Clad in shapeless work clothes, an orange safety vest and hard-hat were her accessories. What woman would claim safety orange as her color? She leaned into her clunky steel-toed boots, turned her sign from stop to slow and waved the cars from the right lane to the left. As I approached her I swerved in defiance as if I was going to fake her out and go right. Her fragile frame convulsed in laughter and a great smile spread under her sunglasses. I started laughing too and spontaneously threw her a kiss from the chin bar of my full coverage helmet as I went by. From then on, at each construction site, I threw kisses to the flag girls. It never failed to make them smile.
In Denver, I could not bring myself to leave the mountains quite yet and turned southwest, reentering New Mexico to spend the night in Taos. The motel desk clerk's Navajo heritage defined her sable beauty. The early morning ride out of that adobe town was a wonderful canyon road and I knew it would be my last. I rode slowly, trying to inhale enough mountain air to hold me to Houston. It didn't work.
Had lunch in an old saloon in Clayton. It was cool and dark inside. Standing at the bar, foot on a brass rail, I wolfed down the house specialty burger. Most of the other customers were drinking their lunch, but no alcohol, thank you. Not when I have to drive the V. Time for that later. No, the bar was so I could eat standing and rest my weary tail. The remaining ride would be a long commute, a return home. It was then I realized what I had been looking for -- home and the tender embrace of my ever-patient wife of 29 years. I was ready to go home.
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