Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 3-17-14
Ol’ Nevah and I are back at Damphewmore Acres after what I call our “hot/cold vacation.” At the invitation of our near-life-long New Mexico pal Albie Kirky, ol’ Nevah and I joined him and his wife at their winter quarters in Tucson, Ariz., for a week of cow pasture pool, imbibing intoxicating beverages, indulging in sumptuous, artery-clogging table fare, playing cards and bocce ball, soaking in the hot tub and sightseeing.
When we left home, it wuz chilly and we overnighted in Dodge City, Kan., and spent the evening at the Boot Hill Casino eating prime rib (more then either of us could eat) and dropping $20 bucks to the gambling gods (I’m really not into slot machines because I know they are programmed in the house’s favor).
Second day wuz an easy seven-hour good-weather drive through Liberal, Kan., Guymon, Okla., Dalhart, Texas, Tucumcari and Santa Rosa, N.M., to Albuquerque, where we enjoyed Mexican fare with Albie’s son and met his family.
Third day wuz a windy seven-hour drive to Tucson first south down the Rio Grande River Valley to Hatch, across the cutoff to Deming, then west through Lordsburg, N.M., and into Arizona, across the flat and level Continental Divide, through Wilcox and Benson and on into Tucson, where we moved into our spic-and-span vacation rental accommodations in The Voyager RV Resort and met up with the Kirkys.
We played cow pasture pool three times — at Dorado, Quarry Pines, and Del Lagos courses. Since I hadn’t had a club in my hand since last October, and since two of the courses were gorgeous, but filled with ravines and cacti, ol’ Nev’s and my scores were in the adverse of the fun we had. It wuz pleasure enuf to enjoy temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s with no humidity, no bugs, and plenty of sunshine.
One day Nevah and I went sightseeing by ourselves and took in the Sabino Canyon tour, which is a 4 mile up the canyon ride in a tram with the driver narrating the sights, and then back down the canyon. We could have walked all or any part of the trip up or down the canyon, but opted to stay safely on the tram.
The day before our departure for home, the weather forecast turned ominous with rain, sleet and snow forecast for our pre-chosen route north to see old Iowa friends at Apache Junction (east of Phoenix) and then east across the interstate to ABQ. So, we let discretion be the better part of valor and cancelled the northern route and chose to try and outrun the storm home via a southern route. That 500-mile, mild-weather, hard-driving day took us through Las Cruces, Alamagordo and the White Sands National Monument, across a little mountain range through the village of Cloudcroft at the summit (where the winter snow still lingered) then down through Artesia and on to overnight at Lovington, all in New Mexico.
That day the White Sands were interesting, but what really interested me was the massive oil production underway between Artesia and Lovington. The whole distance between the towns is “solid oil,” with pumping wells often closer than 100 feet apart and three to four drilling rigs always in sight. The energy companies must not have been able to collect and transport the natural gas because it was being flared off into the air. Aesthetically, it’s ugly country and the oil makes it uglier. But, I appreciate the oil being produced and I’d sure like to get a monthly royalty check like some of those ranchers who leased the land surely get.
The next day, (another 500-plus miles) we got back into the central time zone when we crossed the Texas border early in the morning, made our way northeast through the table-top level farmland all the way to Lubbock. We drove by the Texas Tech University campus and took off east through the rough canyon land. Interestingly, we happened to drive by the famous 6666 Ranch and the Pitchfork Ranch.
All day we were outrunning the storm coming in from the southern California coast, but could tell by looking north that we were losing the battle to outrun the winter storm coming in from the Pacific Northwest coast and out of Canada. We entered Oklahoma at El Dorado, drove through the Quartz Mountains near Altus, and kept ahead of the storm by going east a ways then north a ways. Well, the low clouds and wind caught up with us just as we hit interstate 40 at Clinton, Okla., and we set our goal for the day in Enid. We made it barely as the winter storm hit in full fury. We holed up in a Best Western for two nights and one day.
The storm continued — wind, sleet, ice and 5-inches of snow — though the night and the next day and next night. The final day, we left the motel in close to zero temperatures, but in bright sunshine. It took 15 minutes to clear the Buick of snow and get it loaded up but the nearly 200-mile trip home wuz uneventful. As always, it wuz really good to get back on familiar surroundings.
On a closing note, most of our entire trip wuz through droughty country. The rangeland cows and calves were clearly having a tough winter. The Rio Grande River in ABQ wuz a healthy stream from snowmelt, but the river at Las Cruces was bone dry. It’s hard to imagine how much underground Rio Grande water is being pumped for ag and domestic use, but it’s got to be a lot. Wildlife along the trip was rather sparse — a few antelope and mule deer in Texas, a couple of dead and live coyotes, roadrunners, quail, cottontails and dozens of roadkill skunks. I think the dry weather is taking its toll on the wild critters.
I’ll shut this travelogue down with these wise words from Alice Hoffman who said: “… every time there’s a snowstorm or drought, we know our fate is tied to the world around us.” Amen, to that. Have a good ’un. ❖