Monday, October 30, 2006

Westward Ho: Day 10

Today was a long day on the road as we made our way from Santa Fe to Oklahoma City. By the time we checked in to our hotel, we had traveled 539 miles in 8.5 hours of seat time.

The oldest church in the United States is in Santa Fe, and Terry suggested that we make it our first stop. It is a beautiful and historic building in the central plaza of the city, and well worth the visit. In the eastern part of the United States, the American history we learn in school is very much focused on the relationship between the English colonists and the English government, with some mention of the French and Spanish. When you travel the western part of the country, we are reminded that while the English and French settlers were struggling to survive in New England, the Spaniards had already established colonial capitals in the west. This church in Santa Fe was built nearly 400 years ago when Santa Fe was first settled.

The capitol building for the State of New Mexico is the furthest thing from the domed Greek themed building found in many of the eastern states. The New Mexico capitol is an adobe two story building constructed in the shape of the sun symbol on the New Mexico flag. The old narrow streets around the capitol are remarkably free of traffic, as is the whole plaza area. There are no tall buildings in Santa Fe, and most are in keeping with the pueblo style. All in all, Santa Fe seems like a very laid back city. It might be a great place to live.

From Santa Fe, we took US285 due south to catch I-40 eastbound, on which we traveled for the rest the day. In New Mexico, I-40 cuts through ranch country and small canyons. Soon after crossing into Texas, the terrain completely flattened out and it seemed like we could see 20 miles in all directions. While there are plenty of ranches in the area, we began seeing some row crops, notably cotton. I know Montana is called Big Sky Country, but we've never been anywhere where you have a largely unobscured level horizon for 360 degrees around you. Somewhere soon after entering Texas, we stopped at what must be one of the nicest public rest areas in America. At Groom TX, we saw the giant 190ft tall Cross as well as the Leaning Water Tower.

Crossing into Oklahoma, the terrain became a little more rolling. We came across yet another collection of maybe fifty wind generators spread across a hilltop west of Oklahoma City. We have been impressed at the amount of wind power farms we've seen in practically every state on this trip.

Now that we're back on standard time, sundown is at 5:45pm, and we were treated to a great sunset, albeit in the rear view mirrors. We had a nice Italian dinner and are relaxing in our room for the evening.

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