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September 7th 2005
Published: September 17th 2005
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Cadillac RanchCadillac RanchCadillac Ranch

This imaginative parking system has yet to catch on outside Texas

04/09/05 Las Vegas (no not that one)

We left Amarillo via Cadillac Ranch, where 10 pink Caddies are planted bonnet deep in a row in the middle of a field, it's not at all surreal really! Many visitors have added grafitti to the cars and if you look closely you may find our own little stamp on one of them (hint: see photos).
A further four hours on the road got us into New Mexico where the land became a lot more lumpy, we stopped at the Plaza hotel in Las Vegas after a recommendation from a traveller who we met in a Visitor Centre on the border, it is an old place with wonky floorboards, a resident ghost and connections to some of the famous names of the wild west. We had a pleasant meal in the bar with a very loud bottle of red wine to wash it down. Later we got talking to a guy called Lee who came from West Sussex, but moved to New Mexico as a child, he suggested we should visit his mum, who ran a B&B in town and liked to meet visitors from the old country.
Once again we failed to meet
Cadillac RanchCadillac RanchCadillac Ranch

Vernon being artistic
any supernatural beings, but the floorboards were definitely getting wonkier as the evening progressed.

05/09/05 Santa Fe

We got into the breakfast room at 9.50 and the manager indicated we should sit at any table, at 10.10 the waiter took our order of 2 Plaza breakfasts, 2 juices and 2 coffees. At 10.15 two men walked in, the manager asked them if they were guests, they said "No we're paying cash" he immediately took their order and bought them drinks within 2 minutes. At 10.20 we walked out - 30 mins without even a coffee is a new record.
When we checked out the receptionist did the usual "How was your stay?" bit, I'm not sure she expected the reply she got, but the General Manager will apparently once again be told about the shoddy restaurant service.

Later we sat outside Lee's mum's house discussing whether we should go and knock on a complete stranger's door, eventually we decided to do our second new thing of the day and spent a pleasant hour or so chatting with Anne Bradford about all sorts of things from the lack of breakfast at the Plaza to the state of both the
Correcto GraffitoCorrecto GraffitoCorrecto Graffito

If there's one thing I can't stand it's people what don't grammar proper
British and American education systems. We didn't get to stay at The Carriage House (Anne's B&B), but from the welcome and the tea we got I would choose to stay with her if we ever pass through this way again.

We were heading for Santa Fe, but stopped on the way at Pecos National Park to view the Pueblo ruins. These are "pre-historic" dwellings (built between 850 and 1200 years ago!!)where Pecos Indians lived. It would have been an impressive structure when complete, with four storey buildings and underground "kivas" all built from sun baked adobe bricks. As with most of these things an invading force turned up (in this case the Spanish) and tried to bring Christianity to the locals by building a whacking great church in the middle of it all. The first church was destroyed when the Indians rebelled; a second, smaller one was built, which continued until the Pueblo was abandoned and fell into disrepair. The Puebloan Indians seem to have been quite happy to worship the Christian God along with all their other gods, they just couldn't get a handle on there being only one god.
We met a Native American by the name
Bandelier National MonumentBandelier National MonumentBandelier National Monument

One of the Pueblos of New Mexico
of Charles Tyler at the Visitor Centre, he makes and plays Native Flutes, which have a beautiful, mellow sound. We chatted for a while afterwards and once again we found ourselves discussing the worlds ills (and of course Katrina).

On the recommendation of one of Vernon's former colleagues we stopped at the Sage Inn in Santa Fe and ate at Il Vicino where the Wet Mountain IPA was particularly fine, later we found another bar with over 100 beers on sale (good job we have a ground floor room at the Sage).
We have finally managed to link up with Carol by phone (I bought a cheap mobile when we got to the States and as yet I have been unable to access the voicemail which has, of course, been filling up with messages), it seemed like a really good idea to try and call her from the loudest bar in Santa Fe, resulting in a comedy "Hello?" "Hello" "What?" "Hello" "Hang on I'm just leaving the bar" "No don't hang up" "Hello?" moment.

06/09/05 Los Alamos

We spent the morning browsing around Santa Fe, including the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, which was showing a Georgia O'Keeffe/Andy Warhol exhibition. When shown side by side with another artist, it is difficult to understand how Warhol became so famous. I guess he was a master of self-publicity.
We drove to Los Alamos later in the day (up a very, very long hill) and tried to hook up with a few people from LANL that Vern had previously worked with. Unfortunately, there was no-one about (or they didn't want to talk to us), so we did the laundry and had a pleasant meal at the Trinity Beverage Company. This is a good place to eat if you can ever find the entrance (which is right around the back - positioned so the super-logical scientists, who make up the bulk of the population, can't get in).

07/09/05 Bandelier and the Jemez Mountains

After breakfast, we got hold of John at LANL and arranged to meet for lunch after looking around the Bandelier National Monument. This is another pueblo, with caves carved into the canyon walls. The canyon is made from tuff, deposited from volcanic explosions millennia ago, and has been carved into a complex series of caves by the Puebloans. We were enjoying climbing ladders to look into the caves when we noticed two people struggling with a three-wheel baby buggy (with obligatory baby) that they had managed to man-handle up a number of flights of uneven steps. Looking ahead, we could see the the steps got steeper and narrower, with waist-high rock walls on either side, so we offered to help (thinking we could carry the buggy down whilst the mother took care of the little one). Thirty seconds later, Clare was carrying little Evan down the steps, away from mummy. Evan, understandably not happy at being abducted, was screaming his head off, and stuck his elbow in Clare's windpipe for good measure. Mother and child were reunited at the bottom and we staggered off to recover.
We had lunch with John at the Blue Window Bistro, where we discussed life, the universe and everything (and why I'm so good at making kids cry - C). John suggested we change our route to take in the Jemez Mountains and Monument Valley on the way to the Grand Canyon, so we set off into the hills rather than heading back down to the I-40. We stopped at the Calle Verde caldera and watched a young coyote trying to catch birds by jumping at them four-footed. There was a huge clap of thunder and the coyote ran off. Ten minutes later, the rains came and we drove down out of the mountains through red streams that washed over the road. We ate at the Cuban Cafe (in Cuba) and crashed for the night at a cheap motel in Farmington.


18th September 2005

Sounds like you just eating, drinking and sleeping (when you're not making babies cry!) - fantastic, way to go!

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