In my attempt to cheat time as much as I can, I try to stay in shape.
In this effort, I have a personal trainer. His name is Andrew, and he keeps my pace at “power walk,” unless a rabbit or something that smells interesting crosses our path. Then sometimes things get confused. His leash gets caught under his front legs or his back leg gets stuck in the short-leash handle.
Usually we go to the top of 11th Street in Tucumcari and enjoy the wide-open eastbound view at sunrise with headlights and truck-stop signs twinkling in the shadows of the plains. Then we walk down the dirt road to First Street, under I-40, up the hill and back home.
As he’s walking me, I don’t know what his thoughts are. They seem to be about either rabbits or other dogs and maybe, “Get me off this leash!” Humans, on the other hand, have all kinds of random thoughts while walking.
Some are important. Former President Harry Truman was a great walker. He used to make the press corps keep up with him on brisk jaunts around the White House while he expounded on issues of the day. Scientists and innovators come up with brilliant stuff while traveling on foot.
Then there’s me. I think about things like why you seldom see houses on top of mesas in rural New Mexico. In urban California, hilltop rims were always lined with houses. Many had floor-to-ceiling glass walls where the view was. Then one day, a downpour would come and local news would show one of these houses sliding down the mountain. Rural New Mexicans are too practical for that kind of nonsense.
Then I watch the cars and trucks going by on the Interstate and wonder where they’re going and why. The westbound lanes are always busier at sunrise, and I think that has something to do with time zones. It’s an hour earlier, so they’re not up yet in California and Arizona, which has not adopted Daylight Saving Time.
There are a lot of military vehicles piggybacking on semi-trailers these days. Is it really cheaper to haul Humvees around the country than to drive them?
By now, we’ve passed the new State Police radio tower that rises at least 100 feet above the ground, and I’ve wondered if the new tower will get signal-receiving dishes, or if it needs them.
Andrew is now looking back and his eyes are asking, “Are we there yet?” I’m walking him at this point. In dog-years, he’s about my age.
As we walk by the motels on First Street, I look to see where the visitors are from and how full the parking lots are. The motels seem to be doing well this year. Lots of U-Hauls. Americans are still mobile. I’m encouraged that there is construction going on inside the soon-to-be Pecos Diamond Steakhouse.
We trudge up the steep hill, headed east. Andrew is in dog-nose heaven and he betrays his territorial nature on everything that rises above ground-level. We’re nearly home now. Andrew is thinking of rest and water, and I’m thinking about the workday ahead.
I didn’t develop a workable 12-point plan to solve the gridlock in Congress, but I do think better when I’ve had a brisk walk behind the dog. Andrew? He just thinks those mysterious dog-thoughts, and I know he’ll jump and dance when I show him the leash tomorrow.
Steve Hansen is the managing editor at the Quay County Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org