I don’t know if you saw but last weekend – Sunday to be exact – was National Middle Child Day. We seem to have a need to designate every single day of the year as national something-or-other day, and Sunday was the one for middle children, giving those of us stuck between the oldest and youngest a little recognition. A pat on the back, if you will. I mean, the first-born is always the leader and the role-model, while the youngest one is always considered the baby of the family, therefore leaving us in the middle without a special role. You know, like Jan in the Brady Bunch, we’re not first and not last. Just there, like a place holder. Ho-hum. Here’s something though, one study says middle children are more artistic and creative. I don’t know the implications of that in the whole sibling rivalry construct, but there you have it.

Anyway, this middle kid is thinking of taking next week off. School is back and the weather is not as sweltering, and living in a state that has more than its share of cool places and the best cuisine anywhere it seemed like a good time to take a road trip.

Might be a fun way to spend some of my time off, since I essentially have no hobbies to speak of. Nowadays my favorite hobby is something I call “deciding.” That is, I’ll spend hours clicking my remote…”deciding” what to watch next, and before you know it, it’s already bedtime.

But when it comes to a real hobby, between you and me, I’ve been wondering about metal detecting as a hobby. Who knows, one day you may spot me out there, sweeping the ground along the Jornado del Muerto with one of those metal detector gizmos, looking for gold jewelry or trinkets that might have been dropped by the Spanish along the way. Or not.

But I digress. There are dozens of little side trips I could take for fun next week with or without a metal detector.

If my car is willing, that is.

What I mean is, my car might just want to hang out at home and binge watch something streaming on the internet. My car might be happy to sit on the back porch or laze in the shade of our big elm tree. My car may be content to piddle around the house or spend a week kicking back on the couch snacking on Fritos, or possibly Frito pies, a personal favorite of my car.

Oh, speaking of fine New Mexico cuisine the chile people are starting to fire up their propane burners, and soon the sweet smell of roasting green chiles will be filling the air from Lemitar to San Antonio. Call me biased but Socorro County chile is the best in the state.

Reminiscing for a moment; before we moved here from Tennessee, my wife and I would spend our vacations making the I-40 drive to and from New Mexico, and bring jars of green chile back home. Little did we know at the time how much better locally roasted green chile could be. We would take that trip every summer and like everyone else, we’d go to Santa Fe and ooh-and-ah at all the art and history and so forth (like everyone else). There would be dozens, nay, hundreds of tourists walking around, buying expensive things, and saying they love New Mexico.

But wait a minute, it’s 16 years later and I’m thinking New Mexico to me, now, is south of all that, like about 125 miles south. So what’s New Mexico all about? What is the real New Mexico?

In spite of Santa Fe having the oldest state capital in the U.S. with its Kafkaesque bureaucracy, lobbyists and politicians, and the ritzy boutiques, art galleries and fancy restaurants, it still wants to retain the look and feel of old Mexico. But sometimes it’s hard to tell what is real and what’s made to look real.

Down in our little corner of the state you don’t have that problem. Here, everything is real. Maybe it’s the heritage that goes back to the 1500s. Maybe it’s the desert on one side and mountains on the other. Maybe it’s Navajo, the Apache; the diversity of cultures. Maybe it’s the science and technology of New Mexico Tech, the VLA, MRO or dark skies. Maybe it’s the clear light that inspires some of the best artists in the world.

Or, maybe it’s the arsenic in the water that makes us a little loco, but in a good way.

Whatever it is, we have our share of all of that.

And it’s a lot easier to find a parking place.

One thing’s for sure, I don’t need to go anywhere else to experience the real New Mexico.

Hey wait a minute, if I keep on like this my lazy car will talk me out of going anywhere on my week off.

I’ll let you know.