Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More Sandia Pictures

Here are two more pics of Sandia Crest. I can't believe how the sunsets light the mountain every night! I actually had to DESATURATE the above image after increasing the contrast a little bit, because it looked like a neon sign... Unfortunately  I was at an intersection during the best light, but its still a fun picture. I also like the second one...

Monday, January 09, 2012

Recent Books

So, I have made a few book recently and thought I would share some pics. The very first one I made was for Jed Stout. I only put four sheets in per section and realized afterwards that the hemp I used was so thick that I should have used eight. But I liked the cover stitching.

Then I made some others, and then I made one for my wife. Its the best one so far, but it's bound too tightly, so it has a desire to stay open.


Here are two others. For the gray one, I should have used better paper for the text block. But I've been carrying around the cover since Michigan. Got the cover paper at Hollanders a long time ago.

For this last one, I actually made the cover paper myself, and dry-brushed it with aluminum. I messed up on stitching the covers on, so they have a desire to skew themselves a little. But it turned out pretty. And I actually tried a technique to wax the cover, taught to me by my bookbinding teacher long ago but never attempted. It actually worked well, and I'll definitely be doing it to some of my books like this in the future.

Friday, January 06, 2012

My Long Drive Home From Ardmore, Oklahoma

So, just before Christmas I had to drive out to Ardmore, OK, to look over some ancient probates... I enjoyed the trip, but the drive home was one of the most exciting moments in my life history, so I thought I would try and condense it down to a readable blog post.

I left Ardmore at about 4 PM, having finished my work and knowing that there were many, many hours of driving ahead, but confident in my ability to stay awake that long. I travel through the OK countryside for a while, then up through TX to catch 1-40 home. The picture above was taken about an hour after heading out. Beautiful, fast moving clouds lead the way.

Before it gets dark it starts to rain on me, no big deal. Then about an hour before Amarillo, it snows some. Again, no big deal. A largely peaceful drive.

Then finally I come to Tucamcari, NM. The sky above is CRYSTAL clear, more stars than seem possible if you haven't spent the night in the wilderness for a while... Absolutely no snow in sight, and I'm grateful because it means that the last 2 or 3 hours of my drive will be nice. BUT as I come around a the last bend of the freeway out of Tucamcari, a bright  blinking sign says "1-40 CLOSED" and up ahead are the flashing lights of two state troopers sprawled lazily across the lanes. I drive up to them and ask "seriously?" but there is no negotiating possible. I note a slight breeze. I pull off muttering expletives to myself, mull things over, and decide to take a nap till midnight. Luckily I have some sever cold weather gear on, so I warmly doze off.

I wake up with an arm missing, or at least it feels that way with how asleep it is. And my other hand is cold, despite decent gloves. Must be colder than I thought. The breeze is now a strong wind. I brainstorm in my mind the possibilities, while the warnings of my father-in-law echo in my head (he once ducked the gates in CO to brave a closed freeway, and sorely regretted it)... Then, like LIGHTNING, inspiration hits! ROUTE 66! Actually the frontage road where I took my nap is a part of that old highway, and if I head down a ways, I'll just get on I-40 at the next exit. I know this stretch well, and it shouldn't be more than 10 miles on this highway. Even though I am within sight of the police, who had multiplied three-fold, nobody comes after me. I am freeeeee!

Unfortunately, I don't know this stretch as well as I thought, because in 3 miles the pavement ends, and the dirt road is precarious. Not that I didn't try it, but after three obstacles (that would have been decent for an ORV) in the first 100 yards, I decide against pushing onward because I'm likely to come to a cliff face dead end in 6 more miles...

So I turn around and head back down the highway, which is literally right next to the freeway I'm trying to get back on. I get angry looking at it, knowing that the only thing between me and freedom is a barbwire fence... Inspiration again! This time of a darker sort. I go through my supplies and find a tool that would do the trick. I find a spot that looks promising, and park to contemplate what I'm about to try. I am so torn inside, I don't like to deface things, undo people's hard work, but I want to get free of this trap! I walk over to the fence: "it would be so easy to just cut these four little wires!!!!" BUT I say a prayer, and feel prompted to get back in my car, and so I leave my criminal record unrealized.

I follow my prompting down a road under the freeway, which I had already explored, that lead to a ranch entrance. The whole way I am examining the barbwire fence. No breaks. I come to the ranch entrance again, discouraged... BUT there it is, an entrance!!! Some ranch hand had long ago snipped that wire, and peeled it back, and left his double track onto 1-40 more than once. With a prayer to avoid the unseen broken beer bottle, I am now on 1-40. 

I am omitting a few other exciting points, because this is already so long. But needless to say there was absolutely no snow and everything went well until, you guessed it, Santa Rosa, the next point of civilization. A flashing sign, and more patrol cars. It's 1 AM, but I've had a nap. This time I got off and went right for Rt 66. Its fun to trace through town, under neat railroad bridges, etc, but as I'm nearing the outskirts of town I see the unpleasantly familiar red and blue of patrol cars. FOILED! Rt 66 is blocked as well. I drive back a little ways and try and find some side roads to get around them. I end up in a run down trailer park where the dogs would have chewed my tires off had it not been so cold. Seriously, its probably 10 F or lower, with a steady wind. But there is only a light dusting of snow here. If only I could get around the cops.

