Here’s how yesterday went for me. I left Logan after a couple of hours drinking coffee with Dave on my deck overlooking Ute Lake. I stopped in Tucumcari at the bank, had a long conversation with my cousin Janis, a tall diet Dr. Pepper from the Tucumcari Sonic, and then I headed to Santa Fe to meet Sabrina to set up for the Thirsty Ear Festival. I had already had a great morning before I ever pulled onto westbound I-40. I didn’t know how it could get better.
I decided early on to take the scenic route, choosing Hwy 84 west of Santa Rosa to get me from I-40 to I-25. The sun was shining, it was a brilliant June day, and I had my camera on the seat next to me.
Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” played on my car stereo as I crossed the Pecos River just before I got to Dilia. It was an absolutely perfect New Mexico moment. There were cattle on the east side of the road in an alfalfa pasture, mesas in the distance, and I could just see the top of the yellow Catholic church in Dilia. Everywhere I looked was a potential photo. But I learned long ago you sometimes have to put the camera down and just look at things. So I did.
This is Rudolfo Anaya Silence of the Llano country. This is isolated, rugged, frequently unforgiving land out here, land where Anaya says the wind and the quiet and the lack of human contact might just make you crazy in February or March. But on a sunny June day, this is quintessentially beautiful New Mexico country. We’ve had a generous winter – the snow was frequent and deep and on this particular drive, the wildflowers are everywhere and the grass is green.
The only thing likely to make me crazy on this road is that I don’t have enough time to explore. I’ve always wanted to get off the road at Dilia and drive to Anton Chico. I want to take the side road a little further north and go through Tecolote (the names are enough on their own to compel your presence). I want to know what happened at Apache Springs – what’s that ruin on the side of the road?
Seeing Hermit’s Peak in the distance, I know I’m almost to I-25. I’m as excited about that leg of the trip as this one. I’ve recently reread Susan Shelby Magoffin’s Down the Santa Fe Trail and Into Mexico, and I want to travel some small part of the Sante Fe trail to see the same things she saw just before she got to Santa Fe in 1847 after being perhaps the first white woman to traverse it. And that’s another post. At the moment I’m almost to Romeroville. And I have just a handful of photos to describe my travels. I want to spend another hour or two on this road.
One of the things I want my kids to be able to say about me when I’m long gone is that I was never afraid to look life right in the eye and embrace it. We don’t have great financial fortune in this little family of mine, but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it helps to heighten our awareness of what we do have – great health, roofs over our heads, lots of books to read, and a home state that is (yeah, I’ll say it again like a broken record) both beautiful and unique and full of surprises around every turn you take.
Take the long way home. Take the scenic route. It’s a cliché, but cliches are cliché mostly because they’re true – It’s the journey that matters, not the destination. My journey yesterday was amazing. Just another day in New Mexico.