If you have been following along faithfully, back on Wednesday, when I posted Day Thirty Two, I mentioned at the end of the blog, that we were staying with our friends Nancy and Mike in El Paso, Texas for the next two nights, and there might be limited internet access. Well, there was, but not like we had limited internet in Yellowstone…this time we were just having too much fun to worry about a blog. More on that later!
We woke on day 33 in Roswell, New Mexico, having not been abducted or in any way harmed by aliens. I guess it must be a lot of BS, because the only aliens we saw were pictured on the advertising signs of various businesses on the main street! We were staying in a brand new, and beautiful Comfort Suites, and although the room was lovely, the breakfast room left a lot to be desired. The chairs looked like they had been through years of service, and were covered with butter, cream cheese, and other stains we didn’t want to think about. We couldn’t help but wonder why such a beautiful, new, and generally well appointed hotel, had chairs that looked like they’d been through the mill! Oh well, perhaps they ran out of money!
The day started after leaving the hotel with a stop for at a self-service car wash, for a quick cleaning of the outside of the car (you’ll see how useless that was), and then to fill the Sonata up with gas. After those two brief stops, we were out of town, and on our way to White Sands National Monument.
The drive was more up and down, and at one point Susie was driving and exclaimed, “Are we ever going to stop climbing?” The next thing we passed was a sign stating Elevation 8300 feet! We continued on our way, on a rather unremarkable road towards White Sands. One interesting thing was a sign we passed on Route 70. White Sands National Monument is a small part of the White Sands Missile Range, and when they do tests at the range, they close the road so no one is close to where perhaps there could be debris, should something go wrong. It is a test, after all!
We drove a little more on 70, and came to the White Sands National Monument. We went into the Visitor’s Center, looked at the exhibits, and watched a movie. I have to say, that it was’t the best Visitor Center we’ve seen, and the bathrooms were way below the usual, US Park Services usual condition and cleanliness standards, but they did serve their purpose. Then we headed towards the 17 mile Loop Drive.
My first disappointment, when we pulled up to the entrance station was that IT WASN’T MANNED! Damn..no one to show my Senior Pass to! The second disappointment, was the first 2 or 3 miles of the Loop. We were driving at 45 MPH through low vegetation, and although you could see that the “ground” under the vegetation was white, I thought, “Is this all there is?” Well, it turned out that it wasn’t! Very soon, we came to a sign that said Pavement Ends..drive with caution! The text thing we knew, were were driving on the sand, and it was truly a magical world we had entered!
For folks like us from the North East, for all practical purposes, it looked like snow! So white and pristine, it looked like that first drive you take after the snow stops, and before the the beautiful white snow turns dirty and gray! Not only did it look like snow, but it was very obvious that they plow the “road” to keep it open! The thing that really didn’t track with what you were seeing, was the folks out and about were in shorts and t-shirts! Well, it may have looked like snow, but it was 94 degrees at the time, so even dressed as they were, I’m sure they were hot! Of course, you’re driving on sand, so that car wash I did in Roswell was $2.75 ill spent! Of well, who knew exactly what we were going to see?
After that it was time to head south, out of New Mexico and into the great state of Texas. We drove into it late in the afternoon of Thursday, September 22nd, and the Sonata will live in Texas till at least October 17th (I say the Sonata, because for two weeks from October 2nd till the 16th, Susie and I will be in the Caribbean on the Liberty of the Seas, but the Sonata will still be in Texas waiting for us). We exited New Mexico, after 5 nights, at Las Cruces on Interstate 25, heading to El Paso, and our friend’s Nancy and Mike’s house!
The Mike I’m talking about is Mike McKay, who was one of the last DJs on Musicradio 77, WABC in the early 80s. Mike and I worked together a lot, both doing music shows, doing field interviews (our notorious Kenny Rogers interview at the Meadowlands), and baby sitting the NY Yankees games on WABC. When the station went talk, Mike stayed on to do Staff Announcer work (commercials, promos, etc), but he had gotten in radio to be the guy on the air, and he left to pursue that. In the years since WABC, Mike, his wife Nancy, and their daughter Erin have lived the “itinerant DJ life” (Mike’s words), Working in places like Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Detroit, as Mike plied his craft as a DJ, and 19 years ago, they landed in El Paso. He first worked at KSET-FM, and later KOFX-FM, and in 2004, Mike became a part owner and Morning Show Host on 101 Gold, just up the road in Las Cruces. That’s what he did, till he retired earlier this year.
We followed the GPS as it took us off the interstate, through commercial areas of El Paso, into their neighborhood, and I will admit that Susie and I had a little trepidation. We hadn’t seen Mike and Nancy for over 30 years, and although they had graciously insisted that we cancel our hotel reservation, and stay with them for 2 nights, we wondered how comfortable the 4 of us would be together (they probably wondered the same thing). We pulled into they driveway, got out of the car, and as we headed towards their front door, the first member of the family we met was Sammy, their adorable little dog, who had hopped out of his doggy door, and came to greet us!
We rang the doorbell and Nancy and Mike came and greeted us. Handshakes and hugs were exchanged (Mike and I hugged, while Nancy and Susie shook hands), and they invited us inside. The first thing that happened was we got a tour of their lovely house, found out that they were giving us their bedroom for the two nights, and then Mike started the blender and whipped up frozen margaritas. This relationship showed great promise. Drinks in hand, we adjourned to their lovely backyard, which has a pool and ultimate privacy. In minutes, it was like the last 30+ plus years had not happened, and we were all much younger, having fun in their old house in Malvern, Long Island! At one point, Nancy and Mike went in separate directions to make dinner preparations, and Susie looked at me and said, “this is good…very good.”, and it was.
We had our first home cooked meal in close to 5 weeks (Filet Mignon, Twice Baked Potatoes, Broccoli, and Bernaise sauce for the steaks), and it was a wonderful night of food, conversation, and great friendship (and semi frozen Margaritas). We sat around the dining room table talking till almost midnight, when the 4 of us realized we’d better get to bed. As our heads hit the pillows, and we drifted off to sleep, we had visions of a wonderful day with Nancy and Mike. Stay tuned for Day Thirty Four, and more of our adventure in El Paso!