Land of Enchantment? Not so much. My shoes are ruined. I’m not really into shoes, so it’s not that. It’s just that I currently have only two pairs of shoes to choose from, my hiking shoes and my two-inch boots. Somewhere deep in the depths of the trunk, several pairs of flip flops and Crocs lurk, waiting for warmer weather, but in my backpack, these are my two choices.
I pulled over at the New Mexico sign -- I thought that would be a fun photo album thing, me in front of every state sign. I set the timer, ran over to the sign, and smiled for the camera under the sign that boasted "Land of Enchantment." Walking back to my car, my feet felt really heavy . . . looking down, I saw they were covered in mud. Hmmm. I sat in my car, carefully removed my shoes, and smacked them together to get the mud off. Little bits flew shrapnel-style onto my seat, my door, and myself, but for the most part, the shoes were still covered in mud. I leaned awkwardly out and scraped them on a nearby rock. They were still pretty gross. I grabbed the plastic sack I was using for a garbage bag and gingerly set my shoes on top of it on the passenger side, then proceeded to drive the rest of the way in my socks. Is that legal?
Friday morning I reveled in the luxury of my friend Lanz’s house. I had not only my own guest bedroom but my own bathroom as well. I laid in bed reading, one of my favorite things in the whole world to do, but something I hadn’t done in weeks. I went for a walk in the wide-openness of his neighborhood. Ten years from now, there probably won’t be long open spaces between housing developments, but on that day it felt a little like my childhood, walking along a deserted road and seeing for miles and miles. I came back, read some more, and took a nap. When Lanz got home from work, we went out for dinner at a fancy-schmantzy place.
After dinner, we headed home to watch a movie. I commented on a casino billboard and Lanz said we should go there instead. There was a bar on the top floor with a great view of the city. We went up and had a drink and enjoyed the view, then stopped by the casino on the way back down. They had a club where, when you joined, you got $20 free slot play and $20 free table play. You had to put a buck in your machine to activate the card, but spending a dollar seemed within my budget. I was annoyed instantly though. I’m not exactly an experienced gambler . . . in my mind, there should be just three pictures on the screen, and if you pull the lever and get three matching pictures, you win! Not so here. Every machine just seemed like a jumbled mess to me. I dutifully pushed buttons and watched my free $20 rapidly disappear, never really knowing how the heck you win this thing.
But then something magical happened: a burning building flashed up on the screen and I was instructed to pick a fire hydrant. I did. It helped put out part of the fire. I repeated the process a few times, and suddenly the screen was blinking and my eyes got wide.
“Did I just win $50?” I asked Lanz. He said yep and high fived me. But looking back at the screen, it said to choose a multiplier. I pressed one last fire hydrant and it flashed “4x.”
“Holy s@#%, did I just win $200?” I asked. And then I screamed a little bit. Hot dang!
Maybe New Mexico is kind of enchanting after all.