Through the Southwest

Aka my ears won’t stop popping!

We are not in the East anymore.

Today was my longest drive that I will be taking this trip by myself. And it was challenging. Not so much the lonesome part- I get to pick my own music and own stops- but the actual terrain today was difficult at times. The most challenging part of the drive was getting through Rio Grande National Park. It’s really, really, really beautiful: think high mountain rises covered with rich green trees, dips leading to creeks and miniature rivers, and the occasional campsite. It was all lovely to look at, but the tricky part was driving up and down the mountains. Gene is not exactly an off-roading kind of car. And while the highways are paved and perfectly safe for vehicles like mine, it was still really windy and up and down the mountain.

But it did prove to be a good learning experience for me. This was probably the first time of ever used a different gear besides D while driving. I made myself relax going down some of the bends; I was tenser at times than I realized. But, I suppose I’d rather be a little too alert than distracted on a mountain. It wasn’teven scary, really, but I was definitely on edge for the duration of it because until one overlook, there’s no place to stop or pull over. But that overlook was pretty worth it.

Something that I remembered from previous trips and that I have reaffirmed since being back out here, is that seeing these mountains and plateaus and grass fields and plains and rocks are great, but you can’t share them via picture or Snapchat or text. Which is a bummer because I love sharing experiences that I go through with others. That’s why I like Snapchat so much, because it’s real time sharing visually. But out here, it’s pointless to try to take a picture. What the recipient will get and what I’m seeing are two completely different things. That being said, I still take a lot of pictures and snap chats. I just know that the pictures will not do justice. At least they’re nice for me- if I can look at a picture, maybe I can remember how it was when I first saw it.

Now that I’ve said that, here are some reminders I can share:

  1. Reminder to get gas often. Several times today I went for miles and miles without any signs of modern civilization, much less a gas station. I would not want to be stuck out there on a low tank. Also, get gas when it’s cheap. I’ve seen a fluctuation of $.40 between towns, and I do not want to be stuck on the wrong end of the spectrum.
  2. When you get gas, also pee. I had to take a side-of-the-road break because of the aforementioned lack of gas stations.
  3. Don’t forget to stop every now and then. I found that after every stop, once I got back in the car, I felt much more invigorated to drive.
  4. This one might be the most important out of them all. If you’re going to pass somebody on a two Lane Highway, do not do it around the turn, do not do it on a hill, and please do not try to pass more than one car at once. The car behind me today almost got hit head on when he decided to try to pass four cars at once- it was terrifying. Don’t be that guy.

Now here’s a poor transition to some things I saw today: Four corners, where Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado touch; a lot of ranches including my favorite, “Lazy J Ranch” in Arizona; a lot of trading posts; and a lot of red rocks. It was difficult to resist the urge to stop every few miles to get out and look around; but alas my Airbnb called to me.

Tomorrow I will go to the Grand Canyon and then continue my journey to the West Coast. As always, let me know of any spots to hit in Southern California, as well as any books you think I should listen to. Thankfully I still have my mixed tapes.

TTFN,

Catherine

P.S. Since apparently today is Cow Appreciation Day, I would just like to say that I think I’ve seen the most cows out of anybody I know today. I passed probably about 45 herds today. Ok, that’s all, farewell for real.