Monday, March 30, 2020

A long shortcut

State Highway 286 runs along the west side of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Arivaca-Sasabe Road bisects it east to west (or west to east, if you prefer).

There’s a network of dirt roads within the refuge. Some of them are well maintained, some are just parallel tracks through the grass and between the trees. The roads are marked with numbered stakes at the junctions. However, the map provided at the information kiosk doesn’t show the numbers.

My ability to read and interpret maps and apply them to my actual surroundings is passable. And my sense of north-south-east-west is good. At least when the sun is up. Or there are landmarks.

My general mental picture of the roads in the northern half of the refuge (where I am camped) is of some north-south roads intersected by some east-west roads, most of which connect to the highway. The roads in the southern half are more like a few strands of spaghetti tossed randomly about.

With that image in mind, I figured I could get to Three Points (to the north of here) by driving north on road I’m camped on until it ended at an east-west road which would connect with Highway 286. So off I went and, yup, there was the T intersection. I turned west and soon came to a cluster of buildings and another junction. And some confusing signs. The road ahead was gated and labeled for official vehicles only. The road to the right appeared to just go around to the back of the buildings. The road to the left went south. My little flyer map didn’t tell me enough, but it looked like I could go a little south then northwest to the highway. So I turned left.

That road quickly turned into a pair of ruts with sandy and muddy stretches, some stoney washes, and vegetation crowding in. (Yay, more scratches on the Rolling Steel Tent.) There were no places to turn around. I pressed on with fingers crossed. The road improved a little. Then it got worse. Then even worse. Then a little better.

The northwest road looked sketchier than the road I was on. I decided to continue south, knowing there was a good chance I’d reach Arivaca-Sasabe Road before ever finding a decent road west to 286. Or an equally good chance of getting stuck. Or coming to an impassible spot. Or being eaten by a jaguar.

I reached another junction. The road ahead was pretty much nonexistent, looking like it hadn’t been used since the first pioneers. The well worn track turned right/west. So did I. And a little farther, ta-dah, the highway.

It would’ve been much easier, less anxiety inducing, to just head south from camp on the wide, smooth, maintained road to Arivaca-Sasabe. But I had wanted to do something different. Explore a little. So I chose the literary and literal road less traveled. When things got dicey I told myself I was having an adventure. Yeah, that’s it. Adventure begins where the comfort zone ends, right? Well, this wasn’t a big adventure, and it lasted only a couple of miles, but it wasn’t the dreaded Same Old Thing. After all, it gave me something to write about.

Oh, I learned afterward, by studying satellite images, that the road which appeared to go only to the back of the buildings actually continued on to the highway. Okay, maybe next time.

1 comment:

  1. I know from hard lessons learned that central New Mexico has miles and miles of roads like those.