Sunday, April 14, 2013

Navajo Dam: A Thrill of Fear

Navajo Dam, New Mexico.View from Highway 539.

Take a close look at the photo.

You see the concrete spillway over on the left, yes? And a faint gravel-y road that snakes down left-center. And do you see the road that curves down on center-right? With the two car dots on it?

Do you see a bit of Navojo Lake on the other side of the dam's rim on the upper right? .

Now look for the road that rides the top of the dam. In the photo, it is just a line, a line akin to the line of an infinity pool. As in a line that isn't really there, or at most, the suggestion of a line.

When I approached the dam from Aztec, New Mexico, I drove up the road you can see plainly, with the two car dots, otherwise known as Highway 511. A nice road.

When I finished my look-see of the dam and the lake, I thought I'd return to Aztec via Highway 539, the road you don't see in the photo but that is there. When I crossed the bridge that is over the spillway, I blithely took a left onto 539 instead of dropping down onto 511, and that's when it happened.

It took me completely by surprise - a piercing, cold thrill of gut fear, as I realized I was on a road that had no shoulders, and where there was nothing but air on both sides of said road, and where there were only - surely for decorative purposes only - intermittent yellow posts that could not possibly serve as any sort of protective structures in the event I should suddenly veer off the road into the abyss.

I would have laughed out loud at how shrilly was this fear shouting at me, but not while I was still driving oh so carefully on that ribbon that lay atop the slender ridge of the dam.

Whew. It has been a long time since I felt such as that.

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