So, you’ve probably figured out by now, if you’ve read everything I’ve written so far, that I’m just riffing here. Everything is a first draft and written in one sitting. Will I go back and edit at some point? Probably, but for now, this is working as a daily exercise in emptying my brain.
To call Tucumcari, New Mexico a “fucking pit” is probably a bit harsh. I’m sure Tucumcari is doing the best it can, but what I saw on Friday, October 22, 2021, was probably not best that town has ever looked. Businesses were closed down all around our shitty motel that did not look very much like the one in the picture when I booked it, but whatever. The price was right and even though there were a bunch of government vehicles parked out front with heavy duty black tarps covering them, we felt somewhat safe.
The two young ladies who were in the office of the hotel, probably the children of the owner or manager were not exactly friendly or helpful in pointing out decent food options for us nearby and they pretty much laughed when I asked if they knew of any dog friendly restaurants. Apparently, Tucumcari is not a “take your dog to dinner” kind of town.
We took Bailey for a walk and tried to get her to take a shit, which is always a travel challenge with her, but she was not having it. There was an abandoned (or, at least, it looked abandoned) church behind the motel and I thought for sure Bailey would crap on the dead lawn or the dirt parking lot. No such luck.
There were waves coming off the nearby houses that felt like “Go away” and “Don’t get to close.” I was more than ready to get the fuck out of Tucumcari about five minutes after setting foot in the place. This was odd to me because on the way to Maine in June, our two stops prior to Erie had felt way more welcoming and comfortable than our two stops after Erie on the way home. There was an air of disappointment that came with that realization that still kind of stings now.
Rick and I decided to order a pizza and eventually it came. No napkins or plates were available and the gal who delivered our pie looked as if she had been using meth for a long time. She was friendly enough, I suppose, but the pizza was basic and just slightly better than something frozen. Rick and I enjoyed some of Prairie Artisan’s beers and got a decent buzz on. We even recorded the first episode of the podcast we talked about doing on the road. I haven’t listened to it yet but probably should. I know we laughed a lot.
I picked Bailey up and put her in bed with me that night and I think it helped both of us get a decent night’s sleep. Bailey is a really good cuddler. I wonder if motels that allow pets spray something on the beds that makes dogs not want to jump on them. On the way to Maine and on the way back, Bailey did not jump on a bed once and she has no problem with that at home.
We got out of Tucumcari at dawn and made our way to Albuquerque. New Mexico is really beautiful at sunrise and sunset; I will give it that. So many colors to see and the shadows on the mountains are spectacular. On one particular trip to Colorado in the early 1990s, I remember thinking that New Mexico resembled what I wanted the surface of the moon to look like as we were driving just west of Albuquerque at dusk.
It was Rick’s turn to drive so I had time to look out and watch the world go by. My brain was full of thoughts about having Rhondi home soon, getting back to work after a week off, and having Bailey home with the kids and me. We stopped in Albuquerque at a park off of Indian School Road and Bailey did, finally, take another dump. Come to think of it, the park had kind of a hill that we had to climb, and Bailey pooped at the top of the hill. I’ll have to remember that on our next adventure. Bailey likes to poop on a hill.
We drove through New Mexico and into Arizona without incident, just like the whole trip, and it felt really good to see the home state again. We were too early to do much in Flagstaff, so we stopped to pee and gas up for the drive into Phoenix at the gas station near Munds Park. I got some looks for wearing a mask into the gas station, but who cares. People are lame.
I have to admit I was excited, and I think Rick was, too. It had been a fun eight days of hanging out together and I would gladly travel with him again. We sampled a lot of beers, had many laughs, and just enjoyed our time on the road. I hope he feels the same way. I’m really glad I got to show him Maine and I think he understands why I love it so much now.
Traveling is so weird on the brain. I found myself thinking a lot after we dropped Rick off at his place in North Phoenix about how in the span of four days, we had been in 13 states. It’s always weird to think about how you woke up in New Mexico and went to bed in Arizona, for example, even though you were there for the travel in between.
As we turned off of 23rd avenue onto our street, Bailey perked up. I am certain she knew exactly where we were and figured out we were going home. She was genuinely excited for the first time in four days and when Liam came out to greet us, it was a scene of pure bliss. I think she stayed in Liam’s room for the majority of time until Rhondi got back.
I’ve always enjoyed being on the road. I can’t wait to do it again.
See you tomorrow.