Madrid New Mexico | Part III | Desert Oasis

RootlessRoutes Madrid New Mexico 2018

Overwhelmed with relief to see the sign ‘Welcome to Madrid’, I knew my turn onto Back Road was close at hand.

No longer any need for the low tire pressure warning since now there was no doubt that the tire was entirely flat.

Madrid New Mexico RootlessRoutes
Hello Madrid New Mexico August 2018. It as a Hell of a ride getting to you.

After turning on Back Road it was only one half mile left to the AirBnB.

The night was even darker, but it did not take me long to realize this was yet another unpaved road, laden with huge gaping potholes.

FUCK!

Hello Madrid

Here we are, actually in Madrid and subsequently what I thought would be the end of our ordeal. But now I was driving on a pitch black, unmarked dirt road, riddled with fissures and huge holes.

I started chanting again.  “Come on baby, you can do it”.

The shaking of the SUV caused Roadie to sit up and try to peer out the window.

“Lie down dammit!” I yelled, worried she’d get hurt flying across her bed, even within the doggie hammock.

A nice comfy bed was ahead of us. I just needed to make it. Only one fourth of a mile to go.

I envisioned sleeping in a bed as I traveled down the  mild grade of the unlevel and poorly maintained, muddy road.

Before me the rent in the road was wide, deep and on the same side as the flat back tire.

There was little room between the cars parked on either side but nothing was going to stop me at this point.

Slowly I pulled forward, the front right tire fell into the unavoidable hole causing the SUV to lean dangerously to the right.

Unpaved Roads & Anxious Dogs

The dog fell backward (I had told her to lay her ass down) and clunked her head on the door.

Thankfully, once we made it out of the hole she sat up, after a bit of struggle to get her ground and started panting like the happy dog she is.

RootlessRoutes
Waldo Mesa Road Madrid New Mexico

How could .3 miles take so long. I swore the GPS was stuck.

As soon as I got close to what looked like the turn for Waldo Mesa Road, the map would expand showing it to be further ahead.

One more gaping hole in the road, of course it was also on the right. We made it through and were once more on level ground. Now making our way up a mild hill covered with huge sharp, rocks for gravel. (don’t they know what gravel is in New Mexico?)

We completed the last turn in the road and the roadway mellowed.

Flat dirt, no holes and I was pretty sure the light shining up ahead was the light for our AirBnB.

As we got closer though I groaned. The house was just as pictured, but subsequently on another fissure ridden hill.

“For fucks sake!”

I turned onto Waldo Mesa Road and stopped in front of the gate. I got out and took a deep breath. It may have been quite a challenge getting here, but I was in the New Mexico desert and it was beautiful.

Grateful in Madrid

I was so grateful to have made it I could have kissed the sand below my feet.

I took a few moments to appreciate my surroundings and remind myself how lucky I was to be here at all.

The AirBnB was adorable and it was surrounded by the scrubby, rolling hills of New Mexico.

Even in the dark it glowed with a tinge of pink. If I had to have 2 flat tires, then better in this place. I was infinitely glad to be there.

Roadie whimpered. She had to pee.

Leaving the SUV on the road I helped her out of the back seat and escorted her to our new digs.

The key was on the table as promised, so I let her in and went back down the hill.

Pulling the SUV in was not easy. The Aviator sat at a precarious angle but I really wanted to get into bed and sleep.

After hauling everything we needed for the night, I loaded the cold stuff into the fridge, washed up, changed and fell fast asleep.

Madrid New Mexico. About as bleary a picture as I felt

Madrid, New Mexico.

Good night!

Madrid New Mexico | Part II | Google Maps Hell

Madrid New Mexico

Only 7 miles from Madrid and I was most certainly not the carefree dog in the car hammock. (click for Part I)

I was driving a heavily loaded SUV with a dangerously low tire along an unfamiliar roadway with sharp turns, steep inclines and little between myself and the edge.

