Quin's Progress


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Buckle Up For A Whirlwind Road Trip!

Time for a quick update, to bring y’all up to speed.  Since the last post, I’ve been across the country and back, getting ready to leave for Korea tomorrow.  I don’t want to bore you with too many details, so here’s the nutshell account.  Let’s see, where did I leave off….oh yes, the Grand Canyon.  Okay, so, we’re in Arizona….P1030112

P1030116I had been driving for hours along the old Route 66 between Flagstaff and Winslow, and I desperately had to pee, so when I saw this funny little unofficial looking sign saying there was a meteor crater at the next exit, I figured, what the heck, there’s probably a bathroom, I’ll check it out.  P1030101

That's one screamin' fast shuttle!

That’s one screamin’ fast shuttle!

Six miles down the road off the highway, there’s an asphalt parking lot, with tremendously stimulating signs leading up the hill to the entrance of the aforesaid meteor crater visitor center.  They only tell you after you’ve climbed the hill that it’s $16 to get in, which I thought was kind of mean; they should tell you that before you hike your butt all the way up there, because, you know, there might be some people out there who don’t want to spend $16 to look at a big dimple.  But, I didn’t want to have climbed that hill for nothing, and the potty situation was closing in on dire, so I paid my sixteen bucks and went in.

The floor of the crater is bigger than 20 football fields

The floor of the crater is bigger than 20 football fields

Holy cosmic pock marks, Batman, that is one big hole in the ground!  After the Grand Canyon, the threshold for big holes in the ground being impressive had been raised quite a bit, I must say.  But if you go through the little museum, and watch the short film they have, the significance of the place becomes clear–it’s one of the only confirmed meteor impact sites in the world.  Most other craters are the result of a volcanic caldera.  I never knew that.  P1030099Anyhoo, the really groovy thing about this spot is that, in the 1960s and 70s, NASA trained astronauts here, including the Apollo astronauts, because of its similarity to craters on the moon.  They even had a lunar landing capsule on site that the astronauts used for training purposes.  Very I Dream of Jeannie.  Ooh, and remember that 1984 movie “Starman” with Jeff Bridges?  The spacecraft impact parts of it were filmed here.  Cool, no?

P1030075

Not a Painting

There was a red brick wall around the visitor center plaza, with this open viewing window in it; with the vista beyond, it so reminded me of a Magritte painting.  Don’t you think?

"Standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona...."

“Standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona….”

A few miles down the road, I had to stop in Winslow, Arizona and, well, you know…stand on a corner.  Because of the Eagles song.  I didn’t see any girls in flatbed Fords, and the only one to slow down and take a look at me was the guy driving the street sweeping truck.  That’s not very poetic, though.  There is, however, a loudspeaker on the appointed corner, that blares Eagles music on a loop, into the otherwise unoccupied atmosphere, and there’s an Eagles-themed shop on the adjacent corner, where one can buy all manner of “Take It Easy” t-shirts, etc., but I refrained.  I’m told I missed out on the classic gag, though, because I didn’t find a pay phone and crank call someone and sing a few bars of “Take It Easy” to them.  Sorry for failing y’all like that!  Moving on….

Middle of nowhere, New Mexico

Middle of nowhere, New Mexico

Driving through the southwest, you really do get a sense of how vast the United States is.  Miles and miles of open, literally amazing landscapes and endless horizons, with hours between towns.  It’s strange, too, how the landscape shifts subtly but so distinctly as you cross state borders.  Leaving Arizona and entering New Mexico, suddenly the Painted Desert splashes different colors across the land, and the surface of the earth buckles up in spots to replace the flat desert behind you.  It’s quite beautiful.

IMG_3607P1030141Zooming along toward Santa Fe, I had to pull over again to see the Continental Divide.  That’s got to be something, right?  Where the water flows in different directions from a specific cleft in the tectonic plates of the earth?  Well, turns out, all there is to see is a U.S. Geological Survey sign, and a truly weird curio shop, that was closed anyway.  Still, worth pulling over, just to note the occasion.P1030148

Santa Fe and I didn’t get off to a good start.  I was in an evil mood from the minute I got there; I seriously think I would have bitten someone in the leg if I’d had the chance.  Everything was annoying me, and I’m usually pretty easygoing.  Then, I overheard someone in a cafe say something about having trouble getting used to the altitude, and it hit me.  I butted into their conversation and asked what the altitude is, and when she answered it was 7,200 feet, I realized, I wasn’t just in a bad mood, I was oxygen deprived!  No wonder!  This happened to me in Mexico City, too.  I couldn’t walk a block without getting winded, and I felt so bitchy and mean for the first few days; it was ugly.  But, thankfully, the fix is easy enough.  Just slow it down, and drink steadily.  So, that’s what I did.

