About 3 weeks later, on a long Thanksgiving weekend, I was again southbound from my friend’s house in Aztec and was approaching Cuba when I noticed a sign to a lake. I was in no hurry to return to the city and the sun would soon be setting, so I thought I’d try to find this lake and maybe I’d be fortunate enough to see some elk or other wildlife coming to the water to drink. As I followed the signs eastward to the lake, it didn’t take long to realize I was heading into the mountains and higher elevations. I pulled off to check my map and noticed that there was a forest service road that should take me all the way through the mountains and I could catch Interstate 25 on the other side near Espanola and head back south to Albuquerque from there. Why not? I beautiful detour through the mountains, the potential to see wildlife and it would slow my re-entry into the city. Yep, sounded like a plan!
At one point, I thought maybe if I could place some fallen branches under the tires, I might get enough traction for the car to climb out of the hole. So I grabbed my first branch and poked it under the right rear wheel, only to discover that it just sank deeper and deeper into mud. It was obvious rather quickly that I had no way to get the car out of the hole. It was cold, dark and I wasn’t even sure how far into the mountains I had traveled. I had no way to communicate with anyone for help, so I knew I was going to spend the night in my car.
Come morning, the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was half inch long icicles hanging on the interior of the roof. I thought to myself, “Wow, it must have really gotten cold last night.” Then I crawled up to the front seat to start the car and get the heater running to warm up. My sneakers were lying on their side on the passenger’s floor and when I rolled them right side up, the laces remained standing straight up as they were frozen solid. I grabbed the shoes and began trying to thaw them out so I could put them on.
With lunch behind us, the logger waved good-bye and headed back to work. His wife finished up some more household tasks and then she and I headed toward Cuba. On the way, she asked me if I knew anyone there who could help me and I explained to her who I was attempting to locate. As soon as I mentioned that man and woman’s names to her, she said, “Oh, I know them and I’ll take you right to their place.” Gosh, I love small town communities!