Sunday, November 11, 2012

How did we get to Virginia?

Pretty quickly it turns out.

 After leaving Tucumcari, we blast straight to big D (actually to Grand Prairie) where we rely upon Particia's boundless hospitality for a couple of days of repacking.  It is amazing just how much time one can spend taking things out of one bag and putting them in another in slightly different arrangements.  But, such is life traveling - I can't complain.
It was quite wonderful to spend Tuesday night watching our country's return to sanity as Mitt and the republicans got, as Rachel Maddow put it, "shellacked".  Actually, if you have not seen the video of her November 7 show it is worth a watch here:  Rachel Maddow
What starts out as a good face slapping ends up as a coherent plea for national cooperation.  Let's hope the right hears it.
Then on Thursday, two short, uneventful flights and we are in Washington DC.  We spend a long day touring the White House and the Capitol with a little time to eat and drink with friends.  Friday night it is off to Harrisonburg Virginia to other sangha friends Doug and Nancy.  More absurdly wonderful hospitality.  I'm beginning to think I could get used to this.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Zuni Pueblo and across New Mexico

After driving the reservation (Navajo and Hopi) on Arizona 264 we cross into New Mexico and land in Zuni Pueblo.  It is the largest of the 18 or so settlements of the Pueblo peoples that inhabited this area from at least 2000 BC.  Most of the different pueblos have separate languages and customs.  Stayed at the La Halona Inn run by a Dutch couple and seems to be one of the few if not the only non-tribal presence in the pueblo.

Took a tour of the Mission Church of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe which the Spanish had the Zunis build in 1629 and was restored in 1966.  Starting in 1970, a Zuni, Alex Seowtewa painted fantastic murals of Zuni Katchina dancers on the upper walls of the nave.  These tell the stories of the different important Zuni religious characters throughout the seasons of the year.  Probably the most important of these, Shalako, is celebrated on December 1st – sorry we can’t stick around to see it.  

The Zuni don’t have much for use for Catholicism so they mainly just give tours of the cathedral and the murals.  There appeared to be many similarities between the Zunis and the Tibetians in way of life, religion and even appearance.  Definitely a connection there.

Next it is on to Albuquerque for a night at the Monterey “Non-smoking Motel”.  I guess everyone wants to be known for something.  Mexican food for dinner and a little Day of the Dead party in Old Town for a good southwest fix.  Sunday morning we meet up with Diamond Way friends Kathleen, Shawn, John and Patricia for a great meditation and lunch.  Turns out that Kathleen is a good friend from architecture school of my ex co-worker Jen in Portland.  Small world.  Back on the road again for an evening drive with a marvelous sky heading for Tucumcari.

Tucumcari Tonight!  Great advertising campaign.  We stay in The Blue Swallow Motel.  Classic Route 66 spot built in 1939 and run by a recent transplant couple from Michigan – Nancy and Kevin Mueller.  Why anyone would stay at a Motel 6, Super 8, Hampton Inn, etc… when there are places like this available is beyond me.  Great attention to detail and customer service.  They really care if you have a good experience and want you to come back.  If there is hope for this country it is in people and places like this.

Late evening treat of a 1934 Ford hot rod on its way to Las Vegas for a car show.  The owner/builder stayed at the Blue Swallow and brought the car out for some photos in the neon.  Alas, I don't have the camera to do it justice in the dim light.  Really didn’t anticipate this trip would be so Route 66 focused but it has been fun.  People do seem very interested in the ethos of an earlier time.  It isn’t hard to imagine Tucumcari in its heyday lit with neon and the sound of heavy American iron cruising main street and the Mother Road.

Friday, November 2, 2012

On the Road to Texas

All usually works out for the best if you give it a chance.  Realized it would be good to have the truck in Texas to get around and the hurricane provided the opportunity to rethink plans.  Left Carmel Valley and headed east across California into the Mojave desert.  First night camping at Red Rocks Canyon.  Perfect night with a moon so bright you could see color.  Surreal landscape - I kept waiting for the UFOs to land.  Signaled the mothership but they must have had other plans as they never showed up.  Oh well, maybe next time.

Next was something equally as surreal as the rocks in the desert - Route 66, Barstow, CA to Williams, AZ. A living tourist trap.  Vintage motels, gift shops, photo opportunities with Elvis and, of course, lots of 50's autos (in various states of repair).  America can make a tourist attraction from pretty much anything.  Interesting to realize that almost none of the folks "reliving" the heyday of Route 66 actually lived the heyday of Route 66.  Only those pushing 80 would be old enough to really remember cruising along in their '56 Chevy reading the Bruma-Shave signs.  Still, it is an amazing landscape and an interesting history about how the southwest developed.  Spent a very pleasant night in Williams and enjoyed people watching.  Some things have definitely changed for the better - saw an interracial couple in the cafe at breakfast and no one batted an eye.  That would not have happened in 1956.

Then, straight up highway 64 to the Grand Canyon.  Great time to be here as the weather is fine and the crowds are nonexistent.  Absolutely splendid hole in the ground.  Nothing like looking a 600 million years of geologic history to completely mess with your sense of time.  Americans are definitely outnumbered here.  Many Europeans, Asians, etc... but not so may Americans.  Definitely heard some interesting languages being spoken.  Still, the park is beautiful - our tax dollars have made for a nice experience.  Very different than the last time I was there in 1967.  Definitely need to return to spend a week or so hiking the canyon.

Spent all day today driving across the reservation toward New Mexico.  It is mind boggling how many juniper trees there are in this country.  Hundreds of miles of nothing but juniper and sage.  Beautiful and staggeringly empty.  I love the west.  Zuni Pueblo next . . .