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Published: June 24th 2006
Beautiful Santa Fe - Loretto Inn
You haven't experienced a thunderstorm until you've experienced one in the Texas Panhandle! No, we didn't see any flying cows (thank God) or tornados for that matter but we did experience winds up to 80 mph (strong enough to shake our car), torrential rain, and the most amazing lightning! The lightning was so beautiful. It lit up the entire sky. Some of the bolts even flashed sideways!! Let me start from the beginning...
Last time I wrote we were in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Before we left we explored the historic downtown area and took lots of pictures. Santa Fe is one of the most scenic cities in the entire US. Known as "The City Different", this historic section of New Mexico is one not to be missed. The adobe style buildings, painted doors, arts & craft vendors, churches, flowers and trees are breathtaking. April and I had spent some time here about 4 years ago but this time we (unfortunately) had little time to sightsee. We had to be back on the road to make Amarillo, TX and (hopefully) avoid any severe weather. Santa Fe is one of those cities where you definitley need 3 days (at least) to
Beautiful Santa Fe
explore and truly appreciate it. I really wanted to go to Loretto Chapal and Chimayo but we just didn't have the time. Loretto Chapel is home of the "miraculous staircase". You can find out more by visiting: http://www.lorettochapel.com/stair.html. It is also close to Chimayo which is known as a healing shrine. Visit http://www.chimayo.org/history.html for details. I find Santa Fe to be very spiritual and calming. I love everything about it. There is a certain smell to the air -- a mix of pinion and mesquite -- that just sooths me. I also love how blue the sky looks. I love the way the locals dress. I love the mountains. I hope Ape & I get to spend more time here soon. We were going to stop for lunch at The Cowgirl Hall of Fame restaurant, but decided to stop at Rudy's (again) on our way out of town.
After lunch the drive was very relaxing as we crossed over the Texas border. However, there was a storm forming!! The sky grew darker, the temps dropped, the wind was howling and we were receiving severe thunderstorm/tornado watch warnings over the radio! My blood was pumping.......I felt so excited!! With all
this excitement I found myself having to pee -- I-40 East through the Texas Panhandle is almost desolate, except for a few stops here and there prior to sprawling Amarillo. Luckily one of the towns was coming up -- Bushland -- I kid you not. I had to pee in Bushland. You find the irony please...lol! The town consisted of one (nice) gas station/convenient store and a bunch of "horror movie-like" broken down cars and ramshackled houses. I never piddled so quickly! If a storm/tornado struck Bushland is the last place I'd want to be!
As dark as the sky appeared --- it cleared! Ugh! I was so disappointed but figured it was safer that way. We reached Amarillo and stopped at one of our most favorite "tourist attractions" -- The Big Texan Steakhouse. This place is like a rodeo clown's nightmare -- in a fun/cool sort of way??? Their big claim to fame is their "free" 72 oz steak dinner if you finish it in 30 minutes!!! UH...never in a million years! That is one big piece of meat! LOL! Not to mention the "sides" and dessert. We only saw one person try one of the times we
were there. No one tried last night. I had a yummy steak sandwich and Ape had a hamburger. As we left the restaurant a jolly Texan (reminded me or Charles Ingles from Little House on the Prairie) said to BE CAREFUL as the wind was HOWLIN' OUT THERE! It sure was! When we walked out it nearly tipped us over! There was dust flying everywhere! It was also pitch dark outside. We had to find a place to sleep and fast. The wind was so strong it shook our car. Then we saw the most amazing lightning - EVER - and heard a BOOM so loud it made car alarms go off!!! I am 100% serious! When April gets that "worried" look on her face you know it's bad. This was the thunderstorm of all thunderstorms. As a matter of fact we heard there was a major dust storm in Lubbock (not too far from us) and a small tornado touched down north of us!
Luckily we found a Holiday Inn Express right on the "main strip" of stores & restaurants (I-40 East). As we unloaded the car we couldn't believe how COLD it felt! It had to be
55 with the wind if not colder. After the 100+ temps in Vegas this felt like the Arctic! Once inside the hotel I couldn't believe how pretty it was. This is definitly the most attractive HI Express we have ever stayed at. They only had a king suite available -- so we took it. For $119 a night it was/is so worth it. The room is huge and modern. It almost looks like a W Hotel or Westin! Nice! The storm eventually died down and we fell asleep with our window open lulled by the falling rain and cool, breezy temps.
This morning I awoke with a strange throat feeling. So did April. Both our heads hurt and our throats had that thick/sore feeling. Ugh. We either had allergies or caught a (small) cold. There was no way we could've driven feeling this way so we decided that we are going to FLY home Monday from Austin, TX. Yup -- we get to visit Austin for a couple of nights!!!! YAAY!!! We will drive there tomorrow morning and stay Sat & Sun night. I can't wait!!!! At least this will give us a "feel" for the area. So many
music clubs and restaurants -- what are we to do??? I am very excited!!
We did manage to go for awhile today. We had lunch at this funny/cute restaurant called The Country Barn BBQ & Steaks. The tall cowboy statue outside (and cowboys leaving) made it too tempting to ignore! I am so glad we went. Although I did fear I would be gay bashed, everyone was actually polite and kind to us. I felt like I was dining with the cast of Dallas or at least Kenny Rogers and Crystal Gayle. The inside of this restaurant is very hokey and cute. The walls are covered with animals and Western movie posters. It is very dim inside and feels very cozy. The food was also good. April had chicken friend steak and I had a hamburger. My word was that burger good! Some poor bastard cow was on my plate! I also ordered dessert -- some chocolate molten cake -- but I think they forgot the cake portion and only gave me chocolate??? I cracked up laughing when the waitress took it over -- but it was SOOOO good!!! The bathroom was trippy. There were all these weird mirrors
when you walked through the hall. It had a funhouse feel AND you know you are in Texas when the sinks are designed in the shape of Texas?? Talk about Texas pride!
After lunch we went to Cadillac Ranch, a Route 66 tourist attraction. You know, the one with the Cadillacs buried upside down in the ground? It is in the middle of some cow pasture off I-40 east. They encourage tourists to bring spray paint and leave a message, but Ape and I didn't have any. I had seen pictures of this in so many of my travel guides and to be there was very cool.
Anyway, it is 7:45pm and we are just relaxing watching TV and working. Hopefully in the morning we will both feel 100% better and I will write from Austin! :-)
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