Monday, April 20, 2009

Gage, NM: The Adventures of Blizzilla - Queen of the Desert

MIles since last blog: 31.0
Miles Total: 3091.4

Route (Approximate, won't show real route)

If you've never heard of Gage, NM that's probably because you've never stopped there. In fact, you could even have driven by it and you'd never know it was anything big enough to have a name other than the Exxon station on exit 62 of I-10.

For a traveler on foot however it is an oasis of yore. foretold by billboards throughout the day which seems to stretch back several weeks now, my Motel 6 comforts as distant as Boston laid out here on this stretch of nothingness. A billboard says, "Thirsty?" another states, "Souvenirs" they follow each other sometimes in succession and at other times miles apart. One finally shoots across the highway the message, "Dairy Queen." Simple, complete.

Thirsty, sure, I'm thirsty but I have water. Souvenirs I can't carry. A nice dose of peanut butter cup blizzard however at one of the hottest parts of the day, it's a concession I have to make.

My day isn't done and I know it'll soon get dark and then the fast cold that sweeps into the desert will set upon me like zombies on well, also me in a zombie scenario. I still have about ten miles to go before I can rest within a comfortable distance of Lordsburg for tomorrow, my last town in New Mexico.

There's dozens of places like this in the sparse Southwest. Giant gas stations with a fast food place, souvenir shop, and even RV parks out back and nothing else for miles. These dusty mirages for weary travelers are the castles of the desert flats, and despite their cheesy consumerism and ridiculous middle of nowhere souvenirs and fireworks sales, they are a sort of majestic thing out here on their own, somehow thriving in a dead economy and a desolate land.

Coming inside also allows me certain other advantages aside from dairy goodness. On the road if I take a break it is rarely more than 15 minutes including a meal, there's simply nothing to do except think about the heat and how far you are from shelter if you sit still so there's no reason too, inside I sit and relax and give my muscles and feet a real break. I can also feel the heat of my burning skin radiating, I've been using more and more sunblock starting from none a few weeks ago but I want some burn, with how cold it gets at night a burn is a nighttime strategy for comfort.

Finally there is strategy, caffein I can get here will make me more likely to walk into the night. I want to get to Lordsburg early to try to get a room somewhere for the night, you have to do that in the hours the manager of a hotel is there generally so if I can't make it far enough tonight I either have to give up or slow down and take an extra day so that I'll arrive earlier in the day. Extra days aren't my favorite, so I had better get moving soon I've left route and am planning an experimental jaunt onto the interstate this evening or tomorrow morning, we'll see how it goes.

Update: I'm forgoing my venture onto the interstate until after Phoenix now, I was saved by the sudden reasonableness and agreement between my internet directions which I write down, and my cell phones navigator. The latter is the usual problem. For instance this morning when I was only 50 miles from Lordsburg it showed a 105 mile route into nowhere and back, but at 10 pm tonight it suddenly showed a similar path to the one put forth online. I had forsaken such a path because of the numerous roads without names, one of which I was supposed to follow for 38.5 miles, but the agreement and reception of my cell phone lent me the confidence to venture back out away from the interstate and onto the dirt roads which seem to be everywhere.

I've set up camp under a tree off one of these roads and I think I am actually on a farmers property not far from his house. I hope he's nice. (Note: I have come up with a possible strategy to get a 'de facto' day off, I am considering putting this stratagem into effect tomorrow)

700

4 comments:

johngavran@swnm.com said...

Hey Skip, welcome(and goodbye) to Deming,BF,NM. (Actually, Deming was 20mi.'s behind you!!!) I know, I drive to work to blahzilla every day to work minimum wage! I was the big guy(aka buhdajohn) that approached you just before you set off further on your adventure! (You gave me "your card" just before you left.) Sometimes you wondered whether it is worth it? lol Only time will tell... I got my degree to teach Industrial Arts and Technology in 1979. I had a career in L.A. Harbor for 20+ years on research vessels w/ Occidental College, U.S.C. Marine Research, L.A. County Sanitation Districts,did contract work for scientists w/ N.O.A.A., N.O.S.C., University of South Carolina, amongst other things.... Crowley Marime(as a marine engineer on tugboats) plus worked on some of the nicest yachts on the west(or is it, left coast!) To the best of my knowledge about "Gage",NM..is that it was part of when the rail system was being put in, via the Southern Pacific Railroad. Your next stop, and prolly where you would be camping for the night, is Separ(Sp?) SPRR had camps about every 12 mi.'s apart during its construction. And(to the best of my knowledge, hearing from locals, one of the original Butterfield stagecoach lines was to the North a mile or two from the store you visited today. I wish you the best , man, you're almost there! Keep the rubber side down, and the sunny side up! GOOD LUCK!!! Gimme a call if you'd like morale support call (H)575-546-0169, (C)575-494-2152.

Dixxe's Doodles said...

All in all that sounds like a good day on the walk...I understand those billboards, Im about an hr East of I-95 here in SC and along that stretch there are signs for South of the Border for MILES calling out to all the NY to FL travelers...Come by and purchase gas, food, trinkets, and all the luxury of home right on off the Interstate easy off easy on. Out in the west I think they call them BIG CHIEF..lots of do-dads and such to stuff into that empty spot in the back of the SUV. Yeah I stopped and bought candy and soda pop and a fridge magnet.
Every step you are closer to comepleting your walk...enjoy each and every one...happy trails today.

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Shelby Peralta said...

I have driven that stretch from Deming to Lordsburg and took notice of Gage NM as the signs flashed like note cards every few miles in shorter and shorter distances until they stopped and out of no where a sign says Dairy Queen and his exit. Made me take notice of Gage so much so that i stopped at the rest area in the median of the interstate too light up the desert sky with newly bought fireworks. Inspiration to stop and smell the desert fauna. That old ghost town Gage with a strange spelling and your blog gave me background of that stretch of i 10. Now I have a better picture with your blizzilla post and what a lengthy post it was for such a bland drive. I wonder if its worth hiking the stretch along butterfield stage coach road.