Raton, New Mexico
Today we made it to Cheyenne, Wyoming. It’s 9 p.m. and the dog, now satisfied that I will not try to leave her for the rest of the night, is asleep on the floor. The teenager is texting about boyish things, and I’m about ready to drop dead after 10 hours of driving. A vigorous exhaustion that not even a giant but weak margarita from the local hacienda grille has been able to extinguish.
As promised, here is at least one interesting thing from today’s travels: Raton (“little rat”) New Mexico.
This was my first visit to Little Rat, once an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail — a busy railroad, mining and ranching center. Before the city was established, Raton Pass had long been used by Spanish and Native Americans to cut through the Rocky Mountains. The picture above is Raton Peak, on the north end of town.
Behold, modern-day Downtown Raton.
I was hoping in the worst way that Joef’s (rhymes with loafs) was a hip tattoo parlor or at least a bar. But no. It was this.
A place where little-girl party dreams go to reinvent themselves.
We accomplished one of our two primary road trip objectives — finding good coffee — in Downtown Raton.
Contrary to the cheery Hawaiian print t-shirt and buoyant demeanor, she seemed unhappy and not exactly enchanted. But in her defense, I think I somehow gave her the impression that I was mentally challenged and/or deranged. I base this conclusion on the number of times she repeated in loud, carefully enunciated syllables, “WHEN YOU ADD CHO-CO-LATE TO COF-FEEE IT MAKES A MOH-KUH… MO-KUH”. This was in response to my inquiry about the Special Flavor of the Day (choc with cinnamon, vanilla, and chili… doesn’t that sound good?) and my misreading of choc for chai. MOH – KUH.
Sharing a space with Enchanted Grounds was a painter of Pet Rocks. Get it?
The painter was friendly and animated and happy to talk about her work. Interesting fact: people will not pay her for traditional paintings of their pets (which she also offers). But they will pay for paintings of their pets on rocks ($75 ea plus shipping). She didn’t know why. I’m guessing it’s because in this economy, people want to invest in multi-tasking artwork: a painting, a garden element, something you can hold in your lap or use to weight papers or stop a door. More bang for your buck.
Down by the railroad tracks was this gorgeously ambiguous building.
And finally, I could collect old neon signs. This one advertised a motel that looked neither opened nor closed — a black truck parked in front of a room, and a bar-b-que grill by the office, but no people. Like someone is now using it as a residence. Which is as creepy as an empty airport.
That’s it for tonite. We’ll drive 2 hours tomorrow and surprise Jessie at her new home in the morning. I hope she’ll be happy.