The dog was snoring. Swaying without a care in the world in her hammock in the back.

Madrid New Mexico
A dark entrance over the pothole covered unpaved road into Madrid

It was after 3am. The dark of night before me was nothing more than what looked like an empty abyss.

Highway 14 coiled up a steep grade with little between us and what was a likely harrowing end below.

In the pitch of night it was impossible to see more than a few feet around, but easy to surmise the depths that lay beyond the edge of the tenuous roadway.

Only 6 miles to Madrid.

The console indicator kept demanding attention to its unmitigating message “Air pressure dangerously low”.

We weaved down to more level ground and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Just 5 more miles, just 5 more miles.

I Curse Thee, Google Maps

The tire had gone flat earlier in the day.

Against my better judgement I filled it with Fixaflat and headed back out.

With only 16 miles to Madrid, I figured it should at least hold that far.

It was after 1am. I’d covered well over 900 miles that day. An unplanned detour added 4 hours to the drive but I thought it worth the experience.

Skyline Drive took me miles out of the way in Utah. It was also likely to blame for instigating the troubles we were experiencing now.

Skyline Drive, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah
Skyline Drive, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah

Well worth the added miles and the trouble, but trouble I was now in, nevertheless.

With so few miles to go, we just had to make it. Just HAD too.

Almost To Madrid

I drove with care towards Madrid, switching from my preferred WAZE to Google maps, just in case I lost signal out there in the middle of nowhere.

I love WAZE. She has directed me safely across countless cities and unfamiliar continents, but she is limited when signal is lost.

Google Maps allows you to preload maps, so if signal is lost you still have a map to follow.

But then Google Maps did what it does and put me on 57A, a gravel road, full of potholes the size of gullies.

I do not see how at 1am, in the middle of the desert, this was a better option than the paved highway only a few miles out of the way.

57A between 25 and 14. is not a worthy shortcut, remain on the highway and go the extra few miles to go around.
57A is not a paved road. It is a farm road for local use and not to be trifled with via anything but a 4WD or off road vehicle.

It is not the first time Google Maps has pulled this shit and it is why I prefer WAZE. WAZE acknowledges that easier and safer is at times better than faster, far more than does Google.

Only 3 miles to Madrid.

Just Like a White Winged Dove | My Austin Texas Transplant

I’d nearly made it through Texas and into Austin without harming anything. Driving nearly 3000 miles with no depressing flattened bunny moments, is a Godsend.

Spewing toxic emissions into the atmosphere is one thing. But death or injury in my vehicles wake is quite another.

Sadly, with my “driving the world” lifestyle, such is inevitable.

Blood Moon
Full buck moon. Picture not my own. RootlessRoutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buck Moon / Deer Lunacy

On this weird, cloudless yet starless night, the full buck moon was bright red. Drawing wild eyed deer to the roadways edge. 

Like packs of starving zombies seeking to sate their ravaging hunger. Suicidal Whitetail await in the shadows for just the right vehicle to drive by.

Deer in forest. Picture not my own
Lurking deer

In my mind I could see them. Pawing at the periphery. Waiting in the twiggy wedge of where the forest meets the road.

Moon crazed deer are the bane of rural Texas roadways in Summer and Fall. But not only deer succumb to the full moons lunacy. On Summer nights like these, a deranged contagion maddens more than the jittery, spindly legged, frantics.

Although unseen, denizens of the Texas wilderness hide in the shadows. Lurking at the brink of the unlit road. Waiting for me to drive by.

I scanned the verge with sharp intent. Hands gripping the wheel in anticipation. Ready to respond.

As Austin neared, the forest thinned and turned to sprawling ranchland. Not out of the literal woods yet, I loosened my grip but maintained a keen eye.

Hello Austin Texas

About about 100 miles north of my South Austin, Texas destination, traffic thickened as it now always does when nearing Austin. I began to relax.

