We wake up later than usual in Amarillo. Brett picks up the car and I get coffee in the motel lobby, where I notice that everyone is less friendly than in the Midwest. We stop briefly at a Best Buy where a lot of young blue-shirted employees help me find a battery powered radio. I buy one that is pink and cube-shaped. We find country stations and not much else.

We drive on until the road abruptly drops into New Mexico. The West begins. The country is wider, and more yellow than before. We stop for lunch in Santa Rosa, the "scuba capital of the Southwest," at a little diner that serves Green Chile Stew. We are the only people in the diner, and it feels as if we are the only people that have been in the diner for some time. Brett tries to go to a curio shop built in the shape of a teepee, but it is closed.

In the afternoon, we drive up to Las Vegas, NM, a small town where the houses are beautiful and crowded together, chipped peach and yellow paint. We circle the town square and head into a neighborhood, to visit Bobby Valdez's sculpture garden. The front yard is a cartoonish menagerie of brightly painted concrete animals, punctuated by a Catholic shrine and a few patriotic scenes.


Bobby's doing some plumbing work, but stops to show us around, through the small front yard, past gorillas and snakes and cavemen, to the back where concrete geese stand next to a hand-built indoor swimming pool, empty at this time of year.



On the way out, fair use in cement