Before setting off for the first day of my trip, I checked and rechecked my car and when everything was deemed in order, I backed out of the driveway at 8:30am. My end goal (and Airbnb reservation) was Santa Fe New Mexico. Google Maps said it was a 11 1/2 hour drive but as much as I stop and take photos I knew I was looking at closer to 13. The route I took went down I-35 south to Route 50 which turned into 56 around Dodge City. That took me through several giant wind farms and also the Cimarron National Grassland which is actually very photogenic in the evening.
I followed 56 through Oklahoma for a minute then into New Mexico just as the sun was setting.
Fortunately/unfortunately this sunset set me back around 30 minutes. The intensity and saturation were too much to just drive into. And since I was driving west at 70 MPH, I had the sunset for almost two hours. And then it got dark. Eastern New Mexico has very little light. As a matter of fact, the entire state doesn’t have much ambient night at light outside of Albuquerque.
Once I did get to Santa Fe though I found the house I would be staying at and met the owner Nancy. She was a friendly as her 60+ reviews on Airbnb said she was and the bed was incredibly comfortable. Just what a guy needs after driving 13 hours, with another 7 staring him down the next day. Nancy told me about a breakfast spot called Tia Sophia right on San Francisco St in the Plaza area of Santa Fe. I ordered the breakfast burrito that was the size of my head and it was outstanding. After 1/2 of that burrito and several cups of coffee, I headed down I-25 to connect with I-40 to cross the rest of New Mexico and get me into Arizona and my spot in the Grand Canyon.
The road across New Mexico into Arizona has some great views. So good that I stopped a couple of times to dig a little deeper to see what was off on the side roads. On my final excursion down one of these side roads, I parked in turn in area that was blocked by a fence. I wasn’t going in, but there just wasn’t anywhere else to pull off the road. After about two minutes and maybe three photos, I truck came and blocked me in. The gentleman got out, looked at my license plate and told me I was a long way from home. Hmmm, not what you want to hear. I explained that I was a photographer just taking some photos of the views that weren’t as visible from the highway. After going over this and him asking me other questions about what I was doing and why I was in this particular area, he told me it was Indian land and I needed to get off it. I kindly agreed, got in my car and as he backed up to let me out I resumed my trip to Williams Arizona (with only the three photos that didn’t turn out that great - see below).
After two more Dan Carlson Hardcore History podcasts, I’ve landed at the sparse cabin I am staying at for the first night, 30 miles south of the Grand Canyon entrance. I'll be leaving before sunrise to get some photos and find a good camping spot, drop my stuff off and explore. More to come as time and internet connections allow.