How often do we watch a television program where the adventurer takes a road less traveled? There are benefits away from people, especially when taking landscape photos. We want few to no people in the photo and to view wildlife in their natural habitat, so I can relate to that idea in traveling a road few will be on.
Recently I ventured down a road I had never driven before. It was a winding, paved road with no center line or shoulder. No consultation with Google maps was possible so I decided to drive at least 10 miles, assess the situation, and turn around if nothing caught my eye. In the first 5 miles, I only saw one other vehicle and then a bicyclist on the side of the road!
I pulled along side the bicyclist and asked if all was well. The guy smiled and said, “Are you checking on me?” Of course I thought; “Yes, you are in the middle of nowhere, stopped on the side of this road, and I wanted to be sure all was well.” Actually I was miles into my drive and not sure if the exploration was worth it. Then suddenly surprised to see another human being out here … and on a bicycle … or more specifically off his bicycle! Why not check on the cyclist!
While talking with him, one vehicle pulling a trailer passed us by … no other traffic … which is the reason this guy bicycles the road. He was simply having a snack break, one he takes every 45 minutes. When he heard me say I was exploring, he had a suggestion. Another mile down the paved road, the road splits and becomes dirt roads. Take the road to the left, drive about 4 – 5 miles and when finally up a hill the land opens to San Rafael Valley … what he suggested I should see since I am already this far down the road. He also mentioned to go straight, no turns, and remember how to come back out, back track, so I do not end up in Mexico. Easy enough. I drive on after we discuss the importance of bicyclists hydrating and eating food for fuel. I wish him a good ride.
Montezuma quail are in this area from research I had done last year. Despite no chance seeing them now, I did want to know where the San Rafael State Natural Area was. I continue down the road.
I enter and leave national forest land, drive over cattle guards, pass signs informing me “illegal smuggling can occur” in this area (okay, I am less than 10 miles from the Mexican-USA border) and a “primitive road” sign indicating use at my own risk as surface is not regularly maintained. Of course, when you are driving a dirt road, through arroyos/washes, on rocky and winding roads it is a good time to check where clouds and the sun are in the sky. All was good. I continue on since the point of my drive was to discover a new place.
Do you know how long 5 miles is on a dirt road? It can seem like forever! Finally, up… up… an uphill and I thought this must be it! Yes!
I pull over at this 4-way dirt intersection and within 2 minutes of my arrival, a truck pulling a trailer with hay turns off on the side dirt road, a regular pick-up truck and a Fed- Ex vehicle drive down the road I just came up! Then I have the place to myself! Wow!
I really need to plan these adventures earlier in a day! Of course, I probably would not have met the bicyclist to learn of this road to then drive and explore. Such is life; such is adventure! I will need to return another time … maybe Montezuma quail time! I loved seeing this beautiful expanse of land in the middle of nowhere! So glad we still have these places on earth!