Landing and sliding to a stop.
In Oklahoma we stopped at the Cowpoke Café- a tiny diner in the middle of nowhere, just off Interstate 40. It was the only building within view…and out there the “view” covers a lot of territory- hundreds of miles. A wiry waitress made us a fresh pot of coffee, and while we waited, we spent five bucks in one of those machines that delivers a little plastic toy- and never the one you want. The contents of this machine were a variety of “Trailer Park” people- the fat guy in the Barca lounger with a remote in his hand, a boy with a banjo, a teenage girl pumping gas (the prize we didn’t get), a scrappy man with a mullet, and a wiry waitress with an apron, among others.
“My daughter says that’s me NOW, and the fat lady with the broom is me in 10 years! HA!” our waitress said with a cigarette-y laugh. “NEVER!” we said, laughing with her. She loved the little people too. My friend Bill Georgenes is an artist, here in Santa Fe, and creates these incredible wall hangings that look like little Hindu shrines. He takes all kinds of small found objects, wire, fake flowers, plastic soldiers, animals, superheroes, dinosaurs, etc. and makes these intricate 3D constructions with them- then spray paints them gold, or silver. They are roughly 12”x12” but are also a foot deep. He will love these little guys.
Cary and I get our coffee and head back out on the road with a big thank you to the waitress for the fresh java, and we head west. About 2 hours east of Amarillo we pull into a motel, where the dog stretches every muscle in his body, in all directions, and examines our quarters for the night. So far every “pet approved” room we’ve had has been clean, odor free, and with the exception of one bedspread covered in white dog hair, very nice. Traveling with a dog has improved in this country. It’s been a long day with over 7 hours on the road so we feed the hound, and kick back to watch the evening news and the weather forecast. Ahhhhh…the weather forecast. Cary and I look at each other. Apparently, at the New Mexico/Texas border the incoming blizzard will turn to freezing rain and ice. We compare notes: in 4 hours we could be at the border…getting stuck in Texas/Oklahoma means we’ll be stuck here for days and days. So we check out, pack up the car, and the dog dolefully climbs back in. Westward ho! Around 11 pm we pull into what turns out to be our home away from home for the next few days: The Quality Inn of Tucumcari, New Mexico. 3 Hours from Santa Fe.
By dawn the snow is flying sideways and the Interstate is a total mess. Along with a dozed Fed Ex drivers who’ve parked their big rigs out back, a young army family with a 10 day old baby, and an odd assortment of other travelers, we settle in for the wait. Luckily the motel has a restaurant and bar, and one snow shovel. Only about 3 employees and the cook make it to work- so everyone pitches in. It’s kind of like Gilligan’s Island! Everyone gives up trying to figure out when to leave, because now the Interstate is closed in both directions. A motel employee shovels the front steps, one shovel width wide, and out 2’ from the bottom step. After that it is a complete white out: Siberia. Hilarious!
There’s heat, food, WiFi, a bar, and a lot of fun people. There are 2 decks of cards that we know about…and there’s always charades…..