Spring Breaks — Day One

This past January, Laura and I had our seven year anniversary. In those seven years, we’ve done a lot of traveling but we’ve never gone anywhere just to go. We decided this was the year we change that…

Monday, March 14th

We left at 3am. Our destination was Santa Fe, New Mexico but we had a ways to go before we got there. We rolled through Quanah, Estelline, and Claredon before the sun was up.

Our first stop was the Big Texan Steak Ranch, a restaurant visited by the likes of Conan O’Brien and the Huffington Post, and best known for their 72oz steak challenge. Before you ask, no, we did not try it. Knowing our limits, we stuck to ala carte breakfast items.

Big Texan Steak Ranch on expired Impossible Project SX-70 “Skins Edition” film

After our breakfast we set off for our next stop, Cadillac Ranch. For the past three years, a photo postcard (featuring a photograph by Wyatt McSpadden) has hung in our house showing Cadillac Ranch shortly after it was installed. It’s changed quite a bit since then…

Cadillac Ranch on Impossible Project SX-70 film

With the smell of spray paint fresh in our noses, we drove down Route 66 towards Adrian, Texas and the Midpoint Cafe. The cafe sits 1,139 miles from both Los Angeles and Chicago on the old Route 66. As a teenager, I used to travel through Linesville, PA which sits 500 miles between New York and Chicago. This means that I’ve (kind of) been halfway to Chicago from both coasts.

Midpoint Cafe sign on Fuji FP-100C film, shot with a Polaroid 350 Land Camera
An old Coke machine at the Fabulous 40 Motel

Just up the road was the ghost town of Glenrio. Once a stop on Route 66 that straddled the Texas/New Mexico border, business dried up when Route 40 bypassed the town. While there is plenty to photograph, including a largly abandoned historic district, we decided to settle for this abandoned gas station right off the freeway. Laura snapped a great photo of me looking like I was an extra in the Walking Dead.

Abandoned gas station on Fuji FP-100C film, shot with a Polaroid 350 Land Camera

Shortly after passing into New Mexico, the scenery started looking very southwestern and from here on, it was straight through to Santa Fe.

We pulled into the Silver Saddle Motel around 2 in the afternoon. Even though check-in wasn’t until 3pm, the desk clerk gave us a key to our room (perhaps sensing that we neglected the time change and it felt every bit of 3pm to us). We took a quick nap and freshened up before heading into town.

Our first stop was Iconik Coffee Roasters, a wonderful coffee shop with a counter on one side and a functioning roaster on the other. While sitting on their patio we ran into a fellow former-Clevelander who was escaping the cold.

After our coffee, we headed over the Keshi The Zuni Connection, a store that works closely with the people of the Zuni Pueblo and is a marketplace for their art and jewelry. We left with a Zuni fetish that depicts two bears embracing each other. According to Zuni mythology, the Bear fetish has the power to heal and transform human passions into true wisdom.

109 East Palace historical marker

As the sun started setting, we decided it was time for dinner and while waiting for a table at The Shed, we stumbled upon 109 East Palace. This building, originally part of a hacienda built in 1692, was the secret office and meeting place for the men and women working on the Manhattan Project.

After a delicious New Mexican dinner full of red and green chilies we headed back to our hotel and got ready for day two…

Day One /Day Two /Day Three /Day Four /Day Five /Day Six

Like what you read? Give Dave Koen a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.