January 27, 2014
Think of the Pioneers
(Pictured: The path to the gig…what you can’t see is the wind.)
A long overdue post coming to you from my kitchen in Santa Fe. I just returned home from a quick tour in the upper midwest. Chicago, the middle of Wisconsin and the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, to be exact. The astute among you may realize that it’s the middle of January. You may question the logic of touring up there at this time in our orbit. Legitimate question. Really tests your love of the game. I doubt Beiber ever paid dues like this. It snowed basically the entire time we were up there. Temperatures rarely broke one degree. That said, I’m not complaining. I had a good time. I have a good coat and an odd new system of neck and head scarves that, though it makes me look vaguely like a cross between Keith Richards and Bjorn Borg, keeps me warm. Plus people in that part of the country are by and large (that’s not the end of that sentence) kind and warm. Someone even brought me a couple brownies from Zingerman’s. And although I wore more layers on stage than I would wear ice fishing (were I ever to go ice fishing), the shows were enjoyable and the food was tasty and, well, meaty (particularly the “Easy Like a Sunday Morning” burger in Chicago, which featured a fried egg, bacon and a breakfast sausage patty all on top of a burger).
Really just wanted to chime in quick to say that this blog ain’t dead, it’s just in semi-hibernation, and to muse a New Mexican minute over one amazing example of the advancements in modern travel. Yesterday morning Bill and I awoke near Grand Rapids, Michigan, to weather that I was pretty sure no madman would fly in (let alone a commercial airline with a good name to uphold). Wrong I was. We pulled out of the gate on time, if with close to zero visibility due to the Lake Effect, which basically spits snow at you sideways and blows your car door near off its hinges every time you dare open it. No matter. Our pilot wasn’t afraid (and apparently unaware that every passenger was–one robust reverend led a public prayer session in the aisle), so we pushed on. We had to be de-iced, though, and that mysterious pink chemical bath took a long time, so I missed my connection in Chicago (where it was also snowing). At first it looked like I was going to have to stay the night in Chicago and fly back to Albuquerque the next day. That was upsetting, as I have a wife and kids at home who I miss and who rely on me. Plus in this day and age, two days to get from Michigan to New Mexico seemed pretty excessive. So I found a route through DC that would get me back to Albuquerque late that night.
And it came to pass. I was flown from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Chicago then to Washington, DC, and then to Albuquerque (where my bag was waiting for me beside the carousel) after which I drove the final 60 miles back home to Santa Fe. I was in the door by 9pm. I probably traveled close to 3000 miles. It took about 12 hours (I can’t really figure out how to adjust for all the time changes back and forth) and several of those hours were spent sitting in Dulles watching the first two episodes of the new season of Downton Abbey, so that really shouldn’t count in the travel time.
I live right off a road called The Old Santa Fe Trail. It actually is the Old Santa Fe Trail. The old trading route used to run from Missouri right here to our Plaza. It was maybe 1/3 the length I flew yesterday. It took men months to travel it. No fool would have been caught dead trying to do it January. Or if they did, they actually would have died. Caught dead. That’s probably where the expression came from–from someone trying to walk that trail in January with just a donkey. I don’t have to tell you the stories of the pioneers. It took some close to a year to get from places like DC out to places like New Mexico. You got all sorts of nasty diseases on the way. Syphilis, probably. People gave birth along the way. You buried your inlaws. You lost maybe a younger sibling trying to cross a river. You were shot at by Apaches. You considered a squirrel kill to be a gift from God. Or if you were a conquistador coming up from the other direction, maybe part of Coronado’s band, you spent years getting utterly lost in the desert searching for the seven cities of gold. You went completely delirious. Started speaking in tongues. Most of your fellow silver-clad horsemen died of dehydration, exposure, insanity or gangrene. The others went native, literally. You get the idea.
The hardest thing I had to deal with was a bit of turbulence over Tulsa, a cell phone battery that died and a strange lady behind me who, when I reclined my seat, grabbed onto it and tried to push it back up yelling “No you’re not allowed to do that yet!” Otherwise the travel was easy and nothing short of miraculous.
So I guess my point is, next time you get frustrated by your plane coming up short of the gate, and you need to wait to be pulled in, or you’re annoyed because it’s taking them a few extra minutes to get your big ass duffel onto the conveyor belt, do what I’m going to begin telling my kids to do: think of the pioneers.