JJMRT Day 4: Fire in the Sky

Dai fooor.

Josh and I awoke and had a breakfast that was the same as the day before and quickly losing its charm. We had planned extensively last night, as is now usual, and had our rough itinerary for the day.

After breakfast we checked out of the hotel and took to the streets of Colorado Springs. Heather, our GPS guide (who we had for the first two days mistakenly called Karen; she wasn’t much pleased about that), led us again to Manitou Springs, where we found Miramont Castle.

It was certainly old and definitely cool looking, but we weren’t sure if we wanted to shell out the money for the tour of the insides until I read a review online that said something along the lines of, “I love architecture (and ghosts) and loved this tour. From the moment I climbed the stairs, I felt unwelcome in this spooky old mansion…” Needless to say, we were sold.

We paid the moneys and went through the house, which was built by a French priest for he and his mother and then eventually was maintained by some nuns as a sanitarium. This period, of course, was where the ghosts would come from, but for some reason the museum curators felt that the creepy stuff shouldn’t be focused upon. The tour was alright, creepy in places, and then it was over.

The plan was to go to the Ghost Town Museum, which we had hoped would be a step back into the wild west, as their ads so enthusiastically claimed. Unfortunately, reviews online told us much the same as the front of the museum led us to believe: all of it was indoors and it was really just a museum, not a time-traveling experience to the days of six shooters and gold panning.

So we scratched it off the list and drove up the incredibly windy and scenic road to Seven Falls. We’d been with our parents when we were both younger and I really only remembered feeding chipmunks, so I was delighted when we saw chipmunks running everywhere and stealing fallen fish food pellets.

We climbed the incredibly long staircase and then hiked a pretty long hike to get to the top, where they buried Helen Hunt Jackson. Practically no one else was up there and we felt really accomplished for having followed through. The hike reminded me of when I hiked Mt. Misen on Miyajima Island in Japan last summer. The difference was that the Colorado weather was a lot more hospitable than the humidity of Japan’s island, and the Seven Falls hike wasn’t practically straight up forever and ever.

Afterwards, we descended the incredibly long staircase and ate at the cafe at the bottom of Seven Falls. We perused the gift store, watched chipmunks stuff their cheeks, and then left. We drove by the Broadmoor Hotel, which is really more of a city than a hotel, and were quite impressed by how rich they obviously were. I’ve decided that anything is cooler given a set of mountains in the background.

Then we were on the road headed for Santa Fe. The drive was long but didn’t feel like it thanks to a constantly changing landscape around us. I looked up restaurants in Santa Fe on Josh’s phone and eventually had a huge list of things for us to do in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Then we played a new game that we should have been playing back in Kansas.

The game goes like this: name a city, then both participants guess what the population is. Whoever’s closest to the actual figure wins, and maybe they get a prize or something, but we didn’t because we were in a car driving a long distance. We played this game for quite some time, carrying it on at a slower pace once the mountains killed our 3G coverage and pushed us back to Godawfully slow Edge. Once we’d hit the big cities of America, we took it international. European cities are far larger than American cities, for the most part.

Then we were pretty close to Santa Fe, and Heather started telling us all kinds of madness. Josh’s car began crying because it was thirsty for more gasoline, our tummies were growling because we were both hungry and thirsty, and Santa Fe was hiding behind yet more hills.

And here comes the title for this entry. Josh noticed something lurking behind some of the Rockies and wondered if it was a duststorm, but it was far too large and sprawling for that. After we had rotated around it some, we realized it looked more like smoke from a fire, so after a quick search on the phone, I found that Northeastern Arizona had been battling forest fires for the better part of a week. And still it raged.

The smoke had created such a plume that stretched into the sky that it had virtually created its own oddly red-tinted cloud that tried its hardest to mingle with its mates, but never did it quite fit in. Even after entering Santa Fe some two hours after first noticing the smoke, we could still spot it.

It was fitting that another pastime during this drive was for me to look up Smokey the Bear and read a bulk of his Wikipedia page aloud to Josh. He was a real bear at one point, and his story is way more interesting than it should be. Seriously, go read it.

We also spotted a lot of signs for deer, but started to believe they wouldn’t really run onto the highway. Those beliefs were dashed once we spotted the bodies of two rather large and rather dead deer. For the next few miles I was paranoid about a deer charging in front of us, but, alas, one never dared to.

Both of us began to go crazy outside of Santa Fe. It was about five hours straight of driving – not a single stop – and it started to get to us. We said goofy things, sang goofy songs, and began to speak relative gibberish as if it were gospel. These are all things that the two of us somewhat regularly engage in, but this time it was like we couldn’t control it. These thoughts and words poured from us and our madness made them keep coming. The same thing happened after drive from Wichita to Denver, but back then we didn’t know the symptoms. Now we do and were able to diagnose our problem: Highway Madness.

Once in Santa Fe, we immediately headed for food. We pulled in at Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen and found that they served 180 margaritas and had literally written a book on them, with an intro by Robert Redford. I love how random the Redford part is. Maybe he really loves margaritas?

And so we ordered some margaritas, which I have little experience in, and got some blue corn enchiladas. The restaurant was pretty packed and had been there for over 60 years, so it was no surprise that the enchiladas were delicious.

Then we filled up on gas that was oddly way cheaper than anywhere else. Does New Mexico not have gas taxes? We headed for our hotel, which proved to be the nicest one yet, and saw our room, complete with a conference table, two leather office chairs, and a couch.

We left our stuff and headed for the downtown of Santa Fe, called The Plaza. It proved to be far livelier than the rest of the relatively small town (~75,000 pop.), and we began to wonder if everyone in the town wasn’t an artist. After walking the streets and looking at some shops, I’m pretty sure the criteria for saying something is New Mexican is as follows: if it is adobe, or is painted turqoise, purple, or yellow, then it is New Mexican.

I snagged a newspaper and we went back to the hotel to swim. Afterwards, while reading the newspaper, I was reminded of something I’d heard a few months ago: Santa Fe was recently ranked the 2nd Gayest Town in America. Minneapolis is 1st, with poor San Francisco down the list a ways. Fittingly enough, the whole newspaper I’d snagged dealt with gay things, though it itself was not a specifically gay paper. Basically, Santa Feans are gay artists. With mountains in the distance.

Josh has just notified me that caterpillars liquify themselves inside their cocoons before turning into butterflies.


~ by Jonathan Forisha on June 24, 2011.

One Response to “JJMRT Day 4: Fire in the Sky”

  1. Man, wish I was there – especially at the Margarita place.

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