Rolled to a stop is more like it, since we drove instead of flew. After Flagstaff we spent two days in Santa Fe and I would have updated from there but for technical obstacles. One should not advertise having wireless Internet throughout their inn when it is only available in a corner of the lobby and the common breakfast area. It's amazing now that just about everyone has wireless and it's not something to even market anymore. Which reminds me-how does Starbucks get away with charging people for Internet use in their stores?
The last day in Flagstaff brought the most, shall we say, unneighborly moment of the trip. During the day we drove up to the Lowell Observatory, a short drive up a twisting hillside, and stopped at the entrance where you can look down at the town and see everything for miles. I decided that I would go back there at night with my binoculars and spend some time looking at the night sky. I went around 8:30 an parked on the slope of the hill that faced the city. There were three or four other cars there but I saw no one else outside, which should have told me something about this place.
So I got out and leaned against the trunk of the car, staring up into the most perfect sky I have ever seen. With my binoculars I got fantastic views of stars that I hadn't really seen before; I saw the Pleiades Cluster for the first time as something other than a milky haze. It was incredible.
About fifteen minutes after I arrived the car behind me started and its headlights went on. Almost immediately both front doors opened and I was approached from two gentlemen from the area, who wanted to know why I was taking pictures of them in their car. I said that I wasn't, that I did not have a camera and that I was looking at the stars. Then I was asked why I was trying to look close up at what was going on inside the car, and again I told them I wasn't. I also told them that binoculars don't let you see anything that isn't already illuminated. Apparently thiswas a bad thing to say, and these two gentlemen (who were from the "barrio" if I may be so bold), who were younger and much taller than me, suggested that I shove my binoculars some place where it would take me a while to extract them, and probably not without the help of a surgeon. They also invited me to leave. I took them up on the offer (to leave, not to become intimate with the binoculars, of course).
When I got back to our hotel room and told my wife what had happened I said that there were two girls in the car as well but in hindsight I have no idea if there was anybody else. I heard and saw nothing.
Santa Fe was very nice. I love the look of the city. Everything is adobe-homes, store fronts, banks, school, etc. We spent an extremely laid back day and a half there just roaming the small downtown plaza and looking at a few schools. I had visited once before, in 2004, and I was looking forward to Kristen seeing St. Francis Cathedral. When I visited the church on a Saturday afternoon in January I found it to be one of the most peaceful churches I have ever been in; there was choral music playing softly through the speakers, sunshine illuminating the stained glass windows, and almost no one else in the building.
When we went there Thursday afternoon around 2 PM, they were vacuuming. Loudly. It's still a beautiful place, but the spiritual peace that comes from the sanctuary of a house of worship gets lost when it sounds like you're watching the last events of the Hoover Olympics.
But that did not ruin Santa Fe, which would be second on my list of relocation preferences (behind Durango and in front of Boulder) and third, I believe, on Kristen's (she favors Boulder first, then Durango). The leading factor is job opportunity obviously; we will wind up going where the job offers are, and not for some time anyway.
We drove from Santa Fe to Kansas City Friday where we stayed with some friends before driving the rest of the way home Saturday. I searched for seven hours and never found any radio station playing Irish music, so cross northwest Missouri, all of central Iowa and western Illinois from the authentic St. Patrick's experience tour.
'Twas a good trip, but 'tis nice to be home. The last few days of heavy road-tripping wipe me out. I'm still beat. Kristen and I did not try to kill each other. Aside from the mountain drive Sunday and my astronomical encounter with Heckle and Jeckle Thursday night, everything went smoothly. We skipped the Grand Canyon Tuesday because we decided we needed a day without hours of driving. I'll get her there eventually.