Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Did Wile E. Coyote Finally Win?

The Roadrunner is gone.

The logical suspect is Wile E. Coyote, but there is good reason to believe our favorite cartoon villain is, in this case, totally innocent. We have it on good authority that no Acme safe, dynamite sticks, knives, cannons, or any of the Rube Goldbergish contraptions so favored by Wile were used in this disappearance. Instead we must blame....... the government (cue the conspiracy theorists!).

The roadrunner I am referring to is the Recycled Roadrunner at the rest area at Las Cruces (see this post for more information), a roadside guardian who has, for many years, watched over travelers as they sped through southern New Mexico.

He began life in 1993 as monument to recycling in the Las Cruces Foothills Landfill. He moved to the I-10 rest area in 2001, where he remained until his "disappearance" in 2011. Here is what his previous perch looks like today (click to embiggen):

Just a sad little plate on which he once so proudly stood.

So where is he? Rumor has it that he is living very near by, in the back yard of his creator, Olin Calk. Mr. Calk has been re-junking him -- for an apt visual, think of Dorothy re-stuffing the scarecrow. Apparently his refuse was getting tattered, if that can even be said to be a thing.

But now the big question -- where will this Big Bird go next? The city is considering various options -- back to his I-10 home, to the Las Cruces Dam, somewhere on I-10, or somewhere else, to be determined. He made a brief appearance at Earth Day 2012, and is scheduled to be reintroduced to his junk-appreciating fans sometime this year.

Just so you don't think the refurbishing rubbish is cheap -- his new look is costing $26,500. I think even Wile E. Coyote would be impressed!

More photos of the refurbishment can be seen here. Beep beep!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Five Years and Thirteen Days

Seemingly lifeless, hot, silent, and dry. The predominant colors are brown, tan, olive, and sage, with shades of gray and purple filling in the contours of the distant hills. The ribbon of highway slices through it all, mile after mile.

This is what the drive from Benson, AZ to Deming, NM is like. There is little that occurs to change this view of the desert. Other than the occasional small town truck stop, the only evidence of habitation is the random house or barn, abandoned or otherwise, that flies by at odd intervals. Why would anyone choose to live there? What was it like when the unrelenting desert forced their dream to die?

The flashing yellow highway warning lights alert us that blinding dust storms can happen on this road (ZERO VISIBILITY! DON'T STOP IN THE ROAD! PULL OVER AND TURN YOUR LIGHTS OFF!). But today the only movement, other than the cars and semis speeding through the barren landscape, are the dust devils. Four or five can almost always be seen somewhere -- they take the form of far off columns of brown dust that seem to reach the clouds, or of nearby whirlwinds, kicking up the dirt in the fields and looking like a mini tornado. Then a really odd thing happens -- within seconds, they just evaporate. Poof, they are gone.

Despite this numbing-of-the-senses drive, John and I are happy to once again be in Deming. For it was here, 5 years and 13 days ago, that we first met. Instead of showing us interesting little dust devils, the desert gave us a full-blown dust storm that day. It blew relentlessly, seeping into folds of clothes and the cracks in windows and doors. Cabin-fevered RVers ventured out with mouths and noses covered by scarves, but the dust still seemed to find a way into eyes and ears.

Our good friend Cookie introduced us. She and I had been traveling "separately-but-together," and we wound up in Deming. She had lived in the Chicago area; John had Illinois plates. So she introduced herself to him, and then introduced him to me. Our first outing was a lunch trip to The Pink Store in Palomas, Mexico -- John and I in the front seat, and Cookie and a guy named Robert (never Bob!) in the back. Our second outing, just John and me, was a hike on a trail named "Lovers' Leap." If that gave John pause to reflect on the wisdom of his actions, he didn't show it!

So here we are, five years later, back in Deming, watching the dust devils form and annihilate, and being glad that Mother Nature held back the journey-halting dust storms for some other day.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Great Adventure of 2013

Hello, again!
This blog has been on vacation for a long time, but now that it is time for us to go on "vacation" again (it's hard not to think of life itself as being a vacation when you are retired), it is time for the blog to return, all dressed up with a new look and feel.

This summer, we will be traveling through the southeast, up the east coast, and then back to the west. We no longer have the 40-foot motor home -- since we now have a shed to store things in (yes, we have already filled it), we don't need to carry everything we own. So we bought a smaller, gas-friendlier 28-foot Forest River Lexington, and are now adjusting to being kind to each other when we find ourselves trying to occupy the same space at the same time.

Our "kids" need to adjust, too -- they like to sit on the ledge of the slide, but this ceiling seems just a wee bit lower than what they have become accustomed to:

From left to right we have Maggie, Elwood, Sammy, and Jake. Yes, two of them are named after the Blues Brothers. Sammy, the other blue one, is probably jealous. He shouldn't be, though -- he is named after the extraordinary Yosemite Sam.

Jake and Sammy also like to sit on John's computer, backs to the mirror:

A couple of days ago we finished getting everything sorted, packed, and repacked, and finally left Jojoba Hills (in Southern California) for the Great Adventure of 2013. Our first night was spent in Yuma, where the dust and heat are annoying, but the sunsets and palms are beautiful:

For those familiar with I-8 near the California-Arizona border, you may be surprised to find out that the Border Patrol Check Points have been closed, and the stations are being dismantled. Border security continues, however -- "The Wall" hugs close to the highway here, and there is construction of what I think is a vehicle barrier. It is mile after mile of small, white, bike-rack-like barriers with a chain connecting them.

The desert in this part of the southwest is beautiful. It is nice to see lots of saguaros, cholla, and ocotillo again -- desert vegetation that, with the exception of a few ocotillo, is absent from Jojoba Hills. Before we left, I began taking an art class from the formidable Ilene Van Gossen. I committed to doing a sketch a day for 100 days, and I am currently at day 65. Here is one I did of the desert and its vegetation:

Now we are off to shop for the long list of things we forgot to bring, or didn't know we needed, or didn't re-check the list and just plain forgot to grab during the final, hectic packing moments. Some things never change!