5th day on the road after leaving Detroit and we are headed from Trinidad to Albuquerque. It's time for some drive-by tourism! We often pass through or skim "don't miss" places. We are working; making overhead and paying bills. But we do tend to see some off the beaten path places even when we can't dig deep. It feeds inspiration to return. Maybe one day we will go on an actual vacation!
Today we are routing through the beautiful Cimmaron Canyon and Taos on our way to an early gig in Albuquerque - turning a 3.5 hour drive to our gig into a 5 hour drive (that's without stops). We have to start early if we are going to have time to pull off the road more than once. After being treated to a breakfast that made us feel like high royalty at Heart of Trinidad Bed and Breakfast, we set off to see more scenic views that cannot be described, or captured except for in person. It goes down so easy and is so good for the soul, even now just thinking of it.
^^^^ Headed South from Trinidad, CO towards New Mexico
I've heard of Cimarron Canyon but never been. Like most spectacularly scenic places its not a short drive from any major metropolitan area but worth the trip... Even just to get a view at the side of the road. They had some big fires last year but the beauty was still awe-inspiring and the charred vegetation on one side of the road was eerie. Once in the canyon, the air and surroundings induced a meditative like state, if not dread of the next congested one way road we might find ourselves parallel parking in.
Heading into Cimarron Canyon past some charred vegetation and a mountain side from last years fires ^^^^^^
Cimarron Canyon Drive by tourism! ^^^^^^^^
On our way out we passed through Eagle Nest - a tiny, remote landing pad for explorers and tourists with a beautiful lake. It felt like a bit like Montana. Can we please stay a while? No stay for us. On to Albuquerque via Taos.
^^^^^ Eagle Nest. If I were an eagle I'd live here. Nearby there is a handful of shops for supplies and souvenirs, lodging and of course coffee.
Next up was Taos. This is one of the rare moments that Dylan had no idea where we were going, was happy to enjoy the relaxing drive. The drive in from Cimarron was so green and pretty. Then adobes began to pop up more and more. Dylan asked "where ARE we"? Taos!!!! Its still weird enough for me, although its definitely an attraction for the well to do. Artists, counter-culture, beauty, and a convenient grocery store. Lucky for us we made it in time to enjoy the outdoor market. It was a bit crowded but we wandered through town into some of the alleys, picked up some patches and other souvenirs and back to the Taos/Adobe version of Kroger where we bought motor oil, a salad for lunch and fueled up. Bonus --- Smith's is owned by Kroger so bank the Kroger points!
The drive south of Taos is beautiful as well. Trips through places like these you don't know whether to just enjoy the view or if you should be capturing everything on camera in some way. Amateur photography just doesn't capture the views or the feelings, the thoughts that bounce around in your head while dreaming out the window.
Taos south of town. You learn a lot about people, places and things. I'm always amazed how little some people know about the world...including myself! ^^^^^^
As many beautiful places we see, we run across ordinary places, different places, economically depressed places and gentrified places. They all are eye-opening. Sometimes you wonder what has drawn a person to a place, how they ended up there, why people stay or in some cases how difficult it must be to get out. Then I think about my story and wonder how will it end, and will I have the courage to make the changes I need to. Sometimes I wish I could just transport anyplace anytime and make that my story. One thing I know, I am lucky to be able to see the things I've seen.
TOP 10 --- Travel Apps to save time, money and sanity
We use a lot of apps to get things done on the road from managing life to saving money - These apply to touring bands as well as those that may be indulging in travel or embarking on their career from the back of a van.
1) Gas Buddy ---- Don't be lazy. If you are driving across the country the savings add up. Sometimes gas is 10 cents cheaper a block from where you are filling up. Gas Buddy is updated by fellow travelers, so if you are bored, you can pitch in as well.
They also have a new program that gives you discounts on gas and cash back when you use a card that is attached to your checking account (not a credit card) to pay at the pump.
