Paul is a High-Adept traveler, having honed his skills while taking his own dog and pony show on the road as a conference speaker/consultant. He was scanning ahead of me online for accommodations as I moved across country, sometimes finding a place for me at the last minute when I knew I was going to have to land for the night. He never missed with the perfect place, and when I took a wrong turn on Dallas' busy nighttime freeways, he was right on it with google maps street view or something to get me on course. Thanks, Paul. In the morning I made breakfast in my room as usual, with mobile toaster, coffee grinder, mini brew bar and sprouted wheat bagels, before driving 300 yards to the salvage dealer. Not bad, Paul.
This place was also a find, with good prices and some interesting pieces. I loaded up some old porch posts and columns, lengths of dentil and crown molding and some antique ceiling tin and chatted with one of the owners while I roped it all down. Business was slack and she had customers waiting for whole used kitchens to come in on the salvage trucks but she couldn't get any product because the demolition crews were waiting out the economy for better prices. She was thinking about the 5 acres she'd bought for $1000. an acre just a few years ago up in Abiquiu, New Mexico, Georgia O'Keefe's backyard, but couldn't figure out a way to make any money up there. Just too far from Santa Fe. I remembered that on our last trip to that area, Gail had found an arrowhead right next to the road about a half mile from where I thought her place would be. She held my hand in both of hers and looked right at me as we said goodbye.
The back end of my truck had settled on the leaf springs, and the rear tires were bulging, so I set off at a slow lope for a layover in Santa Fe to rest up. That night I made Tucumcari on I-40 and had some excellent chili rellenos at the Branding Iron. These were Tex-Mex style with a deep smokey flavor, maybe chipotle, and as I was the last to be served that night, the homemade style green chili salsa had weathered in just right. I slept in next morning and was last out of the parking lot, finally gearing down to relish what I knew would be a real treat - one of the Mothers of All Back Roads, New Mexico State Highway 104. I'd never driven it, but when I heard it described as ...'so desolate it was scary', I knew it was my kind of road.