San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Monday, April 27, 2015

Observations From A Road Trip

I had to attend a cleaning products convention in Tucson last week.  For janitors this convention is the equivalent of the many huge professional conventions held in Las Vegas every year.  I learned about all sorts of amazing products that will help me serve my clients better.  I decided to take my time and drive to the convention.  I spent a leisurely week on the road, stopping along the way to play some golf, visit some friends and make an unsuccessful attempt on a long and difficult desert peak.  I thought you might enjoy a couple of my observations from the trip so today's post is dedicated to the highlights, or low-lights, of what happened last week.
As I drove south from Denver I noticed that I-25 is now filled with electronic signboards constructed and maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation.  On this day each of the signs was lit up with a warning message designed to get my attention and inform me that big brother is watching and I could be sent to prison at a moment's notice.  One told me that I would be arrested for driving drunk.  Another informed me that I would be arrested for driving while under the influence of the hallucinogenic compounds in marijuana.  Another simply told me that I was being watched.  That was comforting.  My favorite was related to CDOT's current campaign to have no traffic fatalities in Colorado this year.  You  can find that post here.  Bureaucrats at CDOT believe it is possible, with enough regulation and "watching" of motorists, to guarantee that nobody will be killed in a traffic accident on Colorado roads this year.  One electronic billboard informed me that it was my responsibility to make the bureaucrat's dream come true.  Apparently unknown to the person posting the message to the billboard was the article in the Denver Post just a couple of days earlier pronouncing 2015 to be the deadliest one on Colorado roads in many years.  Apparently the rate of traffic fatalities so far this year is higher than recent years, despite the fact that the bureaucracy has established procedures to ensure nobody would get hurt.
I had to pass through Deming, NM on my way to Tucson.  I don't mind Deming.  It has the reputation for having pure water and fast ducks.  I kind of like that since I believe water pollution and overweight ducks to be two of our biggest social ills these days.  But as I pulled into town that day I was not thinking about a cool drink or Daffy.  I was thinking about the poor soul who dared to drive on Deming's roadways without a government permit to do so.  Go here to read the story about the fellow who was forced to undergo multiple enemas and colonoscopies, all against his will, simply because he rolled through a "Stop" sign and then refused to show the proper deference to the costumed thug who pulled him over.  I kept my eyes down, drove the speed limit, and clenched up tightly until I was through the city limits.
I had a thoroughly enjoyable day attempting to summit Tanque Verde Peak, near Tucson.  It was an ambitious day, gaining almost 5000 feet in an 18 mile round trip.  The temperature was in the low 90s and there was no water along the way.  Despite the minor hardships my partner (Remember when a person could use the word 'partner' and not be a homosexual?  I am using the term that way.) and I had a superb time scaling the ridgeline of Tanque Verde Peak to within two miles of the summit.  The mesquite was in bloom, filling the air with a most wonderful pungent aroma.  The palo verdes were also in bloom in some areas.  The prickly pear was flowering and I believe we were treated to the most spectacular display of ocotillo flowers I have ever seen.  Here is a shot of the ocotollios along the way:

In addition to the red ocotillos we also ran across this green fellow.  I believe he moonlights for GEICO:

On the drive home I decided to go the scenic route through north central New Mexico.  I had spent my teenage years in the area and was curious to see how it might have changed over the decades.  I was very pleased to discover that the Pueblo Indians have discovered the free market in general and casino gambling in particular.  Areas that were very impoverished when I lived there were now sporting all the evidences of material wealth and affluence.  Good for them, I thought, the Indians are finally sticking it to the white man.  Only now instead of removing their scalps they are removing cash from their pockets. 
In addition to the positive influence of the white man seen in casino gambling, the Indians have also picked up a very negative behavior from the powers that be of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  There are dozens of independent Pueblos in northern NM.  I do not recall any of them ever having a police force.  Or, if they did, it was made up of a man or two who would drive around in a car like that used by Andy and Barney.  You can imagine my shock when I discovered that all of the tiny pueblos now have fully militarized police forces.  VIPER like cars straight out of Mad Max were patrolling the roadways near the pueblos.  Their windows were dark, they appeared to have armor plating and I would not have been surprised to discover that a Gatling Gun was retracted under the roof of the vehicles, just waiting to be deployed upon some hapless citizen who rolled through a "Stop" sign.  The cars were all speeding, of course.  Why in the world do these pueblos need that sort of militarized police force?  Nothing more dangerous than the occasional drunk Indian ever takes place on Indian land.  As I drove home in sad silence I realized that you really never can go back home.  I also realized that the land in which I now live is divided into two groups...those who give the orders and those who are expected to obey.  I obeyed. 

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