Saturday, January 28, 2006

Crossing the Continental Divide

Driving trips are somehow infinitely more satisfying than flying--something about being physically connected to the land you are traveling across. Bird's eye views are thrilling but nothing compares to the feel of the road bumping beneath you.

The Med Student and I drove to Albuquerque this week for a second look at his residency program. I tagged along for the drive and to scope out potential job leads. The drive was awe-inspiring. Out West, the highways are so empty and you can see the rise and fall of the road, stretching out before you for miles like a black asphalt ribbon going no where. The scrubby desert plants, the yellow grass. The wide-open space, bringing to mind a past time.

On the way back, we took more deserted roads and drove through the Apache Reservation. The landscape changed from high desert to mountains. The road scaled up a mountain and then down again, weaving through the tall pines, the smell of smoke permeating the air.

There are no lights lining the highways or side roads (and no towns on the horizon), so when night fell and the sky darkened, the only lights were our headlights piercing the darkness. Just for fun, we turned our lights off and immediately were catapaulted into erie pitch dark with only the stars to light our way.

We crossed both the Rio Grande and the Continental Divide, at which point the Med Student asked, "If I stood on the Divide and urinated, which way would my stream go?" So much for the majesty of the Old West.

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