Less than 100 miles from my destination and no casualties. Then something flew in front of the car and vanished. I knew it was a goner.

It was nearly dark, so it could have been a bat. Texas is home to millions of little bats. But I knew that whatever it was, was likely stuck in the massive grill of the Lincoln.

Menacing bug laden grill of my Lincoln Aviator. RootlessRoutes Austin Texas 2018

I’d not seen it do the customary ‘swoop of the dead’ over my hood. So I imagined it wedged between the evil teeth if the Aviators shameless grin.

I drove on.

The sprawling Texas ranchland faded to subdivisions. I drove across Austin through the late evening traffic, so common to this place. Venturing on to my mother’s house in South Austin.

Arriving exhausted, I merely glanced at the menacing grill of the Lincoln upon unloading and saw nothing.

I awoke to take Mom to do errands. It was hot. Three digit hot.

The bug laden grill showed no sign of a body, so I offered the little creature a moment of silence in recompense and went on with life.

The Heat (Heart) of Texas!

The next day was hot. Like the rest of the US, Texas was searing. Daily aspiring to triple digits or close, with just enough humidity to make it soul breakingly bleak.

As I traversed South Austin to help my Mom with chores. Instead of dodging moon crazed deer, I now evaded the blank eyed, soccer Moms, that dot Austins cityscape.

These dough eyed creatures, drive and roam about as if they have no real destination in mind. Such Austin transplants wander the parking lots and shops in a daze similar to the deer.

Swaddled in organic yoga pants and t shirts with ironic sayings, they prance about believing they too are “weird”. Their freshly dyed purple hair, a beacon of their unacknowledged privilege.

I prefer the crazy deer.

The deer are much more competent at blending into the landscape than are this new breed of Austin Moms. Fueled by their vapid superiority, they don’t even notice themselves blocking the way, driving to slowly or cutting you off.

And Ye Shall Arise!

We stopped at Michaels craft supply and walked the length of the strip mall to TJ Maxx.

The heat was better this day, yet too oppressive for my Mom. So I slogged off through the Texas heat, to get the car and come pick her up.

RootlessRoutes 2018 Austin Texas
Rootless Routes 2018 Austin Texas

How could that be?

RootlessRoutes 2018 Austin Texas
Rootless Routes 2018 Austin Texas

There’s no way it could be a second bird right?

White winged dove
White winged dove behind the grill. Rootless Routes 2018 Austin Texas

Yet there she was, screaming her wee head off and waving her wings about. She looked a right mess too.

I opened the trunk and the dove flew out. She stumbled around the parking lot, mimicking the soccer moms and flew off into the expansive Texas sky.

How could that poor little sucker have survived? Eighty miles an hour in front of a searing hot radiator? Three whole days driving around town in 3 digit heat?

There is no way to know how that little bird survived her predicament. Yet, she now too was a transplant to Austin, Texas.

Maybe she’ll dye her hair purple, buy a Subaru Outback and start prancing around parking lots in ironic t-shirts.

Communing with the Coyotes | Idiocy on the Road in New Mexico

RootlessRoutes on Skyline Drive Utah 2018

The night sky is hazy in New Mexico. I turn from I 64 to Highway 550 and head for Madrid, New Mexico… that’s MAD drid, not Ma DRID.

It is getting late and as much as I love to drive, driving late night in unfamiliar, rural territory, yet again, wasn’t my plan. Of course I got side tracked.

Like a gnat in the breeze with only 6 hours to go on my journey to Madrid, I saw the sign from above. ‘Skyline Drive’ and could not keep myself from taking it on.

New Mexico can wait

I knew this would add up to 4 hours to my drive, but give me an exciting road to conquer and there’s no stopping me.

I rode the Lincoln Aviator hard on Skyline Drive. Abusing it as if it were a 4 wheel drive, and not a glorified Ford Explorer, with a big engine, wearing a fancy dress.

A great many of the roads in the yet rather ‘Wild West’ are, well… still quite wild.

