New Mexico to Monument CO…Part 1
“If my life is like a highway, I sure hope it’s like an interstate.”
After an enjoyable four days in Santa Fe NM we headed to Monument CO. The route took us north along Interstate 25. The I-25 stretches from I-10 at Las Cruces NM to I-90 in Buffalo WY.
As we accelerated onto the I-25, a clear blue-sky overhead contrasted the red hues of the arid landscape.The road was not busy, little car traffic and few trucks. Before setting out we really didn’t know what to expect, as it was Good Friday. It was the start of the Easter Period, a time when a lot of folk travel. We sat back like Thelma and Louise (maybe Laurel and Hardy) to enjoy the trip. It was to be many hours later before we hit the traffic, between the larger populated areas of Colorado Springs and Monument, that we encountered the mass Easter exodus.
Driving this section of I-25 mostly proved to be a joy. Our experience of the Interstate Highway System is that it can be a little tense. For Aussies not used to such speeds, traffic and the opposite side of the road, it can be quite a challenge. Good relations with your navigator and much concentration are needed; this is particularly the case on the spaghetti-like bits through highly populated cities. A previous journey on an Interstate took us through Las Vegas at peak time. Much like the surrounding slot machines, it was all a bit of a gamble. But we hit the jackpot and “with the help of the Lord and the good Henry Ford” (Explorer) and Tom-Tom we got through unscathed.
The Interstate system was an initiative of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Its purpose was to provide a high-speed, high capacity system of highways. There were to be no stoplights and exits and entries had to be safe. The Interstates are fantastic for speedy road travel along great distances. It has been suggested that Dwight had military aims in mind with a national network for moving armaments and that parts of the Interstates were designed to act as airstrips.
Interstates take a little getting used to for Aussies like us. Speed is one factor; the maximum limit is set at 75 miles per hour (121kph). Most drivers go faster. We just don’t have the roads back home to support speed like this. Staying when you can in the right (or slowest) lane makes sense. The other factor that challenges are the huge number of trucks. Interstates reminded us of the 1972 film Duel where cars were menaced at every turn by a smoke-spewing truck. The strategy to deal with the trucks is to either stay in front or overtake them; more easily said than done because as soon as you dispense with one, sure as eggs, there is another. Whatever, it’s a matter of speed.
But on this day, our Interstate experience seemed a little more relaxed and we responded accordingly. We were able to enjoy the passing landscapes and appreciate that we were following the historic Old Santa Fe Trail.