Sunday, September 17, 2006

Kansas, I don't think we're in toto anymore...

This morning I woke up in Santa Fe after a not very good night's sleep. I was feeling really congested and yucky, and didn't want to do yoga or anything. So I hit the road, knocked back a triple tall latte from *$$, tossed the soggy blob they sold me claiming it was a muffin (why, oh why, can't *$$ stock decent pastries?), and drove. And drove. And drove. It's really pretty in Santa Fe right now - there are these weeds by the side of the road (okay, wildflowers) that grow about chest-height, with lots of branches, and are *covered* in yellow flowers. It looks like something out of the Wizard of Oz - fields and fields of yellow flowers. I was hoping to see snow-capped peaks from the highway, but no dice - the land just got higher and higher, with no long views.

Memory is a funny thing. I went through this area about fifteen years ago on my first really long motorcycle trip. I remember very clearly riding through a town called Las Vegas, New Mexico. It was a very small town, out on the plain, with a creek running through it, some tall trees, and miles of visibility in all directions. The houses were all elegant little jobbies clearly built back when you could order a house from Sears and it'd arrive on a rail car, ready to assemble. It was miles from the nearest interstate.

The thing is, there is no such Las Vegas, NM. Las Vegas is on the high plains, yes, but you can't see very far in any direction. There are no Victorians or Arts and Crafts cottages anywhere I could see. It's mostly ticky-tacky, and lots of it, except for what's newer. It kind of reminds me of Catoosa, if you transplanted Catoosa into the high plains.

I was watching a program on TV last night - there's a show called Countdown on MSNBC. The anchor for countdown is this very intellectual, fairly self-satisfied individual who obviously sees Edward R. Murrow as his biggest hero, and wants to play Murrow to Bush's McCarthy. More power to him, as far as I'm concerned. But he was repeating an editorial he'd given on the big anniversary a few days back. The foundation of the speech, to which he kept returning, was how the big empty hole in downtown Manhattan is because of Bush's partisan politics. Atop this foundation he builds a huge rhetorical edifice, which sounds really good and convincing.

Unfortunately for him, the entire basis of this speech is complete nonsense. The reason there's still a big hole at the WTC site is not because of Bush's partisan politics. It's because Governor Pataki decided to take over the process, and appointed a commission which, despite a brilliant start, has completely failed to accomplish the task it set out to do. Because of partisan politics? Nope. Pride, as far as I can tell. An deep belief in one's own great capabilities to accomplish a task one has never contemplated before, despite mounds of evidence that one is in fact completely incompetent. Or anyway, that's what another TV pundit told me. Maybe he's the one who has it wrong.

And this leads me to the question: how much of what we hold to be definitely true is complete nonsense? It's a sobering thought.

Anyway, after my little trip down memory bypass in Las Vegas, I stopped in Raton to get one of those little cassette tape doohickeys that lets you listen to your iPod on your old-fashioned car stereo with the built-in cassette player. Andrea had set it up so they'd have one waiting. Tragically, when I got there, they were out to lunch, and I didn't feel like waiting until 2:00, so I kept going.

Up on the plains, I stopped to brush my teeth (I'd forgotten my ablutrements in Arizona yesterday morning, so I couldn't brush my teeth last night or this morning, but fortunately the Albertson's next to *$$ had an ample supply of dental hygiene products). There was a steady forty mile-per-hour tailwind, which made spitting kind of adventuresome - the turbulence around my head was enough to get toothpaste on my shirt despite the fact that I was spitting downwind. But the wind was really nice - it was about 70 degrees, so it was cool but not cold, and felt like swimming. I felt much better, and even thought about doing yoga, but there really wasn't room.

A few rest areas later, though, after a pit stop, I realized that there was a perfect spot to set up my mat, so I did - under a shaded picnic table awning. The wind blew my mat away a couple of times, but otherwise it went pretty well, and nobody pointed and laughed, which was nice. Even with the steady wind, it felt quiet. A train went by while I was doing sun salutations, and when I lay down in shavasana I kept my eyes open and enjoyed the blue sky and the bits of wheat flying by above me in the wind. A few miles after the rest area, I saw a trio of helium balloons fly over the highway at a good steady clip, bound for Kansas. I wonder where they came from. Wherever it was, it just cemented the whole Wizard of Oz feel to the morning.

Not much to report after that - I finally scored the cassette doohickey in Pueblo, again thanks to Andrea's intervention, and after some bad traffic north of Pueblo and through Colorado Springs, I made it to Fort Collins a little after six in the evening. Chu and I had dinner at Macaroni Grill, which is just so not Blue Corn Cafe. Then I got into the Rav and headed south, finally stopping in Limon, where I am now. For future reference, should you need to go from Fort Collins to Limon, don't bother taking the toll road. I had to stop three times, and paid $2 each time. I think it would have been faster to just take 25 to 70, with all the stopping. Not that I'm bitter.

That's probably enough for now. No *$$ until Wichita tomorrow. I will have to survive on whatever Denny's is serving these days. Sigh.


Blogger Patricia said...

EDWARD R. Murrow, but he died to soon for you to know and love him!

You sure can write. Thanks for the travelogue.

Sunday, September 17, 2006 4:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

Oh, now that's pretty sad, isn't it, considering that my name's Edward to. I'd say this illustrates my point, but I was actually being lazy - I was blanking on the name and didn't feel like looking it up.

Sunday, September 17, 2006 6:40:00 PM  

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