I woke up just after sunrise on Sunday morning and found frost on the windshield:
Ten minutes work with the edge of my ATM card and the defroster turned on high and I was on my way. A quick stop for coffee and gas and I slowly headed toward downtown Taos with a local cop riding my bumper. Taos is a tourist trap, but it’s also a community and as I drove past all the familiar places I caught sight of an adolescent green haired girl and wondered how she felt about growing up in Taos, New Mexico:
I headed north toward Taos Ski Valley the scene of my midlife crisis:
There was no snow on the mountains yet but the Aspen had turned:
The seventeen miles are a thing of beauty no matter what season:
Austing Haus: I drove up to my former residence and place of employment, the Austing Haus:
From 1988 through 1990, I thought hard about buying this hand made timber frame structure which has a remarkable story involving a remarkable man, but that’s another tale. Right now it’s a B&B with reasonable seasonal rates:
Nobody was home so I walked around the parking lot to take some pictures only to discover that the batteries in my camera had given up the ghost.
120 East: I drove around the village at the base of the mountain and headed back down the valley to find a back road out of Taos that I’d never driven before somewhere on the Enchanted Circle near Eagle Nest, where…
…I ran across the turn off for State Road 120:
Working on dead reckoning without a map, the word east made sense and it looked like a pretty blue highway so I turned right and enjoyed the morning winding through the light and shadow of the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This is what I didn’t know: “Starting as paved road in the far southwestern corner of Colfax County in the community of Black Lake at the intersection with Route 434, New Mexico State Road 120 changes into an unpaved road just before mile marker 3.” http:// New_Mexico_State_Road_120. Coming up a grade at around 25 mph, the pavement ran out into a cattle guard and a really rough gravel and dirt road that resulted in my low riding Sebring frame bottoming out. Fearful that there may have been some damage done, I turned around and headed back toward Taos in the hope that the hypothetical damage would allow me to get back into town for repairs.
I pulled over in Eagle Nest and checked for leaking fluids and it appeared that all was well. I spied the turn off for Highway 64 and knew there’d be some pleasant scenery along that road so I headed to Cimarron, :
A fly fisherman’s paradise, the headwaters of the Cimarron River run on the right hand side of the road along these particular mountains which are known as the Palisades:
If I’d bothered to buy a map, I could have saved myself some time but I would have missed the scenery along the winding road to Raton…:
…including 100 miles of barbed wire and not much more of anything else…
If I’d bothered to read a damn map, I’d have realized that Highway 64 East actually ran northeast and that Raton is just 17 miles south of the Colorado border… Doh! Still determined to avoid the Interstates, I continued East on 64 to Clayton, then headed south on 402 to Nara Vista where I saw the sign pointing west on 54 to Tucumcari…Tuscon to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah…how could I resist:
I was kind of planning to take the blue highways southeast to west Texas, but by the time I got to Tucumcari and realized that I’d already been there a couple of times before, it was getting late in the afternoon. Determined to get into Texas before dark, I jumped on I-40 East and dodged all the truckers as I drove to Amarillo. There I took US 287 south towards Ft. Worth and it was there that I found B.O.B. (Big Old Bubbah), the acronym that I chose to assign for the goofy 40-something hitchhiker that I picked up in the middle of nowhere.
Of a half dozen folks that I already passed on the road, he was the first who had the good luck to be in a place where I could pull over without risking life and limb, and ironically Woody Guthrie was singing when I saw him trudging along the shoulder of the highway:
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