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Montezuma’s Revenge:

Opening the Door for a Quiet Weekend Getaway

 

July 2, 2013

 

Dixon, IL

 

“Errmmm, Roberta, it’s time,” she sheepishly intoned from the seat beside me.

 

It had been time, and time again…and again.

 

Sandwiched between the two European treks, I happened upon a very quick dash to Taos, landing in Santa Fe with a soft thud, a beautiful whirlwind of a trip with, well, a wind from Boulder. Boulder Creek, to be precise.

 

My stunning sojourner had spent a few days working on her creek-side canvas while sipping her usual companion, a Mountain Dew, when someone else’s companion, a wet golden retriever bounded past, splashing creek water all over her oils, her even wetter canvas, and, as it turns out, the straw from which she had been sipping.

 

After her string of sailor-inspired shouts, she continued mumbling, dabbing her canvas, wiping her tubes, following her careful cleaning with a sip from the still dripping straw.

 

 

“I am not feeling quite up to par,” she informed me when I picked her up a few weeks later, adding, “There is no way I am squeezing this swollen belly into my bikini!”

 

After the few reassurances that she was exquisitely beautiful regardless of the bloat followed by the requisite jokes about estrogen and its ill effects, and a quiet nagging reminder that I had a new pair of tennis shoes for the trip, we hit the road.

 

I had graduated a year earlier than her, leaving her in the glory of our once-shared sunrises at the foot of the Flatirons to return to my husband, children, and a new job as middle school teacher, promising to whisk her away to Santa Fe the first long weekend I had away from the pre-pubescents I had been attempting to teach about narratives, symbolic language, and metaphors.

 

We had planned the perfect weekend retreat: shopping, local galleries and fine cuisine, long hikes in the woods, holding hands as we lolled lazily through the Georgia O’Keefe Museum on their free Friday evening.

 

Everything two artists need to refuel their free-flowing creative juices.

 

The first few stops were welcome. “At last,” I thought excitedly, “I have finally found a fellow traveller who needs to stop as often as I do!”

 

The next few, six total across only half of Colorado’s I-25, were scenic enough to be enjoyable. Colorado’s roadside stops are not tick and mosquito infested holes in the ground, but are nestled in fragrant pine or overlooking vast expanses of open plains. Never mind we were by this point too late to catch the free Friday at the museum. We were here, after all, for the company, not the sightseeing.

 

 

Once we hit New Mexico, though, stops were less scenic, and, unfortunately for my friend, less frequent, but the brilliance of the changing autumn leaves served as a delightful distraction. At least at first.

 

 

Although my other tennis shoe tramping trips had been spent searching for famous ghosts, the only ones we encountered on our weekend getaway happened to be those located near the public toilets. Montezuma had wrought his revenge even though we were well out of the reach of his ancient empire.

 

We checked into the hotel late, and as soon as we hit the door, she checked into the bathroom, the same room she conquered the next day while occupying the Palace of Governors, trudging around the Capitol, purchasing peppers at the Plaza, ambling along the Cathedral, spiraling through the Chapel, paying tribute at the Shrine, and hearing the bell at the Mission, not to mention moseying about the galleries, shops, trails and restaurants.

 

“By gum, we made this trip, and I am going to enjoy it,” she insisted when I suggested we stay a bit closer to civilization rather than explore the painted canyons between Taos and Santa Fe.

 

 

We sat basking in the quiet strum of the distant mariachi band, the lone couple on the stepped veranda near the healing sands of Chimayo. She and I were lost in reverie, and the wandering musicians didn’t dare trod upon our comfortable intimacy. We had lost ourselves in orally composing a narrative of a nearby couple, whose distant, cold, vacant stares spoke volumes.

 

Their marriage had evidently gone awry, and they were dousing the embers of their forgotten passion with their pitcher of margarita.

 

Mid-sentence, my friend jumped up from the table, hopping about from one foot to the other while frantically thrusting her hand into her front pocket. After our long weekend with short excursions to the nearest toilet, I was disconcerted that the pocket thrust had been directed to the front-side rather than the back. The culminating moment of our eventful trip was her extraction of a 9-volt battery and throwing a handful of change onto the table. Her discomfort this time had not been from yet another stomach cramp, but a penny heated to burning temperatures from prolonged contact with the battery’s connectors.

 

A highly charged weekend, indeed worthy of leaving behind yet another pair of well-worn tennis shoes in hopes of a return trip.

 

Not quite the glamorous ghost hunting I had hoped to wrack up with this pair of tennis shoes, but fantastic fodder for the most fabulous friendship I have…not to mention hearty guffaws that have echoed across nearly two decades and thousands of miles.

 

Time, my dear friend, to schedule another trip. I am sure I will have to replace my tennis shoes at the far end of my bike ride, and I can think of no better way to wear out a new pair than walking miles beside you…

 

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