I get out my NM state highway map, and see two more highways that lead out of Santa Rosa, which can eventually let me back onto I-40. It would tack on 15 or 20 miles, but I don't appreciate this socialist lock-down AT ALL. In the back of my mind I'm contemplating whether this is legally an arrest without due process... But the other ways are all blocked as well. Sheesh, I feel like I'm in a science fiction novel. And who knew NM even had this many police TOTAL, let alone available in the middle of nowhere at this hour.

I prayed, again followed a prompting to drive back a way I had already been, and saw my chance. A freeway entrance headed BACK to Tucamcari! No barricades, no cops, dark. I tiptoed (if you can do that driving) up the ramp with my lights off, and saw that red and blues were flashing around a bend created by one of the rock faces in Santa Rosa. In other words the cops couldn't see me. But unfortunately there wasn't a median turnaround in sight, and I wan't about to drive around the bend to meet the cops. I also don't like the idea of driving the wrong way down the freeway. So with another beer bottle prayer, I completely off road my way across the median, which I realize for the first time, has a significant amount of snow on it.

Omitting a few more things,  the drive gets more and more snowy, and the plowed path gets narrower and narrower. Finally at the "Cline's Corners" the plowed track actually leads off the exit, and I feel like crying. On either side the plow has left possibly two feet of snow, and I have visions of getting high centered late at night like I did so many years ago with my dad and brother on our way home from Canada. The present wind is probably as strong as that night, and if the freeway were left unplowed, drifts would be 10 or 15 feet deep in places, as they were in Ferndale long ago.

Up to this point I had been fine, nothing life threatening had taken place. But if I got high centered out in the wilds of NM, away from anybody, and the storm lasted for a few days, then there could be trouble. I feel confident in my ability to survive it, but there is always the possibility of some kind of complication, like breaking a leg, which could overcome my invincibility. Plus, my invincibility is more accurately described as God's protecting hand, and if I did something REALLY stupid like attempt an UNPLOWED freeway late at night, my expectation of such would be severely diminished. A closed freeway is alright, but a closed UNPLOWED freeway is another thing entirely.

Why didn't the plow just keep going!?! As I'm slowly moving the car to exit, I notice that there IS another snow plow track which continues down the freeway. But it looks like it is at least a few hours old, and has at least a few drifts. But they look manageable, so I turn and smash through the barrier of snow that separates me from that older track, which thankfully isn't too thick. 

Now I-40 is drifted, slow going, and actually pretty intense. Steep hills up followed by steep hills down; I try and maintain a constant speed so as not to spin out going uphill and not slide of the road going downhill. I'm basically ice skating now, with the frequent interlude of smashing through a 1 or 2 foot drift. I see a few large four wheel drive trucks wrecked on the side of the road. But thankfully the drifts lessen, until eventually the road appears wid scoured, and I can even see the pavement in spots.

Finally I get within 30 miles of Albuquerque, and the conditions substantially improve. Its not snowing, and there is no wind, magically. The lights of Moriarty reflect of the low clouds and make everything seem pink. I pull over and say a prayer of gratitude, and take a leak. Then reminiscent of law school days, I decide to take this once in a lifetime opportunity and do some doughnuts on the freeway. I take a pic, then take off on what I hope will be a fairly short final stretch.

My joy is turned to sorrow when ahead I see more blue and red flashing lights ahead. Are they going to stop me because the final 10 miles leads down through a canyon into Abq? Seriously? But wait! They are on the other side of the freeway! Two cops barring the way into the wilderness from which I had just emerged. I cross my fingers and drive on past.

My smile disappears when up two miles later there are more lights, this time clearly on my side. HAHA! Its just a stopped snowplow, and I drive past.

I come to the top of the final descent, and fog sets in. At each exit there are flashing lights, but none actually on the freeway. I keep driving, praying constantly, more not to be stopped than for protection on this crazy road. As a past the last exit before my own I know I am home free. And like a ghost city that I never knew existed, the lights of a cement factory emerge from the fog. I pull over and say another prayer of gratitude, and take two pictures (two because I was so tired, and couldn't hold still very well, hopefully one turns out OK)...

5 AM, I pull into my driveway. Success. I am glad that I made it, and honestly I've driven in much worse weather. But seriously, I've never felt so trapped by the police. It honestly felt violating, and I'm angry at the state of NM for taking away my to move in the way that they did. I would take a case to federal court if I wasn't struggling just to feed my family. I don't think the "police power" extends so far as to close off all exits out of a town in slightly inclement weather. Cline's Corners and beyond was pretty bad, I admit, but I should have had the right to follow behind a snow plow, at least.

In our modern world, where the police likely would have shot at me for trying to blow past, more consideration should be given to alternatives over a science fiction styled lockdown. Anyhow, that's my story.