I had strategically placed my digital camera on the top of my nightstand delicately balancing it on my cell phone charger. "There's no way I'd forget both and I'd rather be caught dead than miss the opportunity to photograph some of those incredible desert rock formations", I thought to myself before falling asleep.
And as I recall it was around the time that we arrived 2,500 miles away in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and budged our way directly to the front of the overcrowded luggage line that it hit me. Right then as I tore open my bag I knew it would not contain a camera nor a cell phone charger. Both of them would be delicately balanced on top of one another 2,500 miles away on my nightstand.
The whole situation reminds me of a time just a few years ago when I went camping on a cold night and forgot to bring a sleeping bag! Can you comprehend this statement? I had brought EVERY god damn camping provision but forgot a sleeping bag. I had brought glowsticks for finding my way in the dark (just in case my flashlight failed) but I forgot a sleeping bag!
Anyways as we picked up the rental car in Albuquerque, NM, and made the 60 mile trip in the direction of Santa Fe, the drive was dark, flat, and the surrounding environment seemed barren. As flat as the drive seemed I will say that after every few mile markers I would catch a fleeting peripheral glimpse of something large "out there". The source of these objects would remain a mystery until early the next morning.
Yes, right then it became apparent to me that I was indeed in the middle of the American desert.
Now don't get me wrong, I have experienced the desert before. Luckily, I have been afforded the opportunity to visit Las Vegas several times as well as parts of San Diego that were desert-"esque" if you will. But I had never taken the opportunity to drive beyond the boundaries of the Las Vegas strip to witness the remote and barren desert just a few miles away.
And here I found myself standing just a few feet outside of my hotel room in the middle of nowhere. With the lack the stimulation of squirting water fountains, impromptu scary pirate shows, and the electrifying lights that have become so synonymous with the Las Vegas strip, my attention was left solely to be consumed by views of peculiar desert rock formations as well as the odd cacti or two.
Matilda was busy most of the time making arraignments and preparations for her brothers wedding. I had no hard feelings and actually to be frank this suited me just fine because I was in the mood to do some exploring. That very same afternoon I loaded up our rented Chevrolet two door Cobalt with some basic utilities and set off towards the Santa Fe National Forest.
As I drove through the Santa Fe national forest (destination unknown), I stopped the car and pulled it over to what appeared to be a trail that appeared to have been rudimentary cut through some isolated desert brush. I decided to go for a short hike and I was about two miles into the trail when I made my way into the middle of two ominous looking cliffs.
It was only after I saw a pebble fall off the top of the cliff which in turn trickeled into a minor sand avalanche that I was coincidentally standing at the base of that common sense prevailed and I thought to myself that it was probably a good idea to return to the car since I did not feel like dying that particular day.
On the way back towards the hotel I noticed that my gas needle was dangerously flirting with the letter "E".
I stopped to get gas and just as I was finishing up a small Spanish man no taller than five foot five carrying a backpack approached me and asked for change. Now on the East Coast as many bums have come to find out, I have a strict rule of not funding their addictions to controlled substances. Just as I was about to scold him and send him off he said he was just trying to make his way back to Santa Fe. I wanted to offer him a ride instead of change and I seriously had to fight the urge to say hop in but in the end I told him I had nothing for him which was the most truthful I've ever been with a vagrant before. I had not brought any cash or change hiking with me.