“We Took a Wrong Turn in Española,” I shared at a meeting tonight, and the whole room exploded in laughter. I must have had a surprised look on my face at this response. Afterwards, a well-meaning friend came up to me and explained, “A lot of good stories start with ‘We took a wrong turn in Española.’”
So, this is our story. My husband, Lin, and I planned to meet my brother and his youngest daughter and her family in Red River, New Mexico, on the Wednesday before the 4th of July at 3:00 PM. Lin did his due diligence and googled the length of the trip and factored in time to eat lunch. When we got to Española, he was driving, and I managed the GPS on my phone. We arrived at a junction, and he shot through the intersection before I exclaimed, “The GPS says we should turn left here for a faster route.” So, he did a quick U-turn and we turned. Neither of us questioned the turn; the GPS said to turn!
When we made the next right turn, we realized our favorite restaurant was on this road, Socorro’s Restaurant, in Hernandez, New Mexico. We relaxed and enjoyed some delicious Mexican food. Lin had enchiladas and I had Frito Pie.
I started driving after lunch so Lin could watch the women’s soccer match on his iPad. Quickly the GPS told me to turn right and we passed Ojo Caliente, a favorite mineral springs spa we love, but something kept nagging at me, “We’re not following the Rio Grande river up that awesome valley.”
We continued, and I asked Lin if this felt right. He answered me, “Yeah, just kept straight,” distracted by the soccer game and the sporadic reception on his iPad. We came to some rolling hills, but they weren’t in the right place. I watched our movement on the GPS screen, but we lost connection, so we were standing still. Our relationship to Taos was wrong, and I knew we had to go through Taos. On the GPS screen we were moving away from Taos!
We came to Tres Piedras, and that really felt out of place, but Lin assured me we were OK. A few miles out of town, I saw a mountain on the left side of the road, and as I saw it and realized our error, Lin looked up from his iPad and exclaimed, “We’re headed to Colorado!”
I did a quick U-turn and turned left at Tres Piedras, seeing a sign that said we would go over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and I laughed. We had never crossed the bridge coming from the Albuquerque area. Also going this way put us beyond Taos, so we missed the city completely and we both enjoy the city of Taos.
I called my brother to let him know our mistake and we’d be about 45 minutes late. He chuckled as he hung up. Lin and I spent the next 45 minutes laughing about our mistake, making joke after joke. Frequently during the next couple days, we referenced our side trip and laughed more. We have gone to Red River numerous times, but we go to Colorado also off of this back road, so we understood the confusion.
I’m glad to say we didn’t let it ruin the day or our 4th of July celebration. We arrived 45 minutes late; no one was hurt or maimed—it was a simply mistake. We enjoyed the holiday festivities in the Red River and Eagle Nest area.
We took the ski lift up the mountain for thirty minutes, walked around on top, and then the thirty minutes down. I ended up with a nasty sunburn on my legs because of this ride, but we enjoyed the spectacular scenery!
On our journey to Eagle Nest about 8:15 PM the evening of July 4 to see the fireworks over the lake, we saw a massive herd of elk and heard their strange sounds—what a serendipity! Enjoy the video below.
On July 5th, we came home the usual way, winding our way alongside the Rio Grande where numerous rafters enjoyed the thrill of white water rafting. We made several stops: Taos to shop, Velarde at our favorite store which features beautiful items made in Mexican, and our favorite fruit stand for fresh fruit.
After this holiday trip, a phrase has been added to our family story, “We’re headed towards Colorado,” and when it is mentioned in the future, Lin and I both will smile at our unexpected side trip and also at how we handled it. Neither one got mad at the other; we just laughed at our mistake.
So, many stories start with “I took a wrong turn in Española.” What’s your story?
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