This road trip was epic for several reasons, one of which was the multiple places and things we managed to pack into the trip. We ended up all the way down in New Mexico, at White Sands National Monument. Devon had planned one of the most epic trips I had ever heard of, let alone embarked on. A few years prior she had been on tour and had visited the same cities, but hadn’t found the time to visit any of the sights. She told herself she would return one day and make it right.
We ran into some interesting individuals on this trip, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jessie. We had found ourselves a tad bit lost in Navajo country in New Mexico and we were trying to find a direct way down to White Sands, since the 3 year old map showed us the highway was completed in this section. Yet, there we were, staring at an empty construction zone where the road should have been. Pulling off of the highway and into a church parking lot in Kirtland, it had begun to rain, when we noticed a sweet looking little old lady. She looked to be waiting for a ride. She saw us looking at a map, and came over to offer some help. We ended up driving her around hell’s half acre, trying to find her town which was so small; it didn’t even register on the map or our GPS. Driving along what felt like a rural back road, we passed the colossal Shiprock to which Jessie filled our heads with fascinating tales of the rock and the town itself. Eventually, we find this tiny sign identifying her town of Beclabito and we dropped her off at the gas station. We attempted to take video of her walking away, but upon review of said video, she wasn’t there. She had simply vanished. Now, say what you will, but the Navajo are sacred in these parts and I believe that their spirits are protected from such technological intrusions.
After this four hour detour through Arizona which included a surprise stop at Canyon de Chelly in Chinle, AZ, we finally find ourselves back on a main road and in the right direction. We ran into a few more hiccups along the way, one of which was the annual Native Festival in Window Rock, AZ. This was a major event, with the entire town and highway at a complete stand still. With a storm moving in, we did our best to make our way through the zig zag parking lot that was the highway and on to our intended first destination, White Sands National Monument. Just outside the city of Alamogordo, NM lives one of the most beautiful natural features I have ever seen. A large portion of White Sands is a military zone for testing missiles and such, so it’s off limits to civilians. You’ll know you’ve gone the wrong way when a giant Humvee with a 50 calibre gun mounted on the rear and a few MP’s come roaring in your general direction with a warning to turn around and leave at once.
Since Devon had been here once before, she knew where to drive and soon we were parked in the designated area and wandering about the gleaming white sand in all directions. The shear size of the monument is incredible. There is sand as far as the eye can see. It had rained the previous night (part of that aforementioned storm) and there was a slight crust on top of the sand. Once I broke through that, I found that the sand was the consistency of natural brown sugar. Devon and I had brought along a skim board with the expressed intent to surf down the sand dunes. With the crust on top of the sand, this was incredibly difficult. After having dragged the board through the sand to create a rut to follow, we had no trouble sliding down the massive dunes. We even took videos and roared with laughter the whole time. After taking some pictures and sitting down to take it all in, it was time to move on to the next town. It just so happens that this would turn out to be Albuquerque.
Arriving in Albuquerque was something of an out-of-body experience for me. I had heard of this city since Bugs Bunny told me he kept taking the wrong turn there when I was a child. If you’ve never been there, you must make it a priority in your next road trip adventures. The city is divided into two distinct sections; Old Albuquerque and New Albuquerque. We spent our time in Old Albuquerque. Driving along the world famous, historic Route 66, I took pictures of all of the magnificent neon signs. Looking around the area it’s as if this was supposed to be the original Vegas. Finding ourselves a bit peckish, we looked for somewhere to grab some good eats. Devon tells me of the awesome dive where she enjoyed the greatest burrito. When she shows me the restaurant, I gasp and tell her it’s not a dive, its world famous, The Frontier Restaurant. Elvis Presley loved the food there so much that he had his personal jet, the Lisa Marie, fuelled up and sent there in the middle of the night for their burritos. We each order ‘the frontier’ burrito, their signature dish. The portion is massive and the taste is out of this world. The kitschy decor is not lost on me. There are Navajo rugs adorning the walls and ceilings, with large murals of ‘the Duke’ and Elvis. Once full from the best burrito either of us have ever enjoyed, it’s time to move on. We’re now making our way back into Utah, and onto Arches National Park.
We first must stop at the Four Corners monument. This is the only place in the continental U.S. where four states have four corners converging. After driving for seemingly an eternity, we arrive in Four Corners near 10pm. The monument is closed for the night and it’s far to dark to get a decent photo. At least we can say we were there, right? We entered Utah in the lower southeast corner of the state and start making our way up to Moab. This is a slow drive at night, since you have no way of knowing if deer or elk are going to jump out in front of your car. We make it as far as the Hole N The Rock rest area, just a few miles south of Moab. Until the morning, we had no idea that we were sleeping beneath a hole in a rock formation… or the historic 5,000 sq. foot home built in the rock itself.