Ramblings from the Warrior's Den
Sunday, July 28, 2002
Some people long for a day when they can get away from it all, and find a nice quiet place in the woods to settle down. Others seek the peace and solitude of a quiet, secluded village where everybody knows everyone else. And still others long for wide open spaces to call their own.

I'm not one of them.

The first sixteen years of my mortal existence were spent in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. For a vast majority of my formative years, I lived in Los Alamos, a quiet little town notable primarily for blowing up stuff, and occasionally burning down in a large-scale episode of unplanned urban renewal. Chances are that you've heard of Los Alamos, probably while studying World War II in history class, as the Atomic Bomb was invented there. For the most part, it's a quiet little town up in the picturesque Jemez mountains, and if it wasn't for the sprawling complex of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the town probably wouldn't exist. While the town itself was a nice enough place to live, it was pretty sheltered. Sure, the town had some stores, but shopping for many basic items required a 35-mile drive to Santa Fe. Although a Wal-Mart opened in Espanola after we left(approximately fiftteen miles from town, as the crow flies, about twenty by road,) someone who lived in Los Alamos recently described it as "Not a typical, happy, rolling back prices Wal-Mart, but a 'Notify your next of kin you're shopping there' Wal-Mart."

Even in Santa Fe, there was quite a bit of stuff that you wouldn't be able to find. For example, there was not a decent home improvement store to be found in Santa Fe, nor could any of the large "Warehouse club" stores our family shops at be found there until a Sam's Club opened there about a year and a half before we moved. For any of those, we had to drive to Albuquerque, which was approximately a 200-mile round trip. Because of this, a weekend project had an annoying tendency to take two weekends, because just getting the needed supplies was often an all-day project by itself. Even going to the supermarket was a project, since our house was a good 4-5 miles from the downtown area.

Well, the first thing you know, old Dad's a millionaire...(well, not really, but it was about this time that we decided that spending the rest of his life in what was essentially a government town wasn't going to be such a hot idea.) The kin fols said, "Dad move away from there!" (My dad's late older sister convinced him that it was probably a good time to move.) They said, "California is the place you wanna be" (Actually, not California, but the Seattle area.) So they loaded up the truck, and they moved to Beverly. (Well, Redmond actually, but it is still a bit of a yuppie town.)

In retrospect, the contrast is pretty startling. Our house is perched on the lower edge of a hill which affords us an excellent view of the roof of an apartment complex and shopping center below (and on occasion, Mount Rainier on a clear day.) When we need to go to the store, we merely have to walk down the hill behind our house a short distance, and find some way across the usually busy avenue. To acquire most other everyday needs, we need only to drive the short distance to Target, only a couple of blocks from here. Within four miles from our house, we have a well-stocked Costco to handle the big stuff. And as of Thursday, we now have a brand new Home Depot within walking distance of our house. Everything else (books, computer software, and stuff like that) isn't much further away. If I could find the right job (The buildings in which Microsoft does all of their PC and XBox game development are within a few blocks of here,) I could practically live my entire life without leaving a ten-mile radius of my house!

Naturally, my Dad, who is a home improvement junkie, is quite excited by this. Of course, we lived within ten miles of two different Home Depots and a Lowe's already, but this new store means that the supplies for new home improvement projects can be acquired virtually on a whim. I've already begun searching for any relevant twelve-step programs that might be able to intervene should it become necessary to do so. Of course, I don't mind much myself, as I've been known to embark a time or two on various half-baked schemes that involved the extensive use of building materials and other such supplies.

Yet, for all this civilization, there is one thing I still miss about life in New Mexico: the food. Everyone I know who has lived in New Mexico at some previous point in their life will tell you the same thing. Of all the time they spent there, the only thing they miss at all is New Mexican food, which is essentially similar to common types of Mexical food, albeit with an emphasis on the excellent New Mexico Green Chile that is grown in the region. Every time one of us is in the area, we make it a point to bring back as much Green Chile as we can. One of these days, me and my parents are going to have to take a trip down there just to go eat at various places, maybe visit Los Alamos for an afternoon, then grab as much chile as we can carry and head back up here.

Nice place to visit, but we wouldn't want to live there again.

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