Day 1 trip toward Grand Canyon: Grants and Gallup NM

300 miles down and we have already seen tons of amazing things.

First up: Grants, NM

A mining town by nature, Grants offers a feel like any other mining or factory town where the mine or factory in question shrivels up and dies. Basically, Gary, Indiana.  That said, there are a few fun things to see in town.

The Mining Museum is free unless you want to experience one of the only underground faux mines in a museum which is a mere $3 a person. I have to say, it’s totally worth the $3 if for no other reason than the sudden unexpected case of claustrophobia that you don’t know you have. The fact that we were the only ones there on a Saturday morning probably didn’t help the sense of fear we both shared. It was like My Bloody Valentine. Luckily, there were no serial killers. And, if there were, they kept to themselves, which makes for a pretty shitty horror flick.

There’s also an abandoned motel right on historic Route 66 that is so creepy you can’t help but wonder if it’s a crack house or a scene from Chernobyl.

Then there’s El Malpais. A true sight to behold. Otherwise known as the New Mexico Badlands, El Malpais is natural rock formations that are truly breathtaking. Included among these sights is one of the largest natural rock arches in the US. Even better is that you don’t have to hike for days to get a great view.

Word of warning though. If you have a juniper allergy like me, I highly recommend you choose ANY other time of year than spring. Apparently El Malpais is a veritable juniper forest! My eyes are so puffy and itchy, I swear I rubbed them with sandpaper and poured nectar from a poison ivy plant.

Gallup, NM

Most people would say that the best part about Gallup, NM is watching it disappear into your rearview mirror. During the day, I beg to differ. Once the sun goes down, there isn’t too much to do except meander around Walmart or loiter at McDonald’s.

During the day, though, we had quite a bit of fun.

Apparently, Gallup has a fetish for public art and wall murals like Albuquerque does in hopes of finding some sort of persona or identity. We found at least a dozen beautiful murals, many of which are marked with plaques and outlined in a map available all around town, but especially at the visitor center in Route 66 in Downtown. Also, at El Rancho Hotel, I found a room visited by THE DUKE!

The McKinley County Courthouse is a pretty attractive building, too. At least from the outside. As was the El Morro Theater (built in 1928). Again, from the outside. We showed up on a Saturday, so the streets were curled up worse than the dead legs of the Wicked Witch of the East.

After much running around and at least two full fledged failures in trying to find good eateries in Gallup that weren’t chain stores yet still open at 4pm on a Saturday, we pulled into the first restaurant we saw and parked. We were too damn hungry to care. Aurelia’s Diner doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside it’s a 50’s style diner complete with bright red, white, and chrome motif and plenty of nostalgic paraphernalia to make even the geekiest of us jealous.

To top it all off, the server was willing to deal with my ever so common “You know what’s good here! You decide FOR me!” Most servers grumble and demand I give them a straight answer. Devon brought me a steak burrito made with fresh homemade tortilla, smothered in DAMN hot green chili, and a side of the greasiest and tastiest fries EVA! 

Travel begins tomorrow

That’s right, folks! Tomorrow starts our journey towards the Grand Canyon. Well, maybe Saturday. It appears that cold weather and wind will persist through tomorrow. And since I’m a weakling underneath this manly and very attractive exterior, we may put the traveling off till Saturday when temps are to rise and the winds are to die down.

That all said, I am planning to blog and tweet my brains out with cool things we find between Albuquerque and the middle of nowhere Arizona.

Be prepared for super cool pictures, maybe a silly video or two, and definitely some great stories!


On the Road Again…

As many of you know, one of our cars, the one we traveled in, was put out to pasture a few weeks ago. Since then, we’ve been looking for a proper replacement. Not four days ago, we fixed that problem. We have a new car. It’s name is GeeGee, or G.G. or JeeJee. It’s another Scion xB. A little newer, automatic, and best of all, Cruise!!! I feel so damn lazy in an auto transmission with Cruise Control.

