We were halfway from Santa Fe to Taos, passing small towns and fields of New Mexico chilies, when my husband decided to go off-roading in our rented Mustang. We turned east off Highway 68 onto an unpaved but well-graded road and at first I had no worries. But then he saw a rusted out old truck in a dry wash below, and over my protests that it couldn't be as dry as it looked, drove down a steep rutted path to explore.
Within minutes, the car's rear tires were dug deep in the wet mud that had been hidden by a thin dry crust.
We didn't have a cell phone. What could we do?
In my high-heeled sandals, I wobbled over rocks and dry spots, up the rutted road and back to the highway, about a mile away. A woman answered the first door I knocked on. Yes, I could use her phone to call AAA, she said, but her husband would be home soon and probably could pull the car out with his tractor. Out the back window, I saw several acres planted in chilies.
When the chili farmer arrived a few minutes later, he got on his tractor and drove up the road, then down the path to the marooned Mustang. He hooked the car to the tractor and pulled it free, refusing the money my sheepish husband offered with his profuse thanks.
Then shaking his head, the farmer said to his wife in a low voice, ``Loca en la cabeza.''
I had to agree.
This is one in a series of postcards by Marjie Lambert, assistant Travel editor, who has been to all 50 states.