Another milestone we may or may not be celebrating on this blog is Nessa's One Year California Anniversary!!! Last year at almost this exact date, Nessa and I made landfall in Cupertino, California, where she officially traded east coast for west coast.
So, today I'm posting a retrospective of our whirlwind cross-country road trip to California - my third time moving a friend coast to coast via auto. You may remember the Photo-an-Hour we shared of the all day and through the night journey from Vermont to Tulsa, Oklahoma; some may write it off as delirious ramblings and blurry streaks of light, but other, like-minded midnight ramblers can probably relate all too well.
And after pressing the limits of an all day driving adventure, we finally crossed the Tulsa finish line as the expected overwhelming exhaustion hit us, nearly 26 hours later. Even though we were over the moon to have successfully surprised our friend, Molly, who only knew to anticipate us from the last minute text we sent her from Ohio, we had to immediately crash until further notice. Molly surreptitiously went about her Saturday afternoon while we napped in her bed until we were able to make the groggy leap from blanket-nest to BBQ dinner with friends, a small yet acceptable amount less delirious than before.
But we powered through, buoyed by the bonus that consumables in Tulsa are refreshingly cheap, delicious, and seemingly catered specifically to the local twenty- and early thirty-somethings that dominated the downtown atmosphere; it looked like a freaking social networking convention was in town. This is most likely because Tulsa is experiencing a comeback among new businesses in the area famously vacated during the mass exodus of oil industries in 1982, coupled with the harsh detail that nary a school, church, or even grocery store graced the business grid. Inconvenience, ahoy! All these young folk were fresh on the scene in the vigorously renovated and youthful downtown island, including our friend Molly who had moved there for a business opportunity earlier that year.
We spent the night touring the little bars and nightclubs and enjoying the local ephemera: shuffleboard, dirt cheap drinks, BBQ on every corner, billiards, running into acquaintances everywhere, and somewhat less enjoyable - the CRICKET. Ah, the dread cricket: swarming shade on city sidewalks and fields near you, should you happen to be in northeastern Oklahoma. I'll try to forget becoming hopelessly aware that I might be having a "D.A.R.E." moment, slashing at my skin thinking there were bugs crawling all over me until I finally found the offending (and very real) cricket trapped between my tank top and naked back, giving me an official Case of the Willies.
Tulsa was a refreshing, but short stop on our tour West, because after an epic morning sleep-in + brunch, we were on our way to Somewhere, New Mexico.
Somewhere? Hopefully. We had the panhandle of Texas to cross, straight through Amarillo on the loathsome interstate until, well, we grew tired and had to stop to make camp. We dipped out of Oklahoma on tidy ranch town back roads, watching the sunset and playing Dry or Wet County Roulette on the hunt for tasty local beers and whiskey to whet our future esurient thirsts - wherever those thirsts may be.
So, beneath microbursts we sailed the geometric ribbon of asphalt, dodging smears of lightning clouds with their dumpy wetness obscuring the road polka dotted with the angry, yawning maws of tractor trailers. After several hours of this, we unfortunately reached that part of late night driving with no aim where we arrived at a destination with no discerning services for bedding down.
Employing various cutting edge atlas-based technologies, we surrendered to the fact that we had much further to go until we were more likely to find a fitting sleeping scenario that provided safety in concord with our independent natures and was still somewhat on course.
And that's how we ended up setting up camp at 3:30 AM in Ute Lake State Park, just nigh of Tucumcari in the eastern plains of New Mexico, trying to convince ourselves that we were keeping sustainable road trip hours.
But the lake showed great strength in its ability to remain harmonious with our desires and we were eventually on our way to coffee the next morning, blissfully unmolested. In Santa Fe, we sampled gourmet olive oil and vinegar and ate at the famously delicious street vendor, Roque's Carnitas, which came and went highly recommended. 10/10 would flirt with Roque for free Jamaica iced tea again.
There is something about New Mexico that pulls me in like a labyrinth, right to the centaur and never letting go.
From the living rockscape of sunflowers and cholla to the sharp canyons in dry, dusty green, I'm a goner. This nearly proved true as we trekked into the extremely rugged and not for the faint of heart Jemez Mountains. We had ourselves a bitty adventure in the woods there on a goose chase for hot springs nestled in the secret nooks of steep ravines where we we wound up swapping relaxing soaks for some accidentally stumbling upon vintage meth labs and maybe almost dying.
And that is to be continued...