The ROYAL ROAD TRIP – Day One: The Meeting of Queenie and TheQueen

It’s so very wonderful to wake up by the river in New Mexico – with a good friend to help you get things together – and with the prospects of an as yet undefinable adventure doing laps in your head. Especially so as I think back about all this now, mired down in the worst summer of heat in the memory banks, and thinking how swell life would be, indeed, if one could wake up by a river most every morning. I might have to get working on that. Meantime, the tale of the road continues…….

In my experience, it’s almost always longer to get to anywhere than I think it will be, and so I found it a bit later than anticipated as I headed out to Albuquerque from Ruidoso, trading the mountains again for the exposed rocks and sands of the upper parts of the state. Oh so familiar roads, as usual, retraced again and again over previous years, but this time overriding the worn memories and headed for unknown highways.

There is another almost obligatory stop on Highway 360 in the very small burg of San Antonio before it runs into I-25. No, not The Owl Restaurant, (well, it is one – well known for its green chili cheeseburgers), at least not this early in the morning, but instead that little gas station that has the famous cherry cider, AND homemade fudge. How can one Queen dare go to meet another without bringing an offering of homemade fudge? There always seems to be one reason or two others to stop and buy fudge, and I do it almost every time I’m on this road, and this day was no exception. Gassed up and Fudged Up and back on the road, off I head down the highway to Big A – Albuquerque – to the airport and the destined meet up with TheQueen, who was by now long since in the air from California, headed east – for our adventure!

Since it was already later than we’d planned, I made the first move at actual voice contact. Remember now that we have only emailed, or corresponded via the Raul Malo forum, and never yet laid eyes on each other. And so there it was then – message left on her voice mail that I was minutes away – and soon the airport was in sight, and then my phone rang. Of course, it was TheQueen, and the ice was broken and we actually spoke for the first time. No problems – how COULD there be – she’d be waiting for me at the passenger pick-up lane. And now all of this was VERY real, for it certainly had all the makings of pure fiction (or Fantasy?) up till then. How many times had we asked each other, in the short span of time since this plan had been hatched: Are we really DOING this? Dang – evidently so, ‘cause I’m at the airport in Albuquerque, and fancy that.

Being unfamiliar with the lay of the airport, I missed the turn-in for that lane, but I buzzed by in the adjacent byway, and there she was, right over there, awaiting my arrival. I already knew what she looked like, having viewed many photographs in various places on the internet, but there wouldn’t have been much doubt. Just how many women do you see standing at the curb, looking expectant, decked out in a turquoise feather boa and a matching sequined tiara? Welcome to the New Normal.

I went around the loop again, doubled back and about, got myself in the right lane this time, and pulled up. Sister Queens, reunited again for the first time, friends already. But of course, TheQueen had immediate business to attend to, which was to reach into a bag and pull out another boa and tiara – MINE! – which happened to be, no surprise, purple. Oh, we were already a pair, just waiting for our kinship to begin in person. Before taking out to the wilds, first we had to stow away her suitcases and yet another load of chocolate delights that TheQueen had brought, along with what I’d packed, never mind the fudge.  Never has so much chocolate been brought for so few.  Chocolate for the masses now secure, off we went, into the wild, grey yonder.

I say grey, because we had to contend with yet another out of control wildfire. Los Alamos was burning, or at least was threatening to, as the fire was moving closer to it all the time. The horizon was cloaked in the yellow-grey mess of it, and we didn’t have our route planned yet, and might be driving really close. It being about lunchtime, I thought the first order of entertainment was to take her to lunch at Harry’s Roadhouse, up towards Santa Fe and one of my favorite haunts in the neighborhood, and then we’d figure it all out from there. It took a little driving and back and forthing and turning around a couple of times, (I was determined to find it, and finally it appeared), and there we were. Our first time to break bread on the road.

 

One cannot miss the opportunity for the Silly Grab Shot.  They are always around, and you have to grab the grin. Welcome to New Mexico. There was one I didn’t get years ago – Tawanda.  That was a classic, but no record of it – only in my memory.

 

Harry’s was, of course, packed for lunch, and many were waiting, and the prime choice of seating was out in the gardens. Supposedly little chance of getting a table out there, but where do you suppose Royalty in boas and tiaras get seated? In the garden, natch, with hollyhocks and blooming plants all around – totally lovely in every aspect.

 

And it had already begun – that being the interaction with most everyone we came in contact with. If you want positive attention, and conversation starters, and smiles from strangers, (especially women who “understand”), I suggest you travel about regaled in boas and tiaras. Works every time. We got Thumbs Up and Queenly Waves and the most delightful reactions. Were we Sisters? Well, yes, sort of. Was it our birthday? Why yes, every day! And when they heard we were on a Royal Road Trip, they were practically giddy. Us, too.

I don’t believe there is a bad meal at Harry’s, (not to mention the wonderful ambiance and fabulous art always on display), but we were both moved to order the same thing, (quel surprise), and a gorgeous plate was delivered to us: shrimp salad over a just divine grilled artichoke, bib lettuce, and olives and cucumbers. Major Yum. It was the perfect start to our adventure, and probably the best of our fancier meals, but we soon found out that food was to become one of the last concerns on our agendas, along with sleep! There was simply not enough time – already, and constantly.

 

Lunch having been deliciously accomplished, and having entertained many unsuspecting diners with our outfits, we pushed on. Back out into the parking lot, where yet another silly sign awaited discovery. If this is the state of things, I hope they got the guy who did the damage.

