It all turned out well in the end.

After landing in Albuquerque at 4:50 pm (mountain time) I shuttled over to the car rental community, about a mile from the airport, and lo and behold the National attendant was still there! I’d found a better Priceline deal a few hours earlier , and wound up with a new white Toyota Corolla.

I drove out of town just before 6 pm, and headed north on 25 and then 550. A magnificent day with breathtaking topographical splendor and a vast, bright blue sky and sunlight piercing through the windshield, and a great sound system to boot.

New Mexico driving lifts you up and activates your soul, bruh.

I’d been struggling with airports (LaGuardia and Dallas/Ft. Worth) and a cancelled flight and all the rest of that exhaustion, and suddenly I was free and delighted and flying along at 80 mph.

I made it as far as the Mesa Verde motel in Mancos, Colorado — roughly 100 minutes south of Telluride, call it two hours with pit stops and photo ops.