My thought was that if we didn't explore this road now, we'd never do it, and whatever the outcome, it was sure to be worth the trip.

Gold Gulch Road is a sandy track along a dry creek bottom. Like many roads in Grant County, New Mexico, this one is maintained by blading, which smoothes the surface, but digs the roadbed deeper and deeper into the surrounding landscape. In some cases, Gold Gulch Road is actually below the level of the adjoining riverbed. Must be interesting in a rainstorm.

The Subaru Baja was made for this kind of travel, so away we went, dancing over washboard and pebbles, sliding in the sand around curves. No danger of going off the road here. Blading has piled up walls of sand 2' high on either side. Ted found Jack's Peak Road on the GPS, up ahead a mile or so. We took it when we got there. We came up behind a pickup, with no license plate, stopped in the road. It moved ahead slowly as we approached.

The driver eventually pulled over. From my perspective a couple of hundred feet back down the road from him, it looked like he parked the truck in the middle of the road. I saw him get out and heft a rifle over his shoulder. Oops, I thought, but nothing came of it. The pickup truck driver and a woman disappeared with their rifle down the mountainside. He'd found a wide spot in the road where he parked. I passed the truck and headed up the road.

Jack's Peak RoadTed was getting jittery again. He said the road wasn't even beginning to challenge the Subaru, but he would have second thoughts if we were driving the Saturn. As we climbed, the road got rockier and the ruts got deeper. When it looked like this, Ted moaned "Oh my, Cindi."

I was having a ball. A rancher in an oncoming pickup had a spot on his right big enough to pull into and he let us by. He grinned and waved as we crept past.

Ted got out and moved a couple of big stones out of the way and we kept going.