Seventeen Miles

Looking back, not ahead. Found this sign at the western end of the unpaved stretch of the Dry Cimarron Highway, which now had my tire tracks imprinted in its red dust. I’ve been informed that there is a similar sign at the eastern end of this section, but I didn’t see it…or maybe I did see it and I chose not to remember. What I do remember is that this seventeen miles felt more like forty miles, and that was just fine with me. Winding my way through the mesas on this narrow dirt road, in perfect driving weather, I really didn’t want to know exactly where the fun would end.

What made the journey even more rewarding was its impromptu nature. I knew nothing of the beauty of NM-456, nor had I planned to travel that road. But, ready to depart Kenton, Oklahoma, I had to make a choice: head east, back the way I came, or continue westward. Hardly a difficult decision.

Once again, I had stumbled into one of those sublime corners of the American West—stunning vistas, silence, solitude. I drove slowly through this desert wonderland, never knowing exactly what I’d see around the next curve, though it would likely be some beautiful combination of red dirt, red rocks, colorful grasses and towering mesas set against the brilliant blue sky. Couldn’t help but think that Everett Ruess would have appreciated the view just as much as I did.

Fully immersed in my element, a car & driver portrait was mandatory. And a title for the shot came to mind before I had even set the timer:

Alone, Never Lonely