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Road notes: Edsels, a German photographer, ‘Safety Corridors’

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By Harold Morgan

The road lured us away the first part of May.
My wife wanted to see the ocean. So we did the traditional California Highway 1 drive: Santa Barbara, Monterey, San Francisco. Seven hotels in 12 days. By the fifth hotel, I was getting room-number mental fatigue. 432? 234?
The remarkable image prizewinner was the SUV carrying two Edsels on a trailer, one a sedan, the other a station wagon, probably a 1960 model. The only sensible reason for hauling the cars across eastern Arizona is restoration. They badly need the work.
Edsels occupy a special small place in my history, dating to the long ago confluence of a late night, rain, a curb and an Edsel, which suffered a broken axle. (I wasn’t driving, and, no, we weren’t drinking.)
One of those “safety corridors” straddles I-40 in the vicinity of Thoreau. Heading west, it didn’t register. Returning home, perhaps the baby Jaguar from California disappearing into the horizon sparked some questions, or possibly the bright yellow signs with corridor instructions.
The state Department of Transportation has designated several routes as safety corridors because of high accident rates.
Typically, the state reduces speed limits and increases policing. Yellow signs instruct drivers to turn on their lights and warn that fines for speeding in the zone are doubled, the latter an item that didn’t faze the baby Jag.
Is there a statutory basis for the zone, the lights-on instruction and fine doubling? Is it one of those moral suasion items, to subtly coerce because nearly all of us do what we are supposed to do?
More important is that we, the taxpayers, provided the money to pay people to invent all this fussing with our behavior. Someone had the idea, got bureaucracies to accept it, found budget money, picked the location, doubled the fines and designed and produced the yellow signs, all in all a scary creeping expansion of government.
Best of all were the two green signs just beyond the end of the zone, one on each side of the road. Each contained one word, “Lights.” That’s it, just, “Lights.”
During dinner at the worthy Mattinas Ristorante in Kingman, Ariz., we visited with a California couple, commuters to Santa Fe. They work on “the wreck” of a house purchased a few years ago. At an eastern Arizona I-40 rest stop, we chatted with an Iowa couple who commute to Albuquerque. They spoke highly of Los Poblanos Inn where they have stayed three times.
In Monterey, Calif., a man photographed the back of our car. Naturally I was curious. Bald, blond and middle-aged, he was from Hamburg, Germany, making him a “Hamburger,” and on his first trip to the United States.
Speaking excellent English, he said he collected license plate images. Our blue New Mexico centennial plate got his attention.
I explained that the plate was produced just for the centennial, hoping that was correct. An oversight was forgetting to call attention to the Zia Sun symbol on the plate. Sorry.
The license plates seem the only obvious New Mexico centennial items remaining. Arizona centennial signs dot the state.
A May 8 Navajo Times story seen in Gallup reported the first anniversary of the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino and the opening of another 100 rooms. Twin Arrows is just next to the middle of nowhere on flat land east of Flagstaff.
Driving east out of California on I-10, Arizona greeted us with two closed rest stops.
A happy policy discovery was the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University in Phoenix. New Mexico should consider something similar.