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Tuesday, July 12, 2011


 Notah has a friend; he is such a good friend that the kids call him “Uncle Pat.”  For the last several years, ever since Notah moved out here, Pat has been aiming at getting moved himself.  This year when Notah came after me, Pat came too.  He shipped his belongings and brought enough in his car to live a few days until they arrived.  He brought his dogs; we brought his cats. (surprisingly good cats, considering they had never been confined to a travel kennel for any length of time at all.)

We left at nine am on a Friday morning.  Pat still had stuff to do so he didn’t get started until later in the afternoon.  We didn’t exactly travel together, but he and Notah kept in touch as we went.  By the time we got to Oklahoma, Pat was only about 3 or 4 hours behind us. 

Now there are only two legs left to go from Oklahoma City.  You go Ok. City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, then cut down to Belen.  Simple eh?  I mean there is only ONE ROAD west.

If I hadn’t been so tired I think Notah would have driven on through that day; it is only about 5 hours more to Belen.  But we stopped in Amarillo.  (Remember, we wanted to eat at the Big Texan?)  We were all relaxing in the motel when Notah’s phone rang.  It was Pat.  “Okay, I’m here where do I go now?”
Last exit on I-44 before it ends.  See?  A-b-i-l-e-n-e!

I-44 ends 1 1/2 miles

It turned out Pat had neglected to switch from I-44 to I-40 in Oklahoma City.  Where was he?  WITCHITA FALLS, TEXAS!   Fortunately I-44 ended there.  Pat didn’t know where to go and wanted to know the route to take.  If the route hadn’t ended the man would have ended up in Mexico!   Passport?  I didn’t need a passport the last time I was out here!!

Notah said, “You were supposed to follow the signs to Amarillo and Albuquerque.”

Pat said, ‘I did.”

Notah said, “No, you went south into Texas. You were supposed to be going west to Amarillo.”

Pat said, ‘Well, I was going to Albuquerque or Amarillo or something like that.  The sign said, A-B-I-L-E-N-E”

Notah nearly swallowed his teeth laughing, “Pat!  That’s Abilene!  You wanted  Albuquerque!”  These southwest place names are gonna be the death of Pat.

So instead of catching up with us in Amarillo, as he would have done if he had stayed on route, he was still four hours behind and south of us.  Luckily Notah was able to find routes to angle him back up to Amarillo instead of his having to backtrack to Oklahoma City.   After doing a little online research, Notah told him the routes to pick up and even which little Texas town had motels.  Pat traveled about another hour, found a motel, got a few hours of sleep and managed to find his way to Albuquerque the next day! 

Seriously though, we are really concerned about him losing himself in the desert.  The southwest is a really BIG place and the roads are few.  Pat is as much of a “herpe-phile” as Notah and likes nothing better than to roam around back roads looking for snakes and other such things.  Notah developed a sense of direction when he was just a kid, but Pat—no.  He doesn’t even read maps!  The first thing we encouraged him to do was to get a GPS so he could at least give Notah the coordinates of his location if he did get lost! 

Oh, I have visions of that!

Saturday, Notah had to work a few hours in the morning and when he came home at noon we all loaded up and headed for Wal-Mart.  I was sitting in the truck while Notah and Seth hustled around looking for something. 

Pretty soon here came Seth dragging a huge logging chain.  Seriously the links were as big around as my thumb and the thing was 15 feet long at least.  He had to drag it.  There was no way he could have picked it up.   He put it in the back of the truck and Notah came up, still hunting for something else.  When they both got in the truck, he laid a smaller chain on the center console. 

I said,  “WHAT are we doing with that?”   Pat was stuck in the sand!  He had been able to describe to Notah where so the chain was to pull him out.

Notah has this big four wheel drive pickup that is a powerful machine.  We bounced over some nasty stretches of road (and I say that as someone used to NM roads.)  and found Pat.

The man was well and truly stuck.  His front bumper was about an inch from a hump in front of the car and Pat was on his hands and knees digging.  He had dug out a space to get his jack under the frame, hoping to lift the car high enough to clear the hump. 

Sand can be really deceptive out here.  It can look smooth and solid, but bury you in seconds.  That’s what happened to Pat.  When he told Notah where he was, Notah knew exactly the sand hole he was in.  There were only two or three choices on that road!

Happily it was on our way to Wal-Mart.  We bounced over a couple miles of rutted road—Pat was looking for snakes and  reptiles, you don’t find too many along paved roads.   When we got to the second sand hole, there was Pat!

 Notah hooked that big old chain to Pat’s little Honda.  The first time the chain came off the frame before the pull started.  The second time Big Red Truck just backed up like he was on a smooth road pulling a Tonka Toy.  The Honda came out of that hole and over the hump without a stutter.

I told Pat that I’ve lived out here quite a few years and many of those years traveled back roads, but he had done the Best Job of getting stuck in sand that I’d ever seen.

I hope he is able to afford that GPS soon!

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