Click any pic to enlarge and sharpen.
Whereas Tuesday featured the longest, most grueling walk of the trip, the latter part of Wednesday brought the shortest and most harrowing. (I like posting trip journals after the fact instead of real-time because it allows opening sentences like that.) We also went to the place Julia Roberts hangs out when not shooting a movie.
With two of the week’s three most thrilling rides (ski lift, go-karts) out of the way that morning, we decided Wednesday had more in store for us. Ben’s pink scalp wouldn’t take much more without protection, so after the Go-Karts we found a cap he liked and that doubled as a souvenir. Maximum style, maximum SPF.
At a local fudge and candy shop (it’s genetically impossible for us to avoid it when on a trip), we found out about a melodrama being staged that night in the building’s back room. We filed that as a possibility for night time entertainment that could include Ben.
We went to a huge hole in the ground. This one just happens to feature the country’s third-highest bridge and, if sites I read are to be believed, the country’s second-highest cantilever bridge.
Ben promptly zonked out in his car seat, and didn’t wake until all the fun was over. So, instead of accusing me of ignoring him here, just keep in mind he wasn’t a part of the goings-on. His cap would have to wait until another day to show off its sunblocking prowess.
Although I’ve been to the Royal Gorge Bridge (1,053 feet high), I was duly impressed by the Rio Grand Gorge Bridge. The surrounding landscape, with craggy canyon walls leading down to the river and mountains just across the valley, provided impressive evidence of nature’s slower and faster expressions of its power, respectively. (The Royal Gorge Bridge, by the way, is the highest in the U.S. and crosses the Arkansas River).
Another of Shannon’s infamous sign photos.
Ben and Mom stayed in Homer while Shannon, Dad, and I wandered onto the bridge. I felt a bit of vertigo, but made it to the center. Most of the cars didn’t shake the bridge at all while I snapped pictures of Shannon and the things around us. Then an 18-wheeler rumbled past, giving us a lovely earthquake simulation.
More than 650 feet above the nearest landing spot.
Here’s a video, including some angles not in the photos. Be a little patient after clicking play, please.
Quite ready to get on steady ground, I made my way back to Homer, where Shannon was taking one of the best pictures of the day. Like any good husband, I stole her idea (see top photo) and was able to improve on it only because I had a longer lens.
We headed on up the road to Taos, where Julia Roberts owns a ranch and recently bought adjacent land from Donald Rumsfeld. It was a utilitarian trip; I figured name-dropping might spice it up a bit. Among the grocery shopping, we managed to work in a drive around the Taos town square, where I hopped out of the driver’s seat long enough to grab some images using the threatening skies as a backdrop. I like the sun shining on my subject while a storm rages in the distance.
We still made it back to Red River in time to eat at Sundance, a Mexican restaurant the folks said was worth the trouble. Dad had called ahead, because we wanted to make it to that 7:30 show in back of the fudge shop. Rain coming down fairly heavy, our umbrellas accompanied us.
Freshly awake, Ben was in a good mood if a bit rambunctious. I couldn’t blame him after he’d spent his day sitting in a ski lift chair, a restaurant booth, and then a car seat. Well, if you don’t count the 15 minutes of shopping we did for his cap.
A few minutes after we ordered, the power went out. A few patrons, apparently accustomed to this, walked over with their table candles in hand to light them on some the servers already had lit. The outage was too short to affect our wait time. It’s a good thing because, just like the ski lift stops that morning, I was timing it.
In a strange twist of fate, the girl from the cabin next door came over to say “hello” to us. She and her family sat at a table across the room (remember that earlier in the day we unknowingly sat next to them at the ski lift restaurant).
Shannon and I lingered over our sopapillas. I looked at my watch. 7:30. I figured we weren’t going to the play, so I took my time.
Back in Homer, we decided to try to make the play. I navigated the narrow Red River backstreet (I think there’s only one) to the theater, but we ended up parking in a lot right off main. We braved the rain again, by this time along with chilly temperatures. 7:36. We knocked on the ticket office door. No answer.
“Wait, I see somebody,” I said.
A young woman dressed as an 1890’s-era wild west pioneer opened the door and sold us tickets. “We’re just about to get started,” she said.
We rushed through the rickety spring-pull door and chose seats among the many vacant. A woman dressed like a wild west saloon girl walked on stage and introduced the concepts of a melodrama. The production’s success was in large part up to the audience’s willing participation.
Within a few minutes of the play’s start, Ben started talking aloud, very loudly, but not within the loose construct laid out by the whore. When Shannon stood to leave with him, he started crying aloud, very loudly. I rushed out the door right behind her.
Windows to the room were open, so to keep from bothering the audience we had to walk in the rain to the front of the building.
“Let’s give him another chance. I think he understands now,” I said.
Shannon agreed and we went back in. Ben did great, even learning to boo at the villain and clap for the hero. He never quite got the hang of the specific phrases the audience said on cue (Salty Salsa!), but he had a lot of fun. As did everyone.
In fact, when we walked the cast’s
gauntlet receiving line outside the theater, Ben asked to pose for a picture with the orphan girls. The look on his face attested to the success of the evening’s festivities. The orphan girls, obviously loving the limelight, said, “We can sign your program for you.” So, we now have the autographs of bit players in a small ski town’s off-season melodramatic play. I can’t think of a better souvenir.
If my parents weren’t as into spontaneous planning as we, this trip wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. They brought up two boys, so they understand the importance of what I call itinerary flex. (that third thrilling ride comes much later).
Next up: Enough sand to scare most beaches, but nowhere near the ocean nor the desert.