the truck stop had a kind of pistachio-store annex along with a restaurant; it was independent, but very tied in to pistachios and pecans in the region. this little stretch is all about pistachios and pecans; what do they have water? i'm not sure. but that's kind of what they do around here. it's all pistachios, pecans, and military, with military being maybe two thirds, or three quarters, of the economy. military people come here with their fat pensions, and they notice: it's livable, you don't have to take care of your yard, the sun shines all the time, and, as a medium-sized small town, it has two wal-marts and at least three subway (fast-food) outlets. all a person could ask for.
the fact is, at night, it's downright pleasant. you can get on a hill on the outside of town, and look out over the valley, and sometimes you see the moon over the white sands; it's quite dramatic. actually, even in the day, if your window is open, and the sun is not directly on you, that's pleasant too. the air is dry. you don't sweat. you can sit out, and enjoy the breeze - so, in fact, it's pretty pleasant year-round, even in the desert. but our car's air-con is broken, and this leaves us in a bad position on long trips across the basin, either across white sands to las cruces, or down across the otero plain on the way to el paso, to the airport, as my wife just did.
it's kind of a stark environment. even tulie has mountains on both sides - on the one, the highway up to ruidoso, that goes through the mescalero reservation, covered with trees, elk all over the place. tulie sits in the tularosa basin though - that wide, flat dry desert that holds the white sands, on the one hand, and just about nothing else but desert scrub. this desert scrub is some kind of very hardy plant, green at this time of year, but mostly a lot of hardy, and not much beauty. it's tough. and there are washes, very dry, that hold the water when it rains - apparently it does, maybe once or twice a year. i know there are rabbits out there, and there are probably other things too - the horses could tell you - but mostly there are these spactacular views of mountains in every direction. alamo itself is tucked up right against them. the sun hits them sometimes, and makes an incredible view. it's a dinky town, alamo, and tulie even more so, but they are spectacular towns. and there's this wild sunset, every night.
the sunset, as i often tell my friends, is nothing, compared to the sunrise. with the sunrise, the sun comes up in the mountains behind us, and daylight shows up before the sun itself. then, with a spectacular turn, it inches over the highest mountains and casts a pink glow on the white sands and the mountains beyond them. the white sands, the purest of white, become pink, when the sun glows on them. but the contrast between the white sands and the rest of the tularosa valley, is what you want. it's like there's this huge gypsum field, glowing white like toothpaste, and there's a pink ribbon as the sun starts to glow on the purple mountain.
and all of this happens generally, while i'm shooting down the hill, one foot on the brakes, at about seven a m on my way to work. i sometimes have people tailgating me, or even passing me, in a hurry as they are, and not apparently concerned about "safety corridor" signs marking double the fine, or whatever. i think you have a lot of people in the army, or army retired, or police retired, or whatever, who just think they can talk their way out of anything, and maybe they can. but i'm always worried about the speed limit. and the winding roads, which, if you take your eye of them for a minute, will send you hurtling over the cliff. i literally can't watch this pink-glow business unless i pull over, and if i do that, i lose precious time, and risk getting tailgated again, as i can't pull back into the road without doing it gradually.
so i stick to the speed limits, tear around the curves, watch out for falling rocks, and mountain animals, and i'm aware of all this pink stuff happening, but in general, i figure, well, i live here, and i'll probably see it again.