Highway 14 is a small ribbon of a road, two undulating lanes that roll and twist, that take traffic to Madrid and Cerrillos, New Mexico, and on to Santa Fe, or Albuquerque, depending on what direction you are pointing your car.
New Mexico has always been a mining and ranching state. It is one of the largest U.S. states with a population over two million and most of those two million living in cities like Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces. The state is as hard as this countryside and was one of the last territories to become a U.S. state in 1912. Highway 14 takes you through undulating rugged hills dotted with junipers, arroyos, and canyons, under blue blue skies with a few white puffs of clouds. The people who live out here are tough, practical, artistic, and don’t take a cotton to ” city life. ”
Two things to see on the drive to Madrid from Cerrillos, enough to warrant a stop and a photo, are a Trojan Horse and a crazy looking bird that is out of someone’s imagination..
It is funny how the Greeks are still reminding us that they were here too. This Trojan Horse, by the side of the Highway 14, overlooks the valley below and doesn’t look like he is going to take ” No ” for an answer.
A little further down the road, almost to Madrid, is a crazy bird, by the side of the Highway 14. He looks like he is from another world too. He advertises one of the many galleries in this area, and even though this gallery is closed, it shows the spirit of this entire area. Even tough old ” homesteaders ” have an artistic side and prefer the country to the city, any day.
Pulling into Madrid, finding a place to park isn’t hard today. The town is closed because of a virus, and one suspects that most residents in these parts are happy to see their streets empty.
New Mexico has lots of little back roads, like Highway 14, and along most of them are glimpses like these into a state that holds to it’s western heritage with one hand and the space age with the other.
I’ve never been through a government ordered lock down where businesses are shut down, movement is restricted, banks are closed except for drive up windows or internet banking, and the real economy grinds to a halt as the stock market tries to reach it’s old- new heights.
One of the few things we are still permitted to do, before we are fined for being on the road, if we don’t have our papers in order, is hike in the Embudo Canyon in the Sandia Mountains. The gate has still opened at seven in the morning and people are still coming to meet nature, in person, in their back yard.
People are cautious with the new ” social distancing ” orders from our state capitol building. On the trail, some hikers wear masks, and back ten feet away from us as we pass them on the same trail we have been hiking for the last several years. Some people you pass don’t even answer you when you greet them with a cheerful ” Good Morning. ”
When you are not a billionaire, you can’t escape this new reality as easily,you can’t take a private jet to your private bunker in New Zealand or Australia,you can’t play the stock market casino with someone else’s money.
It’s a great morning for a hike and Albuquerque, from up here, looks like it always does, from a distance.
It makes me wonder about the sanity of a “lock down.”
For most of us, at ground level, the health of the economy is always life, or death.
Is saving 2% of a population worth crippling the other 98%?
Most RV’s spend most of their life in storage. Sometimes they are kept in their own garages like prized thoroughbreds. Most often they are parked in driveways, back yards, side lots – uncovered, unprotected, unloved.
Scotttrek’s classic recreational vehicle is kept in storage at a local Airstream dealer, and, for sixty dollars a month is safe, unmolested, and underappreciated.
Times are changing, though, and the Sunrader will be started up, loaded up, and prepared for a different future.
It may be that the Sunrader becomes a more than recreational home away from home.
In troubled times, it is nice to know that you have a bathroom,a kitchen,a place to rest your head, a hot shower and refrigerated air.
The temptation has always been to sell this RV and save the sixty dollars a month, but when push comes to shove, insurance is always worth what we have paid to have it, when the time comes that we need it.
The Rio Grande river is running high and fast with a bigger than normal snow pack this last winter. It is July and there are still big rocks in the middle of the river that you still can’t see the tops of.
Along the river’s edges, rafters have parked their vehicles in turn off’s, pulled on orange life preservers, boarded inflated rubber rafts and edged into the cold water, eight to ten people a raft going for a bumpy joy ride down stream..
For several miles their hired river guides maneuver them safely through the white water, and the rafters, excited after the trip, have an experience to talk about for years.
This area used to have hard rock miners leading their donkey’s to drink from this same river before they would start a new mining hole high up in the side of a mountain. On Saturday night the prospector’s would clean up, as much as they could, and go into Creede to gamble, chase women, fight, and brag about their prospects. Riding the river would have been seen as something only crazy people would do.
Riding rapids is what we are all doing these days in our Excited States of America..
These river guides are making more money than those hard rock miners ever dreamed of making.
It only takes a few crazy people to change the way an entire world looks at things..
