After crossing 900 miles of Texas, Doris and I , together with our friends from London, the Carringtons, crossed into New Mexico and turned north, passing the Santa Theresa Golf Club where I had played four years in a row in the Los Coyotes Viejos golf tournament. Lee Trevino, Open champion in 1968 lived and played, (and gambled ) there in his early days. We drove to the Inn of the Mountain Gods resort hotel in Ruidosa where Doris and I had spent four days when we went with friends to the quarter horse races that are held there. The men played golf every morning on this hilly course where the Rio Ruidosa, (translated as Noisy River), dominates, and went to the races each afternoon. The Inn and the challenging golf course were both on the Indian Reservation there and were entirely staffed by Indians which was a novel experience for our English friends. I had also played golf at Twin Warriors Golf Club near Alberquerque that was also on Indian land and we were forbidden to step off the defined course even to retrieve an errant golf ball because it was sacred ground to the tribe.
From Ruidoso we went to the State capital, Santa Fe and toured the numerous
galleries displaying Indian art and to the town center where there is always a constant display of hand-crafted items on the plazas and side-walks by local artists. Dick Carrington was intrigued by a sign on one stall guaranteeing, “No Hong-Kong
junk.” Our ladies came away with several new silver and amethyst bracelets, pendants and ear-rings. From Santa Fe we drove about 20 miles on a beautiful mountain road that followed a small river to Taos, another center of Indian art and culture. The outdoor craft market was almost identical to the Santa Fe one but the art galleries had a far better display of Indian paintings that were however well above our budget. We then turned west to Arizona. Phoenix was well to our south so we missed it but Doris and I had been there several times with the Senior Golfers of America, notably to the Wig-Wam and Camel Back resorts. We were also there one time when the Phoenix Grand Prix car race was on the city streets right next to the hotel. We went to the Jerome, Arizona ghost town that we had read about. Jerome had been over a period of 77 years from 1875 to 1952, the largest
producing copper mine in the world The population of the city went from 100 to 15,000 at one time but the mine played out in 1952 and the population dropped to 140 and the town became a ghost town. In the nineteen sixties, thanks to an influx of hippy colonies, it started becoming an art community. When we were there in 1989 it was only a half ghost town with large buildings like the hospital and school as empty skeletons but the main street was quite active with bars, restaurants and craft shops. We learned that the city was named by Eugene and Leonard Jerome, both financiers and investors in New York. At one time, Leonard was called the “King of Wall Street” and he and his brother made frequent train trips to Arizona to manage the finances of the mining operations. Products from the mine in addition to copper were gold, zinc and lead and it was staffed by immigrants from almost every country in Europe and a high percentage from China. Leonard had four daughters, the second of which was Jennie Jerome who married Lord Randolph Churchill, one of the richest men in England and they soon had a baby who became Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, Britain’s most famous Prime Minister. Randolph died at age 45 reportedly of syphilis and Jennie married a man the same age as Winston. She married two more times but had numerous affairs with European socialites and even with the Prince of Wales.
From Jerome we headed north to see the Grand Canyon. Doris and I had been there twice, staying at the El Tovar Lodge on one trip, when we drove up from our golf visits in Phoenix and we had twice stayed on the way at the Bell Inn in Sedona amidst the famous red rocks. We chose to take the Carringtons there and to see the giant red bell-shaped mountain that gave the Inn its name. They were just as intrigued as we were the first time we saw this region of red mountains with the town of Sedona in the middle. It looks like something Disney had built because it was so unusual and different. We saw the famous Red Rock crossing on the river that had featured posses of good guys and bad guys riding their horses across in several Western movies. We had discovered a new way to get to the Canyon by train from the town of Williams that is 65 miles from the canyon. It took about one and a half hours and had strolling musicians and at one point we were subjected to a fake train robbery with a sheriff coming and saving us all. We were also mooned by three boys by the track side that I believe was not in the formal program. (I Googled the Canyon Train to see if it still runs and was astonished to see that it is now a luxury re-conditioned train with an observation dome and all sorts of fancy extras at $ 195 per adult round trip. The operating company also has trains at Yosemite and Mount Rushmore.) When we arrived at the South Rim, I was watching our
friend’s faces as they got their first view of the canyon and I saw the same reaction I remembered we had on first seeing it. No matter how much you have read about it or the pictures you may have seen, that first glimpse far exceeds your expectations. We visited all the observation points in walking distance and at one I threw a boomerang that I had brought for this purpose out over the canyon but on its return I could not quite reach it. It sailed away, still spinning as we watched it go down the canyon and, I am sure, setting US Boomerang Association records for MTA, most time in the air and distance. Fortunately, I had brought two boomerangs and the second one not only returned but almost hit two ladies who had joined us on the observation point. At the cost of a good boomerang, I had reached another boomeranging goal I had visualized. We had an un-eventual return ride to Williams and found a nice motel on our way west to Colorado and our planned farthest point, Los Vegas, Nevada.
We had booked rooms at the MGM Grand for three nights and settled down to relax in luxury style comfort with no driving to do for three days. The big attraction was of course, the casino where Mary Carrington fell in love with the penny slots.
Every time we lost her she was always discovered with a plastic tub of money rapt in concentration. Dick and I played modestly at the roulette tables and at Black Jck. On two nights we went to the nightly shows seeing the Titanic sinking with water rushing across the stage into the pits. The second night was a song and dance extravaganza with ladies in minimal costumes. We ate most of our meals in the lavish cafeteria but on our last night we splashed out in the 5-Star restaurant. We thoroughly enjoyed this crazy way to live if only for three days. We then recovered our car and headed for the Hannah Casino in Reno where we did much better at the gaming tables and slots. Then to Carson City to another Hannah’s Casino and returned the money we had won back to Mr. Hannah. From there we turned towards home, going through Amarillo in a mini-tornado and having a three day drive with stops only for food and motels. In Houston, with our friends safely returned to the airport, I was pleased to find that in my absence, my company, Production Operators Inc. had been awarded by PDVSA in Venezuela, the biggest compression contract we had ever received, to place eight 1500 compressors on an off-shore platform in the middle of Lake Maracaibo. This was extremely good news and learning more about it is another memory for another day.