sexta-feira, 28 de julho de 2017

Day 6: Albuquerque and a supercharger

We hadn't been near a supercharger since San Marcos in Texas and that was a whole lot of miles ago. we stayed for the night in Albuquerque, curiously a popular surname in Portugal, and the Tesla owner and enthusiast I call husband of course had to go and check the local supercharger. I cannot say I was missing the vicinity of a supercharger but life as a Tesla-wife has such things. Besides, where else would I go?
A storm was looming (read big, scary, freaking storm) and the photo shoot had to be quick (we got to the hotel with heavy rain already falling).
Don't misinterpret me: I do like storms and I'm known for chasing them. The storm was my pretext for the Tesla geekiness not to last long so we could go somewhere else to enjoy the storm. Hm..."enjoy the storm", guess there's one Tesla-geek and one storm-geek in the family. O my...
PS - It was a mighty T-storm. Mighty.

quarta-feira, 26 de julho de 2017

Day 6: Ah, the ranches...

Infinite skies, far away horizons. Only here do you truly understand the meaning of the expression "the great outdoors". They aren't anything short of great. It's the sheer immensity of the landscape, the solitude of the geography. I have always imagined what a ranch would be like. It is... big. Forget European farms, a ranch is more than a mega-farm. A ranch is a reflex of a geography of greatness and vastness. I'm in awe and have been in awe for the whole trip...

segunda-feira, 24 de julho de 2017

Day 6: Lincoln County and Billy, the Kid (New Mexico)

And so it came to happen that on that 6 of our US coast-to-coast roadtrip Part II we were destined to immerse into that vast land Hollywood calls the Wild West. This is the place of all the cowboys, desperados, outlaws and sheriffs that people our imagery of the Old West. We all know the Wyatt Earps and Butch Cassidys of legendary stature but maybe no other name says infamous cowboy more than that of Billy, the Kid.
Pardon my ignorance but I always assumed Billy, the Kid had to do with Texas. No, Sir. It is New Mexico. Since we were in New mexico driving north from the Carlsbad Caverns why not go to Lincoln County, the stage of the Kid's lawlessness?
Mind you, this is no Tesla land so don't expect Teslaness, EVness or any other of that electric mobilityness.
Turns out Lincoln County is not the prairie kind of landscape I had imagined (I'm starting to think we shouldn't believe everything Hollywood tells us to believe). It's hilly, cool, almost alpine country. No cacti, no desert wastelands. What's left of old Lincoln County is hardly recognisable as something out of a cowboy movie. Again, we find ourselves in another tourist attraction. There's only one street and little is left of the days when Billy, the Kid made his way to legend. Still there, however, is the old county courthouse where he was imprisoned and from where he escaped.
I was curious about the place and, when it was time to get in the car and move on, I couldn't help but think how Lincoln County must have been a dangerous and hard place where to live and how the face of a common 19th-century bandit is now on t-shirts and fridge magnets. Time really has a way of twisting things...

sexta-feira, 21 de julho de 2017

Day 5: Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

It is pouring when we cross the border from Texas to New Mexico and enter a new time zone. We hardly see the road. I correct: we don't see the road and I'm scared we might be run over by a truck or capsize because of the slippery pavement. If ever I was frightened, this is it. Eventually, the downpour subsides as we get to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park and we are lucky to take the mandatory pictures at the entrance of the park. Back in the car and the rain returns.
It is a very slow climb to the summit of the Guadalupe Mountains where the gate to the netherworld of the caves is. Heavy, heavy rain.
The caves are famed as a natural wonder of stalactites galore and one of the largest caves in the world. I hear my Tesla-geek husband mumble something about these caves being as impressive as the Portuguese caves at Mira d'Aire, his element of comparison. I smile at the disproportion between these caves and the ones at Mira d'Aire but nothing like a first hand experience to better judge the comparison.
We take the long trail because we want to be stunned by the cavern. It's 1.25 miles and my brain immediately converts the distance to metric. Let the show begin!
We wanted to be stunned. We were stunned. The cave is epic in size and in the amazing amount of stalactites and stalagmites and all formations possible. One cannot help but feel dwarfed when we think about the eons of Time that it took to shape the caverns. Our jaws drop at every instant, at every footstep that gets us deeper and deeper into the bowls of the Earth. There's so much to marvel at that there comes a point when you just feel overwhelmed and it's as if you cannot process any more visual information. A sense of being out of this world in some alien planet is probably what best describes the experience.
When you resurface from the depths, the sun is out. Down below is the vast expanse of the Chihuahan Desert. Your eyes get accustomed back to light and you wonder if what is below the ground is truly true...

segunda-feira, 17 de julho de 2017

Day 5: Fort Davis, Texas

Going to west Texas and not visiting a fort is missing out on what made frontier life back in the day when a frontier was being made and fought for. As we discovered, there aren't those many forts left. We Europeans think of Texas as the land of forts and cowboys and naively imagine they are abundant and well-preserved. Turns out only a few remain. To mythical Fort Davis we went.
We think of Fort Davis as the sort of ultimate, über fort. Hollywood has helped instil this image, much as it helped create the myth of The Alamo. However, Fort Davis no longer has the sould of a fort. It is a museum, an attraction and it is hard to imagine it as it originally was. What is not difficult to grasp is how difficult life must have been at the forts. I take  amental bow for all those pioneers who endured the heat, the wilderness, the lack of modern comforts and medicine, constant raids and fear. Thinking about those souls makes one think we're all wimps.
For the Tesla-geek and geek of all things geek in general, the interpretation center at Fort Davis was full of 19th-century technology. On the age of internet it was fun to see Morse-code in action (to think that my husband knows Morse is actually mind-blowing).
I thought Fort Davis was going to be a crowded place with hordes of tourists just like the Alamo but, with no one other than us in sight, we used an old mirror for a quite modern selfie. Come think of it, coming to Fort Davis was experiencing how time has so monumentally changed. Here we are in the comforts of the present looking back behind the looking-glass to a time when "selfie" was not even a word...

quarta-feira, 12 de julho de 2017

Day 4: The Rio Grande (on the Mexican border)

So, this is the rio Grande? Hm... I thought it was blue. Well, at least this is the rio Grande as it meanders through Big Bend National Park. This is the iconic river bordering the US and Mexico. The border so depicted in Hollywood cowboy movies (and now the infamous site of a wall-to-be that won't be). The heat is on the threshold of unbearable but the place is evocative of pasts and presents. This is, after all, the borderland and many things are associated with the idea of a border. I bring my own thoughts and the imagery that formed in my mind over the years. Yes, I thought the river was blue and shallow. I also thought there was going to be people here but there's only me and the Tesla-loving guy I bring along. I got the heat right, though.
I still want to see more of this river and of this border...

segunda-feira, 10 de julho de 2017

Day 4: Big Bend National Park, Texas

When I said I wanted to go to Big Bend National Park, I was far from anticipating all the zillion border police checkpoints and patrols. "WelcomeTo southern Texas, M'am!", I heard in one of the times we were stopped by the police (we were also stopped for speeding while escaping an angry dear mom and baby and my passport having differing nationality and citizenship does not exactly work on my favour...). Anyway, enforcers of the rule of law aside and we made it to Big Bend National Park just to discover why it is that it is one of the least visited American national parks and a jewel worth discovering (more on posts to come). It "is" remote, very remote. Then the border patrol ordeals are not exactly enticing and on top of that you can only find very limited lodging options and all far from the park. We stayed in Alpine, which, like everything else on this part of the country, is a remote place, a very remote place.
Big Bend here we are!