The ever-watchful weather forecasters at the Old Famers Almanac are predicting a “less severe winter” this year. I’m not sure if they are using wooly worms or sun spots for their prognostication this time around, but it wouldn’t hurt if New Mexico got a bit more moisture than last winter. Weathermen … erm … weatherpersons always bandy about terms like El Niño and La Niña, but, as personal experience bears out, when you get down to actual weather in Socorro County, a coin flip is as good as any meteorological calculation.

Anyway, it should be a little warmer this time around.

Today, by the way, marks the 114th anniversary of the invention of rubber, synthetic rubber, that is, giving the erstwhile rubber tree a much-deserved hiatus. Since then, just about anything and everything has been synthesized into synthetics by syntheticians, from synthetic oil to synthetic vegetables to synthetic diapers to synthetic fiber.

Speaking of synthetic fibers, where would our cinematic superheroes and superheroines be without Spandex? Prancing around in 400-count Egyptian cotton leggings and woolen capes? Perish the thought.

Here’s a thought. Here we are a week after the Pie Festival in Pie Town, the town that’s not really a town and is the center of the pie universe, but one thing it needs to capture the comic book crowd is a pie superhero, like, say, Piewoman. With her trusty sidekick Pieman. Together, they defend that New Mexico-wide spot on Highway 60 against the encroachment of the supervillain Cakeman and his trusty sidekick Cheesecakegirl.


This is, without a doubt, the silliest thing I think I’ve ever written.

Speaking of Highway 60, I don’t know if you read the story our sports guy Russell wrote back in June of the Marine vet riding across America on his horse to raise awareness of veterans with PTSD and similar issues. For me, it brought to mind years past when it seemed there were cross-country trekkers on the Coast-To-Coast Highway almost every week.

You had a veritable hodge-podge of people going west-to-east and some the other way around, and most of them are doing it to bring attention to a worthy cause and do fundraising for the American Cancer Society and the like.

They came in groups a lot of the time, but some just walked solo. Or ran. One year, I met up with people at the VLA taking part in a nationwide relay on their way to Boston in remembrance of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

The year before that, there was a 90-year-old World War II veteran jogging across the continent to raise money to restore functional LST landing craft used on D-Day. As a matter of fact, there had been several veterans of Vietnam or Iraq hoofing it across the country.

There was a paraplegic Marine on a specially fitted recumbent bike pedaling coast-to-coast to raise awareness for the Wounded Warriors Foundation, and I know of at least a couple of other combat vets who just wanted to see the countryside and meet people.

One year outside of Lemitar, I caught up with an older gentleman from Paris, Tennessee driving a tractor and pulling a makeshift trailer made up to look like a covered wagon. Or the guy from New Zealand who just wanted to add it to his list of countries.

Does anyone remember that retired police officer riding his one-eyed horse campaigning for the legalization of marijuana?

Once, in the parking lot at California and Manzanares, I met a kid skateboarding across America, and in Magdalena, a stroke survivor dressed up like a cross between Charlie Chaplin and Benny Hill who played Elvis songs on his guitar as he walked along.

Then there was ‘ol Crazy George, a retired roofer who, after his two heart attacks, decided to hit the road in a golf cart modified to look like a ’57 Chevy, pulling a little teardrop trailer where he slept. He said he was on his way to the Alamo “to see their basement, just like Pee Wee Herman did. I ain’t gonna’ live forever,” he quipped. “So why not do something different?”

He said he quit smoking, took his blood thinners and vitamins, and showed me a baggie of beef jerky, which he said keeps him going.

I’m sure he had enough beef jerky to get him to the Alamo.