A somber view of the roads traveled in New Mexico

My husband and I have traveled all over the country. We have had many adventures. It is amazing how people can experience simple things that stay with them for the rest of their lives.

We were on Interstate 40 traveling west. We had stopped for the night in Tucemcari, New Mexico. We woke up the next morning to discover we were wrapped in a blanket of snow. We had a deadline so, despite the warnings of the motel staff, off we went. We got an early start, but it was going to take many hours to cover the 170 miles or so to Albuquerque. What would have normally taken less than three hours was, clearly, going to take most of the day.

The vehicles stranded on the side of the road were a constant reminder that we needed to be extremely cautious. The world was beautiful covered in a pristine layer of white. Thankfully, the roads were passable, and the snow had stopped.

The Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Along the way, we traversed the Sandia Mountains that cut through the area east of Albuquerque. As you might imagine, it was very slow going. The roads were clear enough to travel, but it was extremely stressful. There were not that many others sharing the road with us, but a few cars and trucks were taking the same chance we were. Our car would slip, here and there, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the road for a second. Neither could my husband.

While in the mountains, we were barely moving, but we kept on going. The hours ticked by and, of course, we were frustrated, but we had no choice. It wasn’t as if there was a hotel around the bend.

Then, in an instant, everything changed. We turned a corner and there, in front of us, was the desert and no snow. Off we went, free of the constraints on driving the snow had imposed. We grateful we were able to drive, once again, at a normal speed. There were a few trucks and cars in front of us, and we settled into the routine of driving.

New Mexico Petroglyph: Spirits in Stone

All of a sudden, there was a boulder in front of us on the highway. It seemed to appear from nowhere. Thankfully, the road was flat and open, so it wasn’t difficult to swerve around, but it was scary. Where on earth had that come from? Actually, it wasn’t a boulder, at least, not of rock. It was made of ice.

It turns out, the ice had accumulated in the wheel wells of the vehicles in front of us. As the hot temperature melted the ice, it would drop off and get dumped on the road. The chunks left by cars were not that big, but we realized we needed to give the trucks plenty of space, because they were dropping huge blocks of ice.

After a few hours, all remnants of ice were gone, and we were able to continue unimpeded. What is remarkable is the fact that the people who call the area home or drive through it frequently live with these circumstances and think nothing of them. It is fascinating to see the things that others accept as normal but, for us, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one I will never forget.

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