As I was loading my car in preparation for leaving Chiricahua National Monument, an older couple approached me, said they too were road hippies (whatever that is), said that my car and I were very cute, then asked where I was headed next. I said I thought I’d go to Rockhound State Park in New Mexico. They said to go to Rock City State Park instead, that it was a much better park. Since I am going where the wind blows, I decided to take their advice. “Going where the wind blows” was supposed to be a figure of speech, but it turned out to be the truth since I had to drive through fierce winds all across southern New Mexico. Cold fierce winds. I didn’t get to the park until about four, and except for a large stand of rocks that from a distance looked like a city skyline, I didn’t see anything except miles of flat land. And all I felt were those bitter winds that could only get colder when the sun set.
So those winds blew me on down the highway.
I had to laugh at myself for all my plans of just driving a couple of hours a day, of stopping early enough so there wouldn’t be a problem about finding a place to stay, and there I was, driving after the sun set. But of course, the early stops were to ensure that I would have time to find an alternative solution if my plans didn’t work out, and that’s what happened.
I drove to Las Cruces and rented a motel room for the night. And oh, did that cheap place feel as luxurious as an upscale spa! Warmth. No wind. No setting up a tent and a makeshift bed. No securing food and scented items from bears. My own bathroom. And a tub to soak my aching bones. Add to that a lovely breakfast buffet with make-your-own waffles, and I felt pampered.
Now I am sitting in the sun in historic Mesilla City, listening to the church chimes.
I feel good. Rested. (Though I don’t look rested. I look like I’ve aged a decade in the last two weeks, but luckily, I don’t see many mirrors.)
My next sort-of-planned stop is a campsite in the Guadalupe Mountains, though I don’t think I’ll make it there today. Do I care?
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)