By Romaree Herbert
After months of planning our summer road trip through parts of New Mexico on Route 66, then driving up into Colorado, we were all excited to hop in the car and get out of town. The scorching heat at home was not doing anything to keep us local and temperatures in the various parts of NM and Colorado were predicted to be 20 degrees cooler. My kids were so excited to be getting back on the road and exploring the old highway. What I did not expect was that my own state of mind would be shaken to the core on our recent summer vacation.
I was so excited to prepare for the journey ahead! I had it all mapped out by going to the AAA store to get a Trip-Tik (a strategically planned out map that an AAA rep prepares for its customers.) Though we now had our advanced smart phones, mini-computers at our fingertips, with all the maps, guidance, and information we would ever need, who needs help from a simple Trip-Tik? We did! In fact, we wanted to go back to the simplicity of how things used to be and enjoy life without all the technology we have become so addicted to.
On the day we set out, I had a bit of a sore throat and cough. I attributed it to allergies, as I have become accustomed to constantly having some sort of symptoms related to allergies. I did not have a temperature and felt fine. We set out early and headed to Tucumcari, NM, our first stop on the historic Route 66. It took us around five hours to get there, and upon arriving, felt like we had stepped back into the 1950’s.
The little town appeared to be stuck in a time warp. The main thoroughfare was laden with classic little motels, sporting neon signage and original funky themes. Novelty shops and restaurants lined the main highway and the four of us jumped right back in time along with our surroundings. We checked into our motel, The Blue Swallow, which was established in 1939 and is one of the most celebrated motels on Route 66. It had been restored years before, but all the original fixtures, signage, and garages to park one’s motor car for the night were all still in their original form.
That evening we ate at Dels, a restaurant that has been around since 1956. The food was average and not memorable, but the ambiance and original décor of the eatery added to the charm of this area. What we really wanted to do was sit back on the retro patio furniture and enjoy the luminescent glow of the retro signs during the humid, clammy evening. That is exactly what we did, needled by blood-hungry mosquitoes and all!
The next day, we explored the dinosaur and history museums and ate lunch at a hidden spot, a restaurant called Watson’s BBQ, located on a dusty side road within a supply store. We headed up to Santa Fe after lunch and checked into our next motel, also on Route 66. That evening we went to Meow Wolf, a highly imaginative, interactive gallery exploding with neon lights, strangeness, and fun. While this place was expansive and exhilarating for the mind, it was also a hotbed of germs and bacteria. Hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes were available throughout the place, and I used them often, not thinking about the fact that thousands of hands and bodies had been through these same walls. My son and I had the most fun, while my husband and daughter waited for us at the snack shop.
Afterwards, we picked up some groceries at our favorite store and went back to spend the night at our not-so-thrilling charmless, remodeled (not for the better) motel. We woke up the next morning and headed up to our next destination, the small, quaint town of Chama, NM, where we planned on spending the next morning, Father’s Day, on an old-fashioned steam train ride up to Antonitos, CO.
We did not make onto the train. The night before, after having dinner and dessert in town, we came back to our hotel room to get an early night’s sleep for the next morning. Around 2 am, I awoke with a terrible tummy ache and began throwing up. I was burning up one moment and the next, cold and shivering. I chalked it up to food poisoning and dealt with it quietly so I would not wake up my family. My condition worsened and, by early the next morning, I was so sick, I couldn’t even speak or dial my cell phone, depleted of energy and hydration.
We were in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday, with no doctor’s offices, urgent cares, or emergency rooms in the near vicinity and the motel’s front desk did not have any information to help us out. My husband used his flip-phone and did not know how to access anything on my smart phone, and we were extremely worried, lost as to how to proceed and get the medical care, that we did not realize I so desperately needed.
To be continued next issue.