It was Maui Jim, pretty expensive one, around $180. And it was free! Well, between December'12 and Apr'13 I had been to San Diego at least 4-5 times, every time for 2-3 weeks and sometime even 4 weeks. This was because BlackBerry was developing QChat for NII and Qualcomm was providing the chip-set. One developer has to make trips to Qualcomm office in San Diego for integration purpose. Every 2 weeks Qualcomm will release their part of code and BlackBerry would release theirs and a BlackBerry developer and Qualcomm developer would sit together to integrate both sides' code. Since barring Apurv and myself, everyone else in the team had family so they couldn't be out of Chicago for a week or two. And since Apurv had just joined, it was down to me to do most of the travelling and integration and train Apurv too. I had no complaints. I thoroughly enjoyed my trips. It was a way to get out of the cold Chicago winter for one, enjoy San Diego for two, and then its all on the company's expenses, flight tickets down to daily lunch/dinner etc. And every time I visited San Diego, I stayed in Hilton. I had signed up for Hilton Honors program of theirs and was accumulating points for my every nights stay. Soon I had so much points that I ordered a Maui Jim sun glasses through their rewards store and I still have close to 150000 points left.
I went back to the room to check for the shades once again. Didn't find it. I resigned myself to the thought of spending the rest of the road trip without it. I thought of all the pictures of mine without my sun glasses, and now there was no strong reason to put on my contacts too because I want to protect my eyes from direct sunlight. Sunlight is a major contributor to my poor eye sight, according to my eye doctor back in India. That is why I wear photo chromatic lenses which go dark in sunlight then back to normal inside home or in shades. I left my contact number and sun glasses details at the hotel reception with a faint hope that if they happen to find it, they can send it to me.
On my way to the car, all the time I was thinking of the places where the shades could have been. I'm ususaly very careful with things like this and I was pretty convinced that the glasses must be around somewhere with me, either in the car, or in my luggage but just hidden. I remembered that I usually leave my shades on top of the big kitchen box that was on my passenger seat so there is a possibility that it must have slipped under the seat when I applied brakes. I looked under the seat and there it was. Bingo! Everything is normal again. The world order is restored. I quickly went to the reception and let them know that I've found my glasses and I was on my way.
The first stop was Cadillac Ranch. A typical 66 attraction, much like the Blue Whale but I liked this one far more than the Whale. The Whale was devoid of any artistic touch or feeling. Here it was a huge ranch with bunch of Cadillacs half buried in the ground, slanted vertically a bit and all sorts of graffiti drawn on them. There were few spray cans lying around. People can help themselves to leave their mark on the cars, anyway they want. I took few pictures. It was a bright sunny day which is good for pictures. There was a couple with bunch of kids who were making graffiti on the cars. There were two ladies, one of whom I approached if she can take a picture of mine. Because I wanted the sun on my face while she would have her back to it when taking the picture I asked if she would walk with me to one end of the row and she happily obliged. She was nice. She was on her way to LA with her friend to meet with her parents. She was from Virginia, West I think.I told her this was going to be my Facebook cover picture and that she shouldn't mess it up. She laughed. I offered to take her picture if she wanted. I was happy to snap few of for her. Then we parted ways.
Next stop was the Midpoint cafe. Its the mid point between Chicago and LA. The place was barren except for the cafe. I went in and ordered a salad. The inside of the Cafe was an attempt to make something out of the location. There were pictures and buttons pinned to the walls and some travelers thought its cool to take snaps of those. While gazing through the walls from my seat, I noticed that I've carried a bit of mud underneath my sandals from the outside. I remembered a muddy patch that I walked over to the Cafe, just outside. Ah Damn! Embarrassing. I tried not to move my legs much and whatever mud had come off the sandal, I tried to swipe them under the table. The salad was okay. I have faint hopes of such a business running for a long time with profit. Look at the location. Sometime in the past, granted, it was a place to be but now I don't think many people would fancy a stop over at this place. The server was the owner and he had recently purchased this place. I didn't speak much to save him some awkward questions. Outside, I met two British middle aged ladies who were doing the 66 on their motor bikes. I asked them to take a picture of mine. All my drive, I've been listening to Ricky Gervais podcasts and I told them how huge a fan am I of him. They weren't. They think of him and his sense of humor a bit weird. I wished them luck and drove on.
Then came Tucumcari, NM. I wanted to see the Dinosaur museum there. I went in there but it wasn't like the usual huge museums generally are. It was a small place, more like a mid size Trader Joe's, or a fancy restaurant with some models thrown in here and there. Most of the samples weren't the originals but plaster or paris or metal casts of the original. I like to come to a museum to see authentic stuff, not duplicates. When I see a genuine dinosaur tooth I appreciate the time span the planet has lived through, I believe in the existence of them creatures and imagine their size. When I see a cast, it takes away that feeling from me. Sure, I can admire the minute details the technician put in to make it but thats it. It was a $5 entry fee which wasn't much so I didn't mind. It would have been ridiculous to charge $20 for this.
50 miles further was Auto museum, the Route66 Auto museum. The name of the place isn't original. 'Auto museum' describes the place and Route66 is, well, perhaps helps with the directions.Another auto museum for me. Its one thing gazing at cars and admiring the evolution the auto industry has gone through but another thing to drive one of these oldies.It had similar cars which I had already seen in the Country Classic cars museum back in IL. It was 4:30 in the afternoon when I was done with it. It was a small place but lots of cars cramped in it. It didn't take me long to have a tour of my own.
I had not anticipated I'd be done by my day's attractions this early. But it was good. Now I could decide where to crash for the night. My next attraction was Petrified forest national park and I had definitely not planned to do it towards the end of the day. This is the kind of attractions that are best seen first thing in the morning. I decided to stay the night in Gallup, NM. Small town, just the way I like it. I was once asked if I prefer to stay in a big town or a small town and I was happy with my answer. I said while I'm young, like in my 20-30s I wanna stay in a big town, like Chicago or NY. I like big town just because of the the people. The crowd, all the beautiful women window shopping, restaurants lined by the streets, parks and beaches and women sunbathing. Wonderful. However when I'm old, like 50-60s, I might like to stay in a small town. Its quiet, cheap and I'd be happy minding my own business. When I'm old, I won't have energy left to bungee jump or skydive so I'd be taking care of my backyard. Sigh.
I went into Super8 again, in Gallup. It was decent. After dinner in a nearby restaurant, I just came back and slept. I was very tired and dropped the idea of hitting any bars. I was one more day closer to my destination which made me little happy even though I've been enjoying myself so far. Petrified forest and Meteor crater were on the cards for the next day and the day wasn't restricted to sightseeing only. Unaware of what lies ahead of me, I slept peacefully.