Catron County, New Mexico has about 400 miles of paved road, and we're planning to walk every mile of it ... eventually ...

Friday, June 29, 2007

West on Highway 60

It was barely light when we headed out. Elk everywhere, at least a hundred of them, and lots of babies. We made it to our starting point, five miles west of the town of Quemado, and started walking while it was still fairly cool.

Summer in NM is not the best time to be walking on hot asphalt. However, I'm leaving Catron County at the end of July, and this is an unfinished project I'd like to complete. The clock, she is ticking...

Here we are looking east in the direction of town. You can see the policy of walking downhill whenever possible is in effect. We've been warned that rattlesnakes have been spotted frequently around Quemado in recent weeks, so we start out gingerly, but soon forget that we are supposed to be being vigilant. People stop, as usual, to see if they can help us, but not very many: more of the people using the road aren't locals but are just passing through. Already I can tell that 60 has a different character, if roads can be said to have characters. The shoulders of the road are a little wider, the speed limit is a little higher, there's a little more traffic, and there's more feeling of being connected to the rest of the world.

This stretch of road that we're on has been resurfaced recently - the asphalt is black and shiny, the lines are crisp and bright. This was pressed into the side near mile marker 30, in case anyone is looking for it:

Near mile marker 31 there is a little gravesite.

"Ray Curtis, b. April 20, 1918, d. May 4, 1918." A little boy who lived only 14 days.

"Jessie Curtis, b. April 16, 1920, d. April 16, 1920." A little girl, who lived only one day.

And one more child lost, presumably, although there's nothing inscribed on the stone. I asked about the Curtis family, and was told that there were other children who lived, but I didn't find out any more than that.

Something else by the side of the road:

It seems entirely likely that that vehicle will still be there in twenty or thirty or forty years time.

Here we are again, looking towards town.

And here, closer to town, is a little house of the kind that so appeals to me. Built probably a hundred years ago, by a man, for his family, out of whatever materials the landscape afforded him and not much else, I think. A story in each one of these little houses, which someone might or might not be able to discover at this late date, and the house standing in mute testimony for another hundred or so years.

In the town of Quemado, an "official scenic historic marker":

And finally, when we got back home, hot and happy, the icing on the cake.

The elk seem to be using our place for a sort of a nursery, as we keep finding their babies stashed here and there, or wandering around near the fence line calling for mama. This one is doing exactly what he should do - when he heard the car, he pressed himself flat into the grass and thought really hard about being invisible.


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