Skyline Drive Utah 2018 Rootlessroutes
Dense forestation along the Skyline Drive route

I knew nothing of Skyline Drive before I was unceremoniously drawn into the flame by that sign. It turns out to to be a perfect example of what is left of rustic American roads.

Snaking through, up and down rugged canyons. Alternating from lush green forests to the ragged and rustic arid deserts that dot so much of the American countryside. It is difficult not to imagine a young pioneer’s first experience of America. Long before it was colonized to utter prostration.

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive winding gravel roads, RootlessRoutes 2018
This was worth the detour before New Mexico

The rough side of Skyline Drive (where I started) is 28 miles of course, winding, scenic roadway that is more like an incredibly rocky and treacherous path in spots with huge holes.

The claims of it being well maintained are naught.

After driving it I read it is not suitable for non 4WD vehicles. Apparently no one told my SUV that!

RootlessRoutes on Skyline Drive 2018 Utah
Skyline Drives winding road of wonder 2018 Utah

The drive wiggles, dips and climbs along the top of the Wasatch Plateau, peaking at just under 11,000 feet.

The views are spectacular.

RootlessRoutes 2018 Skyline Drive Utah
Views from Skyline Drive are magnificent. Utah 2018 RootlessRoutes

With tree filled mountains, flower filled meadows, raucous streams and tranquil lakes. Skyline Drive in Utah is one of the highest elevation roads in America and simply stunning.

Admittedly, driving up and descending this extremely rugged terrain, on partially gravelled, winding roads is not for what my Lincoln Aviator was built. But the vehicle handled being forced into submission like a champ.

Her already worn tires, not so much.

RootlessRoutes Skyline Drive Utah 2018
Skyline Drive Utah, elevation 8000 feet.

According to Dangerous Roads Skyline Drive

” It ranks among the highest elevation roads in America. This dirt road (also known as FR150) provides access to forested mountains, alpine meadows and numerous lakes streams and camping areas.

Although many sections are suitable for passenger cars, high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicles are required for tougher parts.” (Unless you’re a driving maniac in a Lincoln Aviator)

Lincoln Aviator on Skyline Drive 2018 Utah
New Mexico can wait. 

Highway 550 / New Mexico

Cruising Highway 550 late at night is like playing Russian Roulette with a blindfold on.

Unlighted, on a starless night makes it look a bit like a video game. Add to that a full blood moon, drawing the deer to the brink of migration insanity and the edge of the roadway.

Swirling around blind corners in the dark of night is ‘steering wheel gripping’ enough. The threat of deer prancing out onto the roadway, adds to the spine tingling effect. Especially with so little light.

At first I thought it must be me. Maybe the window isn’t clean, my glasses need a wipe. I’m bleary from exhaustion? Perhaps my night vision had become weak suddenly?

Then I realised that oncoming traffic had their high beams blazing too. Some turned them off as they neared out of courtesy, others not. Even the truckers.

High beams screaming across the median offers even greater charm to the hilarity of this steep, windy drive at night. Made a mental note to do it in the day. Likely a great piece of roadway … when you can see.

There I was. The drunks, the truckers and I, hurtling along the black void of this high speed roadway, bargaining with our lives at each turn.

After eating up over 2000 miles of roadway in only a few days, I was once more driving into the wee hours of the night.

But I was almost there.

Then it happened.

BEEEP!

“Warning extremely low tire pressure!”

WTF?

No warning of trouble coming, just the threat of doomsday at hand.

Damn, only 26 miles from Madrid, New Mexico.

This is the point that I must pause and mention that I knew there was a nail in the tire and a slow leak before leaving Portland 2000 miles ago. Apparently, I decided to deal with it as it occurred and then completely pushed it to the back of my mind.

Think about what I’ve told you. What I’ve done with and where I’ve been with that car.

Yeah, I’m an idiot. You agree. It’s ok.

