I looked down hundreds of feet, leaning over the bridge, into the the Rio Grande river just west of Taos, NM. The rushing water was the most beautiful shade of green in the deep brown gorge. Standing in the middle of such large open space made me feel vulnerable and small, especially when large trucks went over the bridge causing it to shake. A misstep or the failure in the engineering of that rusted bridge would have sent me plummeting to my death on the wet rocks below, a weird thing for me to think of when I was standing right over the deepest part.
I went on a road trip today with my Dad and twelve year old niece who is currently hopping around on purple spray painted crutches with her third broken foot. We stopped later at a local pizza place that claimed to be the best in town, where we colored the large white paper on our table while we waited. I drew a picture of me in a cowboy hat, hearts, flowers, and my niece's poor fish smothering in a bowl of green water with a little message of the fish begging her to clean it. She glared at me from across the table on that picture. Behind her I could see the guy rolling out pizza dough in the kitchen, his strong exaggerated movements flowing well with the Bob Marley music on the radio.
Dad wanted me to look at the cute little art shops in town, because he knows I like doing that sort of thing, but I was feeling very stingy and not wanting to spend any money. So I didn't want to look at stuff I would want to buy. My niece already got my emergency money out of me at the gorge for a necklace that a local artist was selling in the parking lot, I avoided the tables and their desperate eyes, but she didn't. I always have cash in my purse in case my debit card won't work...it's been known to happen when I have just run out of money in between paychecks and I will have just eaten dinner or something. For years now, if I like something, I just buy it. Shoes, clothes, books, an expensive dinner, or artwork. My sister's kids hit me up for everything, from face wash to new clothes. Now though, walking away from this job that had all the extra money laying around, I don't want to spend anything. I feel like I have to pinch every penny, it is kind of a scary feeling.
We headed off to the Vietnam Memorial near the Angel Fire ski resort instead because Dad wanted to see it again. It was an interesting building with sharp white angles and a helicopter outside. It was beautiful up there, with several feet of snow on the ground, but the afternoon air was too chilly to stay out of the car for long. We headed home, past the resort with small ant sized people sliding down white snow slopes in the distance. Several deer popped out of the woods next to the car and my dad stopped in the middle of highway to pull out his video camera, handing it to me to film as he scooted his PT Cruiser into the snow. They were beautiful and I got a close up of one looking at me, her ears moving around at different angles.
More highway, more cute cabins with puffs of smoke coming out of the top as they were nestled in the white winter snow. There were several large obnoxious lodges too, rented out to people up there skiing. Then suddenly, Dad starts driving off the paved road in his little car. We passed a sign saying "Unpaved Road Next 9 Miles", and I warned him to turn back, but he is stubborn and kept going. My niece couldn't find the road on the GPS, while we were pretty much sliding down the rest of the mountain on the snow packed road. Dad sped over ice and through mud puddles in sunny spots until we ended up on a paved road in a wind blown field that didn't have much snow on it at all. A bunch of black fuzzy cows looked at us, surprised to see a car most likely, then kept eating.
Then we saw the elk, several cows and a two males with large antlers. Our car scared them into the edge of the forest, but they kept browsing, thinking they were hidden enough. Dad handed me the video camera, and I got some great shots. My niece asked me how to spell "elk" as she texted her friends, then got mad when she saw there were no bars on her phone. It was the highlight of the day. I think Dad wanted to spend some time in nature with me before I moved to Wyoming, we often hike together and go on road trips.