New Mexico, before statehood, was an American territory wrested from Mexico in one of America’s many wars.
In 1912, we became a state and were lucky to do so.There were plenty of critics, then, as now, who suggested New Mexico has more in common with Mexico than the United States, has a backward uneducated population, is not nearly close to being civilized. In our early days, outlaws like Billy the Kid shot up people, miners lived a tough and tumble life camped out in nearby ravines looking for gold, and cattle ranchers hung cattle thieves from cottonwood trees.
Cerrillos, at one time, was a bustling community and was considered for the location of our state capitol. When the mineral reserves played out though, the town shrunk, and, today, this back roads thin spot on a thin road is just a few hundred souls living a quiet life not far from movie star Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the biggest city in the state.
The Cerrillos Station is a new, remodeled version of an old General Store that our family visited back in the fifties.The coffee is fresh, the owners cordial, the merchandise arty and fashionable. The repertory theater that produced melodramas in the 50’s for families is no where to be seen but this little town is still typical small town New Mexico with adobe walls, pinon rail fences, garden plots in back yards, fifth wheels pulled up to utility poles, dogs running around unattended and without leashes.
Friends Robert and Eric, who came along for the ride, enjoy their coffee, and we take a quick break before heading back down the road to Madrid, another New Mexico mining town turned into a hippie hideaway and retreat for non-conformist souls who aren’t much different than the neighbors they live next too.
The old pictures of Cerrillos, in black and white on the shop’s walls, make me wonder how the Hell this territory ever made it to being an American state?
I guess those back room politicians just didn’t want to see a gap on the U.S. map between Arizona and Texas?
Either you are hungry, uncomfortable, scared, envious, or in love. Sometimes you are just bored and want to change because you can.
Chip and Lori want to live simple and live free.
” It’s an experiment, ” Chip says, and, thankfully, his wife is going along with it. Moving in a different direction than your spouse is like trying to row a boat with oars going in opposite directions.
The corner posts go in first for a storage shed that will give Chip a place to store his tools out of the weather. He can put his generator inside and we can have electric to run our power tools.
I will come back to help when Chip has all his materials on site and we can put the shed together in a couple of days.
Sitting around a campfire at night, under more stars than we can see, the place oddly feels like home, even if the wind whips up and the cold sneaks in under my bedroll and makes me wake up in the middle of the night.
Nowhere is most often a remote, uninteresting, nondescript place, a place having no prospect of progress or success, obscure, miles from anything or anyone.
Nowhere is a place no one else wants to be, a place that offers no comfort, no wealth, no value.
Nowhere, however, can be a place to gain privacy, a place to begin new, a place to build what you now see that you didn’t see before.
Pioneers struck out to find value in the nowhere reaches of the old west. Astronauts went into the nowhere of space looking for new worlds. Explorers in the sixteenth century ventured into nowhere to find profit.
Chip, wife Lori, son Bowen, and Scott are striking out for Nowhere, Arizona.
There won’t be a town here, but, by the time we are done, this trip, there will be the start of a storage shed for Chip and Lori’s stuff. Their homestead is still further down time’s road.
When you come to Nowhere, you don’t want to come with Nothing and you want to leave Something behind.
This is how it must have felt to the pioneers on wagon trains headed west after the American Civil War, a shared tragedy that hangs on us like a ball and chain.
Henry David Thoreau got tired of his rat race in the 1800’s and retreated to Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts to live a simpler life.
As a transcendentalist, he believed getting close to nature would get him closer to truth, wisdom, God, and peace. He built himself a little cabin on Walden pond, took daily walks, observed nature, documented his thoughts and daily chores in a book he called ” Walden, or Life in the Woods. ”
My road trip goal is to help Chip and Lori get a start on their simpler life in the middle of Nowhere, in Arizona, thirteen miles down a dirt road off a narrow two lane highway taking you from I-40 past Gallup to Show Low, Arizona. There are no ponds, but plenty of nature.
With 80% of Americans living in cities these days, the things you can’t do, in a free country, are astounding.
The 20% of Americans who live outside city limits are an independent breed.These folks move to a different drummer, value individual liberty, work, helping your neighbors, keeping government at bay, They used to be everywhere, be your neighbors. go to your church, run for office. Now, they are scurrying out of the city as quick as they can get their resources together.
When all Hell breaks loose, do you really want to live in a city, anywhere?
Henry David Thoreau’s book is still resonating, a hundred and fifty years later.
I’ve heard, though, that even he would sneak back to town to have dinner with sympathetic readers and talk shop with Ralph Waldo Emerson over a glass of wine and a big piece of the widow Smith’s award winning Angel Food cake.
