Just as I’m documenting this journey through words and photos, today’s trek from Flagstaff to Albuquerque was filled with stories documented from centuries ago, taking us back in time as we crossed the border from Arizona to New Mexico.
Whenever we look for places to eat, it’s a guessing game of narrowing down dozens of 4-5 star reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor. Yet this morning’s choice was easier than usual as my intuition strongly told me to choose Morning Glory Cafe for breakfast, a Southside cafe on San Francisco Street in Flagstaff.
This cafe featured a vegan menu, which was probably for the best after our Wendy’s drive-thru regret from last night. This locally-run cafe even let Werkley come inside; the friendly vibe from both staff and locals couldn’t have rung stronger. Sean tried their Coconut French Toast and chai tea, while I had their berry coconut smoothie and Grilled Tofu Benedict sandwich. Wow, both were amazing.
I asked the current owner how long this place has been around, and she told me a hint of its history. It opened 30 years ago by a local icon named Maria Ruiz who has since passed away. She was known around town for bringing the community together: spreading love, wisdom and humor over healing food. An article under our glass table further noted that she could often be found feeding the homeless. Her pictures and philosophy of love were the focus of this cafe’s decor, and it was inspiring to feel the impact that she left behind even as an outsider.
We left this place feeling so fulfilled, both in terms of our bellies but also our spirits. Now I know why I was so drawn to this place – Maria’s legacy lured us in.
We began a 45 minute drive to Meteor Crater, a shocking meteorite impact site in the middle of the northern Arizona dessert. This otherwise flat landscape was drastically changed in an instant 50,000 years ago when an asteroid flying 26,000 mph crash landed here. This crater is one mile wide, 2.4 miles in circumference and 550 feet deep. While viewing this massive wound to the Earth, it’s hard not to be reminded of just how vulnerable we are on this planet.
We buckled back in for a 4-hour drive, crossing the state border to New Mexico, where we were welcomed by a sign that read “entering Zuni.” Curious, we googled the history of this place as we were passing through, learning that this area is home to a village of less than 10,000 self-governed people who speak their own unique language. They are known as an artist colony, which explains the dozens of art, jewelry and trade goods shops we saw along the route. Turns out, this place was noted as the first contact between Natives and Europeans in the region, decades before Plymouth Rock.
Not too far past this village, or “pueblo,” as they are called, we stopped at El Morro National Monument, home to a handful of historic trails that have been walked by thousands of passersby for centuries. Thanks to a reliable waterhole hidden at the base of a sandstone bluff, this was a popular stopping ground where Ancestral Puebloans, Spanish and American travelers carved over 2,000 signatures, dates, messages, and petroglyphs. Seeing these markings up close was a powerful reminder that – contrary to how deafeningly quiet and isolated a path may seem – we are never alone, but rather, walking in the footsteps of those who came before us.
Two more hours of driving, and we were itching to get out of the car as we stopped to nestle in Albuquerque for the next two nights, granting us time to continue exploring this area’s rich culture and history.
We paused for dinner at Albuquerque’s Nexus Brewery, featured on The Food Network Channel and praised for its New Mexican soul food. Everything that we ordered truly did feed the soul: Gumbo Soup, chicken wings, BBQ pulled pork, mac n cheese, fried chicken and gravy, bread pudding, and peach cobbler – yeah, we were hungry. And yes, we’re hurting now.