Copyright 1997 by Steve Brewer.
To Max, Seth and Kelly, in inadequate exchange for the time it took.
Don't try to find New Mexico on those national weather maps on TV. The weathermen always plant their big butts in front of us and the other rectangular Rocky Mountain states. They know where their viewers are, and it ain't out here. New Mexico has fewer residents than Philadelphia. Since about a third of them live in Albuquerque, a whole lot of the fifth-largest state is unpopulated. Santa Fe's trendy and Albuquerque's booming, but most of New Mexico remains a Big Empty.
I occupied myself with these thoughts to keep my mind off my airsickness. I was being thrown about in a helicopter as it zipped back and forth forty feet above the high mesa west of Albuquerque. We'd been at it for an hour and, so far, had seen one ranch pickup kicking up dust along a dirt road. No other sign of humans, just rolling land furred with yellow grass and dotted with blue sage and the occasional dwarf juniper. All the sameness made the dry riverbed known as the Rio Puerco a welcome squiggle whenever we crossed over its eroded banks.