Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In the Field With General Doomsday

In Which We Do Glorious Battle Against the Forces of Darkness in Defense of the American Way

(Subject to change without notice. Your results may vary. Some settling of contents may have occurred during shipment.)

"If armies march on their stomachs, ours marched on its liver" - General Doomsday

My boy, sit yourself right down here like, and let me spin you a yarn about a time when I was still young and in good fighting shape.

The General and his minion(s) went on a field deployment yesterday, deep into the hinterlands, forward deployed, under deep cover, out in the boonies, to scout out the enemy strongholds.

Er, well, not really. Actually, we went on a sports car, cigar, tapas bar soiree. We had every good and justifiable reason. Consider: the southwest U.S. of A. hasn't seen a lick of moisture since winter, the relative humidity running at about the same value as the Consumer Price Index; there're forest fires all over the region, the sky choked with smoke almost every evening; the economy is in the toilet and no relief is in sight; natural disasters now seem so frequent that we all too easily think "ho-hum, another thousand or so folk just lost their homes, I wonder what's on TV?"; our nation appears to be led by forces entirely out of touch with the common man, working toward purposes inconceivably dark and murky; our foreign policy seems to be founded upon the principle of perpetual warfare, imagined enemies taken with the same degree of dread as we once reserved for dictators and regimes deserving of our retribution; our national currency has been devalued ninety percent since 1970; we face a looming strategic threat from the rising super-power of the People's Republic of China; and not only that, but it seems that the inmates are running the asylum.

What we needed, on this near-100-degree day, was a drive. Get the hell outta town, hit the road Jack, my way or the highway, head to the hills, hunker down, don our flak-jackets, make a stand, white line fever, rubber meets the road, day trip, head trip, picnic basket bluesville saloon croon.

The weapons of our warfare were, well, not so spiritual, maybe they're just a bit too carnal, in fact, to wit: high-octane, mid-engined, maduro-wrapped, sun-drenched, conspiracy-laden, corn-fed, caffeine-injected, High Silliness.

We set out on the High Road through the Jemez mountains, north and west of Albuquerque, the twisting mountain road threading its way through dry forests of pine, skirting the edge of the Valles Caldera (where, in the above image, we found proof that the Elk Hiders were out and about), past the fabled research city of Los Alamos, its various "Tech Areas" spread sporadically across the Pajarito Plateau, down the mesa past signs warning of unexploded ordinance and shoot-on-sight trigger fingers, past Casinos of Gold, up the hill past flea markets and Santa Fe Opera and National Cemetery, headstones arrayed in grids as neat and orderly as lines on some General's map, down through the European-like, twisting narrow streets into the ancient (by New World standards) city of Santa Fe, to repast at half-past three on said balcony, movie star alert, three-alarm tequila fire drill, parking meters, fried tortillas, sun-burnt, twisty-turning accelerator enchilada casserole supreme.

"To the top!" announced General Doomsday, our thirsts slaked and palettes satisfied. But first, no army marches forth to battle absent a good war plan, an accurate field map, a trusty scouting report. So, we enlisted the services of the bus-boy at Coyote Cafe, who wrote our Order of Battle on the back of a check stub (budgets being what they are these days -- this ain't the Cold War, my boy!), and off we rode to do glorious battle once more against the enemy forces of gravity, aerodynamic drag and pot-holed, gravel-encrusted mountain roads. Think vectors. Yaw. CG's. Roll rates. Reverse-cambered corners. Down-shifts mid-turn. Surfing the torque curve, my boy. Now stay alert, listen up here.

The day, its heat continued unabated regardless of our attempts at generating an artificial breeze. Our glorious army sweltered. War is hell, my boy. So up we deployed our Secret Weapon, the General's power convertible top technology, and on kicked the AC, nearly freezing our cajones to the quick, pronto-like. We bivouacked at the petrol station, then off again to do recon duty along the Turquoise Trail, wending our army through twisting two-lane roads in the Ortiz Mountains, searching long and hard in the little village of Madrid for signs of The Enemy, spotting none, not even those dang blasted Elk Hiders, just more cafes and galleries and shops and white-legged tourists from Way Back East with sweat-laden, wrinkled shorts and that Ten Thousand Mile Stare. War is hell, my boy.

Fatigued, the day sporting triple-digit temps (but, "it's a dry heat," we often say Out Here), the wind kicking up, the AC on high, the sun partially roasting a stripe of crimson along the inside of my left arm where I'd failed to apply SPF-85, mil-spec-grade, anti-radiation creme in sufficient quantity, we sauntered back into town, tired but satisfied, General D. still in fine enough form to row the shifter back and forth, winding through traffic on Tramway Road at rush-hour well above the civilian speed limit, set the controls for the heart of the sun, damn the torpedoes, gentlemen!

We arrived back home sporting our usual casual, child-like giddiness, receiving just suspicious looks of awestruck wonder and disgust in return, but knowing that we had fought the Good Fight, kept the faith, toed the line, rode hard, did our duty, did our darnedest, lit 'em up, locked and loaded. There's no way to tell if we could have done any better, you play the hand you're dealt, keeping your cards close to yourself, walk tall, talk taller, carry that Big Stick, etc.

And that, my boy, is that. Now, go and help your mother, I've got a nap that needs some serious tending to. War is hell, my boy.


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