June 23-Santa Fe NM-Liberal KS

I was up in the middle of the night writing on the patio. In spite of this, I felt reasonably well rested up after another night’s sleep in my great hotel bed. I decided to head out from Santa Fe, destination Liberal KS. I think I learned something about Liberal in high school and that there was a story behind its name but couldn’t remember much more than that.

I tried to go to breakfast at Pasquale’s. Scott and his wife had raved about their breakfast and brunch. Unfortunately they were closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays for breakfast. So I went to another New Mexican cuisine breakfast joint near the hotel. It was delicious. I had an omelet with a chili relleno inside, and beans, and a biscuit. A perfect southwestern meal.

After breakfast, I went for a walk over to Santa Fe Plaza. Scott’s wife said that she remembered the first time she came to Santa Fe in 1959. Back then, the Plaza was still dirt. Hard to believe seeing it today. It reminded me a lot of Carré St. Louis in Montréal, or something you’d see in New Orleans. Very nice design and clearly well-used by many locals and tourists alike.

Man on sidewalk of Santa Fe Plaza in Santa Fe New Mexico

People at outdoor cafe seating area across the street from Santa Fe Plaza in Sante Fe New Mexico

People sitting on bench near center of Santa Fe Plaza in Santa Fe New Mexico

Santa Fe Plaza.m4a

Saying goodbye to Santa Fe was sad. I like it there. But it was time to leave and move on to the next adventure. So I packed up the car and was on the road by about 10:30am.

The drive out of that part of New Mexico was, predictably, stunning. Lots of mountainous desert landscapes, twists and turns in the road, and beautiful vistas. As I headed northeast toward the Oklahoma panhandle, the mountains gave way to grasslands.

I fueled up right at the Oklahoma border at a travel plaza that reeked of fried chicken. I saw lots of Texas license plates there.

Driving east through the panhandle, I was struck by how gradual the transition was from the high grasslands of New Mexico to the lower plains landscape in Oklahoma. It seemed like one continuous landscape-maybe it was. Also, the panhandle feels very very long, driving west to east. I drove about 2/3 of its length over a span of about 2 hours. It’s beautiful in a desolate, monotonous way.

I made it to Liberal KS a little later than I would have liked, after a Siri-guided adventure down some country roads. I got real suspicious when she said “Turn right on Road O, then turn right on Mile 40.” Cell service on Mile 40 (a one-lane road) was spotty. However, thanks to Dan being a dedicated interlocutor, I managed to stay connected to a friend the whole time. I got back on to Highway 54 with my faith restored in GPS algorithms. I laughed as I passed a drive-through medical cannabis dispensary in Oklahoma near the Kansas border.

I heard a lot of Spanish spoken in Liberal, and noticed a lot of Latino business names. I also noticed that there were at least two skateparks that were well-signed. Seeing lots of parks in smaller communities in Kansas would be a theme as I would later learn.

Since I was in Kansas, I decided to have some mediocre BBQ for dinner. Jenn was nice enough to spend time on the phone with me while I shaved for 45 minutes and then went to the ice cream parlor for dessert. It was wonderful catching up with her.

Ice cream dessert in cup with spoon sticking out of the top at ice cream parlor in Liberal Kansas

I decided to head for Witchita in the morning and then went to bed.

Jacob M Brostoff @roadtrip