Moving westward across the plains, we drove in an uncannily straight line towards the New Mexico border, careening down the highway, frequently surrounded by herds of eighteen-wheelers moving at top speed towards their destinations. Mary pointed out a few tumbleweeds stuck in barbed-wire fences next to the highway, and the vastness of the plains gave way to cliffs and snow-capped peaks in the very far distance.
We entered New Mexico unceremoniously, stopping at the Welcome Center where a large sign announced quite clearly that we had entered The Land of Enchantment.
Our next stop in New Mexico was the town of Tucumcari, with Mary singing an old Linda Ronstadt song which somehow included this improbable name in its lyrics: "I've been from Tuscon to Tucumcari.....".
Tucumcari was at first glance a sad town. Near the interstate, of course, were the usual suspects: McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Sonic Burgers, all beckoning to the weary traveler with their promise of fast and easy food that's cheap, filling the belly and clogging the arteries in one fell swoop. As is our wont, we drove further into town in search of a place where locals might eat, and we were met with one boarded up shop after another, even on streets adjacent to Historic Route 66 and the Tucumcari Historical Museum.
We found the "La Cita" restaurant just near Route 66, and since it was not quite dinner time, we were the only customers in the large open room with naugahyde chairs, a drop ceiling in need of repair, and tired-looking slices of pie in one of those ubiquitous rotating glass displays. The room was filled with light hazy smoke due to a broken exhaust fan in the kitchen. The kind waitress was interested in Tina, who was in the passenger seat of the rig just outside the window from our table, yelping pitifully during most of our meal. She told us about all of the rescued dogs who live with her and sleep under her covers at night, and asked if we needed a bowl of water for Tina. The food---enchiladas with beans, rice and green salsa---was pedestrian TexMex, but it was a feast after not having eaten all day, hungry travelers that we were.
As the sun set, we managed to arrive just before dark to Santa Rosa Lake State Park, a park built by the Army Corps of Engineers. A quiet New Mexican night allowed us a night of deep rest, knowing that the next day would bring a long-awaited reunion with our beloved son and daughter-in-law.