 

And so…. Onward! Shortly after meeting TheQueen, I inadvertently pontificated one of those quotes which managed to capture one of those themes that sometimes define my life.  At the time, it sounded somewhat profound, (however lame), but I suppose it has its merits: There’s no way to get to where I’m going without going to where I’ve already been. Not even any margaritas yet….maybe it was the altitude.  But, it was true – on several levels. But I shall spare you the details of dissecting such a statement, even thinking it might be some sort of universal truth regarding our personal truths.  This is supposed to be a fun read!

We decided our first direction would be along those familiar (to me, anyway – read previous paragraph) roads up past Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch, (the environs of one of my heroines Georgia O’Keeffe), heading to Colorado, at least vaguely towards Wyoming, and we’d see what the road held for us. The smoke was fairly miserable all in Santa Fe and further north. The big fear was that the fire would take Los Alamos and release all those nuclear toxins, but once the lab was spared, evidently the Native Americans in the path of the flames would be on their own. Cynical, I know, but this was related to us by those supposedly in the know about such things.  Once past the smoke, we were blissfully unaware of the “news,” for we never turned on one television or read a paper for the rest of the trip.  No wonder vacations are so healing, and magic and wonder so accessible.  Along with the smoke, the news is toxic.

 

We managed to get out of the smoke after a bit of driving, and before too long we were out of the red and orange rocks and coming into the high country, all green and grand and glorious. We decided that the quaint little mountain-hugging town of Chama would be our first stop of home away from home. Tourists were thick, (I had to remind myself about 47 times during the trip that this WAS 4th of July weekend, and something resembling the entirety of the human populace was on vacation – and the rest of the bunches around Chama were fleeing the fire), and we checked out the neighborhood before settling in at Spruce Lodge, our rustic stopping place for the night. Not fancy, but it would do. Ponygirl thought it was just fine, and so did we.

 

It had the added attraction of backing up to the river, and of course we had to check out the river and any accompanying river rocks that might need a new home. After I had sat close to the running waters, trying to release a stubborn candidate that proved to be full of attached river life and therefore ineligible, TheQueen pointed out to me that I had collected my first heart of the trip.  Fairly ridiculous, but a heart all the same, even if it had to be viewed upside down to be appreciated…..but I was NOT going to pose for THAT picture.

 

We had some fun putting ourselves together before our trek into town, trying out our Queenly poses and testing our tiaras. Was Chama ready for us? Were we ready for the High Country Saloon?

 

But before we could get away, TheQueen was entranced with the water droplets from the sprinkler. How wonderful that not everywhere is in severe drought, and people are actually allowed to water their grass and flowers, and it’s lush and green!  It all felt so good.

 

After proper maintenance and preparation, we headed out to the local watering hole and wondered what adventures we’d be scaring up. Turns out at the High Country Saloon (and attached restaurant – we were planning on dinner, after all), we didn’t scare anyone at all, but we sure amused a few cowboys. Not only did we sport boas and tiaras, but we came equipped with cameras, so we were “professionals” — well, professional somethings, but truly, we were treated with great respect, and a lot of fun ensued, all amongst proper Western memorabilia.

 

We requested margaritas, which were upgraded by the bartender to The Perfect Margarita, and I do believe it was the best one we had on the trip. We later, after a lot of interaction with the locals, sat ourselves down for dinner in the dining room, but one of the gentlemen that we talked to that night insisted that we join him for dinner – spaghetti and meatballs, home made – at his place just down the road.  Mr. Rey was indeed the perfect gentleman, just like that perfect margarita, and he was thrilled to entertain us Queenly types. He showed us around his place, and made special effort to point out his best collected rocks. He’d been a widower for years, and I guess we were something special to have in his home, and cook for, and show us pictures of his grandkids. He bestowed upon us our proper names in his language: La Renya and La Reynacita. We were honored. We didn’t stay long, for it had been one long day already, and there were many miles ahead, and already pictures to play with when we got back to our room. None of all the characters involved knew what a time we were going to have that night, but I have a very warm spot in my heart for Chama and the souls therein.

We found that the best way to have an adventure is to open your heart to it, and magic just walks in the door. So many have been envious of the life I lead, (believe me it’s not all pretty pictures and exciting roadtrips, like now when I’m battling my credit card processor…….), but I have to say it has its moments. Often I am asked, (by more “reasonable” persons):  Can you afford to do this?  And the most applicable answer is generally… No. But then, if I’m going to live this life righteously, in the way that I choose, and pursue my dreams and my art, then I have to answer:  But I can’t afford not to.  Otherwise there would have been no raft trips down the canyon, no tears of joy and wonder while exploring Antelope Canyon, and no magnificent Royal Road Trip with my new and always was Best Friend TheQueen. She said YES! And so did I. And here we were, on an adventure. Could we possibly have more fun? What do you think? And it was only the first day……

Cheers, Y’all!

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2 Responses to “The ROYAL ROAD TRIP – Day One: The Meeting of Queenie and TheQueen”

  1. Wow 😉 “And it was only the first day…”
    And a GRAND day it was, as is your written & shared recollection of it ! THANK YOU! It was truly wonderful just now to re-experience that entire first day, which for me includes ‘in between the lines’!
    Like being so tickled to find “MAMACITA’S PARKING ONLY” (re: another aka) and the looks on the faces as I posed for that photo!

    And me personally gifting unto you your very own copy of “In the Shadow of the Sphere” (by Thomas Youngholm), as it was actually that book which set this adventure in motion. I am looking forward to sharing this with Mr. Youngholm 🙂

    Yes, please…keep those creative juices flowing and the fingers limbered up—I’m excited to (re-experience) the second day!!

    Many Royal hugs to you!

  2. Wonderful read! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. I felt like I was there…Can’t wait for the next chapter. Oh, and I love the pictures, especially the one of TheQueen photographing the water droplets in the evening sun. Nice capture!

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