After coffee and relaxing, we went and got Steve, and first dropped by his church, which was right by his house. It's a liberal Lutheran church (yes, there is such a thing). Nearly all the current staff are gay or lesbian, even! They had recently renovated the sanctuary area, and wow, this was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places of worship I have ever been in.
After chatting with their interim minister (we aren't the only ones going through changes) we then took the ole Malibu all over southern New Mexico. It is quite desert-y but beautiful in its own way. There are so many different mountain ranges to look at, and so many different terrains, all with their own fauna. The first place we drove to was Rockhound State Park, where Steve had never been before. It is a neat place that apparently has a lot of geodes and semi-precious stones. I found a bit of jasper and some rocks with quartz crystals in them. Mostly we enjoyed the views, though. You really could see a long way.
|Really nice adobe welcome center for Rockhound State Park|
We also were SEEN a lot. We were near the Mexican border, so there was this eerie spy blimp in the sky watching us. Well, it was probably more interested in other people. And there were helicopters and people on horseback, too. Wow. Those scofflaws better watch out! We fled the rocks and found the town of Deming, where Steve had been before to do some gay rodeo stuff (Guy is a cowboy and has won lots of trophies and even a fancy saddle).
We took a chance on a Mexican restaurant we saw. BEST GAMBLE EVER!! I do declare I ate the best Mexican food on earth at this poorly decorated totally unpretentious place. It had random cowboy, Native American and Mexican stuff on the walls, clear plastic over the table cloths, and an incredibly friendly server. AND a dish of grilled chicken over sautéed onions, with strips of grilled green chiles on the chicken, covered with cheese. OMG. I want to cook that every day. Plus the refried beans were freshly made and nice and chunky, seasoned wonderfully. THEN the danged guacamole was by far the best I EVER ate. It was very fresh and chunky, and to me tasted like it had only lime, garlic and black pepper in it. So delicious. I want to try to reproduce that, too. The server said that was the only recipe the cook would not share. Secret recipe!
Oh yes, they also had local wine that was very interesting—I wish I had the chance to get more of the NM wine, which was not bad at all.
We did stop eating at last and moved on to another scenic area, perhaps the most beautiful of the trip. But first, we drove a long way through some scrub. There we visited and then re-visited Highway 61! No Bob Dylan in sight.
|Yes, as a matter of fact, we ARE in the middle of nowhere.|
We drove through the mountains and the Gila National Forest. Once we turned off to the other highway, up and up we went, and the scrubby desert was quickly replaced by small trees, and then by BIG trees, huge even. A wonderful variety of pines and hardwoods. Wow, it was wonderful. And there was even water in the streams! This was just a magical drive, and I was so entranced that I really didn't take many pictures. The ones I did get were spectacular, at least to me!
|I hate it when all the good views directly face the sun.|
|Sotol, the coolest member of the lily family.|
|I loved the bright colors of the lichen.|
|Oh my. We are WAY up in the sky here. It's like you can see the whole world. Photos never do vistas like this justice!|
|One of the huge pines in the forest. There were all sorts of trees, some very large. Just a few miles from the Highway 61 sign. Impressive.|
Sure am glad we decided to take the long way back, even though it meant Steve barely made it to his appointment that evening.
|One reason we cut it a bit close getting Steve back home. There were cattle in some really weird spots on these mountains. I didn't know they were THAT sure-footed.|
Lee and I just chilled Monday night—my eyes were literally exhausted from looking at beauty, and he was tired from mountain driving.
Lesson Learned: The Earth, she is amazing.