Route 66 :: June '97 -- October '97

Subject: Santa Fe
Date: Sun, 21 Sep 1997 09:25:23 -0700

08:40 Hyde State Park; Santa Fe, New Mexico :: 21 SEP 97

On Friday we barely survived one of those traveler's nightmares. Lost in Santa Fe's narrow canyon street maze after sunset, we must have frustrated several drivers. "Why don't you get a smaller car!" we heard shouted from a passenger window passing us. Before long, our forward progress blocked and no room to turn about, we were backing down a curvy road well after dark, drawing numerous spectators but just one offer of aid. With the trailer finally headed back downhill, some kind souls lead us out of the hills and pointed up the right path for our 1,800 foot climb to the State Park.

Frustrated and unable to see the campsite pad, the engine hot from the ascent and extreme elevation--nearly 9,000 ft. above sea level--coolant and tempers boiled before managing to park the trailer correctly. Then came the rain and we called it a night, microwaved potatoes and spaghetti sauce for dinner, and slept fitfully in sloping beds.

In the morning, an ominous rattle issued intermittently from the engine. In the course of chasing around Santa Fe for a mechanic's opinion--on a Saturday, of course--the rattle disappeared. When we found one, and described the condition and circumstances, the mechanic conjectured a connecting rod bearing about to go. That means, if he's right, one of three options: rebuilt engine; new engine; new truck. Being on the road compounds the unfriendliness of all three.

The rattle has not come back. We're hoping it won't. Until it does, that's all we can do. But the possibility hangs over us like the thick clouds that have threatened rain for the last 36 hours, and often followed through on the threat.

Not the best conditions for a visit to Santa Fe, the pretty little cluster of adobe-look buildings at the base of the mountains. We've managed a couple pleasant dinners in town. A film, a wild thriller titled "The Game," provided an escape and, because it featured someone having a much worse time of it than I, soothed the 'why me?' feelings.

We're pulling out of Santa Fe today, two nights and a day later. It's raining still. Hopefully, the weather will improve alongside my spirits.

Every long journey includes these moments. Self-doubt, seemingly impossible obstacles. You push through them and soon enough, if you don't dwell on the negative, you get past them just like you get past the ugly stretches of commercial strips along the highway, the surly waitress, the rotted section of highway. You push through and look for the next wonder. Soon enough, it'll come.

~~~ Responses Sought ~~~
The Mexicans were weak and fed. They could not resist, because they wanted nothing in the world as frantically as the Americans wanted land.

  graphical element John Steinbeck,
on American expansion into California,
then still part of Mexico.
The Grapes of Wrath