turned dark and then darker, until it seemed the sun had gone down. Bolts of lightning streaked across the sky and it was not long before a bucket of water the size of Lake Tahoe was unleashed from the sky. Fortunately there were a few medium-sized spurts at the start of the downpour, which allowed me to take an upcoming exit and hide away in a truck stop until it eased up.

I was back on the road about thirty minutes later, which wasn’t too bad. I zoomed on, hoping to catch up a little on time and was delighted when Albuquerque finally loomed in the distance. Another ten miles and I could turn north. I would still have two and a half hours to drive, but I had survived I-40.

That’s when I saw the brake lights ahead and slowed to about 3 mph. I knew I was in trouble when I crawled past a sign that said “Road Construction 1 1/2 miles ahead.” I knew I’d be crawling for at least two miles now and I was starting to worry about time.

I called the inn to see what they recommended. I had a back-up option that was not quite as far away and a couple others in Albuquerque, so I still felt I was covered. After all, I still had about four hours to make it before the inn’s office close and I was only two and a half hours away. The innkeeper was kind when she reminded me I had crossed into the next time zone and had an hour less than I thought. I felt ridiculous, after all my years of cross-country travel, to have overlooked this.

We decided it would be better for me to arrive the following night and so I set my sights on a closer destination, just one hour away. Unfortunately, I spent that hour going the two miles it took to get through the construction stretch. Eventually I emerged and saw past Albuquerque’s first few exits. I had considered stopping there for the night, but was so fed up at this point with traffic and rain delays, I grabbed onto I-25 like a life raft and headed north. Traffic was cruising at about 80 mph. I figured another forty-five minutes and I could finally get off the road. Called ahead to check room availabilty at Back-Up Plan C and was quoted an acceptable price, though a little more than I would have liked to pay for what would now be a late arrival.

I was still thinking I might be able to make my original destination, if I really zoomed along. This is about when traffic came to a complete stop. From 80 to 0 in sixty seconds. Thank heavens for good brakes. I sat there for what seemed like another hour (but was probably only twenty minutes or so) as car after car turned onto the median and headed back south. I decided to wait it out and traffic finally started crawling ahead. After slowly passing a horrific accident, Interstate speed was back to normal.

Now, I know Santa Fe well enough that I should have been able to head straight downtown. How I took the wrong exit and wandered side roads is unexplainable. But I lost another half hour driving in circles and by the time I arrived at Santa Fe’s historic plaza area I was simply fried. The one way streets taxed my nerves and the tourists crossing against red lights didn’t help. When I found the hotel, their parking lot was full, but I managed to find parking on the street a block away.

It was a very nice hotel, probably an excellent one to add to my travel list of historic accommodations, but when I got to the desk, the clerk told me he had neglected to tell me the room he had quoted me was a smoking room. He had other rooms, but I would have to pay more. He realized I had waited out the accident traffic (I had called while parked on I-25) and that it had taken me two hours to get there, based on his rate quote and assurance there would be space when I arrived. But he was firm about not giving me the rate he had quoted me, in spite of the fact the non-smoking room was identical to the smoking room, with the exception of it having a king bed instead of a queen.

One would think at this point I would have just paid the extra money and turned in for the night, but I was tired and cranky the principle of it got under my skin. It was late at night, the room would likely sit empty if I didn’t take it, and it just wasn’t good customer service, in my opinion. I took a brochure (why?) and left.

I called a few places and found other openings, but it’s a pricey area in-season and all I wanted now was a place to get off the road for a night. I was considering returning to Albuquerque, when I saw that Tom Bodell had left the light on for me, just a few driveways from a Mickey D’s. That was it. I’d go the budget route and wake up to a better day.

And so I did.

No pictures with this entry, but let’s face it – who’d want to see them?

Here, we’ll throw a few pretend pictures in:

Photo #1 – Yours truly, sitting in traffic on Interstate 40, drumming fingernails on the dashboard.

Photo #2 – Yours truly, alongside others, staring out the truck stop window, watching the rain pour down.

Photo #3 – Yours truly, parked on Interstate 25, wondering if the current paperback she’s reading is in the car or the trunk.

Photo #4 – Desk clerk at Santa Fe hotel, trying to decide if the woman standing in front of him is going to go ballistic or not.

Photo #5 – Back up desk clerk looking relieved that she is not the one at the desk.

Photo #6 – Yours truly, ordering a 1.49 Snack Wrap at McDonald’s at 10PM, thinking this will probably not make for a good food review.

Photo #7 – Desk clerk at Motel 6, trying not to laugh when asked if they have wireless Internet access.

Photo #8 – Yours truly, finally settled in for the night and relieved that a new day is just hours away.


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