New Year’s Adventure, Part Two
We had a lovely stay in Albuquerque. The weather was warm, and the scenery was still enchanting, even though it was winter. I find, every time I visit the desert, that the beauty lies in the subtle colors of the landscape. When traveling through in the daylight, the hills and the vistas are what attract my eye. There is little change in plant life, but the reds and oranges in the dirt and the blues and purples in the distance are what strike me. The openness of the sky makes me want to cry because the clouds are always so striking and the color is one I rarely see in Utah.
The thing my traveling companions noticed was the dark. When traveling, they could see the stars. In northern Utah, there is constant city between freeway exits; someone’s neighborhood, someone’s farm or business, a smoke plant all lit up, or some other product of man. The cities have all merged because each has expanded so much that it’s all one big strip of civilization. Not necessarily a bad thing, but just different than where I grew up. In New Mexico, there are lots of “blink and you miss it” towns. They are blips on the map, and it’s questionable whether there’s a gas station. There’s defintely a distinction between city and desert. Not necessarily a bad thing, but just different.
The shopping was good. I brought M’Linda to my favorite clothes store in Albuquerque: Buffalo Exchange. I also took them to the best used bookstore in town, and in the same shopping center, they bought hundreds of dollars on the best-quality shoes for their poor feet. Other than there, though, I was operating on surprisingly unfamiliar territory. I grew up on the east end of town, near the Sandias; we could admire the details of the mountains from our kitchen window. Our hotel was on the west end of town; my mountains were blue and looked puny. The mountains that the strangers admired were unusual to me; they were small and distant from our kitchen window.
This situation was fine because M’Linda’s conference was held on a reservation north of Albuquerque. From the hotel, the drive was only 15 minutes long. Her parents joined us on the last day of our stay in Albuquerque. I told them I wanted to take them to Little Anita’s, one of my favorite restaurants and a good representation of what New Mexican food really is. I was looking forward to the sopapillas, all pillowy, hollow and filled with honey. It pains me to learn about scones and watch people spread honey on the top of these flat things. I drool when I think about green chile, another New Mexican specialty. And yet when we got to the address in this unfamiliar area, I realized that we managed to find the only Express Takeout location in the entire city. The sopapillas were flat because the dozen of them were stuffed in a paper bag. They didn’t know what carne adovada was, so I ordered it for myself and requested green chile. Good, but my sopapillas were flat. Disappointment galore, even though I ate two on the way back to the hotel and two on the drive back to Utah.
That drive was interesting. We hit a snowstorm driving to Flagstaff, but luckily storms in the area are highly localized and don’t last long when traveling. We stopped at Meteor Crater, which I’d never seen before, and I was almost blown away by the ferocity of the wind (badam-ba ching). When her parents made the drive to the ‘Burque to hear her present her paper, they stopped in Flagstaff to check on the car. The mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong with it, so he didn’t charge them anything. They parked it in an LDS church parking lot (even though they don’t belong to the church themselves) and left a note asking the authorities not to tow it, then went back on their way.
So naturally, we dropped by the same parking lot to pick it up. We returned the rental, the girls all piled into one car and Andy into another, and he zoomed off. We stayed for a bit to get something to eat. We found something called Coco’s Bakery and sat down and ordered lunch. Then we got a phone call. Andy was stranded just outside the last gas station in Flagstaff. We had just finished devouring the bread, and I had just finished my cup of hot cocoa. So we changed our order to go instead, gave the extremely competent waitress a huge tip, and came to the rescue.
We left an hour and a half later with a U-haul, a car dolly, and a car in tow. At the U-haul office, M’Linda and I searched for toilet paper for their bathroom. He said to go talk to the guy outside; the guy outside told us to look in the supply closet. We opened the Employees Only door and couldn’t see anything that resembled TP; I said, “Screw it” and went anyway. As soon as my pants were down, M’Linda found a roll.
Several hours on the road found us in Cedar City, which is where the car and the star of the show belong. The snow was up to the doors and we found the roads we wanted to take were closed for a section of the way. We spent the night; I told the hubby I would find my own way up north, even when he was prepped to come pick me up in a city in which I wasn’t located. I cried a few tears of frustration; I was supposed to start my new job the next morning. M’Linda’s mom wasn’t happy either; she had just started a new job a few weeks before and didn’t want to have to Email in another day off.
Nevertheless, our bosses were forgiving and the rest of the travel was smooth. We got to their home, several hours north, and sat down for a bit of lunch from their freezer. I got burritos and milk. As I ate, M’Linda’s little sister, Shannon, related her recent emo, and a guy trudged out of her bedroom, barely awake. I assumed this is the not-really-boyfriend I had heard about during the entire trip from mom and sister. He sat down across from me at the table and listened as Mom says, “Oh, by the way, this is Kate.”
I stuck my hand out to shake in greeting. He jumped. “Oh! I thought you were Shannon!” We all chuckled. I’ve been mistaken for sister/daughter to this family several times before. I’m not surprised. Shannon was sitting behind the guy.
And I was warmly greeted by my husband when I got home. Not as warmly greeted had he not been rushing off to get to work, but warm enough. And the boss gave me the next day off. I spent all of it, around the house, enjoying the guy who missed me and recovering from the adventure.