I got going from Needles at 7 a.m.—which twenty minutes later turned into 8 a.m., because Arizona is on Mountain Time: so there was an hour gone right there. I arrived in Socorro, New Mexico, at 6:40 p.m., close to eleven hours later. I traveled some 600 miles, thanks to a couple of detours.
Here are the highlights of the day:
Quick stop in Seligman AZ to look for a geocache, in an excellent collection of organized junk called Juan's Garden, created by Juan Delgado who in 1953 built an ice cream shack nearby from scrap wood. It (the ice cream shack) still exists (but is not open at the moment). Sadly, I did not find the cache.
|One of the various heaps in Juan's Garden|
A gas-up in Flagstaff, where the temperature was 33 degrees F and the gas (thanks to Safeway and 30 cents a gallon off) was $1.75 per gallon. One seventy-five!!! I'm still in shock. Yesterday, I gassed up somewhere—Barstow?—and the price was more like $3.49 a gallon. Which shocked me in the opposite direction.
[no photo, though I should have captured that $1.75 for posterity]
|Oh wait: here's a photo of the San Francisco Peaks|
as I was heading east out of Flagstaff
Winslow and "the corner" of Jackson Brown/Glenn Frey/Eagles fame ("Take It Easy"). When Frey died last week I was surprised to see on FB photos of people standing on a corner with a life-sized statue (of, it turns out, Browne). David passed through Winslow last year and took a less touristy shot of himself on a more random corner. But now I wanted to find that corner, with the statue (which is certainly not the corner of the song). And again thanks to geocaching, it was easy. And it was sweet to see all the flowers piled at the base of the statue, honoring Frey.
Holbrook, where I cut from I-40 to Hwy 180—blue highways, yay!—has one of those fabulously awful wigwam motels, and I had to stop for a picture, which may contribute to Susan and me finally finishing our long-fought diptych project. Because yes, we are currently on W. W is for wigwam motel.
Turns out, Petrified Forest National Park is off Hwy 180. Who knew? I had to turn in and drive to the entrance station, where I was immediately put off by the $20 entrance fee (thinking, "But... there's nothing here! Just a bunch of rocks that used to be trees!"). So I crawled up to the kiosk and asked what I'd see—still debating the cost, and thinking about time. The nice young man (I believe his name was Shem, which means "Name" in Hebrew...) told me about the park's offerings, said it would take about 45 minutes to drive through, passing the Painted Desert on the way back to I-40. But I said, no, I didn't want to go to I-40; I wanted to stay on the nearby highway. He suggested going only partway in, then, to a place that he especially likes called Blue Mesa. And he wouldn't charge me. And he gave me a map. So what could I do but go drive the Blue Mesa loop, do the short one-mile hike down into the badlands? I'm glad I did. It was good to stretch my legs, and it was beautiful, in the stark sort of way I love. And I had a conversation with a raven. It doesn't really get much better.
From Hwy 180 I merged onto Hwy 60, and just as darkness was falling hard, I passed the Very Large Array, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. I didn't really know what I was seeing at first—just a lot (a lot) of large radio dishes; and a "tourist parking" lot on the side of the road; and then a small sign: "VLA Visitor Center." Seriously: VLA, like people are supposed to know what that means. But I did. Dang! I've always wanted to visit that. ("Always" being a rather small "always" in the far back of my mind, because if it were a large "always," I would have known that it was on my route today and I wouldn't have dilly-dallied.) However, that said, maybe I can include it on my Saturday itinerary, when I head to Phoenix. Hmmmm....
It's astonishing, the things you can drive by on a beautiful January day: various vestiges of (or homages to) American popular culture, an ancient Jurassic forest, and a view into outer space. Wow.
But today's true thing is this: when I arrived at my hotel in Socorro and unpacked my car, the tailgate wouldn't lift all the way. A little bit, but I didn't want to force it. (It's all "automatic"—the push of a button.) My camera gear is in the back of the car. It would be much easier if I could just open the tailgate. But, alas. I looked in the user's manual (which is about a thousand pages long) but didn't find anything useful. I looked online, but there are no similar complaints for a 2016 Outback. I tried this and that. It could be a very simple solution, but I'm not divining it.
So my true thing is this: I don't need to get upset. It's not a crisis. I can still access my stuff. And when I get back to Monterey, I'll take the car in and get them to fix it. I paid for seven years' worth of fixes. This'll be the first (though I hope the last for a while). I'm in good hands.
But but but: I am truly enjoying driving this car. And today, it got twice the mileage that my 4Runner gets. Twice! Truly! That is so great. And the tailgate: it will get solved. It's just a minor annoyance. That's my true thing: optimism.
And maybe... patience? I would not have claimed that in the past, but maybe, just maybe? Patience would be an excellent skill to cultivate. In conjunction with optimism.
Update: The next morning, I decided to try googling the problem again—a different combination of words—and this time I got a 41-second video from my very dealer that mentioned a secret mystery button to the left of the steering wheel. After a bit of fiddling, I got the hatch to open! So add clever to my true things! Or maybe just perseverent. Or at least good at googling.