Tag Archives: Santa Fe

Running Down the Track

Running Down the Tracks

“Rail Runner, the coyote’s after you; Rail Runner, if she catches you you’re through!”

That’s the message from New Mexico Governor, Suzanna Martinez, who has threatened to cut the expense of running the Rail Runner train, to sell the trains, and count coup for her vastly conservative administration.  But it would hurt all who anticipate the future (with vastly increased gasoline prices), the government center in Santa Fe, and the community spirit of this stunningly beautiful, and remarkably liberal town.

It’s a cool run from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, past a prairie dog colony, down by the flat roofs and tiny windows of adobe dwellings, beside the old Santa Fe Brewery, travelling across the chamisa desert, passing rabbitbrush, juniper trees, and arroyos, cows, windmills, and solar panels along the way.  The Rail Runner, the train that was financed by Congress, connects Albuquerque to its richer, more famous neighbor to the north.  The round trip price is eight dollars and it takes roughly an hour to ride each way for the 300 or so people who regularly board; the riders travel in comfort on this train that the former governor supported with zeal.  As a visitor (I used to be a resident of Santa Fe), it is a pleasure to travel by train and to have the luxury of seeing the landscape that I’m visiting.  The train is more than a luxury though, for the riders who take it for transportation to get to their jobs and it runs through the Kewa pueblo, where native Americans can use it for connection to the rest of New Mexico.

The land is dry and windy across this expanse of the state, which accounts for the windmills bringing up water, as it is very, very hot and sunny.  The mountains, the Sandias, are a high dinosaur’s crest immediately out of Albuquerque and the mountains around Galesteo creep to the east, providing a lonesome look of the shadows-and-light, crenulated view of the parched New Mexican landscape.  There are also five locomotives for this short run.  The trains were built in Boise, Idaho, and occasionally run more than 100 miles per hour running on diesel and electric power.  The government is looking into running the trains on biodiesel.  

On the way back to Santa Fe, the sunshine warmed my shoulders in late afternoon, lit the Rio Grande like a coppery snake and the snarled and bent cottonwoods which graced the extended plain.  An arroyo cut through as we lifted beyond the river plain with purple, charcoal, and chalk colored cliffs that led to a juniper dotted mesa.  It was very scenic!  The short trip was full of surprises that ended with the Meep! Meep! call of the roadrunner, a gentle warning to mind the rail. 

I gotta think that the Rail Runner is going to outsmart wily ol’ Governor Martinez with little more than the sweet little Meep! Meep!, like the warning little buzz of a rattlesnake.      




If any are interested I will provide the financial and political analyses for you; just let me know.

Violence on a run

Violence on a run

            I was about to head out for a long run along the railroad tracks in Santa Fe last Sunday and realized that I had left my sunscreen somewhere else, well, I didn’t have any in my backpack, so I stopped a couple that was headed out in their car.

            “Excuse me do you have a little sunscreen that I could borrow?”

            They both looked and said sorry but no they didn’t have any.   I said thanks and went over by the tracks about 200 feet away and began to stretch my aching leg muscles in the intense sun.  Just then a woman ran out to the car that was now moving from the driveway to the street and she demanded the attention of the drivers.  “Hey, hey, hey!  Help!” I heard as the car stopped and the drivers listened to her frantic pleas.

            In about 15 seconds a man came out of a nearby house and began screaming at the woman.  I couldn’t hear what he said but it got my attention.  They were at odds, face to face, across the hood of the car with the occupants stuck and horrified.   He screamed at her and she responded as I stopped stretching and stood blankly to hear what was said. 

            He argued in half articulated words and seemed drunk–drunk on a Sunday morning, a lovely morning—and he walked over to confront the driver of the car.  The woman moved away.  I walked slowly towards them just as he confronted the driver and banged on their tightly closed window. 

            “What are you doing here?” he said.  “Leave us alone and go! Go away!  We don’t need you!”  He pounded on the window again and formed his hand into a form of a gun and pretended to fire it through the window at the people inside.  “Go away!”

            Horrified, I moved more closely to be a witness and to lend whatever help the people in the car might need.  I stood with my arms folded like a disciplinarian, staring at the man, trying to determine if he had a real gun or was bluffing.  I decided it was a bluff and he stared at me now.  The woman took this break in the scene of his attacking her to get into another car and drive away.  I don’t know where the other car came from but it was there at the right moment.  The couple drove around the corner and stopped their car. 

            But that left me facing the angry, drunken man; I backed away as he ranted about something or other.  I feared that he might have a real gun in his pocket or somewhere and it was just he and me and I kept my distance from him as I backed away.

            He saw that their cat was walking my way and said:  “Even the fucking cat is going with you.”  Now he was merely whining and I felt sorry for the man, but not much.  I felt more sorry for the cat.  And the woman who had left but probably would return.  I ran and waved at the other car in thanks.

            I ran for two hours and felt cleaner but very, very tired in the painfully hot sun of Santa Fe.  When I returned to the place I had started my run, there was no clue about what had happened nor where the people had gone.  It seemed like nothing had even happened until the cat came towards me, meowing.