The drive from Austin to Albuquerque was long. I let myself sleep in the morning so I didn’t leave town until 10:30 AM. I didn’t get into my room in Albuquerque until just before midnight. And that included an hour of driving in the dark in the pouring rain near the end of a full day on the road.
The speedlimit was 80 most of the way, so I figured I could get away with anything under 90. I figured wrong. A friendly Texas state trooper gave me a $150 ticket for going 88 in an 80 zone. At least by achieving 88 mph, I was able to travel back in time and make sure my parents got it on.
West Texas is pretty blank and very big. Other than the trooper the only thing I bumped into was El Paso. I half heartedly tried to find some local food, only to end up at a McDonalds near the on ramp. There just weren’t any obvious local places to eat; but there were several bail bondsmen and gun stores. There was definitely a old-west feel to it, despite having a few glassy modern towers in the middle.
Once a little ways outside of El Paso, and again just before I passed Truth or Consequences, I saw some very run-down settlements. They were the closest thing I’ve seen in the US to a shantytown. They still looked a lot better than what you see in SA.
New Mexico claimed to be “The Land Of Enchantment” on it’s state enterance sign, and I was skeptical. But by the time I left I was successfully enchanted. Even including the rainstorm I drove through, complete with lightening, the state was beautiful.
Albuquerque seemed to have a lot of young kids tooling around it’s center strip at midnight. I payed them no mind and went to the Econolodge.
After a quick night’s sleep I planned my day: I wanted to get to Flagstaff, which would normally be only about four hours, but I also wanted to see some Anasazi ruins, which would take me another four hours out of the way. After the long previous day, I was a little worn out on the driving, and considered going straight to Flagstaff.
Luckily I did do the extra drive, because it was stunning. The landscape of north western New Mexico is just lovely. When I got to the ruins themselves they were more impressive than I had anticipated. They’re in pretty great condition considering their age (about 800-900 years old), and they let you walk right inside several of the dwelling areas. Here it is in satellite from Google maps. Each of those squares is the open top of maybe an 9×9 room, and the outer edges are three stories tall.
It’s funny that I was thinking and writing about extended phenotype the other day, since today I saw a prime example of it. The Anasazi ruins reminded me very much of the building style and stonework I’d seen in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. These are two peoples, separated by enormous time and space, and yet they made strikingly similar structures with strikingly similar techniques and style. Genes effecting the environment indeed.
I talked with the park ranger a bit about it and he said that recently there has been a trend for indigenous people from around the world to get together and share socially and culturally. He said they’ve discovered a lot of commonality.
I spent about two hours there. I would recommend to anyone traveling near the Albuquerque area who’s into “stuff” to take a little trip up to Aztec NM.
Heading back down and over into Arizona the great landscape continued. As I approached Flagstaff, I saw a sign for the giant meteor crater — something I’ve wanted to see since I was a kid but had forgotten was nearby. Unfortunately it was closed for the day, but it’s only 40 miles out of the way so I’m going to add it to my plan for tomorrow. That plan includes:
Those are all around Flagstaff, like spokes on a wheel. After that, I’m heading back to Las Vegas. Assuming all goes well I should be there in time for bed.
It’s funny how much stuff I think of while I’m driving that I can’t recall later.