This is a tale about doing something stupid, and it’s a story about my recent vacation.
So, if you are like me and don’t like vacation stories, feel free to check out right now, and there will be no hard feelings.
About a week ago, I tagged along with my wife on a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, while she attended a sorority convention.
The first thing that hit me is that there isn’t a lot to see in Albuquerque. The biggest issue is correctly spelling Albuquerque when you’re writing emails. I know the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce will blast my comments, but, frankly, I was not impressed.
However, there was a bar I wish I had had time to visit because a sign out front read, in part, “No Puking … Panhandling, Perversion.” That place had to be a fine establishment.
The one thing that I wanted to see up close were the mountains.
Being a native of Louisiana, I find foothills are just as good as mountains. As I drove around Albuquerque in my rented vehicle that could have qualified for a mobile home, I would always see the mountains. They were far off from my hotel, but I could see them, and they kept calling.
On the second-to-last day of the trip, I was headed to a gas station to fill up the rented brontosaurus of a vehicle (you don’t want the car rental place to fill it up with their prices) when I passed a street that appeared to lead directly to the mountains.
I turned around, got on Menaul Boulevard, and off to the mountains I went. It was about a 15-minute drive. As I got closer, I told myself I would find a nice place to stop and take some photographs with my trusty smartphone.
Finally, I reached a residential area at the entrance to the Sandia Foothills of Embudo Canyon. I stepped out of the vehicle and took a few pictures from someone’s driveway.
But the photos were not quite what I wanted. So I drove around until I came to a parking area that led to a walking trail into the mountains.
There were great photos to take there, but the walking trail started to call my name. Let me explain. At my location, I was more than 5,500 feet above sea level. The air is thin. It was hot. I was wearing a polo shirt, khaki pants and sneakers. None of this is good for me.
But up the walking trail I went.
The heat was not as big a problem as the thin air. Up and up I climbed, getting better views for my photographs and winning “proud points” for myself. “Yeah, wait until folks see my pictures,” I thought.
When I reached a nice high point and stopped to rest, a family of climbers came upon me. I asked if they would take my photo. They agreed but appeared miffed by long pants, polo shirt and all.
One of them asked: “Have you done this before? Are you alone?” I said it was my first time with a proud smile on my face, and, yes, I was alone. Then the guy read me the “you stupid” act.
“Did you know that there are snakes up here? What would happen if you had fallen and hurt yourself and couldn’t leave? Did you tell someone that you were coming up here?”
No on all counts.
He kindly suggested that I reconsider going any higher. His questions and comments sank in, and I really felt stupid.
Also, what if my vertigo had reared its head while I was on this walk? What if? What if?
I quickly started my descent, feeling dumb on all counts. Still, though, I felt I had accomplished something. I do have a bit of daredevil in me that has to be dealt with occasionally. But this was stupid.
As the wise Forrest Gump would say: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
Edward Pratt, a former Advocate editor, is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.