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November 17, 2010

The Lonely Road

I'll send the angels to watch over you tonight
And you send them right back to me
A lonely road is a bodyguard
If we really want it to be

-- From "Sleeping in Paris" by Rosanne Cash

Yesterday I climbed into the Jeep and went on a long overdue road trip, just me and my steel beast, 130 highway miles and lots and lots of thinking.

The reason for the trip was nothing earth shattering, just had to head up to the north side of Sacramento to attend some work related meetings.

Clocking in at just under three hours, it was a ghastly drive, not only because it lacks any sort of interesting things to see, but the stop and go traffic kept me on my toes most of the way.

I left plenty early to avoid commute traffic but had no luck. California's Highway 80 is a busy road no matter what time of day.

As I drove, dodging other cars, stepping quickly on my brakes for yet another slowdown, stopping to pay the toll on the Carquinez Bridge, and cursing under my breath, I yearned for a different sort of road trip.

Growing up in New Mexico, the ability to hop in the car for the sole purpose of a long thoughtful drive was something I took advantage of every chance I got.

While living in Albuquerque, sometimes I'd gas up the car and drive to Soccoro, only to turn around and drive home.

I can't lie to ya, Albuquerque to Soccoro isn't a visually interesting drive either, but once out of the city limits, it's a pretty easy road with hardly any traffic. I'd set the cruise control on 75, point 'er south in a straight line and let my mind work out the problems of the day.

Straight roads and very little traffic produce a very fine form of therapy.

My all time favorite drive and think road, however, is Highway 28 in southern New Mexico. The stretch of road from Las Cruces to La Union and back includes canopy of pecan trees arcing over the road, arboreal arms to embrace and hold me safe in case I need to cry.

I got a lot of thinking taken care of on Highway 28.

Not so much on California's highway 80. The thinking was more like, "uh, stopping again? Why? Oh please don't slam into me!"

But still, it was a road trip and there is something beautiful about me, my decade old Jeep, shuffle on the iTunes and a problem to work out in my mind.

Oh, by the way, something else happened while out there on the road.

First, this occurred:

Shocking, isn't it?

Then, from out of nowhere, this happened:

(No, mom, I wasn't driving almost 80 while taking a photograph of my odometer. Why do you ask?)

It's the first car I've ever owned from fresh off the lot to one hundred thousand miles. Sort of proud of my little Jeep.

And just because I'm feeling gratuitous, here's a quad cam shot of the Bay Bridge (because the Golden Gate gets all the love).

(Click for full size)

Ok, I'm wandering off the point here. Let's tie this whole thing together, and get back to where we began.

I discovered today that any road, even a commute time busy three lane highway in Northern California can be a lonely road.

And a lonely road is a bodyguard if we really want it to be.

All photographs by Karen Fayeth, and taken with my iPhone 4. Bay Bridge shot from the QuadCamera app.

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Creative Commons License
All content of Oh Fair New Mexico by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.