Sometimes you just don’t know what you are missing till you try something else.
Pat has been persistently trying to move Scott to a DSLR for several years. ” I Phone cameras are good for what they are, ” he has always maintained, ” but cell phones make telephone calls and get you on the net. If you want good pictures you got to get better equipment. ”
My DSLR stuff has been collecting dust, but, on this trip, Scott has taken his Nikon DSLR out of its case and taken a few photos.
The entire process is like discovering that you can eat soup with a fork, if you like, but it is easier and less messy to use a spoon.
So, here are a few photos taken with the Nikon.
I like them and hope Pat likes them too.
Next trip, there will be substantially more of them.
Trips start with me saying the name of a country three times while balancing on my left foot and hopping up and down, twice.
There are 195 countries in the world, according to Wikipedia, but I usually choose countries to visit that look warm and friendly, have good pictures from people who have been there, and good reviews by fellow travelers.
Sometimes friends and family give me their dream vacations in the middle of conversations about the deteriorating U.S. trade balance or the price of tomatoes.
Pat, who keeps Scotttreks.com flying with tech genius, suggested the Dolphin Fountain in Mazatlan, all the five star restaurants in Paris, the Great Barrier Reef for diving. In the Dominican Republic he likes LaRamada, the north side beaches, the grave of Christopher Columbus, Altos de Chavon and Casa de Campo. He has traveled more places for business than Scotttreks can ever dream about seeing.
To celebrate my ninth travel ring, I buy myself a brand new Dominican Republic guide book at Barnes and Noble, full of places to see, foods to sample, music to tap my foot too, places to hang my hat.
There are 195 perfect countries on this planet to meet, thousands of cool places to explore and friendly hospitable people in all of them..
Scott is getting ready to ramble but hopping is getting more and more difficult.
Some musicians play. Some musicians teach. Some musicians both play and teach.
There are lots of filters that can keep a teacher’s message from reaching his students gas tank. If Chadd could just run a USB from his brain to my brain, he could download his considerable music knowledge and we wouldn’t have to wait for me to go through hours and hours of practice.
At the heart of every jazz solo is technique, clarity of thought, pureness of emotion, and an intent to swing.
There is, unfortunately, no USB connection that can bypass practice.
My attempts to master flute playing have been unsuccessful.
Chadd tells me the oboe is the hardest instrument to play he has ever tried.
I’m stuck with alto sax and clarinet, my original horn.
Right now, playing one horn well is about all the gas I have left in my tank.
Right now, listening to Chadd play a flute solo, is as close to the flute as i want to be.
This good sized rock, more than a stone but not quite a boulder, in Embudo Canyon in the Albuquerque foothills, is not where it should be.
It appears it was lifted from a nearby mound of dirt and was carefully placed on the trail Alex and I are now trekking down. We can see the hole where the rock used to be cradled.
” Let’s move it back, ” Alex says.
If we move the rock back will some cosmic order be disturbed? How far do we want to impose our human will on the natural world? Has moving rocks become against the law in an open space monitored by cameras and posted signs? Maybe the rock likes it here where someone else has placed it?
We keep walking past the crime scene.
I’m suspecting someone will eventually put the rock where they need it.
This scene has man’s fingerprints all over it and I’m not feeling an overwhelming need to put things right.
I have learned that I can live quite easily with things out of normal.
The LaFonda Hotel has been a fixture in Santa Fe going back decades.
The current hotel was built in 1922 on a downtown site where the first Santa Fe hotel was built in 1607 when Spaniards came to town. It is on the register of the Historic Hotels of America, was once owned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad, and from 1926 to 1968 was one of the famous Harvey Houses that took care of train passengers riding from back East all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
In the 1900’s this was the favored haunt of trappers, soldiers,gold seekers, gamblers and politicians. The hotel, in the 1920’s, was designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter and John Gaw Meem and is still a favored watering hole for New Mexico state legislators and government officials who populate Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, affectionately called ” The City Different” by those of us who live in our state.
Santa Fe itself has long been a refuge for writers, artists, movie stars, and the local newspaper, ” The Santa Fe New Mexican ” is the oldest continuously operating newspaper in America. The world famous Santa Fe Opera is close by as well as Canyon Road with a gallery every other mailbox.
Up to Santa Fe for the day, Joan suggests I visit Boston. I’m thinking the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum would be my cat’s meow.
While the LaFonda Hotel is super comfy, charming,historical, quaint, revolutions always ring my bells.
Joan misses some ambiance, on the phone, fixing who is watching her kids , and when, with an unaccommodating ex in Boston.
Fortunate for me, or not, I have avoided these kind of revolutions.