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Monday, June 2, 2008

The drive home

By 8:10am we took off for our return drive, heading north to Alpine on Hwy191. By now the elevation was in a descent again as we curved around more pines and aspens.
Kevin saw his first elk along the road, a dead female that had been there a few days at least. We stopped to take a closer look (the dogs wanted to sniff it, too). A faint blood trail from the impact zone was still visible; the doomed critter had been dragged a good 20 feet. The doe's rear was already eaten open and two holes in her chest had expanded from the maggots.

We didn't stop in Alpine, but took notice of the facilities there: a gas station ($3.99), a cafe, a small diner, and many quaint cottages along the road. Cattle grazed in the large meadow that defines Alpine, and fishermen were busy in Luna Lake.
From Alpine we continued on USHwy 180 east into New Mexico. In 20 minutes after leaving Alpine we went from close to 9000' to 6000' and desert flora. Gone were the aspen and in were the cottonwoods. Gone, too was the coolness of the high mountains. We were now back in the desert and driving through the Gila Wilderness, one of New Mexico's most beautiful areas.

We drove through Glenwood, then Silver City where we stopped for lunch at the Pizza Hut. I was hungry for some pasta and was a little disappointed that the only pasta was spaghetti with runny marinara. (That sauce later gave me gas along the trip...) Gasoline sold for $3.99 and higher. We tanked up in Lordsburg for $3.74 at the Pilot off I-10.

The pick-ups windows were down and I could feel the heat. The Chiricahuas were the sign that we were 90 miles away from home. Nipple Mountain (real name: North College Peak) 20 miles from Douglas brought us even closer.
Still fighting the gastro problem, I tried to hold as much as I could in me, but a few silent-but-deadly farts did escape.
As soon we we neared the Chiricahuas I got my first whiff of creosote. "I smell creosote!" I exclaimed.
"Oh, is that what creosote smells like?" retorted Kevin with a smile. "We must be near the ocean, it smells like low tide!"

"What kind of world events do you think happened while we were gone?" asked Kevin later, after the air literally had cleared. We didn't hear any radio or read any newspapers in the 2.5 days we were in the woods.
"Oh, the usual earthquakes or wildfires" I replied, hoping that no one important died while we were disconnected from the outside world.
"I'm sure the Obama-Clinton saga continues" continued Kevin, referring to the ever-scandalous campaigns of both Democratic Senators.
"I'm sure there's been another minister from either one who said something outlandish and the opposition is trying to make that a major controversy" I answered.

We made it home shortly after 5pm to a front yard in full bloom: the Sunset Coneflowers are now in bloom, the peppers are bearing fruit and the Century Plant is growing a flower stalk. Five tall tomato plants, however, look very wilted.

As for the weekend news, we heard about a major fire at Universal Studios in Hollywood that burned down the set of Back to the Future. Yves Saint Laurent, a French designer, died today at age 71; he had had a brain tumor. Sen Clinton won the Puerto Rico primary which I find controversial since Puerto Rico does not vote in the general election, so why can it vote in primaries?

The Polygamists of El Dorado's YFZ Ranch got their children back. The poor kids had been placed in foster care across Texas, separating them from their nut parents while the state Supreme Court ruled on this issue. This news had sickened me since it broke six weeks ago, as I've driven through that town on my way to Arizona and never had a clue a bunch of sex-crazed loonies lived there in a gated hide-out.

Massive floods are also ravaging western Europe.

And for local news, a 25-year-old man in Tucson went on a shooting rampage through town and shot three police officers. One officer, a 43-yar-old retired Air Force sergeant, was shot in the head and according to the TPD chief, is not expected to live. He is on life support.

It's good to be back home. Reina welcomed us back with her very pregnant belly; she is due to drop her kittens this week. I can already feel them move around inside while Reina sprawls out on my lap. I rub her big belly to relax her and she purrs back in kind. I'm guessing she will have four kittens. That's four more for this any rate the little cats will have a good home.

It was a fun weekend and we can't wait to get back to the Whites. Our hiking club is planning another trip there this next weekend, with hikes planned to Escudilla Peak and East Mount Baldy, two hikes near the 11000' elevation mark. I had told Kevin that I want to do those peaks soon anyway. I hope the dogs can make it!

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