Sunday, January 06, 2019

we left cloudcroft in the morning; it was already snowing. the hill was dicey, but when we got down to alamogordo, it was drizzling and it looked to be clear sailing for a while. it was good that we'd made it down the hill, a steep drop with no shoulders on the hairpin turns, where, if it's snowing hard or fast enough, it can get pretty slick. we were going up to las vegas new mexico, where a train would take us to kansas.

unfortunately, in oscuro, about forty miles up the road, a blizzard hit suddenly, and, not only could we not see anything, but the road was suddenly completely iced over. i ran off the road once; another time i swerved sharply and had to save the truck from going off again. trucks and cars were in the ditches, off the road. it was only eleven thirty in the morning.

oscuro is where the cutoff to the trinity site is. a completely empty road, across truly barren desert, that road represents new mexico better than most places. there is perhaps one or two people that live in oscuro, but the place always makes an impression on me.

when we got to carrizozo we stopped, traumatized. the following day the roads opened, and we went up to las vegas, and got on the train. the train was maybe three hours late; the blizzard had covered the albuquerque and santa fe areas, and made life difficult for a whole range of people in northern new mexico. one problem is that they need people to pounce on these icy patches with beet heet, and they just don't have them up there, for some reason. or, the people are completely outgunned by the expanse of area that they have to cover. in any case, whole swaths of road are just solid ice. i made it by virtue of going very slowly, and leaving lots of room between me and the car in front. my son never wants to drive; it scares him. ice scares him, and for good reason.

kansas, though, was good. we saw relatives; i was the grandfather. a pleasant chaos reigned as even small kids spread toys out in joy and educational inventory. the food was delicious. the host and hostess had that covered.

coming back, same thing. the truck battery had died, and it had a flat tire, but i got on the road in las vegas by about evening. it was a place called vaughn, this time, where the roads were ice-covered, slick as a whistle. i slowed way down.

las vegas itself was an interesting place, and i never even saw the old part of it. the train station itself was beautiful, with an old hotel and an old downtown nearby. capital of the southwest territory, biggest city in the southwest for many years, las vegas new mexico seems almost forgotten in time, but it still does pretty well; it has a small college, and it functions. the work on renovating the place.

this time, coming through, vaughn was the treacherous place. at the sign to fort sumner, you couldn't take that turnoff without turning your wheels on slick snow; better to go straight, and try not to use your brakes. at oscuro, though, the road was clear. now it was just an effort to stay awake, and make it back up the hill.

cloudcroft had gotten 29 inches the day i left. my wife was completely snowed in, and never made it to kansas; neither did the girls. a car was buried, and it too had a dead battery. big piles of snow lay in every direction; they had at least plowed the town. i came back; i started the car (like the truck, some security system had gone haywire and drained it; i'm not sure how, and i'm not sure anything had come along and set it off). now, another snow is coming. but i'm home, and don't have to go anywhere, and grateful. the wind howls outside, but i can rest a little.


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