Flat tire in New Mexico

I drive the car 9 miles to the first gas station in 100 miles. Thankful this New Mexico town was so close at hand at my time of need. Not allowing myself to think about if this had happened earlier on my desolate highway 550 drive. I’d of been communing with the deer.

I hop out of the the car to have a look… and it’s bad. The nail near the sidewalk is hissing air.

Can’t drive another mile level bad.

I’m fucking tired. I know I should call roadside assistance (I have 3) but it’s now only 17 miles to my destination and I’m an idiot.

With much due hesitation I purchase a can of Fixaflat. I know in my heart of hearts this is bound to go badly. Yet I persevere, as idiots so often do.

It seems to hold, so I drive off, fingers crossed. Knowing full well at this point that I’m an idiot.

It’s about 1:10AM now and I’ve been driving nearly 14 hours straight with just a few short breaks.

Interstate 25 is pretty mild compared to 550. More traffic and towns. I’ll make it. I know I’ll make it.

A little voice in the back of my head that is never wrong, said, “You know you won’t”

Oh Google Maps!You’re such a trickster.

Google Maps decided to once again fuck with me. It tends to only do this in the middle of the night. It turns me onto some crazy side road (A54?) to get to 14 and my ultimate destination, Madrid.

Google maps has done this to me before. But that’s for another story.

Desolate, dark, rocky and craggy. The unpaved, unlit farm road had huge holes and was graveled with the same large sharp rocks as Skyline Drive.

It starts out slightly paved, but as I drive out it gets more and more rough.

I’m already 3 miles in. I know that tire seal shit isn’t going to hold. But I hope.

From what little I could see in the pitch black, the road was flanked by endless scrubby plants, rock and sand.

Like every inch of land in New Mexico, it was fenced.

It’s 1:36am now and I know I’m totally fucked.

BEEEP!

RootlessRoutes New Mexico 2018
Communing with the coyotes in New Mexico. Just miles from Madrid 2018

“Warning extremely low tire pressure!”

“Hello? This is roadside assistance! Are you in a safe location?”

 

 

 

 

My Rootless Routes Travel Blogging On The Road

Rootless Routes
Lake Quinsigamond from AirBnB 2017 Elizabeth Whitener
View from AirBnB on Lake Quinsigamond. Shrewsbury Mass

Today,  I am truly rootless. The view from my window will be ever changing from this point on. Rootless Routes is no longer a concept, it is a reality. But can I write well enough, post consistently enough, draw viewers enough for this blog to self perpetuate and help me to carry on?

Rootless Routes
Dew checkin out the view Providence Rhode Island AirBnB 2017

Why Rootless Routes? Rootless, because I have no home rooted in just one place, just a vintage travel trailer that is not even yet in my possession. Routes, because I plan to keep moving along, sharing the tales of my journeys, and well. my rootless life on the road.

Mark's place in Virginia
Virginia Beach Virginia

I write to you from my friend’s place in Virginia Beach, writing before preparing my SUV for my next journey, which is to Austin, Texas. As I sit here writing, I feel the ever present call to pack and get ready. Yet I know I must keep blogging consistently to meet my goals, so I am trying to keep posting. Posting something interesting with good photographs regularly enough is really really hard for me. And it takes me hours.

I love to write and take pictures, but getting them all together and posted in a cohesive manner is just as hard as I expected… maybe even harder. I am unsure how to focus on both things while still getting everything done.

I am quite new to blogging. When I check out other travel logs, Rootless Routes seems an anomaly that doesn’t easily fit into any one category.  Is this a good thing or am I fucked?

Elizabeth Whitener
Me

 

Every barrier has a window to the sky. It is just that, doors do not need to close for me to go running off looking for another one to pry open. If that makes any sense.

Newport Rhode Island I think
Massachusetts somewhere. I don’t remember where the Hell this is.

