Saturday, July 30, 2005

Scouting Northward

Today's job was scouting. Starting at Las Vegas, NM, I headed north following in the footsteps of the characters in the novel. Just as they did, I made many miles.

From Las Vegas, I had to locate the Hermit's Peak trailhead. This location, in addition to being in the outline, had some personal meaning for me. When I was young, maybe 12, I dug up the entire front yard to earn the $40 dollars it took for the camp registration. (Growing grass in that yard was a long time goal of my father, and it took many years to improve the soil enough so that real grass would grow.) If there was a high point to the camp session, it was the hike to the top of Hermit's peak. We took a big yellow school bus from the camp to the trailhead and hiked the ten miles or so to the top. I know I was ready to give up several times, but I made it. When it came time to send my own kids to Blue Haven, I scouted the area, looking for that trailhead, but never found it. Only while researching for this novel did I locate enough clues to identify it, and to visit it again. No hike today, though. That will have to wait for another trip.

I did locate a couple of new datapoints, however. One, my character will have to find a different telephone, that pay phone I imagined doesn't exist. Two, there's a large distinctive building visible from the road that the characters might mention. If it was there when I was 12, then I missed it.

Heading north out of Las Vegas, I located and photographed the perfect place for the automobile accident, not more than a mile or so from the location I chose using topo maps.

Eagles Nest, Angelfire and Taos were as I remembered, but unrelated to the novel, I saw again the strange community of buried homes on the far side of the Rio Grande. In an area of several square miles, there exist a dozen or more houses. These must have either been built by the same designer or share inspiration. Half-buried, these adobe structures bristle with windmills, solar panels and what have to be metal sculptures, and there isn't a straight line anywhere in the design. Some day when I'm not on a quest, I'd like to find out more about them.

In the San Luis valley, I'll either have to change the character's route, or change the dialog, because sticking to 285 will NOT get you close enough to the Great Sand Dunes to cause comment.

From there to Frisco is home territory to me, but once I headed north on 9 out of Silverthorn, I realized this was an unfamiliar route. I then joined US 40 and as sunset approached, I pulled off on a dirt road into the forest. I had brought a sleeping bag and whenever possible, I intend to avoid the motel bills.

Waiting in the light rain, I had to write this blog while the memory was fresh, but I'll have to wait to send it -- no Sprint PCS signal to connect to the net. Maybe in the morning, but I'll adjust the timestamp to match when I wrote it.

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