Ganging Aft Agley

I Seem to Have Miscalculated...

I Seem to Have Miscalculated…

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled “From Chile Peppers to High Mountain Passes” in which I proposed  flying into El Paso, renting a car, driving in a more or less straight line without having to double back, and delivering the rental car in another city, say Denver or Salt Lake City.

But funny things happen when one doesn’t think things through. Can you imagine all the rental cars from an agency in Peoria disappearing down south and suddenly showing up in Miami or Houston or Chattanooga? How would the agency get the cars back? Would they ship them by rail or UPS or even truck? The cost would be prohibitive.

And the cost was prohibitive. Both Hertz and Enterprise would have charged an additional fee of over $1,500 for delivering the car to another city.

I immediately scrapped the idea and resolved instead to fly in and out of Albuquerque. To avoid doubling back, I would take a series of loops: For instance, I would drive to Chama to take the Cumbres & Tolec Railroad, Durango, Colorado, to take the Durango & Silverton, and return via Gallup and New Mexico Route 53 to see the El Morro National Monument, and on I-40, Acoma Pueblo, or “Sky City” on the way back to home base.

A second loop would take us south of Albuquerque to see Roswell, Capitan, and Alamagordo, with its great space museum.

The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley, or something like that.

From Chile Peppers to High Mountain Passes

A Stretch of the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado

A Stretch of the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado

Is it too early to start planning my next vacation? Not at all—especially since Martine agreed to come with me this time, but only if I limited it to two weeks. “I could do this,” I thought. Some years ago, we traveled through Arizona, New Mexico, and bits of Utah and Colorado. I thought we could take a shorter version, timewise, at least.

I thought we could fly into El Paso, rent a car, and drive north to Alamogordo with its space museum and Capitan, a village dedicated to its most famous resident, Smokey Bear. There we will stay at the Smoky Bear Motel, dine at the Smokey Bear Restaurant, and certainly visit the Smokey Bear Museum. (Martine loves Smokey Bear.)

Then it’s north to Albuquerque, where we’ll stay for several days and maybe take side trips to Acoma, one of the two oldest continuously inhabited places in North America (the other is Old Oraibi on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona) and El Morro National Monument. Perhaps we will also re-visit the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in nearby Ramah. And while in Albuquerque, I will drink deep of the smoldering juices of red and green chiles—the best in the world.

From Albuquerque, we head north to Chimayo to visit its famous Sanctuary and on to Chama. Thereupon, we will take a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, which runs between Chama, NM and Antonito, CO. Next on the roster will be a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Yes, I am a railroad fanatic

From Silverton we drive north on one of the most dangerous stretches of roadway in the United States, the Million Dollar Highway to Ouray, CO.

Finally, we’ll make our way to Denver, from where we fly back to Los Angeles.

One of the nice things about so-called “open jaws” flights is that you do not have to spend any time backtracking. Originally, I thought of flying to and from Albuquerque, a city I dearly love; but half the time we would be backtracking from side trips. This way, it’s all on a more or less straight line from El Paso to Denver.

“What about White Sands, Santa Fe, Chaco Canyon, Taos, and Mesa Verde?” you might ask. Martine and I have been there, and we are concentrating on places we haven’t visited.