Below you will find the first entry from my Southwestern Road Trip travelog:

Travel Journal Day One: 7-30-2003

Began the great southwestern trek in the first rain Oklahoma has seen in almost a month. I left town later than expected so I was forced to take the not so scenic I-40 from Oklahoma City to Amarillo. However, even this drive had a vast variety of charms. I had forgotten the beauty of Western Oklahoma with its rolling hills and lush farms. I had also forgotten the enormous change that takes place almost immediately after crossing the Texas border when the land opens up, the hills disappear and there is nothing but golden grasses for as far as the eye can see. While this is not very astounding while on the interstate, the moment I dropped off onto the scenic highway 60, the effect was truly wonderful.

But nothing in the Texas panhandle prepares you for the majestic solitude of New Mexico. Hwy. 60 takes you into New Mexico via Clovis which is admittedly, not very scenic. However, if you are a military aircraft buff, its proximity to Cannon Air Force Base gives you some spectacular views of fighters performing maneuvers. Continuing west, the land quickly beings to change into the desert landscapes where the imagination runs wild with visions of gunfighters on main street and dusty cowboys herding cattle. All of this imagery is perfectly suited for the high touristy site of Billy the Kid’s grave which you hit in Fort Sumner. About 20 miles outside, you run into the modern ghost town of Yaso where I got some wonderfully melancholy pictures.

Just outside of Yaso, the rain began to pour, a real frog strangler to be sure. But the storm was short lived and soon the air was fragrant with the smell of dust, pinion and sage brush, one of the best smells in the entire world. Soon the mountains began to appear, the car started to slightly strain and the temperatures dropped. I had dinner in Mountainair at the Shaffer Hotel beautifully decorated in southwestern colors and covered with swastika. Darn that Hitler for stealing such a striking symbol. However, the irony of listening to “Take the Skinheads Bowling” by Camper van Beethoven while pulling up was enough to keep my chuckling for some time.

I am camping tonight in the Cibola National Forest high in the Los Pintos Mountains. I’m the only one here and the silence is deafening. But my sleep should be wonderful, so I will be wonderfully prepared for the adventures tomorrow.

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