Musings & Meditations

Yesterday’s Gone

Posted in Travel by Pam Keesey on May 26, 2008

Day 3: Photostream
I finally got to meet my hosts at the Blue Swallow Motel on Monday morning when I prepared to check out. Terri and Bill bought the motel, originally built in 1939, several years ago and restored every inch of it with love and care. Every Memorial Day weekend for the last several years, a group of bikers have come from Louisiana to spend the holiday at the Blue Swallow. As it turns out, I missed the biker wedding the night before. The celebratory nature of the evening carried over into the morning. One of the bikers came into the office as I was checking out to get his morning coffee, and shared tales of the wedding and showed me the dance a six-year-old girl taught him the night before. Everyone bemoaned the fact that I had missed the celebration and wished me well on my journey.

As I headed out of town, I took a few quick snapshots of classic Route 66 signs — although I missed La Cita — and then headed back toward Santa Rosa.

Route 66 passes right through the middle of Santa Rosa, and I decided to drive the length of it before turning back and checking out my detour of choice for the day, Puerto de Luna, a small town just south of Santa Rosa that is also one of northeast New Mexico’s oldest permanent settlements, the landscape and culture of which is beautifully documented in Rodolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima.

On my way back from I-40, I took the exit back to Route 66 and toward Puerto de Luna, with a speed limit dropping quickly from 75 to 35 on a downhill stretch. Despite my drop in speed, I was pulled over by New Mexico’s finest for going 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. He was surprisingly accommodating, however, and gave me a written warning, a map of New Mexico, and directions to Puerto de Luna.

Puerto do Luna, while certainly quite old, wasn’t quite the mission town I was expecting. Puerto de Luna — Gateway of the Moon — is located in the middle of beautiful, deep red terrain. Founded in the 1860s, the town is still populated, with several ranches around the area, and Santa Rosa only 12 miles away.

Heading back into Santa Rosa, I stopped at the ruins of an old chapel and cemetery, Saint Rose of Lima. A lovely place, the cemetery seems to still be used on occasion, with at least one headstone with a date as recent as 2003. Along with these newer graves were much smaller, older, and long-forgotten and neglected graves.

After some time spent at Santa Rosa de Lima, I went off in search of the Blue Hole, a natural spring so deep that it brings scuba divers from all around. With a diameter of 60 feet, and a depth of 81 feet, the water is invitingly blue, although I’m not sure I’d want to go scuba diving in such a narrow and, I’m guessing, winding pass.

From Santa Rosa, I headed north toward Las Vegas, following the pre-1937 section of Route 66 that passes through New Mexico. This alignment is also a part of historical Santa Fe Trail. I followed the trail through Las Vegas and into Pecos, although a fork in the road led me along an alternate path. While it didn’t take long for me to figure out that I needed to backtrack and get back onto old Route 66, I stumbled upon another church and cemetery, the name of which I don’t know. But the American and P.O.W. flags remind me that it is, in fact, Memorial Day, and I take a few minutes to stop and think about the day and its meaning. If I had more time, I would have spent more time in Pecos itself, but soon I was off to Santa Fe.

I stopped at Blake’s — New Mexico’s favorite — for a green chili cheeseburger, fries, and a vanilla shake before walking up to the Cross of the Martyrs, from which there was a beautiful view of the city.

From Santa Fe, I head south toward Albuquerque, following the Route 66 alignments wherever I could. Passing through Bernillo, I wished I was hungry enough to stop at the Indian taco stand out in front of a family home, with the entire family attending to the children running the stand.

Once in Albuquerque, I wound my way around, following signs toward Petroglyph National Monument. I was surprised to discover that Petroglyph National Monument is nestled in what is essentially the Albuquerque suburbs. What is extraordinary is how many petroglyphs there are in such a small geographic space. Truly amazing, and I’m glad I made it in time to see what I saw.

In making my way back to I-40, I followed Central Avenue, old Route 66 now a cruising strip through downtown Albuquerque. It would have been fun to park and walk up and down the strip, but I’ve miles to go yet, as I have reservations in Tucson, and many, many more miles to drive before I get to my destination.

I headed south on I-25 toward Truth or Consequences. If I had started earlier, drove faster, or stopped less, I might have made time to go to one of the spas that Truth or Consequences was once known for. Originally called Hot Springs, the town named itself after the radio show in 1950 when the host promised to do the show from the first town to name itself after the show. Show host Ralph Edwards visited Truth or Consequences (know by the locals as T or R) for the next 50 years for their annual “Fiesta.”

Passing through just long enough to get a feel for the place, I continued on to Hatch which, I was told, is the chili capitol of the U.S. Seemed like a good place to stop for dinner, except that when I got there around 8 p.m., everything was closed and all of the street lights turned off. Apparently they close up shop early in Hatch.

From Hatch it was a long, straight shot to Tucson, where I stopped for the night at a Motel 6. The key reader didn’t work, and security had to let me in, but I finally settled in for the night, more tired than I’d been in quite some time, and finally ready to sleep.

As it happened the night before, it was that long stretch of dark highway that had me most reflective. Again, it was the radio that helped trigger certain thoughts and revelations. I’d noticed — and not for the first time — that certain songs were played over and over again on the radio. Usually it’s the popular tunes, old favorites and new fads. But today, I heard one song in particular several times over and from several different stations: Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.”

Don’t stop, indeed. I know I can’t hang onto yesterday, that nothing will bring it, or Jenny, back. I also can’t stop believing that tomorrow has something in store for me. Better than before? It could very well be. In knowing only too well how short life can be, I know I need to shed the old habits, patterns, and behaviors that are no longer serving me, and live my life in joy, laughter, and compassion, in short, the way Jenny lived her own life, as brief as it was.

Song of the Day: “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.
Don’t stop, it will soon be here.
It’ll be here, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Highways & Byways
Day 1: Friends, Family, and the Open Road (Photostream)
Day 2: Getting My Kicks (Photostream)
Day 4: Communing (Photostream)

My Route 66 @ Flickr.com

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