A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

Monday, April 2, 2012

White Sands Missile Range

Alan recently marched in the Bataan Memorial Death March to honor his grandfather, who was a POW on Bataan. This meant he would be carrying a 35# pack through the desert, amidst the stark beauty of yucca and cacti, for 26.2 miles. Knowing that the drive home after such an endeavor would be rough, and in the name of some man time on the road and camping, I joined up as crew.

It began with breakfast tacos at Rudy’s, a chain out of Texas that specializes in smoked meats and ice cold Coca-Cola. Healthy? No. Delicious? No, something even better, maybe nearing sublime. And it was staffed by women whose appearance and hospitality led me to believe they had been imported from the Lone Star State. With all of our senses saturated by the best of Texas, we continued south.


With little fanfare we traded scrubby southern Colorado for scrubby northern New Mexico.


The New Mexican landscape is large. Scrubland, with drought tolerant shrubs, and blue skies that press in. Distance expands as your eyes ingest 100s of square miles of landscape with a simple sweep from right to left.


We fueled up on pistachios about an hour outside of White Sands, home of the largest pistachio in the world.


At the base Alan checked, with a non-military like efficiency, as the line was long and slow moving. It was easily a majority military, but with civilian folk mixed in, pegged by technical wear and schwag from previous races, versus military utilities. We took in a documentary and called it a night, watching the moon drop behind the Organ Mountains as sleep overtook us surprisingly early

The morning featured a whole lot of America. Sun lit peaks, RVs, Eye of the Tiger, cannons firing from basketball courts, and the national anthem. I took all of this in from camp (the back of a truck) as I was sleeping in, enjoying the sun spilling across the basin floor as over 8,000 entrants toed the starting line.



While Alan marched I went for a leisurely run. A slow pace led to a personal distance record, 15 miles. Running in the desert was serene, with few distractions, either natural or anthropogenic. This was followed with a tour of the Missile Park, and in an interesting juxtaposition, the immediately adjacent cactus walk.

Redneck Running in Rugged Region (bad alliteration)




Alan finished in 8:43. He was beat, albeit with surprisingly spry legs, but also surprisingly large blisters. We immediately piled in the truck and began the 10 hour push home. Neither of us were particularly hungry, and conversation ebbed and flowed as we chased higher latitudes in the waning daylight.

Alan approaching the finish line.


Sunset, south of Albuquerque, only 6.5 hours to go to Denver.


All in all, it was a hell of a lot of driving, being on the move for 20 out of 44 hours. It was all offset though by the time without walls. The absorption of the great outdoors in a wide open basin, with a searing desert sun, wispy clouds, and wind blown sand being our living space. I had not slept outdoors since the prior September, and the fickle embrace of the nature was met with open arms and now sunburned shoulders.

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