When we left Albuquerque, we drove along Route 66 for a while but it wasn’t very interesting in that it was just a wide street in an exurban area, so we got back on Interstate 40 slowly climbing out of the Rio Grande River valley. We are running along the top of a tilted mesa that seems flatish, but we are really still slowly climbing until we are driving through a Juniper forest. We top out at over 7,200 feet – the highest point on our trip, I think – and then slowly start dropping. The Junipers disappear and we drive through immense, lovely, spaces covered in grass as we drop down to the Pecos River – the Pecos River is a name I’ve heard, we all have in Western stories or movies, and I’m curiously and surprisedly thrilled – which we cross at Santa Rosa NM.
Santa Rosa NM, where we crossed the fabled Pecos, is a rundown town that must have been a big deal in Route 66 days before it was bypassed by the Interstate. It does, however, have what might be the last free attraction in the country, the Santa Rosa Blue Hole. The Blue Hole is a stunning eighty-two-foot deep artesian well – in sandstone, surprisingly, because these kind of formations are usually in limestone – that offers free swimming and is one of the most popular scuba diving destinations in the country (and another place I had never heard of). Then it is back on the Interstate, driving past small towns and immense spaces.
In Texas, it gets even flatter, the sky gets even darker and flatter – with a couple of miles of great light as the sun sunk below the clouds – until we got to the Cadilac Ranch, sitting in a hayfield, in murky twilight. (Most of the shots from the car are by Michele.) At the nd of the day, we had dinner, in a huge, almost empty dining room, down the Frontage Road at Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q.