the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Reunion Travelogue (Part Seven)

Tuesday, 7/26:

Up early again to load up the car, say goodbye to parents, and hit the highway. Beautiful day, great tunes, good car conversation with Liz, amazing scenery...

Stopped in Cuba, New Mexico, to stretch and fill up; realized we were vastly ahead of schedule due to the higher-than-remembered speed limits. On a whim, we decided to cut east on NM 126 and then down on NM 4 instead of continuing directly on US 550 to San Ysidro. Seemed like a good idea at the time... So, up into the mountains we went on little NM 126, which was fine until it turned into an unpaved, one-lane washboard... and then it kept on climbing. Lots of blind turns, ruts, one-lane bridges, and other fun road conditions. I guess maybe I should have paid attention to the (literal) warning signs, which said reassuring things like "Use in daylight hours only" and "NM 126 impassable beyond this point in winter months." ("Do you hear banjo music?" we asked.) Slightly disconcerting to be bouncing along the road to oblivion while on the stereo John Lennon belted out "Instant Karma" ("better get yourself together / pretty soon you're gonna be dead")... But the views were great, and it was really quite an experience to be (perhaps only what seemed like) the only car on the road. About half an hour after we expected it to, the road got friendlier, started to descend, and eventually turned back into two-lane pavement and then into NM 4, which took us south through Jemez Pueblo and some dramatic canyon scenery before emptying out into the blood-red desert outside of San Ysidro.

Our little detour absorbed just about the entire "fudge factor" in our timing, so once we got back onto 550, I put my foot down on the pedal and whipped our silly Hyundai up to a proper cruising speed. Arrived at the airport right on time, had a little lunch once past security. Since I'd run out of reading material, I picked up the current issue of "Wired" and The Lovely Bones.

Our flights were uneventful -- I found myself enjoying Bones far more than I ever would have expected to -- though we hit nasty turbulence on our approach into Cleveland, it seems that we lucked out by missing the plane-flippingly strong winds that downtown had been dealing with around rush hour. Caught a cab back from the airport, set stuff down, and got scolded by the cats. I think it will be a day or two before they decide if they still love us.

Am completely, totally happy with this trip. It seems like just about the right balance of family, reunion, adventures, wine, food, and road trip. The only problem now is readjusting to EDT, which always messes me up. Not looking forward to the amount of email in my work inbox, or really of being in the office at all. Going to be a long, long week...

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