Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Five: Escape to Truth or Consequences

Even though I've only just returned from my real dream vacation, I'm yearning for the simpler pleasures of my vacations of old. One girl, one car, and one destination: Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

I used to go twice a year and stay in a little hostel right on an offshoot of the Rio Grande. The hostel hasn't changed much, the tubs are still bricked-in minnow baths and the main structure is a shabby, low set adobe rancher, but now the money-hungry son is running it and the prices have tripled since I first crashed-landed in TorC, on a impossibly starry night in 2003.

1) What book(s) will you bring?
I always bring a well-loved book to give away during my stay, and I always am given a book that changes my life in return. It's never failed me. Once I gave away "The Teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui Way of Knowledge" by mushroom-enthusiast Carlos Castaneda. Another time I got "Man and Superman" a play by George Bernard Shaw. I devoured it and it remains tied with Our Town for my favorite English language play.

2) What music accompanies you?
There's a long lonely stretch of Interstate 10 where even radio waves don't roam. Typically I make my own "mood mixes" I have a disc for driving through a storm in the desert. I have a disc for when I'm heading through El Paso (there are a LOT of songs about El Paso) I have a disc for feeling homesick and a disc for being a wanderer. Mostly though I just have a hand-held tape recorder, a whole mess of blank tapes and my own silly voice recording thoughts as they bubble up and burst along the long, empty highway.

3) What essentials of everyday living must you take (as in the health and beauty aids aisle variety)?
Sunscreen, Aleve, Lip Balm and two cases of Ozarka water. That is all ye know and that is all ye need to know. I travel light. Well, except for the water.

4) What technological gadgets if any, will you take with you or do you leave it all behind?
I'll take my cell phone out of necessity --a girl alone on a road trip to nowhere needs to take precautions-- and my hand-held tape recorder. I wouldn't dream of bringing a laptop or an iPod. They're the electro-fruits of the devil.

5) What culinary delights will you partake in while there?

I'm rarely hungry on vacation. Usually I'll live on smoothies and whatever fresh fruit I brought from Texas. But I had one of the finest meals I can remember while in T or C at a crazy steak house that didn't seem to realize it wasn't 1973 any more.

It was a place out of time, all brown leather and wrought iron and dark wood. The menu was as dated as the d├ęcor: red meat, clams casino and brandy alexanders. Once inside I fell victim to some sort of time warp and ordered not only a steak, but the clams casino AND a brandy alexander for dessert. Immaculate. Strange, yes. But immaculate.

One last thing about Truth or Consequences. The stars. The stars. There are stars upon stars. So many stars that it's impossible not to feel dizzy and insignificant and entirely amazed at the wonderment of God's own glory. As a young girl in Washington DC I used to spend a lot of time in our school's planetarium. For a special treat, Mrs. Howell would turn down the setting on the projector and show us what it would be like on a perfect, lightless, cloudless night.

That setting, even at its darkest and most breathtaking couldn't even compare to the glory of the stars above Truth or Consequences.


Anonymous LadyBurg said...

I grew up in El Paso not so far away from TorC. What a pretty little place. I've never met anyone who wanted to getaway to TorC. How cool. I miss that area of the country too!

4:52 PM  
Blogger Fr. Jason Emerson said...

Stupendous! I have a road trip on a long stretch of I-80 headed my way soon. You have me wistfully dreaming of the long highway already. Of course if I am still feeling this romantic/nostalgic about road trips five or six hours into it, then you should feel really proud of your Blog.

5:00 PM  

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