Sunday, April 15, 2007

my trip west

I've been in Santa Fe for about three days and am loving it. The drive was amazing, and I have to pronounce my navigational and travelling genius here, as I had planned that 4-day, cross-country trip with an estimated arrival set at Thursday between 4 and 5. So of course, I exited the interstate into Santa Fe at exactly 4:30 on Thursday. I will soon go into more detail about life these past few days, including my new job, but first I'm going to talk about the drive here, which as I've said, was one awesome experience. Since I'm lazy and running late for some plans, I'm going to copy and paste an email I sent to a friend from a hotel in Oklahoma City, as is says exactly what I'd write here anyway.

This talks about my trip (briefly, with much summary) from West Palm to Oklahoma City:

I write this from my home for the night, a hotel in Oklahoma City. This is the end of day three on the road, and by this time tomorrow, I will be in Santa Fe, getting acquainted with my new roommates! It's been a fabulous drive, with drastically changing scenery from moment to moment. I can't say which has been my favorite day yet, as they have all been exciting for their own reasons. Driving along the Gulf Coast, from Pensacola through Mobile, Biloxi, and Baton Rouge, and then up through the marshy farms of Louisiana yesterday was great fun, especially as it allowed me to indulge my romanticized notion of the deep south, which I've inherited from my love of the region's literary tradition. I loved today as well, because I got to see east Texas--gorgeous rolling hills and lush vegetation (not what I expected for some reason) then pass through Dallas (enormous city!) and head up into southern Oklahoma state. Southern Oklahoma was surprisingly pretty. Several times, I stopped along the side of the highway so I could stare without running the risk of crashing my car. The land is so pristine, so untouched and natural! Enormous skies with endless green beneath. I once read where an author described the northern plains as looking like the sky yawned and forgot to close its mouth. This isn't the northern plains, but I can't stop making that same comparison. Though, the further north I got and the closer to Oklahoma City I drove, the more the landscape already started to change: slightly higher elevation, less moisture, etc. I turn west tomorrow, heading west on I-40 straight across western OK, across the Texas panhandle, and into northern New Mexico, so I anticipate even more drastic changes in the vegetation and topography. I can't wait! It's so exciting that one can sit in a car for mere hours and see such variety! And as ever, my Murphy is the world's greatest traveling companion. As far as pets go. He enjoys the trip quietly from the backseat, napping often, and periodically resting his chin on the left side of my seat so he can feel the breeze on his face from my open window. I love him.

And then this is about the subsequent part of the drive, from OK City to Santa Fe:

My night in OK City was relaxing, though I can't understand why they consider themselves to be a southwestern city. They are sorta south and then right in the central part of the country. I felt like I was back in the midwest, which I must admit, was nice for the day. But moving on the next morning was exciting. The drive across western Oklahoma was just as scenic as the drive north through the southern part of the state...refreshing and open and beautiful. The landscape continued to become more dry and higher in elevation, with slightly less green the further west I drove. I stopped in Clinton, OK, to see the Route 66 Museum, which was SO COOL! Took lots of pics there and then like a hypocrite, exited Route 66 and got back on the interstate. (Hey, if I'd had the time and money to stretch this into a multi-week trip, I'd have taken the old highway the entire route, but ...). I crossed back into Texas at the panhandle and almost wept the entire leg of that drive. I never expected the beauty I encountered there, and it probably ended up taking twice as long as it should have because I stopped at several rest stops and scenic overlooks, so I could gasp and take pictures and memorize the views. And I almost wept again when I crossed the New Mexico state line. Ok, not really. But I was super excited and was cheering myself on (much to Murphy's confusion). That last day from OKC to Santa Fe was almost constant uphill driving. Santa Fe is at 7,000 feet, so I was on a slight but steady incline all day. And now that I'm here, I'm surrounded by mountains and high desert.

Well, that's the drive in a tiny little nutshell. But I have more details and tons of pics to post, as well as some rambling about the whirlwind that has been these past few days here. But I'm meeting a new friend for lunch in a minute. More later...


At April 15, 2007 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your drive sounds amazing, it is a beautiful part of the country.

A few questions:
What kind of car do you have?! Sounds like you have driven everywhere and is still kicking! Just curious of the milage and if you have had any problems. i know weird question but it just came to my mind.

Also where and how do you meet new friends so quickly? Maybe I'm just not as outgoing but you have been there for what 2 days and already meeting somebody for lunch? well anyway good for you and looking forward to your updates.

At April 15, 2007 8:43 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Funny, but practical questions. My car is nothing fancy, just a 2001 Ford Escort. Yes, I have driven this thing all over. Countless trips from St. Louis to Cincinnati and Lexington, KY these past six years as well as the trip to Florida and this most recent drive. Not to mention the day-to-day driving. I'm reluctant to praise it too much, as in my experience, the moment a driver feels too secure with a car, the car gods somehow take vengeance and create some hideous and expensive malfunction. ;) But I will say that I honestly believe in simplicity when it comes to cars. Mine is as basic a car as it could be, which I can only assume means there are fewer potential malfunctions. Small, simple, and fuel-efficient. The way to go.

Who knows. I just know that I'm glad it got me here!

And to answer your other question: I don't make friends that easily, though I'm good at making it look that way. I went out to lunch today with an awesome new co-worker. We had a great time. Everyone I meet here is so friendly and welcoming. It's pretty amazing, actually. I don't think I've met one person yet who is actually from here; most people moved from other places, just like I did. So I guess people are so friendly because they've all been new to town at some point and can relate to being in that position.

Thanks for your encouragement!


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