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

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fait accompli

Well, it is done. The task is finished - I've walked every mile of every paved road in Catron county. It was an odd task, to be sure, but it was mine, all mine - I'm fairly sure no one else has ever attempted it, in fact I can't think why they would.

Here are some pictures from my final morning's walk:

And here is the final map of the project:

So, goodbye CatronCountyWalk, hello Strolling Around Socorro!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Coming down to the homestretch

It was a struggle to get up and out this morning, but I knew if I didn't do this walk today, I wouldn't be able to finish next week. Today I started at mile post 55 and walked west back to 48. Pretty perky for the first three miles, then I started dragging - I kept expecting to hit a long downhill stretch, but it was up and down, up and down, the whole way.

One thing I noticed and was intrigued by:

Ted Nugent, of course, is the aging hard rock Cat Scratch Fever guy, and I remember hearing once that he had taken a fiercely public pro-gun stance, but this sign made me curious. Does he have property in Catron County? What does "United Sportsman" mean? Is he describing himself as a unity of one? Google answered one question, at least - his organization is called "Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America" and perhaps that mile of highway 60 has been adopted not by Ted personally, but by a member or two of his club. But still, I have questions. Who's responsible for the typo on the sign? Someone in the Catron County division of the highway department? Someone on a state level? The members of the TNUSA who applied to adopt that mile of highway? Am I the only one who notices these things?

One more stretch of highway to go, and I'm done walking Catron county's paved roads.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


This morning I walked west from mile marker 48 back to Omega, knocking off about 7 miles of what's left of Highway 60. I should have saved Omega for last - it would have been fitting to end my walk at Omega - but I really want to save the Pie Town stretch for last, so that I can celebrate with a slice of peach pie at The Daily Pie, made from fresh peaches.

Omega isn't a ghost town, exactly, but it's no longer in its heyday, so to speak. The thing that caught my attention immediately was a mobile home, half burned in a fire. Someone lives in the other end - the end that wasn't burned up in the fire - and apparently has for many years.

I googled Omega, and came up with this much: "This community was once called Rito after nearby Rito Creek. The name then switched to Sweazeville to remember a local gas station owner called Sweaze. In 1938, residents adopted (the name)Omega, the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet, for obscure, but possibly Christian reasons."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Getting back on track

I'm committed to finishing this project, but have been temporarily distracted by things like buying a house, enrolling kids in new schools, reassembling my work history after a ten-year hiatus, and other important and necessary things.

Only three more walks to go, and they're written in pen on my calendar. It looks like I'll finish before Labor Day.

When I said before that I wasn't sure why I even doing this project, it was only because in the grand scheme of things it seems sort of self-indulgent. Then again, I may not be walking down the street like Lucky Larue, in the immortal words of John Prine, but I ain't hurtin' nobody. And I've felt a thousand times more connected to this strange place that is Catron County since I began. Every footfall confers a small sense of ownership and belonging, which is something that evaded me for many years when we first moved out here. This is something that is truly different about walking around your neighborhood rather than driving.

There's no question that you see more at 3 mph than you do at 60 mph, but there's more to it than that, and I hope you'll forgive me for belaboring the obvious while I figure out what I'm trying to say.

When you drive through a place, windows closed, radio and air-conditioning on, you see it. With the windows open and the radio off, you see it, smell it and hear it. But when you walk through a place, you not only see it better, smell it better, and hear it better, you also physically touch it and it physically touches you back.

Okay, I give up - I don't mean to be getting all touchy-feely here. Maybe I'm just starting to get a little sentimental about leaving.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Six mile Sunday on 60

Sunday was the first time in all this walking that I was alone on the road. My ride dropped me off at the state line, then went on into Springerville, AZ, to get gas and a newspaper. Until he came back almost an hour later, I was by myself. It was great. In fact, I almost never get any alone time any more, so it was downright exhilarating.

With the six miles from the state line to mile post 6 completed, I've only got about another 21 miles to go. I thought I'd be getting pretty psyched in anticipation of finishing, but it hasn't happened yet. I've sort of lost track of why I started this in the first place.

Looking west into Arizona.

Looking east at the start of Highway 60.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Highway 36 is Done!

Today was not a good day to forget to bring the camera - I could have taken a lovely picture of the Cibola County Line sign, and the scenery was nice, with lots of lovely features like mountains off in the distance. But I was excited and bleary-eyed when I left the house this a.m. and left it behind.

I had two fellow walkers today, and we ended up talking about food quite a bit - recipes, and things we'd eaten as children, things we'd had recently, and things we'd served or been served. Mundane, perhaps, but it passed the time and we were done walking before I knew it.

We celebrated with coffee and pie at a place in Quemado, which is where the conversation took a more interesting turn. Quemado seems to be a hotbed of conservative politics, and so perhaps it was not the right place to be overheard making unkind jokes about the president's colonoscopy (do you think they'll find his brain up there?) or expressing alarm and dismay that the vice president will officially be in charge of our nation while the president is under the influence of the anesthesia.

What is it about walking that loosens my tongue like the third glass of wine? You don't have to get me drunk to learn my secrets - just take me on a ten mile walk, and I'll tell you everything.

Today's actual mileage was something in the neighborhood of 5 and 1/2 miles - enough to make me opinionated, but not enough to really get me in trouble with the leather-clad senior-citizen biker patriots at the table next to me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Chipping away at highway 60

Another 6 miles today, in good company. Not a lot to look at, as you can tell by photo. About 32 miles left to call this project done. Clock's ticking.