Spring Break!! Whoohoo! You’re traveling right? You are a Bohemian after all!!
Me? What am I doing, you ask? Traveling to Ruidoso NM with my partner in parenting, one pug dog and three kids: one from Ethiopia who has never seen snow and can’t stop talking about it. Literally, she has been talking for 8.5 hours of our 9-hour drive about snow. She’s going to eat it, catch it on her tongue, roll in it, build a snowman, wait no, build a snow family!! She’s going to roll in it again, color it with food coloring, scoop it up, put it in her pants, build a fort, make a snow angel, throw a million snow balls and much more.
The last two hours of snow talk aside, I love road trips! West Texas and eastern New Mexico are fascinating places to me that time and forward progress have forgotten. I have no cell phone service and when I do there’s a little “o” on my iphone in place of a 4G. I can’t check Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I’m forced to look out of the window and outside of myself in these spaces. I typically keep a little journal and jot down all the random and weird things I see or great moments my kids bring to the table. This isn’t an epic journey or an expensive one, but it’s a tradition for me. For most of 20 years I have been driving from Texas to New Mexico once or twice a year. I love watching the landscape change from the rolling green hills to the scrub trees then to the flat farmlands. These seem to stretch on forever and they are beautiful endless and vast. They make the world feel big again and they make me feel small and inconsequential in that world, and I like that.
This trip proved difficult due to the extreme winds and the dust storms were unlike anything I’d ever seen. Walls of red dust would rise miles ahead and as we came upon them they would envelope the car like a fog. A few miles down the road the horizon would clear and we would emerge from what felt like an alternate world. Then again the red haze would materialize on the horizon and we would seemingly disappear. Occasionally raindrops would pelt the windshield leaving fabulous red polka dots across the clear surface. Between storms, in no man’s land, we pulled over at a deserted rest stop. There were no trees or grass but there were ten picnic tables situated under individual metal awnings spread across a bald white acre. The only break in the landscape was the asphalt fixings piled high for the road crews. The kids went straight for the pile, climbing up, the cold air whipping their hair and plastering their clothes to their backsides. Atop the small man made hill they stood, arms spread, face to the wind, cackling with laughter, as the horizon loomed red and hazy. Returning to the car and continuing our journey the irrigation systems and monumental windmills gave way to rocks and again rolling hills and I know I’m close to the mountains. This is when the mesas begin: First one, standing alone, sad and worn. Then two together stronger and straighter then suddenly the horizon is packed with enormous flat-topped mountains. I wonder how long they’ve been on this earth and what they’ve witnessed in their time as the wind and water have eroded their peaks. I wonder how long they’ll be here. Those thoughts fade as the peaks of the Southern Rockies come into view. Through the wind and haze the first seems like a dream, unreal and unreachable. But the altitude rises and our ears pop and we are elevating. The peaks remain illusive, but more emerge from the cloudy sky and the roads begin to wind. We are in the valleys now, driving with the copper colored rocks stretching up the side of the car. As we gain altitude the temperature drops, the trees get taller and straighter and a light snow starts falling. The kids are thrilled! We arrive at our rental house and we will snow board and hike, but it’s the journey not the destination for me that makes this trip so important.