We get to see horses on our morning walk and Caleb video calls to show us the electrodes he’s worn since last night that will stay on his head until his last nap (mandatory 15-minute sessions of lying down in a dark room every two hours) this afternoon.
Caroline will take their car to work while we wait at the rental car office for an hour for a car to be available. The seats are moist enough to wet my pants with Clorox and Febreze and the driver’s seat adjustor has to be screwed back in properly before we drive away and get a tire pressure sensor warning and listen to the steering wheel make a weird toy-like sound.
Back to the house to load the car and Dad leaves notes all over the house for Caroline – something as simple as HUGS on the shower door to make her feel loved and let her know he’s thinking about her – at all times.
I will try my first chocolate almond milk shaken espresso from Starbucks and am not disappointed. Our first photo stop of the day will be along Superstition Freeway to capture the green bushes protruding in layers from reddish-brown rock surrounded by a menagerie of clouds, cactus, and charred remains from the recent wildfire in June.
We stop in Globe an hour later but it’s not long before we’re back on the road admiring the blue submarines of clouds held safely within their white fluffy carrier clouds. We’ll continue on the 60 E to Quemado, NM through a day of contrasts – sunny, cloudy, and rainy weather; mountains, cactus, and forest landscapes; and parental, descriptive, and helpful topics of discussion or lecture.
Dad recalls our trip on this same road from ten years ago and though so much has happened in the interim it could almost be yesterday, but we weren’t snacking on dried mangoes and salted cashews then. We are ready for the treasures and memories the road has to share.
Crossing the border causes us to lose an hour of day but Dad already has planned out mileage that we will cover regardless of what distractions or detours we encounter. We drive the 36 N through Zuni Pueblo and see wet dogs roaming the shade, a kid’s Jeep car deep in the muddy water, and a ten-year-old either digging into a future oven or exploring the remains of an old one.
I notice the multiple signs asking that no pictures be taken during religious ceremonies while Dad looks at the dash for a speed limit reminder to find none and has to remember that the key fob doesn’t auto unlock the car so it has to come out of his pocket.
The 602 N will take us to Gallup for our second coffee and when the caffeine doesn’t seem to be kicking in fast enough for Dad, I suggest we listen to his playlist: Sleaford Mods, an English post-punk duo; Kollektiv Turmstrasse, a German minimal-techno duo; and Petite Meller, a French-Israeli pop-jazz singer.
As we approach Shiprock on the 491, there are groups of houses without delineation between the properties, the roads are wide without markings, and there are some nice murals on crumbling buildings. This space feels open, honest, and neighborly.
We cross into Colorado for heavier rain and more lightning than earlier. We check-in to a hotel in Cortez before the storm arrives and chases the kids from the pool. The outside door opens to a short hallway containing four more doors inside. I’ll be impressed with the sheet sandwich (thin blanket between sheets) which is easier and faster to clean and assemble.