The road ends, but the journey continues...

Snowin' on Raton

One of the things I do on a regular basis is search and discover ‘new’ (to me) music via a myriad of ways…all part of being a working musician – seeking, learning, creating.
A fine example of this occurred recently. As noted in a prior post, CNN’s short video in tribute to David Olney lead me to seek out more of his music. Which lead me to two other seemingly unrelated musicians/composers. I say ‘seemingly’ because I haven’t a clue as to how I arrived at their respective websites/youtube channels/streaming stations but some invisible google-ly algorithm guided me based upon something related to its way of calculating.
I know standard streaming sites routinely offer up an ‘if you like X, then try Y’ approach to new music seekers. However, my pokes and prods seem more organic, focused, personal – with a touch of human (mine) direction in the seeking. In addition, it is not limited to a particular platform.
Anyway, David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov * who lead to Gavin Luke.*
And then I discovered an unexpected related theme – that of home.
David Olney was an itinerant wanderer, Gregory Alan Isakov is a transplanted Boulderite (my hometown) and Gavin Luke is a composer whose style draws deep home yearnings front and center.
Olney’s cover of Snowin’ on Raton** reminds me of all the traveling back and forth between hubby’s and my family homes…driving over Raton Pass in all types of weather from Colorado to New Mexico and back again from New Mexico to Colorado.
Specifically, two significant snow times come to mind.

1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops

1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops, image from google

  1. January 1979. Just a little over 6 months into our newlywed-ness, we packed all our belongings in the smallest sized U-Haul trailer and hitched it onto hubby’s 1977 Burnt Orange Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham (complete with T-tops and other extras). Moving in the winter was dicey but needful as hubby was set to resume studies at NMSU that semester requiring our move from Boulder, CO to Las Cruces, NM to begin our new married-student phase of life. He, as an older student to finish his CS degree on the last of his GI Bill (at that time, NMSU was on the cutting edge as one of the few Universities to offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science Program). And me, to forge a more direct relationship with my in-laws in hubby’s hometown while exploring our own new surroundings filled with endless possibilities. On the day of our move, we expertly navigated the increasingly dense low visibility January snow storm conditions. We even managed to slip (pun intended) into the climbing lane as we began the long steep grade over the pass…before CDOT closed I25 behind us. Yep, we were the last vehicle allowed on the road to mount up and over Raton Pass into NM. Suffice it to say, we jackknifed only once on the steady upward climb and managed a controlled descent on the other side of the pass into Raton, NM.
  2. January 1982. After hubby graduated in December and with our firstborn less than 4 weeks old, we packed up that same Cutlass – with more precious cargo this time around. The plan was to move back temporarily to CO to stay with my folks while waiting for more details concerning hubby’s new job at HP in the Silicon Valley to determine exactly where we’d be relocating. Again, a January snowstorm. Again, slipping past the road closure signs as the last vehicle going up and over the pass. Safely strapped into her rear facing car seat, our newborn baby girl who’d been sound asleep for most of the trip opened her eyes with a start and immediately began her screaming cries as we began our ascent. She sensed the tension of our situation – and added to it – all the way up & over Raton Pass. This newborn Mother could not – dared not – pick her up to nurse her back to calm – and was thusly initiated into the lifelong Sturm und Drang slice of what it means to be a Mom.

And those are the snowy times when we drove Raton Pass and where listening to Snowin’ on Raton many years hence intersect – hitting squarely through my heart –
Missing home. Missing our baby daughter.

*will discuss these two in a later post
**composer/lyricist: Townes Van Zandt


  1. Donna

    Hi, Laura – I’m delighted to have discovered your blog. I love how one thing leads to (a completely unexpected) other!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Hey, Donna! Thanks for stopping by, glad to hear you enjoyed your visit.

  2. Mary J Puckett

    Well, this was interesting. That doesn’t look like a good snow car!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Nope it wasn’t…but we were (and still are) good snow drivers! HA!

  3. Mary

    Wow! Those are some memories!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Happy to share and happier still to know you enjoyed the reading!

  4. Janis

    I don’t have much experience driving in the snow but this reminded me of a drive my husband and I took (he was driving, fortunately for both of us) on a snow-covered pass in Wyoming. We had no business being on the road in those conditions. It was scary, and lonely (we were the only idiots out) and so beautiful.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Gives the term ‘snow angels’ a new light, eh?

  5. Marie A Bailey

    What an interesting story! How one thing does lead to another … somewhat serendipitous :). Las Cruces, huh? One of my cousins and his wife live there now. They moved there after you all had long gone, but still, I wonder what it was like when you were there. That aside, I had to chuckle about your last foray over Raton Pass. Welcome to motherhood indeed 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      …a big difference in LCNM from then to now that your cousin might relate to is the fact that ‘back then’ there were no houses built behind the dam…still seems a bit counter intuitive, but then it was only built because the Army Corp of Engineers had money for a project and thought LCNM needed a dam – somewhere, anywhere.
      Thanks for stopping by, Marie!