But we are back in our element. Today we drove 1.5hrs south to Gran Quivira. The quiet surreal environment makes me itch to quit my job, give up the world, and live in a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere New Mexico. How could you possibly NOT want to wake up to see something like this EVERY SINGLE MORNING OF YOUR LIFE!?!?!?

I’m thinking once my writing career takes off and I’m a million book author, we’ll pack it up and drive to the middle of nowhere and set up camp forever. Middle of this month we’re going to West for a week. The goal is the Grand Canyon. But frankly, we want to hit Grants, the New Mexico Bad Lands, and a few more canyons between here and the Grand Canyon. Whatever happens, happens.

Traded my keyboard for hiking boots this weekend

Couldn’t have had more fun not writing this weekend than if I got arrested!

Albuquerque has enough open spaces, canyons, and national and state parks all within 20 miles of the downtown area that I’ve lived here a year and half and am still seeing things I’ve never seen before!

If it weren’t for my need to eat and sleep in reasonably safe shelters…and in turn, my need to have money to pay for such frivolities, I would travel the whole country. Hop in some beat up Jeep with my partner, keyboard, and a few great books and see everything this great landscape has to offer.

It’s weekend day trips like these that make me wonder why most adults are not happy with their lives. They live hating life, work, and everything in between. There is no reason for such tortured lives. Each of my four hikes cost me NOTHING, except gas. Since all four hikes were within 20 miles of Albuquerque, even that cost was muted.

God, I love traveling almost as much as I love writing.

Travel Writing

When I’m not writing fiction or working, I’m traveling with my partner. Since my brother’s wedding, my partner and I realized we wanted to “work to live” rather than “live to work” like everyone else in our lives.

We live by the mantra “Be See Do”!

What exactly is “Be See Do”????

It’s a variation on the old adage of “Work to live; don’t live to work”. But, the difference is that this Work to live phrase only encompasses the idea that one (actually EVERYone) should work just enough so they can do whatever it is they want to do rather than working bazillions of hours just to come home exhausted and hating your life.

Our motto of Be See Do takes this mantra a step further, or farther, whatever, depending on how literal you’re taking that step I suppose.

Be See Do stands for 3 things:

1. Be-ing: Be anything and everything you want to be. This isn’t some childhood preachy garbage you teach your kid who wants to be a pony when they grow up. This is God’s honest truth. Be what you want to be.

Loads of people say, “I want to be a writer.” When I respond, “Are you now?” the response is usually “I don’t have time for that.” To everyone who says they have no time I say BULLOCKS!

If Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone can be written on public transit to and from work, you can write.

2. See-ing: Our extended family can say little about what they’ve seen and done in their respective lives. Isn’t that sad? Again the comments pour in of “I don’t have time to go off traveling like some vagabond.” Again, Bullocks!

You don’t have to travel far and wide to see new things. Hop on, find other locals who are already seeking things to do in your town. Go to your local city/town hall and ask for historical information. You’d be surprised of the plethora of ways governments attempt to bring in tourists by way of the towns history. Just walk around! Walk down a street you have never walked down. GET LOST! There is no better way to find new things than by getting lost in your own town.

3. Do-ing: This, I have to admit, is part of my motto that I occasionally regret. This means I will do anything, I mean ANYTHING, presented to me as an option.

Couple cases in point: A couple we know recently had a baby (YAY!) Korean tradition (they are Korean) states that after 100 days, you have a huge dinner party with loads of traditional foods. That night I tried boiled pig’s feet, baby octopus, some sort of dried squid thing, and several things I can no longer remember (probably for psychological survival!!!!!). But I TRIED THEM! I can now SAY whether or not I like Green Eggs and Ham. Can you????

Another case: Last week we saw a young man hitchhiking from ABQ, trying to get to Wisconsin. We turned around, picked him up and drove him 60 miles out of our way to Santa Fe. Did we know him? No. Did we make him very happy? Oh yeah. Why’d we do it? Well, neither of us are all that certain. Partly because he needed something and we could help, partly because we really wanted something to do on a Saturday night and that seemed a reasonable way to end the day. Who needs to sit around the dining room table asking each other what they’re thinking…not us!!!!