This new sojourn, living on the road and working on Rootless Routes, is not so very far off of my already rather remote but well beaten (at least by me) life’s path. Having traveled alone across the country (USA) and abroad since I was 17 years old and then with my son as he grew, this new life is not so very far a stretch from where I stood not very long ago. As is my way, I have not well mapped out some format or plan to make money or the best way to “sell my blog” to the masses, yet this year, after a few changes in my life came about MY STORY, I decided it was time to fulfill this particular dream of traveling and writing about it and suddenly here I am. Living on the road and writing about it.

Massachusetts 2017
Shrewsbury Mass

Hopefully, my abrasive charm, mediocre photography, repetitive and long winded writing will eventually create an interesting enough blog to help support my desire to travel full time. If not, well fuck it. I’ll just find another way.

After all, Rootless Routes at its core, is not actually about creating a successful blog, but about creating a lifestyle that lives up to the term Rootless Routes. But the blog doing well would sure fucking help.Edinburgh King George V Park 2017

King George V Park Leith Waterway Walkway Edinburgh Scotland Rootless Routes 2017

Currently I am living off savings and money made from my etsy shops (Renegade Revival Vintage) (Lightly Sauced Retro) that I have been opening and closing randomly.

Van Life
My new home. 1971 FAN Lee Liner

I am unsure that with blogs like Rootless Routes, by just writing what you wish to write over well researched content, will anyone ever see it?  In a realm such as travel blogging, that is extremely saturated, it is crazy difficult to build much of an audience. Add in the fact that I have the attention span of a drunkin’ gnat, that my tempestuous nature means that my style of travel, my posting style, even my ability to post regularly is completely scattered and erratic. That in the middle of all of this I am attempting to sell almost everything I own, fix up and move into a travel trailer, while traveling around the US and abroad and yet need to somehow bring in money… well it is kinda nuts.

Scottish HIghlands 2017 NC 500
Rootless Routes in Arnisdale Scotland 2017

Seriously, with travel as my new way of life, completely on the road with short visits and jaunts staying at friends, family and periodically AirBnBs (or the like), the ability to worry too much about formulating the Rootless Routes blog in a manner that will bring in visitors and views is well… not very realistic. I am quite unsure if I can bring Rootless Routes to the level that I would need for it to support making this life a perpetual reality. So if I can’t, then what? Being ‘rootless’ and writing about my routes, seems redundant if nobody wants to read about it. I suppose it will end up being a wait and see thing.

Rootless Routes HIghlands of Scotland
Glenelg Scotland 2017

I suppose I am a bit of a non conformist, that has stayed pretty true to my anti establishment sort of roots throughout most of my adult life. I raised a son on my own and we road tripped a great deal. When he was 13 we spent 3 months on the road just traveling the US from Florida to Northern California. I’ve lived in New York, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, California (both Southern and Northern California), Texas, Rhode Island with fairly long jaunts in England and Bali. So I have been more rootless than most in my 50+ years on this planet it seems.

Dew enjoying our AirBnB in Shrewsbury MA

I guess for now, Rootless Routes is where I live. Me, Dew the cat and Roadie the dog.

 

Roadie in Providence RHode ISland

Since I do not yet have the travel trailer in hand, I will be driving across the US in just my SUV. I leave for Austin in tomorrow (hopefully) to see family and friends. From there I will head to Portland to see my son and his crew, then I am off to Seattle to help my friend Laurie prepare her house for sale. Once the weather is solid enough for me to pick up the travel trailer,I will then once again be heading back across the US to Massachusetts.

Regardless of the outcome of this blog, the adventure that is my life is always real. After 50 years on this planet I realize there is no way around the fact that traveling is home to me and that I know how to make things work when I need to. If it isn’t this blog that will support my life on the road, I will certainly come up with something else, I always do. I am hopeful though that in getting to know me and following me along the way, I will inspire… if not at least entertain my you enough to keep this thing… Rootless Routes and Routes of the Rootless, keep on keepin’ on!