Mountain Driving

Oh give me a home
Where the buffalo roam
And the deer and the antelope play

My godson suggested that I not leave Taos by heading east, into Raton, NM. He said it would be easier, and faster, to get to Boulder by heading north from Taos and then cutting east. He pointed out that HWY 64was a narrow winding road that went way up into the mountains. Sounded great to me! I ignored his advice and took HWY 64.
Up, up, up. Then the sign: road narrows. My kind of sign; keeps out the riffraff.
Squirrels and chipmunks. Deer. Deer, playing. I lowered the windows so I could breathe in the delicious forest. Made a few stops to walk and simply take in the beauty.
Up in these mountains, signs of drought were everywhere. Grasses were tan, not green. There were streams, but they didn’t run down the mountain. They meandered. Way up, around 8500 feet, there was a beautiful lake. It was clear the water level was low. Then I saw the proof – a twenty foot dock that ran out from the shore and never touched water. 
Down out of the mountains into the high llano, the high, flat grasslands. I glanced to the left. Slammed on my brakes. Yep, those were buffalo!
I quickly parked and grabbed my camera. As I approached the little herd (they were on the other side of a fence), I noticed they all had ear tags. They were destined to be burgers one day. Unlike in the song, they weren’t roaming.
A large bull watched me approach. He and the other bulls began to move away from me, driving the females and calves away. Then the big guy turned his back on me, just as I was in position to get a good photo. That’s when I noticed what was actually happening. The bulls remained closest to the road and the females were farthest away. Between them were the oblivious calves who continued to romp and roll in the dust. However, they were safe, completely encircled by the adults.
I took a few shots (camera!) and then headed on down the road. Looked to the right and hit my brakes. Yep, it was an antelope. Not playing, as the song had suggested.
I slowly emerged from my car, camera ready, but this antelope was skittish and wouldn’t let me get close. He’d graze – or attempt to – while keeping watch and easing away from me. He kept trying to find something edible, pawing repeatedly at the dry grass in an attempt, I suppose, to uncover a more tender root. He was completely frustrated, unable to eat a thing. I had to leave before I became completely depressed.
East to I-25, then north. Massive mountains were to my west, and I realized how tall they were when I remembered I was already at about a 6300 foot elevation. Miles later I came over a hill, and there in front of me was Denver. More massive than the mountains, it spread for miles and miles.
even with five lanes, traffic slowed to 30-40 mph and I couldn’t wait to get past the city, off 25 and onto 36 up to Boulder. 
Finally! Onto 36, the last 12 or so miles ahead of me. And traffic came to a dead stop. Accident up ahead. I eventually got past it and into Boulder.
Whew! I was sure ready for dinners and a good night’s sleep. Got both. 

truth or Consequences

T or C
I am at one of my favorite places: the banks of the Rio Grande. And it is my favorite time of day, dawn.
Dawn comes later here than in Arizona this time of yer because Arizona, wisely, does not subscribe to the now pointless Daylight Savings Time ritual that drives the ret of the country  crazy twice a year. We have another lovely day while everyone else moves from room to room resetting digital clocks.
At Cochise College, where I worked before RETIREMENT, though, it was not so easy. The college decided to purchase wildly expensive clocks that were controlled by some master timekeeping machine in Colorado. Colorado, of course, follows Daylight Savings Time, so twice a year, can you guess what happened? Yep. Every clock on campus automatically changed time, and the maintenance guys would have to roam the buildings for days, resetting each clock.
But I digress. I am in downtown Truth or Consequences at Riverbend Hot Springs. The town has not yet come alive since it’s not even six o’clock. I have the river almost to myself. I share it only with a few early morning birds and one lonesome bullfrog.
I have been coming to this wonderful place for years and I love it a little more each time I visit. The owner of Riverbend has constructed a deck that hangs out over the river, so of course that is where I sit, rather than further back from the river on the flagstone patio. 
It is a delight to sit here in the morning chill after yesterday’s scorching 100 degree weather. Lacking cool weather clothes, I’ve had to wrap a towel around myself to keep warm. Soon the one of the tubs will be full and I can slide into the steamy water.
There are five pools here, plus three private ones. The private ones are pricey and I’ve never used them. The five public pools spill one into the next, each one about two degree cooler than the previous one, so there are a variety of soaking temperatures available. The last pool spills into the Rio Grande.
The only problem with this wonderful place is cost. It used to be Bisbee-esque, that is, a bit run down and funky. Each room was different, quirky. And it was affordable. 
Today, not so.  The rooms have been rehabbed. Most are painted the same colors, and all the bedspreads match. the plumbing is new. and the cost has gone up significantly. This means I’ll be an infrequent guest in the future.
Although there is a river, this area seems to be in almost as much drought as Arizona. I have never seen the river so low. It is still wide, but so shallow and moving at such a lazy speed I could probably get in and wade it.
People who cross this river further south often do so in inner tubes. When there is no drought, when there is a good summer of rain, the river runs fast and deep, and people struggle across it. Some die trying to cross into the US. But this year, since Texas, too, is in such drought, I imagine this great river isn’t much more than a trickle in some areas.
The sky is now pink. Time to get into that water!