The first day of July Jinks 2011 was a long drive from Oklahoma City to La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís, but let’s just call it Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I drove straight west on I-40 into Texas, stopping at the Calico Cafe in Amarillo for lunch. I saw one dust devil near Amarillo and was pleased when filling up the car to note my 2001 Camry had managed to get 35 miles per gallon on the easy highway drive with temperatures in the 90s.
After entering New Mexico I skipped Tucumcari, which did not impress me last year, for a later stop along Highway 66: Santa Rosa. The lure was Santa Rosa Lake, which in the current drought is at dangerously low levels. The temperature was 99, but that did not dissuade me from taking a 3/4 mile trail to see the channel below the dam. The humidity was very low and I did not get terribly hot along the trail, while back home in Bartlesville I would have been drenched. I saw a pretty lizard along the way and a cactus which had turned pink. I took another short trail nearby, which looped around layered rock.
After that nice break from the drive, I headed back into Santa Rosa for a dipped cone at the Dairy Queen and headed back along I-40 to make the turn up the nearly deserted two-lane US 285 and then I-25 to Santa Fe.
I finished my penultimate Hercule Poirot audiobook along the way. The only Poirot novel that remains for me to enjoy is Curtain, the one Agatha Christie wrote in the early years of World War II and locked away in a bank vault for over thirty years. She saved it for posthumous publication, wanting her parting shot with Poirot to be a book written when she was at the height of her powers. That’s long-term thinking! I will savor it on this trip, unless the History of the Bible lectures I’m now listening to keep me too captivated. Having exhausted the Poirot series, save for short story collections, I’ll then listen to some more of her stand-alones and other short series. No doubt eventually I’ll work my way through the Miss Marples, but I don’t care for her as much and am putting those off having listened to two or three of them thus far.
I am staying at an apartment complex on the southeast edge of town which was converted into a hotel. It is cheap and quite adequate. I had to wait awhile for my dinner at Pizzeria Espiritu in a strip mall less than two miles away, but Yelp was right – it was superb! My pizza had mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, topped with a creamy sauce (rather than tomato sauce) and a mix of Portobello, Shiitake, and Italian mushrooms.
Last year the city seemed larger to me because of the route I took to and from my hotel. Now it seems smaller, especially since I know its population is only a bit more than twice that of Bartlesville. But it is far more upscale, of course, with its focus on art and tourism. Tomorrow I will visit Museum Hill and the Plaza.