Archive for February, 2015

To the mountains and back

I love to ski. I love to ski so much I’ll ride twelve hours in a packed 7-passenger SUV. I’ll ride those twelve hours in that packed SUV even if one of those six other passengers is sick. I’ll take my chances. I love to ski.

It takes this kind of perseverance to get two adults and five kids – all under twelve, one under the weather – to northern New Mexico, a place not easily accessible from here – or anywhere.

Route options: (1) Drive west then north and see cartoon aliens in Roswell, NM; or (2) Cut the corner and smell Lubbock. I couldn’t decide so we did both, one going, one coming. It really broke up the monotony.

Eating on the road is about as appetizing as eating off the road. Cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, cheeseburgers. I never complained on a fast food chain’s web site until Dairy Queen, Ozona, TX. I’ve seen cleaner port-a-johns. My wife used the experience to teach our kids the importance of marketplace competition.

Sleeping on the road isn’t exactly a dream. Thank you, oil & gas industry, for the thrill of paying $275 for a room at a Fairfield Inn.

With just a single room for seven humans, we needed our four-year-old son to share a bed with his older brother. He vehemently refused, because his brother was wearing “panties” (a.k.a. briefs) instead of pajama pants.

Around midnight I needed to retrieve a pillow from the car. A rough-looking roughneck startled me as I entered the elevator. I’m not sure what was on his mind, but it wasn’t pillows.

That wasn’t the only scary moment. I mistakenly trusted a Google Map for my route to Red River. The faulty map included a pass up County Road 18 through nearly-deserted Mora, NM. I felt like a character in a horror movie.

As dusk approached, freezing air fell. A thin layer of snow covered the ground next to mountain stream where I stopped to let the boys relieve themselves. In midstream, a 1980s Chevy pickup drove past. About thirty seconds later it returned.

“These two guys are up to no good,” I sensed.

“Hey, buddy, you got five dollars for gas?” one asked.

I needed to parse my answer. A “yes” would open up my wallet to perhaps further thievery; a “no” would be a clear lie from a Texas vehicle full of kids and gear. Murderers don’t like liars, I reminded myself.

“I buy all my gas with a debit card.”

The two locals seemed slightly confused but relatively content with my answer. Strangely, they drove off in a different direction than they were heading before. The snow angels surrounding our vehicle must have told them to go that way.

The way home through the Texas Panhandle was no less eventful. After winding down the mountain, a four-year-old threw up on his eleven-year-old brother.

Seven people endured another night in a room built for four.

When we drove past a cattle feed yard, an eight-year-old asked his siblings, “Who peed in their pants?” This is the same kid who saw me in my skiing underlayer and asked, “Skinny jeans?”

We loved our three days on the slopes, but we’ll probably remember our four days on the road!

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. He can be reached at

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