2) Navigation Apps --- Some people like Waze, some prefer Google Maps, some like the one that comes on your phone. I've used them all and its a good idea to have more than one to compare as none of them are flawless. One benefit of Waze is that it uses real time data from travelers about road hazards, accidents, etc.
I am also a huge advocate of actual old school MAPS and ATLASES for general reference if you can find them. Navigation apps are great but knowing where your before you leave is priceless. Double check your app settings to see if you are avoiding toll roads, freeways, choosing the most direct route or fastest route, etc. before you leave. I can't tell you how many friends have followed their GPS blindly and ended up at the US/Canadian border without a passport and have to back track so many miles.
3) Wyndham Hotels App - Its a rewards program with an app. If you travel at all and stay at budget hotels you should sign up for the rewards program. If our lodging isn't covered by a venue, partner, etc. this is the first place I look. The app is easy to use and its one of the best reward plans for hotels. We are headed towards Diamond! Whooo! Each new year I've received 15,000 bonus points which covers one room free or several discounted stays. You earn points with each stay, and throughout the year there are incentives offering additional points per stay. Lucky for us we do lots of one night stays!
I use the points for discounted rooms and try to get the most bang for our bucks that way. If they have one of the better hotels in their chain in a smaller town I often use points for a discounted room. Sometimes it is a significant difference and feels like a nice splurge. If I can get a highly rated hotel with a pool in the $50 dollar range, hell yeah. If the discount is a matter of $10 for one of their lesser hotels, or in an area where the hotels don't look very appealing I save my points.
4) Booking.com- Is the second place I look for lodging. There are lots of great apps for shopping hotel reservations. I like booking.com primarily because its straight forward. I can enter how many rooms and how many people in the room, and the accommodation descriptions are more precise. If its just 2 for the road, I will occasionally use Priceline and name my price or roll the dice on a mystery room.
5) Quickbooks - Use your computer or an app on your phone to input all your business expenses and more. You can photograph your receipts right into the app as well so if things get messy you have your record, and the IRS is good with photos of receipts. The ability to do book keeping on a phone while in transit is super handy. Although I'm not happy that our monthly subscription was raised from $21 to $35 and I'll be shopping around, we have yet to find a better option. If you are running a business proper, this is super convenient.
6) Google Calendar - Get a calendar. Use the calendar for crying out loud. Seriously, for the love of all that is holy. Its easy, you can share it with those on the road with you. If they sleep late in Tucumcari and you leave them behind because they didn't use their calendar, they will know where to meet you when they look at their calendar.. or share it with your bff back home.
7) Chase Mobile - I used to use credit unions exclusively but the benefits have seemed to tank. And I love the Chase app. I have personal and business accounts online, I can pay others almost instantaneously via Zelle on the app - its like Venmo or PayPal, even if they bank at other banks. I can deposit checks easily when there is no branch for miles, pay my bills, check my balances, etc.
8) Canva is indispensable for creating social media posters on the road. You can upload photos and create artwork to tell people about your next show or direct people to your website, etc. You may feel the need to create your own motivational poster series inspired by the rest stop or dive bar bathroom you just left - Canva won't let you down.
9) Trip Advisor - Reviews from travelers on hotels and touristy stuff. Before pulling the trigger on a hotel via Wyndham, Booking.com or any place else I look at the reviews here (Wyndham conveniently integrates Trip Advisor). I find the average reviewer is pretty reasonable and does not hold budget hotels to luxury standards and also typically knows the difference between a bed bug and a gnat, a prostitue and a college student.
10) Yelp - Are you going gluten free? Do you search the best gas station boudin in Louisiana? Looking for locally roasted coffee? There is no excuse, wherever you are. Don't wait til its too late.... Yelp is a road foodies BFF.
That is all for now. I hope you enjoyed as much as I enjoy sharing as I look out my window into the arctic tundra of SE Michigan, plotting my escape to the next adventure.