345. Grants, Cibola County (NM29)

Obviously, the county and the courts work out of the same building here. I also find myself admitting that, even though it has some kind of weird 70’s/80’s aesthetic going on here, I like the look of it. I understand that counties in the middle of nowhere (and this is most certainly the middle of nowhere) may not have a lot of money for things like super impressively cool courthouses when they have other, more pressing issues like, oh, I don’t know, providing water or roads or fire service to the people. In that light, this is pretty nice. What I do have a problem with, however…

…is that this building is basically a strip center that shares space with a grocery store? Really? This is the kind of thing that makes me judge-y as all get out! Come on, Grants! You had me for a minute there! As a side note, I noticed something here that made me pretty sad despite my righteous indignation. I noticed while I was taking this how prominent the door section for DWIs was. Alcohol must be a pretty big problem out here if that is so boldly displayed like that. As I roll through so many places, I rarely take time to dwell on the social issues the inhabitants face. Usually I’m fixated on getting a cache and then going as quickly as I can, but I know the real truth: no matter what I see wherever I go, I’m just a tourist and there is little I can do about it. There is a certain helplessness that springs from that so I’d rather focus on my own agency than the mountains of difficulty people might or might not be facing.

And yet, while one part of town can be run down and depressing, others are filled with life. Did I mention that Route 66 passes through here? There are museums and shops and parks that belie the older parts of town. It may be in the middle of nowhere. It may have problems. It may not be somewhere I’d want to live. But for many, this is home. It’s a curious bit of sonder. Even as I dictate this, each other person being the window dressing to my travels, there are others for whom I am merely a passing rando or an NPC. As the narrator of this story, I get the luxury to choose what matters and what doesn’t for the sake of the narrative. A lot of times, the townsfolk don’t matter for my purposes. On occasion, they matter a great deal. There’s any number of interactions (or, more likely, lack of them thanks to the time of cholera) that never receive text in these digital pages. There are probably even more that don’t even register with me. There are definitely more I’ll never see. But for a slice of time, I get to enter the worlds of others, even if it’s just fleeting like looking at a snow globe. It’s not much, but I’m still thankful for it. But my off-road ramblings are not why you’re here (or maybe they are. I don’t truly know the depths of your heart)…

I picked up the cache on the way to town. The York Ranch is, well, a ranch. The central headquarters is in Pie Town, which I would have visited for pie. Unfortunately, there are no longer any active pie shops there. The newer one couldn’t afford its lease any longer, and the older one decided it was time to shut down and retire after almost 40 years. And all of my missing pie tears were brought to you by the Time of CholeraTM! Good news, though! The ranch is up for sale! Anyone want to go in with me on 170,000 acres? It’s only 12 million bucks. That’s only $70 per acre. I’ll set up a GoFundMe! We’ll make this happen! But untill then, a matchstick holder under a rock will have to do the trick. Oh, yeah…

…and a little further down the road, but before I hit town, I passed by the Ventana Arch. So here’s s bit of nature photography. And once I had done my urban(?) photography, I was done with Cibola County. To paraphrase Nick Cave, I went on down the road (he went on down the road) and in about an hour (alright, more like 45 minutes), I pulled off the highway to come to rest in…

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