Sunday, June 04, 2006

Interstate I-10 notes

Interstate 10 is a long highway at 2,460 miles. It starts in Jacksonville, Florida and ends at Santa Monica, California and is said to be the loneliest of the interstate highways. I have, in recent times, traveled most of this length, to and from Pensacola, Florida, and with this recent trip from Iraan, Texas to Ontario, California. It is a very busy artery carrying much commerce. It is a favorite of drug smugglers who move their wares and the proceeds thereof constantly up and down its length. As a means of impeding this, and also trafficking in human smuggling of illegal aliens, the US Border patrol has set up several checkpoints along its length. There is one just East of El Paso at Sierra Blanca where on May 3, just a couple of weeks prior to the outset of my journey, over a ton of marijuana was discovered in a cover load of avocados. There is another checkpoint not far into New Mexico from El Paso where I-10 goes through Las Cruces. My passage through these are reminders that "big brother" is watching always leave me a little uneasy. To what am I acquiescing? Isn't this just incrementally the loss of liberty?

As you approach El Paso, and again, as you again encounter the Rio Grande river basin in New Mexico it is startling the way the desert ends near the banks of the river and green life takes over. Literally, one side of the road can be totally devoid of life and the other a verdant pasture. Additionally, in the middle of the desert, Sainte Genevieve, owned by Cordier Estates, has a winery and there are many vineyards about which certainly appear anomalous in these most extreme arid conditions. I like this wine because it is local though it is not the best available by any means, just passable, and the price is right.

I had several encounters with friendly people before reaching Ontario. There was the air conditioning mechanic at the Texaco in New Mexico telling me how I would benefit to come back and visit Silver City and the nearby ancient Gilla Cliff dwellings. I have never been to the cliff dwellings but my son and I traveled the adjacent Geronimo trail several years ago on one of our frequent camping trips. Geronimo is a man I have revered since childhood embodying as he did the very essence of rugged individualism and self reliance. He suffered greatly at the hands of the "white" man and during the course of his life took the fight for personal freedom and justice to his enemy. His story is a paradigm of the struggle of the oppressed and later in its history our country would change course and make right previous wrongs and I too would participate with comrades in arms to further the cause of liberty. There are many false starts on the paths we are set, many dead ends. Matters most that an exercise of conscience, properly cultivated, mitigates these errors as we continue the long journey. More on liberty later.

A note on the approach to San Bernardino. I was startled to see thousands of electricity generating wind mills, 4000 to be exact, according to this article. I had a hard time keeping my head on the task of riding the bike I was so taken by this landscape of machinery stretching as it does for several miles. My thought is that I would much rather have a simple nuclear power plant tucked away in one corner than this blight on the otherwise pristine desert landscape. But that is just me. I can just imagine how many environmental exquisitely supersensitive consciences anguish over all the poor birds that supposedly find liberal victimhood as they perish trying to navigate the air above these treacherous hills and valleys.

Next, the Mojave desert and day one of a nine day coast to coast journey.

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