Wednesday, December 23, 2015

set off again for new mexico on monday morning with two boys, watching license plates and stopping whenever we wanted for snacks. saw oklahoma and california right away, and then saw alaska, i think at a remote corner, maybe the whiteface-seagraves sign corner out there between brownfield and plains. texas is wild out there, all cotton, and oil, and whatever they can pull out of the vast flat wild country. right after i saw alaska i saw an ohio, on a truck.

the road crosses the new mexico line and through the ranch country of lovington, then through the oilfields to artesia. in the oilfields you see gas burning from pipes out at the wells, and big trucks are all over the place. as usual i was thinking of haiku of the different states i'd been in; i was in tennessee, in my mind. suddenly i saw a tennessee. kind of a sign, maybe. but no, most of what i saw was random: wisconsin, washington, nevada, arizona.

one sees mexico plates every once in a while. you can tell the mexico plates by the order of the numbers - they have two numbers, space, two more, space, two more. almost no usa states that i know of do this. but the heck of it is, all mexico states do this. and they make the state names, themselves, small and hard to read. so the chihuahua one, which of course is the most common around here, has the name chihuahua on it, and a little insignia, but when a car is flying by you can't read the name, and all the states are alike. i feel like i can't count it if i can't read it.

similarly, there were a few usa plates that i just couldn't read; they flew by too fast. south dakota, maybe, or montana, something like that, i'm not sure. i saw florida, michigan, oregon, a few others. but there were some i couldn't read.

in cloudcroft there was snow on the mountains. it was only six inches or a foot, but where they'd plowed, sometimes there was a plow-pile of over eight feet. it was a great feeling up there, a real winter. it was nothing to them; they were looking forward to more snow, a real snow, enough to open up the ski lift. but to me, it was the first snow of the winter, the only snow. it's what makes the season. i took a deep breath and shot down into the valley, into alamogordo, white sands, las cruces.

in las cruces i saw maryland, new jersey, wyoming, north carolina, and colorado, finally, on my way out. one usually sees colorado fairly quickly, but on this trip, i was already on my way home when i saw it. then, of course, i saw two, but i also saw another alaska, and in fact i saw several wisconsins.

sometimes it's not how rare it is, but how unlikely a place you find it. the champion in that regard was the hawaii plate i saw once, right in the middle of roswell, a desert town known for its ufo's. i look for the new england states, as they're always rare way out here, but in some places, notably las cruces or el paso, you can see all kinds of things, just because they're passing through. out on the back side of the mountain, though, between the oil fields and the tiny town of cloudcroft, you're going to see mostly texas and new mexico.

saw south carolina, georgia, north dakota, idaho, and arkansas before i was done, which made it a good trip; i saw several mexico ones, but, as it happened, nothing from canada, nothing from new england, or even new york. never saw louisiana, alabama, or mississippi, though it might have been those that flew by at one point and i just didn't see them. did pretty well on the far west - washington, oregon, california, nevada, saw them all. folks are traveling. it's winter break.

funny how the mountain had all that snow, and down here, they're still talking about the possibility of it, but only after christmas. up north it's unseasonably warm, with tornadoes; down here, it was the same, really, balmy with a feeling of menace in the air. i rested up a little, these long trips take it out of me, and finally in the evening i took to wrapping presents. i'm the wrapper. but i really didn't get all that much done; i was too tired and all i could think of was my parents, my family, the folks i left behind in new mexico. they're suffering a bit, and it's pulling me out that way, but it's ok, because we're going to live in that small snowy town, and go ice skating all winter and go out to the woods to cut wood for our heat. up there, you see a few license plates, especially since we'll live right behind the downtown, more or less, and it's a tourist town. folks like to go there as a destination, because it has slightly different weather than the rest of the state. you have the low sunny desert, the gypsum fields, the dry scrubby mountains, and then you have the high piney woods, nine thousand feet, that's where we'll be. it's a wild place, and i'm looking forward to it.

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