Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day-Night-Day Drive: Santa Fe 1984

I don't recall how this came about. All I know is that Joel had one of those little MG cars--a convertible, maybe it was a midget, I don't know--but he rarely drove it. It had problems. So, that day, he must have been working on it, got it up and running. I'm thinking maybe we'd been drinking some tequila, but maybe we were sober. Anyway, we decided to go for a drive.
So, we took off towards the north in the afternoon. We hit Espanola, then drove by Abiquiu (where Georgia O'Keefe lived) and we kept going. We had the top down, some beer, only the clothes we had worn for that day. The landscapes were stunning, the air fresh and thin. We joked around, acted foolish, acted profoundly. We kept going and it was getting dark.
Night came as we headed up into the high pass around Chama.
"Joel, it's getting cold as hell," I said. I was grinning.
And yes, it was cold. This was when we had turned off on little Highway 17. There were now alpine forests--big pines on big hillsides in the dark. Stars were scattered like childhood marbles in the boot-black sky. And there were patches of snow. Joel reached into the shoebox-size backseat and pulled out a Mexican blanket, which we both used.
This was Cumbres Pass. 10022 feet hight.
We ran out of beer, out of things to say but kept going. We came back down into southern Colorado, went through another high pass then took a dipping highway into Alamosa, Colorado.
In Alamosa we found a city park. It was big and spacious with long lawns, trees, picnic tables. We got out of the car and went to sleep on the grass. Woke up a few hours later to the sunshine and families around us, eating, cooking, throwing the frisbee. We got back in the car and kept going.
I don't remember what we ate or drank or did for energy--we'd drank beer and maybe tequila, that's for sure--but we headed up into the San Luis Valley, to the Sangre de Cristos--the Blood of Christ Mountains--to the Great Sand Dunes National Park (it wasn't a park back then, only a monument or something). There we hiked the tall dunes, washed off in the shallow river that ran in waves. It was hot there. I had been to the same spot years before with Matt and Clyde (or was it Matt and Brock?). Anyway, we finally ran out of juice and headed back down, south, to New Mexico.
I remember we stopped for gas once on the way back and Joel was reluctant to turn off the engine while he pumped gas--he was afraid the little car wouldn't start up again. I convinced him to turn it off: why ruin a perfectly good impromptu road trip by blowing up the car? And, it started afterwards. So, off we went again, south, rolling downhill back to Santa Fe, where I think we went to sleep.

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