The Ladies' Room door at the Pink Adobe

The Ladies’ Room door at the Pink Adobe

Pink Dragon

Pink Dragon

Meet the Pink Dragon:  a prickly pear fruit margarita from the Dragon Room at the Pink Adobe in Santa Fe.  I plied myself with this elixir until I was restored to my usual state of near equanimity, and then Santa Fe’s charms were more obvious to me.  There’s really no disputing that the surrounding high desert is breathtaking.  Even if you aren’t a desert person, just stand still and stare and breathe for a while, and the palette of colors, and spectrum of textures will dizzy you.  Or maybe it’s just the altitude, I don’t know.

Old HouseI particularly loved how the oldest house and church in the United States has an adjacent beer garden.  Perfect for my altitude coping mechanism.P1030184

I happened to arrive in town on the eve of the annual Santa Fe Fiesta, which commences with a Burning Man type ritual in which they immolate the “Zozobra,” a 50-foot tall effigy of the boogeyman, intended to chase out the bad spirits for the coming year.  P1030228P1030281The remainder of the weekend hosts a festival, with booths of food and art and crafts and such all over downtown, and several stages of music and local dance troop performances.  It was just the thing to sand off my moody rough edges.

Navajo Taco

Navajo Taco

Especially, the Navajo Tacos, made with roast lamb and Indian fry bread.  Mmm-mmm!

I saw Melissa Etheridge wandering around town that weekend, and heard she was in town giving a concert at the Santa Fe Opera House, which is about 20 minutes outside town out in the desert mountains.  I’ve always liked her music, so, I snagged a ticket and went.

Santa Fe Opera House

Santa Fe Opera House

What a glorious place that opera house is!  The architecture of the theater is open on the sides, so you are basically sitting outside in the desert air, but covered, so it can storm and rain and thunder and lightening, and the show can still go on.  A fantastic venue for a Wagner opera, I’m sure.  But Melissa Etheridge was pretty good too.  I think the sound of her voice is like having whiskey poured down your naked back.

P1030284After a couple days’ break in Santa Fe, it was time to hit the road again, for two more days driving to Fort Worth to Dad’s house.  I must say, though, the highway through the eastern half of New Mexico is not exactly hard on the eyes.  Although, I did accidentally blast past the exit for Roswell, and didn’t realize it until I was almost to  Amarillo, because I was singing along with great gusto to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits…that’s some good road trip music, right there.  Anyway, I had been hoping to bookend the meteor crater report with some shots of the Alien Autopsy and UFO museum for you, but oh well.  Sorry ’bout that.

cadillacs

Cadillac Ranch
Amarillo, TX

As a consolation, just west of Amarillo, I happened upon the Cadillac Ranch:  a plowed field into which someone has upended a bunch of old Cadillacs, nose down into the ground, in a sort of single-file Stonehenge homage.  It was very random and definitely hilarious.  cadillacs2Graffiti is welcome, and there are squillions of discarded spray paint cans strewn about, for anyone to use to add their mark to the Cadillac canvas.  Who says Texans don’t have a sense of whimsy?

As for the rest of my time in Texas, I discovered that macaroni and cheese is classified as a vegetable at the Cracker Barrel (I can get on board with that), and that this song exists:

Next stop, New York City!  My friend James and I were lazing about Washington Square Park, and this girl was sashaying around the fountain, workin’ it hard enough to throw her back out, throwing smoldering glances over her shoulder at no one in particular.  girl1She was like a living Virginia Slims commercial, and I instantly loved her.  So, I stalked her for a while, taking pictures of her….since that’s obviously what she thought was already happening.  Hate to let all that catwalkin’ go to waste.

Fabulous thighs on that model, no?

Fabulous thighs on that model, no?

We happened upon a real photo shoot under the steps in front of Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, and I felt bad that Ms. Virginia Slims wasn’t there to jump in on the fun.

Bethesda Fountain

Bethesda Fountain

I finally made it to the Tenement Museum on Delancey and Orchard Streets on the Lower East Side, which I’ve been meaning to do for the last several times I was in New York.

It’s a well-preserved example of the type of tenement homes that housed thousands of immigrant families in New York in the early to mid- 1900’s in cramped, sometimes unsanitary quarters.

I know the museum and tour were supposed to impress upon us the squalid conditions in which these people had to live, because they had no other options, but honestly, all I could think the whole time was “I know several people who would kill for this apartment!”

