Friday, April 21, 2006

Off Road Adventures

My recent trip to Albuquerque was just a quick flash in time. We headed south from Denver at about 5 p.m. on Friday evening and drove back home on Sunday afternoon. You wouldn’t expect to accomplish much in this little time but we packed it in!

After a very enjoyable visit with the relatives, the drive back loomed before us. We had planned to stop at Las Vegas, New Mexico and photograph some of the historic buildings. Even though the temptation was great to put on blinders and ‘head for the barn’, we actually relaxed and allowed some adventures to unfold.

Somewhere north of Santa Fe, my son saw some sight along the side of the road in the distance that caught his attention. He wanted to stop and take a look. But traveling at 80 mph., we missed the exit due to a moment’s indecision. However, his extreme curiosity and a stroke of luck graced us with another exit within about 5 miles, so we turned back in the other direction and found the original spot that aroused his curiosity. We parked the car by an old one-story stone building and walked down to a creek that flowed under the interstate. So we transitioned from driving 80 mph in a modern automobile to walking the fringes of ‘out in the middle of nowhere’ New Mexico. We had no idea where we were but we were drawn to it. It was rather eerie standing on the creek with the Interstate 25 bridges looming overhead; water dripping off of them and the loud echoing rumble of high-speed traffic. It was like stepping out of our world into another. The first sight was of a large cottonwood with decaying cars at the base buried in the bank of the creek for stabilization. Maybe you weren’t aware of this use for old cars but rather thought of it as littering on a big scale. In the other direction, my son saw the remnants of an old bridge. As he headed off that way to take photos, I took more photos of the cars and studied the colony of cliff swallow nests built under the bridge overhang. There was a small human community located in the surrounding area and I wondered if curious visitors such as us bothered the people there. We never actually saw any people the entire time we were taking photos. After about an hour, we were ready to step back into our world.

Las Vegas, New Mexico is a treasure of historic buildings. Sunday afternoon is actually a good time to visit in some ways. All of the tourist shops, many housed in these historic buildings are closed up tight on Sundays. On the old main street, NOTHING was open. There was little traffic and few people about. It was perfect for us; we could even stand in the street to take photos if it made our pictures better. I love looking at old buildings, especially at the little architectural details that are almost completely missing from new buildings. There was one building that was in a rather advanced state of decay. I love the look of peeling paint and the way the building wears its age.

Back on the road, we happened to come alongside an interesting passenger train just as the highway and railroad tracks aligned closely. While I drove my son took photos from the car window of the train and especially the caboose. We sped up or slowed down so that we could stay right along side the train as he took photos. The caboose was all fixed up and we could even see flowers on the table inside. I had thoughts of the Orient Express even though I think this caboose was an ad for some brand of tequila!

Finally, we headed home and arrived at a decent hour. Normally the drive along I-25 is mind-numbingly boring. But our little side-adventures will keep the memories alive in our minds forever.

After some research, I found out that our little town was Tecolote, the creek was Tecolote Creek and that the bridge remnants were part of old Route 66. The area is rich in history including the Santa Fe Trail; maybe that is what drew us out of our world.


At 1:56 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

What an interesting use for old cars. Very surreal, isn't it?

At 2:30 PM, Blogger the old bag said...

Love this post of leaving the road to find the gems. Some of my most favorite cycling/hiking adventures have been had upon leaving the known road or trail.

At 10:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm from the town of tecolote, nm where you took pictures of the "cars being used for stabilization"... the history of those cars were that they were washed away down the river (yes that little trickle of water was once a river) during a rain storm in the early to mid century (1950-60's) where the water rushed down the mountains and flooded the town... many of our families lost our vehicles at that time...and all along our little river are rusted cars that remain where they "landed" many years ago.

At 11:02 PM, Blogger Ptelea said...

Anonymous - thank you for taking the time to tell me what really happened with those cars. Obviously they tell much more of a story than simple "bank stablization" It just shows you how you don't necessarily get much of a sense of the things you see when you step into someone else's world.


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