Bill and I have made the drive between Phoenix and Denver approximately a million times. Well, I’m exaggerating, but it has been very, very many times. For the most part we have not deviated from the quickest route. Oh, it’s true once in a while we have taken I-40 all the way to Flagstaff and come in from the west if the weather is iffy. But most of the time we take I-25 south to I-40, get off I-40 in Holbrook, AZ, and take a couple of state highways that bring us right down into Mesa almost directly to our house. It’s a pretty drive and we know it like the back of our hands.
But a couple of months ago I read a light-weight mystery called Sister Eve: Private Eye, by Lynne Hinton. I didn’t review the book because frankly I didn’t like it much. It had so much potential – a Catholic nun investigating murders; seemed like it could write itself. But it simply didn’t read well, or at least not to me. Since it’s a series, I might try the next one to see if the author got any better.
Anyhoo, one thing I did like about the Sister Eve book is that it took place in an area of New Mexico about which I was unfamiliar. The good sister lived in Madrid, New Mexico, a town on New Mexico State Highway 14, which runs basically between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. This highway is referred to as the Turquoise Trail because from as early as 900 A.D., the Pueblo people mined turquoise, that beautiful blue-green stone which screams SOUTHWEST. (See how I indicated screaming by capitalizing the letters? Sometimes my cleverness astounds even me.) There are several little tiny communities along that trail, but Bill and I stopped in only one – Madrid. We stopped because it was the community with which I was familiar from the book, but also because it was just so darn cute.
Madrid (which apparently is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable as emphasized over and over by Sister Eve) sits at about the middle of the Turquoise Trail. Though turquoise was probably mined there at one time, the bulk of what was pulled out of the mountains surrounding Madrid was coal, and lots of it. No more, of course. In fact, the town sat nearly vacant after the coal market went away, and the Wall Street Journal advertised the whole town for sale for $250,000 in 1954. Dang, I wish my dad had bought it. I could be mayor.
As I mentioned, there are a number of towns on the Turquoise Trail, but the day that Bill and I traveled that lonesome road (and it was, indeed, lonesome), it was raining and not conducive to exploration on foot. We did park our car and enter one jewelry store where I bought a couple of pairs of turquoise earrings (when in Rome……) for a great price. There were only a few people in the store, and at one point the lone salesman left to go look for a box for another customer, leaving me to peruse the earrings. It made me laugh, however, because the earrings were sitting out in the open, as was much of the jewelry. He was gone for quite some time, so had I been an evil-minded crook, I could now own 20 or 30 sets of turquoise earrings, a handful of rings, and enough necklaces to look like an African princess. You’ve gotta love the trusting souls of Small Town America.
As we left the little store (which does a much better job with its jewelry than it does its coffee – just sayin’), Bill made friends with the store’s greeter, a friendly metal one-piece mariachi band.
Since the scenic Turquoise Trail bypass took only a little bit longer than the normal drive from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, I recommend a detour if you’re ever in the area. I definitely want to go back some day when the skies are as blue as the turquoise jewelry!
This post linked to the GRAND Social