I’ve decided to bring myself down to earth in this post, given my quasi-… no, my very real — if well-meaning — recent soapbox post, which always puts me in a position of standing too high up, wobbling as it were on a crate that was meant for carrying items rather than one man’s opinion.
I will tease myself.
Long ago, one of my relatives was playing Trivial Pursuit and the question came to him, “What man-made structure is 13,000 miles long, 30 feet wide and 20 feet tall?” The relative, probably distracted with something else like getting more beer and pretzels, but needing to give an answer said, “The business building at Harvard.”
This was not the correct answer.
The answer, I might have conjectured if I were in the room back then, is “The wall separating the U.S. and Mexico in 2020.”
This, too, is incorrect.
What’s worse is that I am usually pretty savvy about maps, topography, and having a sense of direction. I am my own best GPS. But with our trip back from Ruidoso to Kerrville, one of my reasons for taking the route we did was ostensibly to see part of “the wall.” This was not only unfulfilled but also was innocently — nawwww, c’mon: naïvely — conceived.
As I mentioned last time, we had three routes we could have taken, and I lobbied successfully for the longest of the three.
Why, you ask?
Well, along this route, there appeared to be on Google Maps an unusual landmark/structure — not sure even what to call it — and it was this entity that was in part causing my intrigue.
When I zoomed in on Google Maps, I saw the following land mass:
Well, you say, it’s obviously a mountain range, you north-easterner, you Yankee.
It didn’t seem so obvious to me at the time I decided to lobby for the longer route. I did the two-finger zoom-in on my phone and became convinced of my belief:
- The thick black line ran concurrent to the U.S.-Mexican border.
- The thick black line had a distinct start and finish.
- The thick black line appeared to have a sharp incline from north to south. Surely this was an indication of something vertical — like a wall! — that Google had to make slanted in order to show it at all.
- I swear I could make out on the southeast end a small guard tower and at least two armed border patrol agents eating lunch.
In short, it sure as hell looked like a man-made structure — like a wall!
Like the Great Wall of China, which is incorrectly said to be visible from space, so the U.S.-Mexico wall is no more visible from that height than is Cinderella’s Magic Kingdom Castle, or the Empire State Building, or even Cowboys Stadium. (Well, maybe that’s visible from space or, at least, that’s what folks say with conviction.)
Here is what I saw on Google Maps as we passed by what I thought would be two border patrol agents eating lunch in a guard tower:
The fake wall notwithstanding, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride along the border, and even the section of I-10 that followed. I thought that last part, which ran more than 450 miles along the Interstate, would be boring.
It was not, as there were plenty of aging and abandoned houses and old buildings, all of which would have made great photos were I allowed to stop. But I was not.
There was even the gas station where we filled up, took rest breaks, and where there was no employee to be found — it, too, seemed abandoned — so I took a soda and Snickers bar, waited for quite some time at the counter, even said, “Hellooooo!” a couple times, then left some cash on the counter and got back on I-10.
There is a certain romance in being a wanted man.