An old man with a cane shuffles past us in the grocery, squinting to read the fine print on a box label.Two little children pull on their mom’s dress at the bank as she makes a deposit and reaches them a sucker out of a little bowl on the teller’s countertop. A homeless vet passes our vehicle to take a dollar from a hand reaching out of the window back of us. We don’t talk to the politician rushing past us to hold up a baby and smile for news cameras.
On the road to Westcliff, I pass a man in a black wagon pulled by a black horse. The driver pulls his horse and wagon towards the shoulder as I go past, and I wave. I watch him in my rear view mirror as he goes another block, then pulls his horse and wagon into a little drive leading to a country house on the other side of a closed gate.
Amish, from Pennsylvania, have come to this part of Colorado for farming, solitude, the ability to worship as they choose, to raise their families in an old way, and drive to town in a wagon pulled by their favorite horse.
This, my first Amish sighting of the season, makes me wonder how they can maintain their traditions in the onslaught of 21st century propaganda, polemics, politics and problems?
The march of 21st century technology, information, control and surveillance, secularism, is crushing.
Seeing a horse and wagon on the road is like seeing an old John Wayne movie on television.
It pictures a way of life, long gone, that some folks still never want to leave.
If I were on this tour bus I wouldn’t have been able to take this picture.
There are a myriad of ways to transport yourself on a vacation. This tour bus, as it goes by, shows faces inside glancing at me as the tour driver describes thIs area with a microphone in his hand. Inside a tour bus you can’t stop a moment, poke around, talk to someone, have a bite to eat, try to understand a sign in a foreign language. You are moving quickly and if you are thinking about your security system back home you miss a Presidential Palace, or the church where Columbus attended his son’s wedding, or a great cafe where locals eat.
The tour bus passes me and I can hear the driver talking to the whole block on his microphone, his facts sounding garbled and out of sync as the vehicle bumps past me.
His words sound, to me, like the clouds in your coffee.
His words wouldn’t be the words I would use to tell visitors about this historical place.
Albuquerque has just introduced E-Scooters to the Downtown Civic Plaza, Nob Hill, Old Town, and, eventually, other well frequented locations in the city. These scooters are lined up across from the Albuquerque Museum of Art, chatting up a storm and telling scooter jokes.
Two ladies, I talk too, say the scooters are fun to ride but you need an App on your phone to use them. There are about 750 of them, to start, and a private company, Zagster, has exclusive rights to promote in our city.
The scooters are available from seven in the morning till seven in the evening, have tracking devices installed, go 15 miles per hour, and cost the operator a $1.00 plus fifteen cents a minute to rent. The rationale is to address climate change, provide other modes of transport the younger generation will like, encourage people to get out, eliminate traffic in high traffic areas. and make money.
One of the big concerns of the Albuquerque Police Department is people driving these scooters while intoxicated, something that has already happened.
One of my issues is grasping how large American bodies are going to balance on these small running boards while going fifteen miles per hour with just hand brakes?
If the city was serious about climate change they would just make us walk in a transportation free zone.
Riding at your own risk, these days, has to be in all of our plans of the day.
We have come now to a place, in America, where adults dress and do what kid’s do,
In airports we are moving to someplace new or returning to someplace familiar. We are waiting interminable hours then squeezing into airplanes that take us 35,000 feet above the Earth and show us movies. We are victims of delays, layovers, plane cancellations, Customs, paperwork, pat downs, x rays and questions. For some, these indignities are acceptable. For others, they are barely tolerable.
This trip, authorities with TSA, in Newerk, confiscate a small bottle of flavored rum that Scott is taking home to enjoy, legally bought at the Museo of Rum in Santo Domingo. The size of the bottle, according to the TSA limit, is “over the limit. ” The agent says ” leave it, or consume it now. ” Figuring they will give me a ticket for flying drunk next, I give up,leave the rum,and board my plane.
Are we to a point in this USA that this micromanagement is necessary, or even healthy?
Governments are, according to more than just me, too big for their britches.
This trip is over, and, I hope, another quickly follows.
Even without my rum, which TSA agents have already enjoyed, staying healthy and traveling is my Doctor’s best prescription.
Next time, I will drink the whole bottle before I get to the airport.
Words, bless their little hearts, can say a lot of things. They can take the form of a contract, come firing out of mouths like an old gattling gun . They can make people love or hate us, and, in the right mixture, sooth and calm the most indignant customers.
This afternoon, words escape me, as a young woman carries a basket of baked goods for sale atop her head, past me on the sidewalk.
By the time i turn to get a photo she is past me, only a fleeting mortal being moving across a busy Zona Colonia intersection.
At this moment, the only words that some to mind are ” Poetry in Motion. ”
In my mind, she will always be frozen in time, beyond words.