I love road trips. My mother thinks it odd that I would rather travel by car than air, but for me the road trip brings back memories of youth and family. On family vacations, Dad would only stop for gas, food and rattlesnake farms (my mother hates snakes). I love looking out at the landscape, looking at the flora and fauna of the territory and seeing the handiwork of God in creation. Even in the desert, the plant life is vibrant, demonstrating a resilience that is a picture of a life in Christ. Regardless of circumstances, we are called to grow and thrive where we are planted.
My daughter lives in Carlsbad, New Mexico, which is just over five hundred miles from me. Every once in awhile I make this trip across the desert southwest landscape to see her, where I enjoy a few days away from work and spend some time on the Pecos River.
Carlsbad always reminds me of one particular family vacation, which we took at Christmastime in 1972. I was a freshman in high school, and we wanted to spend Christmas in Indiana with family. To stay south of the weather, we went through southern New Mexico, west Texas, back up into New Mexico, then back across southern Texas. On the way there, the car broke a belt near Las Cruces. On the way home, the car’s fuel pump failed between Carlsbad and El Paso.
This says something about cars these days; the car was only about three years old and you would think a fairly new automobile would survive such a trip. With the improvements in technology that we enjoy today, I worry far less about car trouble than I did before cars were fuel injected and computerized.
But, back to the main story. If you have ever traveled between El Paso and Carlsbad, you know that there is a whole lot of wide open space in between. By grace, one gas station attendant was able to get enough fuel flowing through the Buick’s fuel system to get us over a hill and down a long incline to the station at Salt Flat, where there was a mechanic who could replace the fuel pump. The bad news was, the pump would have to come from a supplier and we would have to find a way back to Carlsbad to stay the night. The station owner’s nephew (a young cowboy probably more interested in partying with his friends than anything else) drove us back to Carlsbad, where we stayed in a motel. Next morning, he picked us up and took us back to the station, where our car was repaired and we continued on home to Arizona. It ended up taking us an extra day to get home, but all these years later this story has come full circle. If anyone had ever told me that I would one day be travelling that road often, to see my daughter, I would have laughed and said they were crazy.
Fernando Ortega will be playing on the ipod, and since he is from New Mexico many of his songs seem to fit right into the scenery. I’m sure the next few days will fly by, but when I return home on Monday afternoon I will have enjoyed a little bit of the freedom of the road. Lord, I pray for a safe journey and I thank You for Your presence. Even through Hudspeth County, Texas, I will not be alone.