  6. Andy

    Speaking of music and home, I’ve been catching up with my town’s finest-Courteeners. I’m familiar with the first two albums and thought it was time I got acquainted with their later stuff, so while Jen watches tv and the latest of our storms hits outside I’m currently sat with my headphones on, reading your post!

    • laura bruno lilly

      I like that! Funny, I popped over to Youtube and gave my Manc favs a listen during this morning’s fun time spent doing quilty stuff. Let me know of any newer songs that are worth the search and listen!
      Enjoy your stormy nighttime music.

      • Andy

        Have I spoke about /recommended any Courteeners before? This old memory of mine is getting sketchy.

        • laura bruno lilly

          Oh yes, you turned me on to them several years back…I even featured one of their youtubes in an old blog post: here

          • Andy

            Ah yes I do remember now.
            I’ve just compiled a Courteeners playlist that includes all of the first two albums (still my favourites) some tracks from the following three albums, and now the whole of the newly released sixth album, More. Again. Forever. I like this latest one, a couple of tracks you might want to check out are Better Man and Hanging Off Your Cloud.
            They appeared last night at the Albert Memorial in Manchester to promote it. I couldn’t go, the last time I was there was to see Kula Shaker.
            Favourite all-time Courteeners tracks are What Took You So Long? which is anthemic and closes their shows, and The Opener where Liam confesses to his home city he’s been cheating with others around the world.
            Ps if you want to try a couple of songs from those middle albums, try White Horses, Van Der Graaf and Are You In Love With A Notion?

          • laura bruno lilly

            Will do!

  7. Mariss Stevens

    Even though I have hardly any experience of snow, reading your accounts of negotiating Raton Pass in that low slung long car (cutlass!) sent shivers down my spine and evoked other bodily sensations. Hope you see your baby girl soon

    • laura bruno lilly

      That car was hubby’s bachelor day splurge in the days of huge (non-SUV) ‘American’ style cars…I came from a family with 2 VW’s!

  8. Annika Perry

    Laura, a harmonious beginning to my weekend with this beautiful music. Travels can be stressful and exciting at the best of times, snow adds another dimension to them! Wow! Your two trips across the snow ladened Raton Pass sounds treacherous and no wonder your baby daughter could sense the tension in the car! Glad you were all safe!

    • laura bruno lilly

      I’m sure your visits to Sweden have plenty of snow stories to tell, too!
      Have a great weekend, Annika.

  9. Jill Weatherholt

    What a beautiful song, Laura. Thanks for the introduction. You and hubby were brave to tackle those roads. Thanks for sharing your memories!

    • laura bruno lilly

      More than anything else, that song served as a writing/memory prompt…hence the recollections.
      Thanks for taking time to visit and comment, Jill. I whisper a prayer now and then for you and your folks…

  10. Catherine de Seton

    a soft and gentle stream of sound – not taking over the actual words, but adding depth (this from a person who technically knows nothing about music!)

    • laura bruno lilly

      Sweet ‘review’…so glad it touched a chord with you, Catherine (pun intended!)

  11. Laura

    Loved reading about your personal experiences, Laura! You’ve brought back a few memories of my own. I enjoyed listening to the song, too. 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, Laura. Have a great weekend!

  12. Erica Payne

    Thank you for sharing! you have a great writing style 😉
    Really like Gavin Luke

    • laura bruno lilly

      Hey Erica, thanks for dropping by! Gavin’s is my fav of the three…I’m not much of a country music lover, but David’s music took me by surprise. Have a great weekend.

  13. Ally Bean

    Driving in snowstorms is stressful. What times you had, but most importantly what times you survived while driving in the snow. It’s interesting how a search for one thing can lead to memory of another as this post shows.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Remember that Sesame Street segment? “One thing leads to another?” True then and true now in the Google-Age!

  14. Roseanne

    Good Morning Laura! That piece that David Olney is lovely. I had it playing softly in the background and I had several people ask who it was. Yowza! I cannot imagine being the last car allowed through on that pass. Yikes. I’ll just bet that baby girl felt all the tension in the car. It sounds like quite the adventure. ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      HA! Yep, it surely was…thanks for listening in!

  15. Robert

    I remember Raton Pass well. It was and is the ‘tell’ that you had moved from Texas into Colorado and the mountains. Then up to Trinidad and Walsenberg and west to the valley flat lands of Alamosa and on to everything scenic.
    I can imagine crossing Raton Pass in winter with a newborn. White knuckle time for sure.

    • laura bruno lilly

      You’re right of course about the Texas ‘tell’ though having always done the straight I25 from CO-NM and back, never considered that route!

  16. L. Marie

    Snowin on Raton seems like the perfect song for a day of precipitation. It has a lovely, gentle rhythm! Enjoyed it! And I recall snowy times back in the day when even college classes were canceled. We’re digging ourselves out now from the recent snow. Was five below an hour ago.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Stay warm!

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