Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Inside Story

Those of you who remember Jim M. will likely be interested in this story.  Jim was my second level manager at a large aerospace company in the late 1980s.  With similar beliefs, we became friends.  After his retirement, we corresponded quite a bit.  Jim, although an engineer, was a fantastic writer--much better than I.  He was able to inject incisive humor into otherwise too serious discussions of current events and the philosophy of freedom.

In the 1990's, Jim and his wife had a retirement "ranch" property near I-25 not too far from the Glorietta Pass in New Mexico.  We visited them twice, and had great times talking about politics, shooting, and generally touring around the area.

Jim passed away in 2000, but I still think about him fairly frequently.  After his death, his children sold the property.

Last Sunday, my wife and I were traveling on I-25, heading back home after looking into some work opportunities in Albuquerque.  I had been in the area of Jim's ranch a couple of times over the last few years, and had actually left the interstate and driven to his old front gate each time, just in remembrance of him.  But we had gotten a late start, and were zipping along with no intention of stopping.

When we were almost exactly opposite the old ranch, something hit the windshield with a loud "POCK" noise.  The nearest vehicle was several hundred yards in front of us, so I really don't know what it could have been.  The projectile left a classic bulls-eye fracture more than an inch in diameter, with a tiny central pit of pulverized glass.  It was a surprisingly high-energy event.  In fact, I have never in all my driving (probably almost a million miles) had that much damage from a rock hit.

With thunderstorms predicted ahead of us, and the fact that windshield repairs work best if the crack has never seen water, we pulled into Las Vegas, NM ("The Original Las Vegas", as it says on their sign), looking for a repair kit.  The Wal-Mart didn't have them, so we went to the auto parts store across the street, finally setting up our repair in the shade of a tree behind a nearby bank so that the UV-curing resin would not cure too fast.

On the way to Wal-Mart, we had passed the old K-BOB restaurant where we had once had lunch with Jim, his daughter, and his young grandson.  (I remember his grandson put way too much Tabasco sauce in his soup, and then couldn't eat it.)

The whole repair delayed us about an hour -- which allowed us to miss some big thunderstorms around Trinidad Colorado that had gone through about an hour before, spawning tornadoes.

Jim was a great believer in guns, so I would imagine that if he wanted to get my attention, it would be natural that he would do it with a high-speed projectile.

And it is certainly an odd thing to happen when we were exactly opposite the ranch.

The next time I am in the area, I think I will stop by the old gate for a moment.   And I really need to collect up some of his old writings that I have and make them readable with modern computers.

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