We are not allowed to eat inside restaurants any more or gather in large groups. OK, I can happily live with that. We have five areas; I can walk to see the squirrels eating all my flowers, the packrats eating what the squirrels have left and the coyotes eating them all, al fresco as they always do.  When you tire of this, you can think back to THE movie, “Animal House,” made by John Belushi. It fits our situation today perfectly. Now as then, things were bad at Faber College for those Delta Fraternity boys. “Remember when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Did they give up?”  Heck no. You can do what they did when Dean Vernon Wormer shut down the Frat house and closed the bar—Road Trip!

Caution, do not go out of state, or they can confine you to 14 days of your own cooking. Be sure to wear your masks and gloves. I do. Wash your hands and drive carefully. Take a cooler with your own food and drink.

Last Wednesday, Bill and I took that road trip from Edgewood to Moriarty up the King’s road to Santa Fe. But we did not stop at Santa Fe. Instead, we went around it for our destination, Las Vegas, and slightly outside Las Vegas, near the Christmas Ranch. Bill, being an avid outdoorsman, had word that the antelope herds were flourishing. Like the song, “where the deer and the antelope play” is where he wanted to be. That was for Bill. All the way up there was brown, brown, brown all around. I worried about what the herds would eat. It is a little better in that high country, but when we came out of Moriarty, it looked grim. However, when we got on the ranch roads, the herds were magnificent. Antelopes’ coloring makes them camouflage in the landscape, but they are unique and beautiful. The way they run, and the youngsters follow, is magic.

As for me, I got to see the traditional town that the railroad built, the real Old West of story and legend, Las Vegas. My long-time friend and next-door neighbor, Judy Roberts, was raised and brought up in Vegas. Two year ago, at the 58th high school reunion, on her invitation, I was privileged to be a guest on that occasion. The community of Las Vegas, the architecture, the camaraderie, and the ambiance of this Highland University college town gave me the Animal House thrill. It is that happy feeling you get when you watch students playfully defy unwise, unlawful, and just plain awful authority.

I do not recommend building a float from a wrecked car and running it down the main drag into Dean Wormer. But we did notice signs in the window of the famous Charlie’s Spic and Span Bakery. One said that 42 servers had lost their jobs at Charlie’s. Another referred to La Llorona of Santa Fe.  Evidently, they did have a parade of sorts on Monday July 9. The restaurateurs in New Mexico, following the governor’s new orders to cancel indoor dining again, had a little protest of their own. Freedom of Speech, what a great God=given right.

We were glad to see Charlie’s open outside with tables and chairs on the sidewalk. Charlie’s is to me what antelope is to Bill. Our lovely and masked waitress Audrey was charming as she took our order. At 73 I can order dessert first. We had a cream puff and a chocolate raised donut.  Then we had lunch with carne adovada for Bill and beef and chicken flautas for me. The food was so good we asked to speak to the manager. Charlie;s own daughter, Elizabeth Sandoval, came to our table. Her mask did not hide her smile; her eyes showed us she was glad we had a great lunch. She was kind about our inquiries and our hopes that this restaurant was safe; safe meaning that it would continue its job feeding starving college students and faithful customers from near and far.

Then, when we were coming home… rain. Thank God for a road trip to see how New Mexico is pulling together like Animal House. Can you hear the music? “Can’t we all just get along?” Roaring Mouse, back in the kitchen. Out.

Jo White
Jo White

From 1966 to 1971, Jo attended the University of New Mexico and Memphis State University, earning degrees in Communications, English, Journalism, Speech and Drama with history minors. At UNM, her hero was Tony Hillerman. She taught high school and middle school in city, country, and private schools for 30 years. Roaring Mouse is in its 25 th year. She can be reached at jomouse@aol.com