From really old wood to The Land of Enchantment.

Tucumcari Travel Blog

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Old wood.
Day 2 (6/26/08)
Holbrook, AZ to Tucumcari, New Mexico
8:05pm (had to add an hour for Mountain Time) / 92∞ / Very breezy and balmy – beautiful sunset!

That’s what she said.

Ok, got that out of my system. The title of today’s entry actually references the scope of sights we were able to see. A much shorter distance was covered today than I had anticipated (only 431 miles), but we were fortunate enough to see the Petrified Forest National Park (old wood) and the Painted Desert in Arizona. Only a 28-mile loop through the park and you’re transported back in time to when the region was actually a tropical-climate forest. The petrified trees look remarkably like real trees, only rock (see the picture).

The Painted Desert, at the north end of the park, was absolutely breathtaking.
Petrified wood.
I kind of felt like Forrest Gump when he was describing to Jenny about all the places he had seen on his multiple cross-country runs. The layers of colored rock and sand made the desert look like one of those sand-art bottles we have probably all made at one point in our childhood – only exceptionally beautiful.

The 3 hours in the National Park was well worth the delay in our driving schedule (we’d hoped to be in Amarillo, TX tonight). The rest of the day was spent traversing northern New Mexico. Like Arizona before it, New Mexico’s desert landscape is lush with vibrant green brush that speckles a red-rock base. The I-40 again climbs in elevation to Albuquerque, which is quite the booming metropolis … and we hit rush hour traffic.
Desert landscape, a bit cloudy (which turned into a deluge later on).
Ahhhh, the comforts of home.

Unlike Flagstaff, I do not think I could relocate to Albuquerque – not nearly as nice looking.

So, some of the things I noticed about New Mexico today:

1. 100 Nights of Summer: this is the Highway Patrol’s campaign to curtail summertime drinking and driving. Apparently, according to the plethora of billboards, drunk driving is especially prevalent in the summer. Which makes sense – what goes better with a warm drive home than a cold case of beer? Of course I’m kidding. So, beyond the billboards, New Mexico has implemented the use of electronic highway signs that read:

100 Days and Nights of Summer

* blank screen *


We can assume that for 100 days and nights, cops will be everywhere in New Mexico. Obviously, after summer, there will be no need to curtail the drinking/driving problem.
Painted Desert

2. Dept. of Public Health: Not to be outdone by Arizona and their “Meth kills … your teeth and gums” campaign, New Mexico is targeting yet another alcohol-related public health issue: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. What enhances a drive through the New Mexico landscape than being reminded of the horrors of drinking while pregnant? Ahhh, The Land of Enchantment. Each beautiful billboard in this series depicts one of the various victims of F.A.S.

3. My mother is losing her mind: The enchantment of New Mexico was not lost on my mom, perhaps it settled in too quickly. While driving through the hair-pin turns created by road construction, my mom inhales deeply and says, “I smell BBQ.”

Thinking she was crazy, I of course had to inhale.

Wow. BBQ, wafting in through the A/C vents. If this is only New Mexico, the whole south must smell like fried chicken.
This was really the best spot in the Painted Desert, but despite all my attempts, I couldn't capture all the vibrate colors.

About 100 miles later, my mom says,

“Mmmmmm, fresh coffee.”

Again, wanting the delicious smell, I inhaled deeply. Only to be met with the horrific, pungent smell of a dead skunk. To which I exclaimed,

“Skunk smells like coffee to you?!?!”

She inhales again. “Oh, well, it did at the beginning.”

No, it didn’t.

About 100 miles later, we were looking for a campground for the evening. The roadside sign has two choices:

A) Kampground of America (also, illiteracy of America)
B) Choice #2.

Now, there was much debate over what Choice #2 actually said. I saw “Happy Saddle RV Park.” Ok, maybe it’s equestrian themed.

My dad saw “Empty Space RV Park.” Maybe indicating they always have space for you.

My mom? She saw, “Happy Endings RV Park.” Well, without too much explaining on my part, I about died at the thought of a “Happy Endings” RV Park.

The truth? Empty Saddle RV Park – where we are currently watching an enchanting lightening show.

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Old wood.
Old wood.
Petrified wood.
Petrified wood.
Desert landscape, a bit cloudy (wh…
Desert landscape, a bit cloudy (w…
Painted Desert
Painted Desert
This was really the best spot in t…
This was really the best spot in …
Our ride.
Our ride.
Just before the lightening show!
Just before the lightening show!
Sunset in Tucumcari, New Mexico.
Sunset in Tucumcari, New Mexico.
photo by: eurowestgirl