Friday, June 4, 1993...
Ran behind schedule almost all day, capped by a traffic ticket around Mescalero, NM, courtesy of a local speed trap. It was late afternoon on a four-lane, divided rural road, speed limit 55 everywhere else...but here, according to a fine specimen of local law enforcement, the limit was 45! The ticket will cost me $81, and New Mexico wants payment within five days. I wrote on the ticket that they'd get it within ten, since I won't even be home until five days from now - was tempted to refuse to admit anything until the officer showed me the alleged 45 MPH sign, but didn't want to give that ambulatory hemorrhoid an excuse to detain me longer.
I had fallen behind early, losing an hour at the New Mexico border and underestimating the distance to the start of eastbound US 70. The drive from Globe, Arizona to southwestern New Mexico, where 70 joins US 80/I-10 at Lordsburg, was thoroughly uneventful; the drive on the Interstate from Lordsburg to Las Cruces only slightly better, highlighted mostly by the large number of souvenir stores and even a Stuckey's. Too bad the stores had nothing I hadn't seen before, and only two or three postcards worth buying.
North of Las Cruces, 70 veers due northeast across the White Sands Missile Range. Signs warn that the road is closed once or twice a week, for an hour or two at a time, for missile firings, but my drive wasn't interrupted. Stopped at the White Sands National Monument, where immense mounds of ever-shifting gypsum sustain a unique desert ecosystem. Many small indigenous animals have developed a protective white coloration to protect them from predators.
Having stupidly forgotten to wear sunglasses as I crossed the sheer, reflective white surface under a cloudless sky, I spent almost as much time squinting as I did sweating...and when I got back to the car, it took ten minutes to rid myself of sand.
Then came the speeding ticket. After that, I was gun-shy enough to remain within 5 MPH of the speed limit even on stretches where everyone else on the road was zooming past me at 75 in a 55 zone; that probably cost me half an hour on the home stretch, which meant I reached the motel at 8:45. That was just in time to see the Bulls eliminate the Knicks in the NBA playoffs, thanks largely to the special "Michael Jordan Rule" governing foul calls and traveling...
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