Times Three

Linda Burton posting from Sierra Vista, Arizona while traveling from Austin, Texas to Phoenix, ArizonaI wake up on Central Daylight Time. Bright sun shadows the face of the Sierra Diablos across the street. The car is loaded by 7:23; I see I’m almost out of gas. One stop, and then we’re on the road. An elevation climb, my ears can feel the pressure change, we’re going through a pass. A sign announces “Mountain Time.” I’ve gained an hour. But I’m still in Texas, will be for a long, long while. The limit is 80 mph, I do not hesitate, I fly.

The Eagle Mountains to my left, the Quitman’s too; the Finlay’s to my right. Peaks are 7,000 feet, wide valleys flatten out between. The GPS begins to show a darkened spot, a thick line very near the little car that mimics me. I stop and check the map; yes, Mexico is just there to my left, I know the Rio Grande is flowing there, the border mark.

Traffic thickens, El Paso drawing near, with Juarez on the other side, a troubled city, always in the news. Murder Capital of the World, they say. I need more gas, but everything is tense, so many lanes, so many curves, I wait, to come out on the other side. A break somewhere past the UTEP sign, a gorgeous mall, set high up in the hills. I’ve been driving for a long, long time.

And then I’m in New Mexico. The pavement changes, smooth, the lanes are wide, a sign assures you of a safety zone. Enchanted land, brilliant color, yellow flowers blooming in white sands. The Continental Divide! I stop to get a picture, close, I was here so many years ago, when kids were young. Now I have cats. Jack yawns in boredom, a wild-eyed panther look. “We’re really in the west,” I say, “where you were born.” There is nothing anywhere but souvenirs; gas is 20 miles ahead, they say. Los Cruces is a US Customs stop; the Border Dog doesn’t sniff my car.

Keep driving. Arizona next. The road looks old, worn out. I gain another hour. No sign announces, but I know, Arizona doesn’t favor Daylight time. Three time zones in one day for me. The headwind pushes back against the car; the freeway signs flash “Dust storms just ahead, pull off the road when you can’t see.” In the distance I see swirls, I am gone before they get to me.

I’m tired. I want to stop. Nature take some pity then, rewards me with its awesome sights; Texas Canyon has huge boulders like I’ve never seen. I know that I can make it now, and sure enough, the sign appears where I’m supposed to turn. I’m headed southward now, where family waits for me.

All’s well, except I’m not quite sure what time it is.