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  • Hannah Grabenstein

Days 19 & 20, Santa Fe and Albuquerque

I have no travel fatigue. I'm not tiring of this at all, which is disappointing, because I only have a few days of travel left. Instead, I've really been reveling in New Mexico, enjoying the people I've been meeting and the places I've been going and all the gorgeous, transcendent scenery.


So yesterday I had to vacate my room at the Silver Saddle -


AH - I was just viciously attacked by an animal! And then while writing that poor joke (as I was really just gently swiped on the nose by a three pound kitten, who did, nonetheless, draw blood), I was begged by a dog to throw a ball which I can't do inside, per the rules of this Airbnb. Staying at Airbnbs has been pretty universally great, and this one is run by a retired former special education teacher who has two sweet smaller dogs, a two-year-old cat and a tiny, tiny little baby kitten who I'm now watching play with a tennis ball nearly half his size.


Anyway instead of an Airbnb I stayed at a resort last night, which I'd hoped was going to be nice. I got it via some kind of sale site that's teamed up with Google. You have to give your email or phone for the sale price and I sighed heavily and lamented the death of privacy and then gave them my phone for the sale price. The stupid resort, which had full kitchens and bedrooms, still charged a $12 resort fee for the amenities like the pool and the hot tub and the billiards room and the DVDs, none of which I used.


But check-in wasn't until 4pm so I had plenty of time to kill, which I did by spending nearly three hours at the House of Eternal Return by Meow Wolf, which is really beyond description but it is a sort of interactive art exhibit. It's got a model of a Victorian-era home and a storyline which has a family from Mendocino with some kind of interdimensional or inter-universal travel ability which causes a mystery/tragedy. Without giving too much of the story away, you can walk through the house which has been intricately designed and furnished, complete with computers you can use and mine for clues, notebooks, diaries, furniture and dozens of secret entrances and exits and portals in all kinds of weird places. It's hard for me, because you can't see it all, and I hate abandoning something before I've completed it, but after three hours I had to drag myself out. It was beautiful and weird and there were too many children but I'm glad I went. It was a lot.


After I was starving so I had some of my leftover road food sitting in the car and planning where to go. I decided to check in early if I could, and I did, and then I walked to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum. When I realized they were open until 7 on Fridays I decided to go to the New Mexico History Museum, and I meandered through that, pretending I was in the old west, for about an hour and a quarter and when that closed I walked back to Georgia. On the way I stopped in a jeweler/art gallery and bought turquoise studs, which I love. And the O'Keeffe museum was small and really lovely, with some of her most famous paintings. I really enjoyed it.


I rested a little before heading out to a bar for a late dinner, which ended up being "The Original Alien Burger." It had guac and a chile and fried onions and some kind of aioli, plus fries - I cut it in half right when I got it and took home some for breakfast. I tried two local beers both of which were too hoppy for me, and watched some of a sequel to Jurassic Park while chatting with two older guys, one an HHS employee originally from Arkansas who liked fishing. There was a live Americana band playing away and it was a really pleasant last meal in Santa Fe.

This morning I checked out of the dumb resort and headed straight for the Cibola National Forest. I drove around for a little trying to find a trailhead and when I did, I parked just outside of the grounds because I didn't have the $3 fee for the National Forest Service (I was not the only one). Actually, I think I should make a substantive donation to the NPS or NFS or both. So far I haven't paid at all despite going to Big Bend, a national wildlife refuge, and Cibola.


Anyway, when I finally found the trailhead (which was really an access trail because the actual trailhead is under construction) I ended up behind two or three families with, minimum, six thousand children. They were loud and screaming and I'm sure having a good time but they super disturbed my serene hike. I stopped and let them pass for a while and then when I couldn't hear them anymore I started up again.


I hiked up a lot of the mountain, though the whole trail was seven miles long. I ended up high on the peak, but not at the top, maybe two and a half miles into the hike. It was unbelievably beautiful with a spectacular view of Albuquerque and of the peaks being surrounded by the clouds. But then the clouds were suddenly less beautiful and more cold and VERY windy near the top of the mountain. My arms were chilled all the way through and finally I bailed and headed back down (the families had long since turned back). At the bottom I was starving and headed for a Mexican restaurant not too far away.


There, starving, I got my biggest meal of the trip. A cup of posole, complimentary chips and salsa, a breakfast tamale with egg and refried beans, complimentary sopapillas, AND finally flan. I was about to ask for the check when the waiter stopped by and told my an "older gentleman" had called and said he paid for my meal. I responded, "...no?" and he said, yeah, you got a job? Your father, maybe? And then I remembered I'd turned location sharing on my phone on in case I got abducted or anything. My dad said he'd been following me a little throughout the day. He called and paid and tipped and I got my biggest meal of the trip for free. What a good dad.


From there I went to the Hispanic Cultural Center to see a fresco and boy, did I see it. It's inside a small concave building and it's massive, depicting thousands of years of Hispanic heritage across multiple continents. A man named Mark Mundodragon, who is half Native American and half Hispanic, was explaining it to an older couple who'd just preceded me in. He also told me about crypto-Jews, who converted to Catholicism in the face of the persecution and possible death, and he said his lineage is partly of converted Jews. After he explained to me various parts of the fresco, he also suggested I consider applying to their Americorps program, because he thought I'd be good for that. Another person I'm glad I met on this trip.


Then I dragged myself to the Airbnb where I showered and got cozy and hung with some animals and planned where I'll stay tomorrow and now we're sort of casually watching Broadchurch and I'm thinking about my drive tomorrow. I'm sad this is ending. I might even miss blogging.


Playlist:

1. 12-6-1980, The Grateful Dead, for the second song "On the Road Again" (which I was). Weird show. Great show.

2. A Google Instant Mix starting with, "So Far Away," by Carole King, because I am so far away.