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My recent tour of the southwest was relaxing and restorative, but for the most part, held few surprises. Sadly, I've traveled this country so many times that I'm running out of fresh land to explore.

Fortunately, things took a turn for the better when I parted ways with I-25 in favor of a lonely rural route that headed east out of Wagon Mound, N.M. It was cold and desolate out there, and the sky was pure slate. Grasses that normally shimmer in the summer wind were frozen into wispy arcs of ice. It was a scene irresistable to the eye--and to the foot. I pulled over several times and stomped around in the crunchy shag carpet of grass.

In two hours along that lonely frigid road, I passed two cars. Each one jarred me out of an intense winter reverie. It was if I had wandered onto the far side of the moon. For a guy who frets that he's running out of roads, old Route 120 was a welcome reminder: there's always a new ribbon of asphalt out there, somewhere, if only you keep wandering 'til you find it.

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High Desert Wonderland
June 2007