I leave Las Cruces, NM at about 7 a.m. To go to Zuni, NM, to deliverer 2 workstations, 2 printers, 2 notebooks, and perform a couple of repairs at the hospital.
After Zuni, I am going to hit I-40 and cruise into Albuquerque to see my girlfriend K, whom I've not seen in about 2 months, as she had gone to China for 4
weeks, then was staying at home with parents. (During the time she spent in Albuquerque, she had her wisdom teeth removed, hence a godawful nick name I doubt I'll live out. That may be a story for another time.)
About 8 a.m. I stop at a border patrol checkpoint on I-25, roll the window down and explain that I REALLY am a professional delivering computers, not stealing them, nor are there drugs in the boxes. Sir, I honestly promise you. Get the van up to speed again, and the window won't roll up. That is my 1st hint of trouble. The second is the black thunderhead spreading across the horizon.
By Socorro, I've discovered that the high-tech, aerodynamic, soccer-mommyfied shape of the van keeps the rain out IF you keep it above 60. No Problem, right?
From Socorro I head west on NM60, through Magdalena, beautiful country, it's been raining in the western part of the state for a couple of days. The grassy hills and pinon trees are so brilliant, purple desert thistles along the road, the living clean desert smells mixed with sage and pine. Get a little wet, can't always keep up my speed on a state highway.
The weather seems to have cleared by the time I roll into the hospital parking lot, right on time and quite dry by then.
Three hours of bad end users. Near as I can tell, I was the 1st person in town who could spell computer, let alone fix one.
Still in a good mood I've not seen K since the last of May. Really missing her. Call her from Zuni, according to everyone at the hospital it will take me a bit over two hours.
The sky is clear, listening to Lennie Cohen, smoking a Kamel, cruising at a safe sane fifty per. The roads are a bit wet, not too bad; I am in complete control of the vehicle. I have to slow down for the sharp blind turns. Then coming around a corner a semi hauling a house trailer comes lurching around the corner... half in my lane.... need another two foot to get around him... ease the passenger side onto the gravel shoulder.... THERE IS NO GRAVEL...MUD!!!!! The van lists starboard as the wheels sink into the crud; start to pull it back to the road THERE IS STILL A SEMI OVER THERE!!!!! And the van lists further.... feels like the left wheels are losing contact with the road.... I concede to momentum.... and allow the van to hurtle off into the muck.
I come to a stop.
About 4 car lengths from the road at about a 45 degree angle from said road. I stub out my cigarette, turn down the stereo, debate getting out to survey the damage. I get out. Sink immediately past my ankles in red mud. The front of the van plowed down into this stuff (not to mention through a few shrubs) so deep that mud was piled up over the bumper. I decide to remove my white dress shirt, put on any old t-shirt. Deep DEEP ruts mark my trail back to the highway. The situation is not entirely ideal. I check in the back of the van for something... I find a shovel.... good start.
A very nice older couple stops in a full size late 70's Ford Bronco. Mud tires, 4x4 the whole bit. They offer to pull me out. No tow rope in the van. None in their truck. They tell me to sit tight they'll go get help. Not usually being the type to remain helpless, I put the shovel to use. Start digging out the trenches, jumping in the van, rocking it in drive then reverse. Doing this I get it about 1 car length closer to the road. About that time the cavalry arrives.
Cavalry looks like an old Zuni rancher in a beaten up old Dodge pickup. The old man chuckles and asks what happened. I explain. He says it is not the first time. Chuckles more. Seeing as how I am already covered in mud, he apologizes for not joining me in the muck and passes a nice long towrope to me. I attach it to the frame of the van and hop in. The old man waves and gets the van moving steadily but messily to the road.
I look under the van for damage, none is apparent. I shake hands thanking the fellow profusely. He chuckles as he drives away. I light a cigarette. Check the time. I am supposed to be in Albq in 30 minutes. I am not even to Grants and the I-40 ramp yet. I hop in the van and roll on slowly at first while the mud-coated tires reacquaint themselves with asphalt. Traction occurs and I pick up speed.
It starts to rain.
The window is still stuck down.
My spirits are high I'm not too wet, yet.
I pull on to I-40 and crest the hill. The entire horizon is black. The biggest storm I've ever seen is quickly devouring the eastern half of the state. The wind is blowing south, bringing rain right through the open window.
My spirits are having a riot. With manic glee I take my shirt off, hang it from the gear shift crank the heater up to napalm, point half the vents at my dripping shirt the other half at me. Hit it.
Cruising soaking wet at a safe sane 85 in low visibility. I make pretty good time. Burn through Albq screaming Misfits songs at the traffic. Get off at Tramway. Find K's house. Put on my shirt. Hike up the drive leaving red mud prints all the way up. I am wet, covered in mud, my hair is tangled, I hadn't eaten all day, I'd been bitched at, run off the road and I was nearly two hours late. I was so happy. I remember that K's mother is an obsessive-compulsive neat freak. Smile
even bigger. I'm gonna make an impression. A definite impression. I ring the doorbell. K answers. Gives me a huge hug. Notices the mud and asks what the hell happened to me. I explain to her that the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is what is waiting for you at the end. I had an adventure.
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