It was dangerous to read the altimeter on my iPhone at 60 mph, but there’s little I haven’t done behind the wheel and naturally the road was empty. Fortunately, my wife was there to shriek whenever I started to launch us into space. I don’t know where this fascination with high places comes from. Back on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the lowness of the land would slay me: ten feet, seven feet, etc. Here in northern New Mexico, it works the other way. On US 64 from Tres Piedras to the Brazos Cliffs, you hit 10,000 feet about three times. When I stopped the car at a scenic pullout to take this shot on Sunday, I was almost two miles higher than our old home on Still Pond Road. It’s almost too much to take in that we used to walk outside and hear ships blow their foghorns on the bay.
It may have taken almost twenty years, but I’m more of this place now. It’s never really been about what’s on the outside, anyway, more like how I feel about myself. I hope that makes some sense. I’m dithering at lower volume as well. When we were visiting in Minneapolis this summer, I saw many things I appreciated (the urban energy and trees especially), but wasn’t tempted. The same applied throughout the so-called heartland I used to wax nostalgic over, although I’ve never really lived there. In the middle of Kansas in July, we stopped to ask directions in a pretty little town, where the women who tried to tell me how to find the highway we were looking for turned out to be clueless as to east and west! Think about that some. I surely did.
Rio Arriba County, home to 40,000 people and the location of the Brazos Cliffs above, is the fifth-largest county in New Mexico. It’s also bigger than Connecticut. On the windy day we took that drive, we saw cowboys on horseback rounding up a herd. Coming out of the Tusas Mountains at Tres Piedras, a trio of burly bikers wrapped in leather charged the rain.