Leave at 8:30am with Clarence for Jemez Springs (pronounced Hey-mess) and the Gilman Tunnels. I am going in blind, no expectations, no idea what we are going to see. As I had gone to the grocery last night and shopped “European” – enough for one or two meals – I made some eggs for b'fast with the balance of the red/green/yellow peppers and was ready to attack the day. As we neared the pueblo, the roads began to wind around and climb. Clarence got to experience first-hand the awesome power of my Kia’s four-cylinder mechanism – a lean, mean fighting machine!
The pueblos at Jemez, as he explained, were often poignant and typical examples of abject poverty, pretty nastily down-trodden, junk and old cars everywhere, though he seemed surprised by how much new development had occurred since last he had been there, and with a great deal more modernity to the homes and structures, almost a suburb of the more rickety, original pueblo. At Gilman Tunnels, which are cut into the very heart of these enormous mountains, originally for the trains, I got out and took photos; there was an immense rock in front of one of the tunnels, and I felt it would make a good photo opp so up I went, scrambling quickly leaving Clarence with the digital camera. I think he was freaking out a bit and made several mock gestures holding the heart side of his chest and heaving back and forth, though smiling all the while.
What sucks to me is the reminder that even this pristine and untouched natural wonder is not safe from the inane side of humanity, as clearly some local gangs also found great enjoyment here - there was ample graffiti in evidence, much of it fairly accomplished, rivaling anything I have seen in Chicago; too, beer cans were strewn about everywhere. I picked up a few, put them in a baggy to dispose of later. "Gonzalez" was painted in a deep blue spray paint, very large script, across a massive rock. That’s when I become rather unpleasant to myself when I imagine what I would like to do to the morons that did this, would they were here with me just now.
I went home and looked up the name "Gonzalez" in the New Mexico white pages, then started calling one number at a time... No, I did not.
From the Tunnels to Soda Dam at Jemez Creek. The water coming through the dam was ripping along at high volume and capacity, as impressive as it was surprising as there has been very little precipitation recently. The wildfires have been raging in the region, as well as in Arizona and Texas, one day seemingly under control the next day, not, due to gusty winds and extremely dry conditions. And due to the actions of people like this "Gonzalez" lad.
This is really beautiful country, though. Clarence and I pop in to a small restaurant in Jemez Springs for a burger, his treat, which was very kind of him, but he was very insistent. We get back to the facility and he says, hey, how about a whirlpool and a swim? I was planning a short nap, perhaps after – I tell him, sounds great. Then he informs me that Alberta earlier had run into their neighbor, a Shakespeare scholar and lecturer, and invited her to meet me at their place in a half an hour. Maybe a nap after this casual meeting, that works for me.
Charmazel (pretty name) is East Indian, very tall, and extremely bright and personable. She and I exchange Shakespeare stories – Clarence and Alberta say later, it was like you guys were talking in a foreign language. She tells us that she saw the Stratford, Ontario, production of THE TEMPEST with Christopher Plummer and that a film version of the stage production will air in a select few cinemas around the country on Thursday June 14 and where will I be then? Sounds like I would be in Texas, and - as it will only be showing in bigger cities -options could include both San Antonio and Austin.
Really a delightful sit-down, she excuses herself and I am thinking, cool, naptime. Clarence and Alberta: Jeff, we were thinking of a pizza tonight if you might join us, like maybe we order it right now? Yes, of course, and then I will get my nap. But, of course, after I fetch a pizza for us, my treat this time, we go again till 10pm and my nap happens about 11pm and for about six or so hours, know what I mean? Cannot wait to finish this vacation so that I might get some needed rest, ha! But I have some terrific new friends.