Shopping for Land

In July of 2005, my friend Alicia and I flew from Richmond to Albuquerque. My purpose was twofold: First, to visit Silver City and second, to visit an Earthship. Ted speculated that they are cavelike and I wanted to find out if they actually are.

Albuquerque desertWhen we came in over the desert into Albuquerque, I started to cry. There was brown, dry earth peppered with scrubby plantlife rising up to meet the plane, mountains on the horizon and a bright sky filled with fair-weather clouds. I was coming home, after spending most of my career and adult life away from the west, longing for it every minute.

We arrived in New Mexico later than we wanted to; I got us late to the airport in Richmond and we missed our flight. D'oh. Apparently the part of me who always got to the airport on time during 20 years of business travel figured she wasn't involved in this not-business trip, so she left me to fend for myself. The whole trip felt a little out-of-phase that way, as though I'd never traveled by air before.

We picked up our rental car and headed out. This was supposed to be a non-smoking car, but it reeked of stale smoke, something we didn't find out until we turned on the AC after we were out on I-25, headed north toward Taos. Now I pose this question: Who carries dryer sheets in her purse? Alicia does. She dug one out and fastened it to the AC vent, which sweetened the air immediately. A couple of days later when we took it down, the back side was stained brown. Ick.

It's a long drive from Albuquerque to Taos. I knew that, but it wouldn't have been a problem if I'd been able to get my butt to the airport in Richmond on time. We drove with me at the wheel and Alicia at the map. The sun was setting when we left I-25 at Santa Fe. It was dusk when we drove through Española and dark by the time we hit the canyon north of Velarde. Alicia is an unhappy traveler and began to worry that rock falling from the canyon walls might hit us or we might hit a cow on the road. That's how you can tell she's from the west. Few easterners would even know those are possibilities.

They weren't possibilities for us, though. We found our motel just south of Taos and tucked ourselves in gratefully. Alicia went to sleep, although fitfully. I was pumped and stayed up a while, amazed and delighted to be there. I wanted to go hiking in the dark in the desert and had to do some yoga to calm down.

When we awoke in the morning, there was deep, blue desert sky and mountains out the window. My nose was dried out and I was a little breathless from the elevation. I was thirsty! We headed out for breakfast and the Earthship World Headquarters.