A Thousand Miles from Nowhere
“But I have to tell you, when we were driving home, we were on some highway in Utah? That highway goes on forever! We were getting scared. The towns are like fifty miles apart!”
— my coworker talking about her family’s summer vacation to Bryce and Zion canyons in Utah.
So she said that and I laughed. A lot. Loudly.
She looked very offended. “It’s not funny, we were totally freaked out!”
Ah. That’s so cute. City kids. How utterly charming. I should know, I married one.
Speaking of the one I married, when we made the drive from Las Cruces to Albuquerque in the month of October a few years back, he was very adamant that we had to pack in quite a bit of water before we drove. Now, he’s not wrong. It’s just good thinking.
He also wanted blankets, flashlights and a first aid kit. We were venturing out into the desert and by god like the Boy Scout he used to be, we were going in prepared.
Again, nothing wrong with that. All very fair.
Except I used to drive that same 200 miles in the dead heat of August in a rickety old Mercury Bobcat with too many miles, not enough metal and every single little possession that I could cram inside. Well, everything except water, blankets and a flashlight.
I guess when you’re raised where towns are fifty miles (or a lot more) apart, these things don’t worry you.
Sure, one Thanksgiving I was driving back from Deming to Albuquerque and got caught in a really heavy snowstorm. So I got off the highway to a state road, put my Jeep in four wheel drive and drove slowly to the ranch home located at the bottom of Nogal Canyon. My friend’s folks live there and they took me in, gave me a hot meal and we played cards all night.
Once, south of El Paso, I got caught in a terrible rain and hail storm. So I pulled over to the side, listened to the radio and read a book.
Then there was the time I made the ride to Silver City in July and had to turn off the A/C and turn on the heater since my engine was starting to overheat as I climbed the hill in my very weak Dodge Shadow (now known as a Neon). I was a puddle of sweat by the time I got there, but it was nothing that a Route 44 from Sonic couldn’t cure.
Oddly enough, even on all the blisteringly hot days I hit the endless highways of New Mexico, I never broke down, never lost a tire, never had a reason to need a gallon of water and a blanket.
In February my best good friend drove me and my two godkids out to the Spaceport in Upham. We spent an hour or more on dirt roads with only cows to accompany us. I didn’t get worried. I didn’t get scared. What I did is feel calm. Really, really calm. Being where the eye can’t see another human (other than the people you chose to be with) is a very happy place for me.
So I apologized to my city friend. Then I advised she’s allowed to laugh at me when I slip off my nut over getting lost (again!) in San Francisco, and then I go the wrong way on that one section of California Ave while everyone honks and yells, and WHY IN THE $%^# can’t I make a left turn to get off Market Street!
It’s all about where you’re from, I guess.
The view from Upham. It’s a happy place.
Photo by Karen Fayeth, copyright 2010, and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the far right hand column of this page.