Everyone kept asking us – when are you leaving on your road trip to Santa Fe? What route are you taking? For weeks leading up to our departure our answer was a shoulder shrug. We know that Mother Nature holds all the cards when it comes to late January travel. Our plans to make Philadelphia our first stop were buried in two feet of snow and we headed west along the northern tier of states.
Driving through upstate New York this time of year and seeing no snow was downright disorienting. For four years I lived in Rochester, NY where it snowed almost everyday from November- April. While most college students slept in, I got up in predawn darkness so I could savor 30 minutes of blue sky before Lake Ontario sent in the clouds and snow. Only the deep rich golden yellow of the weeping willows offered a smidgen of relief against the relentless dreariness of the gray, white and winter brown palette.
All these years later, as we cruised along Interstates 90 and 80, I spent hours looking out the car window for that pop of yellow along the roadside. Every now and then golden grasses or deeply burnished sumac would provide grace notes in the subdued winter scene. Four days into the trip, somewhere in the middle of Iowa the sun appeared for the first time, lighting up silos and frozen streams. Composition at 65 miles per hour is a challenge.