De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.


Go West, Young Man (Part III)

Happiness is seeing Alabama in your rear-view mirror. Part of my good mood was attributable to leaving Alabama for good; the other part was looing forward to what I knew awaited me in New Mexico. The first day, I made it to Barksdale AFB (near Shreveport, LA). I went to the Billeting Office to see about a room for the night, but they had none available. Then I got a flash of inspiration. I knew a chaplain who was stationed there and asked for him. I got him on the phone and told him who it was and asked if he knew any members who could put me up for the night. Sure, no problem; I could stay at his place. So I drove over and spent some time reminiscing before turning in for the night.

Bright and early the next morning, I had to do an oil change. I don't know why I hadn't taken care of that before leaving Maxwell; just pressed for time, I guess. So I drained the oil, changed the filter, and refilled the crankcase. Only one slight problem -- the filter wasn't on right, so all my oil wound up on his driveway. I had to go over to the BX Gas Station and get more oil, then I was finally on my way.

That day, I made it all the way to Dyess AFB (Abilene, TX), where again they had no rooms available. Again, I tried to see if I knew one of the chaplains, but no luck. So, I called the local Bishop and asked if there were a member who wouldn't mind letting me park in their driveway. He referred me to a very nice young couple who put me up for the night. Really nice.

Next morning, I got a bit of a late start, being tired from the last two days of driving. Somewhere after lunch, I pulled into Cannon AFB (Clovis, NM), where the gate guard pointed out that one of my rear tires was starting to come apart. Not surprising, since it was a retread. I pulled into the Billeting parking lot and changed the tire, but by then I was so pooped out, I didn't think I could finish the drive into Albuquerque. Luckily, they had a room available, so I spent the night.

Next morning, after a trip to the Commissary for some provisions, I hit the road. Cannon AFB is not that far into New Mexico, so I hadn't seen much yet. But the trip into Albuquerque was literally breathtaking. At one point, I actually had to pull of into a rest stop, just so I could look around without fear of running off the road. As I came down out of Tijeras Canyon into Albuquerque, I knew I was home. I found a storage place on Central Avenue and rented a locker. After unloading my stuff, I went to Kirtland AFB and rented a room in Billeting for the weekend. Then I crashed, big-time.

On Sunday, I drove up to Santa Fe for Church. I had actually been planning to move there, so I needed to check it out. It was nice, but it didn't feel like the right place. AFter Church, I drove back to Kirtland and spent the rest of the day relaxing. The following Sunday, I knew I had to give Santa Fe another chance. Once again, though, it just didn't feel right, so I left early and drove back to Albuquerque for Church. That felt right, as soon as I walked in the door. I knew I was in the right place.

That evening, they had a fireside for the singles, so I went to that. I wound up sitting next to a young lady named Virginia and, after being put on the spot by the Bishop's wife (who had a reputation for such things), I introduced myself. A few days later, I ran into her on the campus of the University of New Mexico ("Lo Gobos!"). She was at the library to do some research, but was having some difficulty, so I volunteered to help. A few nights later, we went roller skating, then drove up to Sandia Peak to see the city lights. In late May, we were married.

The big thing for me to get accustomed to in New Mexico was the culture. I don't speak Spanish, which is a bit of a handicap. But I loved the New Mexican food. My first encounter was a few days after I arrived. I went to the Student Union building for lunch. At the head of the cafeteria line, there was a sign announcing the day's special "Green Chile Stew". I thought to myself "Green chile stew??? What the...? It's not St. Patricks Day, what did they do... leave it out of the refrigerator too long?"

Being the adventurous sort, I tried a bowl. Fortunately for me, I also got a sandwich and a Pepsi. I sat down, opened up my copy of the Daily Lobo (a.k.a. the "Daily Lobotomy"), put my glasses on, and tried a spoonful of stew. That's when my glasses fogged up. No kidding. I had no idea it was going to be that hot. Nowadays, I won't touch it unless it's at least that hot, but it took a few months for me to get used to it.

Trying to find a decent job in Albuquerque is an exercise in frustration. The biggest problem is that no one wants to pay what the job is worth. All the illegals coming across the border keep wages depressed. Back then, the cost of living wasn't so bad, so one could keep the wolves from the door. It's all different now. But, I had to find a job so that Virginia and I could get married, so I finally wound up taking a job as a security guard. They love people with a military background.



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