Case II: Chapter 5: Back to Cerrillos
Dudley decided that he needed to stop stalling and put his house in Cerrillos up for sale. He recalled that Isabella said she knew a real estate agent who could help. But, first, there were some things he wanted to do at the house, including picking up his hand tools. If he was going to do this handyman job correctly, it would be beneficial to have his own tools. Dudley’s doctor had prohibited him from driving, but he presumed that OJ would be willing to drive him to Cerrillos. OJ had expressed his gratitude for Dudley’s role in clearing his name, but he knew he should check with Isabella first.
A quick phone call assured him that she completely approved and thought it would be a great idea for Dudley to “take OJ under his wing”.
The next morning, OJ brought his pickup around to the front off the building and they were on their way; OJ even brought a breakfast burrito for Dudley. Although Dudley had traveled all over the state in his role with the State’s Water Resources Department, he always hated driving that section of Interstate-25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. He referred to most of the drivers as Albu-crazies because they seemed to act particularly reckless and drive at excessive speeds along this 50 mile stretch of highway. Because it was now mid-morning, he had assumed that traffic would be lighter and that the drivers wouldn’t be in such hurry, but that did not seem to be the case. He quickly realized that was even more terrifying to be a passenger in someone else’s vehicle on this road. OJ was a reasonably competent driver but that didn’t seem to calm Dudley’s anxiety. He could not understand why people made the unsafe moves that they did, cutting in and out of traffic. It seemed like an obsession with some drivers to take unnecessary risks just to advance one car length or get in front of someone they felt was driving too slow. Tailgating seemed to be a local “sport” and a means to get people “outta my way”! He never could understand why people seem to be in such an incessant hurry, almost at any time of day; so much for the manana culture of New Mexico! Even more absurdly, he didn’t realize why the people who lived in Albuquerque and cities to the south and who worked in Santa Fe didn’t avail themselves to the convenience of the Railrunner system.
They exited the Interstate at Waldo Canyon Road and proceeded down the dirt road for several miles. Despite his anxiety, they had arrived safely into Cerrillos. Dudley went to the outbuilding behind his house and began to collect those hand tools which he felt would be useful to a handyman. OJ wandered around the outside of the house while Dudley was busy.
“How much do you know about this town of Cerrillos and the surrounding area, OJ?”
“I’ve never been off the highway before. I’ve been to Santa Fe many times and I’ve been to Madrid, but never here.”
“For a time in the late 1800s, Cerrillos was a mining boom town, but there’s not much here now, except for the Park. After I finish collecting my tools, I’d like to show you Cerrillos Hills Park; I think you’ll find it interesting.”
A brief time later, they drove a short distance to the Cerrillos Hills Park. “This area is typical of much of New Mexico’s history. The pueblo artisans first used turquoise from these hills for their pottery. They also used the lead deposits to enhance their pottery glazes. The Spanish weren’t interested in turquoise, but looked here for gold and, like many other places, were disappointed. Later, many of the men who mined for silver in Colorado came here hoping to strike it rich, but often had to settle for iron or other less valuable metals simply to survive. At its peak, there were over 1,000 mining claims in these hills. It was back-breaking pick and shovel work and most of the men were barely able to eke out a living and many starved. Too often, men had their claims stolen from them by more clever people.”
They took a short walk to one of the hand-dug open pit mines and together read the commemorative plaque.
“It seems like many of these hombres were loco gringos,” said OJ”
Dudley laughed to and couldn’t help but agree with OJ’s observation.
“It sounds like what happened to my people in the North when the gringos took their land for a few pots and pans or a rundown plow. “
“Santa Fe County designated this area as an Open Space in about 2003 to preserve it. This site became a State Park in about 2009 and there is a volunteer organization that is responsible for maintenance. This group also conducts tours and provides information on their web-site: www.cerrilloshills.org.”
“I know my Spanish is pretty limited, but even I know that cerrillos means hill, so it always amuses me that someone actually named this area Cerrillos Hills; it’s a bit redundant, don’t you think?”
“Tell you what, OJ, if we can drive back via the Turquoise Road, Highway 14, through Madrid I’ll buy you a full tank of gas. I know it’s longer, but I’ve had enough excitement for one day driving up here on I-25.”
“No problemo, Señor Doc.”
Dudley climbed into the truck and they headed back to Albuquerque, stopping in Tijeras for gas. Doc found OJ’s company quite enjoyable and hoped that he would be able to avail himself of OJ’s truck and transportation in the future.