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NM21 Road Trip – Day 1

September 15, 2021

It’s Wednesday, and I’m on vacation. A much-needed vacation. A long-overdue vacation. In fact, I’ve been planning this vacation for two years. You see, the Summer 2019 issue of American Archaeology magazine had an article called “Touring Ancient Art Museums” about rock art sites in New Mexico and Arizona. I had been to one or two of them in the past, but most were new to me.

So I got the idea to have a road trip to northern New Mexico that would tie together hikes to several of these rock art sites, plus hitting up some related museums. The plans really came together in early 2020, and the goal was for a 7 to 10 day trip in May 2020. I did a lot of research and put together an itinerary. I reserved an AirBnB and reserved two spots on a tour of one of the rock art sites that’s on private property. And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and I had to cancel all those plans.

At one time I hoped to be able to do the trip in the fall of 2020, but travel restrictions were still a thing. Then I hoped to do it in the spring of 2021, but the pandemic was still at its worst and my father passed, leaving me not much in the mood for frolic and cavortment.

Finally, things came together in the fall of 2021. I dusted off all the previous plans, put together a new itinerary to fit into 8 days of travel, and started to make reservations. Unlike the original plans, Brooke couldn’t join me because she needed to go to New York to help her aunt deal with selling her house. So I ended up on a solo road trip. And that’s how I came to be writing this journal entry from a worn and cheaply-made chair in the Super 8 motel in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Today was the first day of my trip, and probably the least exciting. All I really accomplished today was driving. I finished packing and squaring things away at my condo in Denver, and headed out on Interstate 25 southbound. Hours later, I arrived at tonight’s lodging. I got breakfast at a drive-through, and lunch at another drive-through farther south. But I got to have supper at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant here in Las Vegas.

My road trip companion Shorty and me, stopping for a picnic lunch at the city park in Walsenburg, Colorado

That’s when it really sunk in that I’m in New Mexico now. I ordered the “stuffy” with “roast beef”. That’s New Mexico lingo for what in Denver we’d call a stuffed sopaipilla with carne deshebrada. The waitress asked “red, green, or Christmas?” as one does here (I chose green). And instead of beans or rice as a side dish, I had posole. Plus, a free sopaipilla for dessert. The whole huge meal with tax and tip came to just over $13. The price is one nice thing about eating in small towns.

I tried to go for a little hike to get some exercise after arriving in town, but the only decent trail that AllTrails recommended in the area turned out to be in a state park. When I drove there I saw they wanted me to pay a $5 day use fee just to walk less than 2 miles on a trail to a reservoir that’s mostly dried up at the moment. It didn’t seem worth it, so I skipped it. There will be hiking tomorrow.

The best parts of the Super 8 Motel in Las Vegas, New Mexico are the pillows and this big photo by the bed.

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