Journeys with Jerry
El Caracol

Old Road Trips

We stood on a low stone pile as traffic sped by.

Jerry has an encyclopedic knowledge of New Mexico’s old roads and routes, mines and settlements. The stuff of the west. In the spirit of, “I haven’t been out that way in a while,” he can be coaxed to go anywhere. Even where we probably shouldn’t.

He recalled being at Paa-ko as a boy before the war. It was a State Historic Monument then, on the old road maps. There was a full-time caretaker who lived right about where we stand, he says. It was a two-room stone house. One room was museum - a cracked-glass cabinet of arrowheads and broken pots, and a guest book. The other room was the caretaker's living quarters where he heated and cooked on a wood stove and slept on a single cot.

Ruins were of keen interest to tourists in the days when road trips were new. Now they're consciously hidden to draw attention away from them for fear they’ll be destroyed. It’s a reasonable concern. Attention can be destructive. But so can forgetting.

It was June and windy and cars zoomed by headed to big subdivisions of big houses.

 

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