Then it was back to San Francisco, to see the doctor, the dentist, the bikini waxer, and basically get everything fluffed and buffed and ready to take off for Korea!


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Friday Night in Cowtown

cow town towerI had to get out of San Francisco for a couple weeks while my house was on the market, so it was off to visit Dad in Fort Worth, Texas, a.k.a. Cowtown USA.  If I can give you one bit of advice, gentle friends, it’s to plan your trip to Fort Worth for sometime other than the middle of July.  Egads, it was hot, and the humidity had my hair looking like a tumbleweed.  Dad repeatedly thwarted my attempted coups d’état on the thermostat control, but thankfully, there was a community pool exactly 263 steps from his front door.  (I know this, because I counted them, and once I knew there was a prime number of steps, I couldn’t stop counting them every time I made that trek to or from the pool.  It’s one of the more entertaining OCD manifestations I enjoy on a daily basis.)  Mostly, though, I made pitchers of Mai Tais and tried to pretend we were in Hawaii.

I thought the heat had me hallucinating when I saw this, but the camera doesn't lie

I thought the heat had me hallucinating when I saw this, but the camera doesn’t lie!

The heat-induced torpor had us feeling fairly unambitious in terms of getting out to see the sights.  I’m ashamed to say, I couldn’t even get it up to go check out what is supposed to be the largest Korean sauna in the United States, just down the road apiece in Dallas.  I don’t know, there’s something about the Satan’s Breath that is the summertime weather of North Texas that just doesn’t make a visit to a sauna sound that appealing.  It reminded me of last year when I was in Panama, and oh my gosh, it was hotter than the face of the sun.  I had to stay a little bit drunk the whole time just to keep from crying.  Anyway, the hotel had posted signs all over the place touting their brand new, state of the art sauna.  I seriously thought it had to be just a fancy door to the outside, because there’s no way their newfangled spa sauna could have been more sauna-y than what was happening outdoors.  But, I digress….

IMG_3088After about a week in Fort Worth, I had adjusted enough to insist that we get out of the house, so we wandered over to the Historic Stockyards District.  It’s a renovated shopping and dining area now, but once upon a time, in the 1800s, it was the last stop on the Chisholm Trail for cattle drives to stock up on supplies before heading into “Indian Territory.”  Later, after the railroads came through, and Armour and Swift opened packing plants there, Fort Worth became the biggest livestock market around, called the “Wall Street of the West.”  When my dad was a kid, the Stockyards were still active, and he brought his farm’s calves to market here.  Today, there are still a few active grain and livestock-related businesses operating in the Livestock Exchange Building that houses the Stockyards Museum, but mostly, the area is now a social gathering place, full of restaurants and shops and groovy old timey saloons.

Cows.  Goin' thataway--->

Cows. Goin’ thataway—>

A gaggle of Longhorns

A gaggle of Longhorns

Just to maintain the atmosphere, they actually have cowboys drive a herd of Longhorns down the middle of the cobbled streets every day, from the old railroad station to the stock pens behind the Livestock Exchange Building.  Well, “herd” may be taking a little creative license, but it was at least a….gaggle.  They don’t exactly stampede, either; it’s more of a shamble or a traipse.  But still, those are some big cows, with some even bigger horns, and it was cool to see.

bullriderThe Cowtown Coliseum is located right in the Stockyards District, and they have Championship Rodeo there every Friday and Saturday night.  So, of course, we had to go.  It’s attended by lots of tourists, because, I mean, come on, if you were from Denmark and you were taking a Wild West tour of Texas as your summer vacation, a real live Texas rodeo would just about make your head explode, wouldn’t it?  And it is a real live Texas rodeo; the competition is no joke.  The cowboys and cowgirls come from all over Texas and Oklahoma, and compete for jackpots and rankings.  We got box seats, so we could be close to the action, and ended up sharing our box with a family from India, an even bigger family from New Jersey who could totally have been extras from an episode of The Sopranos, and what appears to have been a field trip from a school for kids with Down Syndrome.  A colorful group, for sure.  It was a hoot.  At the beginning, you have to sing not only the real national anthem, but that sappy “God Bless The USA” song by Lee Greenwood, and then, of course, “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”  They’re a patriotic group, those Texans, and they have some fierce Texan pride.  I swear, if I had tried to reenact this scene from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, it would have worked just like this:

Next time, I’ll try it out, as well as the giant Korean sauna in Dallas, and will report back.  But, I ain’t goin’ back until the temperature comes down a skosh.  Or Dad agrees to an a/c setting at least starting with a 7.