314. Estancia, Torrence County (NM14)

Calling Estancia a postage stamp of a town might be considered a mild castigation of philatelists everywhere. Or maybe that was just the oppressive heat trying to bring me down or dictate my mood. It wasn’t spear of Apollo level like I’m used to in Texas. In fact, this entire trip through New Mexico for me had a high of 91 degrees which, right now in Austin, would be downright chilly. But the combination of the dust and the remoteness along with the heat made the entire place feel desert like. I’m sure one day I’ll have to deal with some real desert and I’ll eat my words (or, more likely, drink them in desperation), but for now, let’s just stipulate that this is not the place you want to bring the family for a fun weekend. There’s only this, some churches and homes, a school, and little else. This would also turn out to be the last of my high elevation stops. The town sits at 6000 feet, higher than Albuquerque, but hardly the highest elevation I’ve been at thus far, and everything after this is downhill (literally, not metaphorically). Sidenote: I’d been trying to figure out why my gas mileage seemed so crappy this entire trip. Funny, but it turns out when you’re basically driving uphill all the time, it uses more fuel with that entire fighting gravity thing and all…

As for the cache, well, that was an experience. As I drove, I noticed that I was approaching a storm cloud with tendrils reaching down to the ground. I didn’t know if that was dust or what, but I swear to you that it looked like the inverse of a nuclear mushroom, the dark stalk reaching up into the dark cloud, the bright edges backlit by the sun, menacing and terrifying in a shadowy, ethereal way, as if someone lit off a nuke in the spirit world and the afterimage forced its way into our reality. I pensively passed under it to get a dose of sand and rain (of course there was rain!), but luckily not very much. I eventually slowed my proverbial roll because there’s always a cemetery. This one was a family cemetery. I wasn’t near a town called Garland and 80% of the stones bore the Garland name. As a consequence, the cache was not in the bounds proper. That said…

…it was cleverly hidden among the cans and scrap metal that littered the ground nearby. I did the necessary and then got out of here. Whether a storm was coming or I still had Oppenheimer on the brain, I didn’t want any of whatever was coming. I headed back towards town and broke off in the opposite direction from which I had come, continuing my descent towards home, making my way to…

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