Day 11 - Tucumcari to Flagstaff - August 29, 2020
The next morning, we packed the car, Richard makes two different brews in the morning. He is kind of a coffee aficionado. And what we found, and I hope you do too, is a very interesting gathering of very warm people for sitting and standing around the office enjoying Richard’s brews and good conversation. Today, the conversation was of cars, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and living out your dreams no matter how crazy people may think they are.
I could have stayed for much more talk and more coffee but we wanted to get on the road to Flagstaff before the heat of the day set in. We had a long drive in front of us.
Sofia fired up on the first turn of the key. As we pulled out of the Blue Swallow Motel with the top down Richard popped out of the office door to wave goodbye and shout 'Ciao, arrivederci!".
We pulled onto the I-40. Spectacular Mesas began to appear. After the rolling winding green mountains back east and the flat dry plains of Texas and Oklahoma, these enormous truncated mountains are very striking in person. They are strips of different colors stacked upon one another and brilliant in the low early-morning sun. We were now in the Painted Desert.
Even if the desert drives aren’t your thing, you have to do this just once. The mesas are safely off in the distance and then right up on you very suddenly. As we drove between the giants, I was reminded of the shot from The Fellowship of the Ring, when they pass on small boats through the river gap between giant stone statues of ancient kings. However, these giant stone statues were not a tribute to men, but of nature, and in a little open-top Italian sports car, we were just tiny transient visitors passing through on a planet in the middle of a project that has taken ages to accomplish and will continue for ages. We are just passing through on a road only a few decades. We were now in Arizona.
It was a day of driving and a day of work. We had to get someplace with good internet and stay put for a few hours, which meant we had to drive with purpose across the state in order to make Flagstaff by nightfall. We had wanted to stop at the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa a natural pool in the middle of the desert, which we really wanted to see, but alas, it was closed as so many places were. So on we went.
New Mexico is a place of great beauty. From the dry desert to the damp sweet high desert,
it is a great drive. Sometimes, it was like driving through a set of 3:10 to Yuma, and sometimes like the opening scenes of the original Planet of the Apes; it's a different world.
We pulled off the highway and into a Starbucks in Albuquerque. The biggest problem of the whole trip is that virtually everything was closed due to Covid-19. In general, we had our best luck at Starbucks across the country, but the one in Albuquerque was the only exception. The employees were not at all friendly and the patio had no awning or electrical outlets so we had to be strategic with our computer use. It was midday, but we had work to do, so we had to stop. New Mexico in the midday in July was baking hot, of course. So we could only do part of our work there, then we'd race off to find another place with good WiFi and air conditioning. We ended up at a huge, COOL Target in a covered lot that was our sanctuary for a while. Then we ate locally under a tent at a Red Robin that was not really cool but the sun was not beating down on us and the strawberry lemonades kept coming.
After lunch, we headed off through the incredibly beautiful desert to Flagstaff. We saw some great sights... and we passed the continental divide, the Petrified Forest, and the road to Milan.
Sophie, being Italian, pulled hard to the right as we passed that exit. We went to get gas at this old gas station that felt like it had just stepped out of the 1950s...
It had an old automatic horse ride inside...
...and a big dinosaur outside.
It also had some people that we not too thrilled to see us in our face masks driving a "fancy I-talian sports car!.
We were quickly on the road again.
Just off the highway, near the foot of the mesa, we could see teepees set up there for marketing souvenirs to tourists, but also reminded me that there was an entire rich culture here long before we decided to drive through.
Suddenly the hot, sunny afternoon turned into a cloudy and ominous drive, but we were
pretty excited. Sophie does really well in weather so we were looking forward to it and as soon as the storm came.
We pull over to the shoulder pull the canvas top over our and and clamped the dryness tightly around us, as the rain came hard and fast and straight at us. I've always loved the sound of raindrops hitting the metal, but the patter of rain on a rag-top is something magical...like camping in a tent but at 60 miles per hour..
As a rule, I've found that Alfa Romeo Spiders seals remarkably well, and Sophia's top was no exception to that rule. Depending on how you close your door, you may get a drip from above the butterfly window, but not always. It is fair to say that we did find a mysterious leak coming from under the glove compartment, but we'll deal with that later, at that's why you try to hang on to a soda cup now and then.
The storm was gone as quickly as it came, and left us with an unbelievable sunset of blues and grays and golds and clouds on their way to other places. We pulled the top down again
and the highway was now empty and dark as we drove through the fragrance of fresh earth and sage.
The Sofia did great up the constant uphill drive to Flagstaff over 6000 feet in the air.
It was dark by the time we got to Flagstaff. We brought our dinner from The Texas Roadhouse to our motel just a mile away.
Our hotel took us a bit off of our path but we were able to have a take out dinner at Texas Roadhouse . Megan was able to have some good barbecue ribs, and baked potatoes, Chuck had a crisp Cesar Salad, and warm rolls with honey butter went very with Blue Moon Belgium Wheat, which hit the spot after a
long day on the road.
We got back to our hotel and crashed, getting ready for our last load road day. We wanted to leave before dawn, as we headed to Vegas where we had to stay for 3 nights due to work.
Not not a bad problem to have!
Check out our From Tucumcari to Flagstaff playlist on Spotify: