Rio Grande

My First Road Trip


Welcome back. I hope you enjoy reading about my first road trip with my new parents. It has been a little over a year since I’ve been in my forever home, and everything is going great. I love my new parents even though they tend to gush over me sometimes.

In August, we left the Texas heat behind and I went on my first road trip. When my parents loaded me into my 4Runner, I expected to go to the park, maybe Starbuck’s, or lunch at an outdoor café, but something was different about this trip. They had spent a day packing my SUV, and that seemed odd. The last long drive I had been on was when Grandma Jane rescued me in Madisonville, Texas, and drove me to her home. I thought she planned to keep me, but four days later she put me in her SUV and drove me to my forever home.

Are we there yet?

Back to the road trip. I was getting worried when we rode for a really long time and it didn’t look like they planned to stop anywhere. Then I saw a sign for a town called Decatur. I had never been in this part of Texas and I felt a bit nervous, especially after they pulled into a rest stop. But my dad patted me on the head and my mom filled my water bowl, while I hopped out to sniff the freshly mowed grass and to leave a few scents of my own.

A short time later, I jumped back into the hatch of my 4Runner, and off we went to continue our journey—and a very long one it would be. I dozed as mile after mile of grasslands, cotton fields, and milo flitted past the windows. Along the way, we took a few more potty breaks, and every time they put me back in my 4Runner and we kept going. By now, I had come to the conclusion that they didn’t plan to leave me anywhere, so I was feeling pretty good when we filled our gas tank at Clines Corners and Mom sped up on US-285 toward Santa Fe.

Mom loves this stretch of highway, and I could see why. I sat up to take in the view—a sea of green dotted with cholla cacti, and on the horizon the landscape butted to an orange mesa, the flattop scraping a turquoise sky. No wonder Mom surrounds herself with coral-colored and teal-colored stuff. Must remind her of New Mexico. “It has been a wet winter,” said my dad, which was why the trees were so green.

Just beyond the subdivision of El Dorado, Mom jetted up the on-ramp to I-25, and we motored up the freeway to the St. Francis Drive exit. We cruised through Santa Fe, blew by the Opera House, and began our ascent toward Española, headed north on NM-68. Leaving Velarde, we entered a narrow canyon with a two-lane road—the mountains to our right and the fast-moving waters of the Rio Grande River to our left. “Good snows and rains this year,” said my dad.

“Horseshoe coming up,” Mom alerted us as we climbed and climbed, then dropped into a wide U-shaped canyon and almost immediately crested the rise for a breathtaking view of the Taos Plateau and the Rio Grande Gorge. I stuck my nose to the open window and sniffed the dry air. I wanted to hang my entire head out the window, but they wouldn’t let me. Ten minutes later, road weary and hungry for dinner, Mom parked in the garage and the unpacking began. But they fed me first.

Dusk fell, and soon darkness enveloped the house. In the distance, I heard a strange yelping. “Coyotes,” said Dad. But I was too tired to care, more interested in curling up on the sofa, and wondering what tomorrow would bring. More adventures, I hoped.

I was a big hit in Taos on my first visit. Almost every day, Mom and Dad took me to the plaza to walk around or to the local park. People of all ages stopped to pet or hug me, and I socialized with other dogs. I even ate at restaurants with Mom and Dad. Everyone commented on how well behaved I was, so I guess they were happy to have me there. They always gave me fresh water and treats. And when we showed up for a table at our favorite eatery, they made sure we had a big one, giving me plenty of room to stretch out without anyone stepping over me.I sure am looking forward to my next Taos visit.

Next time I post, and I’m not sure when that will be, I’ll write about my second road trip. But for now, we plan to take a break from posting and will be back soon with a new series starting with Pat’s Canadian rail-train trip. Sounds like fun, so watch for updates on her website and on Facebook and Twitter.



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New Mexico Book Settings: Albuquerque

Gadgets was set primary in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. This blog post showcases Albuquerque Old Town. 

Spanish explorers first arrived in Albuquerque in 1540 under the leadership of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, but it wasn’t until 1706 that King Philip of Spain gave permission to establish a villa (city) on the banks of the Rio Grande. The colonists chose a spot near the great river, which provided irrigation for their crops and wood from the bosque. Then-governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdés named the newly established villa in honor of the Duke of Alburquerque in Spain. Over the centuries, the first r was dropped from the city’s name.

Being religious people, the Spanish settlers immediately erected an adobe chapel, the anchor of the plaza in Albuquerque’s Old Town. Surrounding the chapel were adobe homes, clustered close together for protection. Due to unseasonably heavy rains, the chapel collapsed in 1792 and was rebuilt, enlarged, and remodeled several times over the years, and today, San Felipe de Neri Church stands in this location. This is the church Paco and Bullet visited in Gadgets.

In 1979, I attended my first Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Up at 3:00 a.m., I layered on clothes, packed my camera gear into a day pack, and got an early start on the traffic and crowds of fiesta-goers. Shivering in the predawn, I snuggled into my turtleneck and drew my hoodie tighter around my head before I scarfed down a breakfast burrito and polished it off with hot coffee. Minutes before Dawn Patrol, I slung my new Nikon over my shoulder, hoisted the day pack on my back, and roamed the launch field, snapping, rewinding, snapping, and rewinding, rapping off one frame after another. I made a note to equip my Nikon with an autowind motor drive. But at that time my attention was on the sky and mass ascension.

Flashback to 1972, when the fiesta started as a gathering of thirteen balloons and twenty thousand spectators in the parking lot of the Coronado Shopping Center. It has since mushroomed into the largest hot air balloon event in the world. At this year’s forty-fifth annual fiesta, six hundred balloons will paint the turquoise New Mexico sky a kaleidoscope of colors. To accommodate the tens of thousands of guests, balloonists, and balloons, the nine-day fiesta is now held at a permanent site called Balloon Fiesta Park.

Stuck in traffic as I left the fairgrounds, I knew it wouldn’t be my last fiesta, and who knows, maybe I would top the five hundred photos I had taken that day. In Gadgets the reader can see the event through Darcy’s eyes. To learn more about the fiesta–http://www.balloonfiesta.com.

And for the artist in all of us, I thought you might enjoy these photos taken during my jaunt through Old Town. Note the bright colors in the courtyard of the photo of the doorway.

An excerpt from Gadgets 

Darcy parked her 4Runner in a visitor’s spot and doublechecked the address Randolph had given her. The right address, so she climbed out, pleased by the modern design of the building, from the pink granite to the expanses of turquoise glass banded by chrome to the purple pipe railings on the wraparound balconies. A far cry from the original Colton Aerospace, once housed in an old warehouse in a rundown section of town near the airport.

The building and location for Colton Aerospace was inspired by Sun Healthcare Corporation Campus in Albuquerque’s Journal Center. These photos are from the architect’s website. The campus was designed by FBT Architects and has panoramic views of the Sandia Mountains. https://fbtarch.com/

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