Feeling all organized. And: Feeling all chill. What did that take? 22 days? Got a motel room yesterday and emptied the Escapay. Unpacked, repacked and discarded and pared and rearranged in the room and prepped for placing it all back in the E. The chaos was bogging me down. Washed and vacuumed and started over. So, suv's clean again and packed where I know where everything is and it looks good. E looks happy like as if it were smiley-faced yellow instead of dark shadow grey. Now I'm breathing easy again.
Was windexing the windows this a.m. and recalled all those road trips with LB in his little '68 VW and how he was a windex fiend on the road. Used his VW once to pick up my dad and my dad and I motored from Nomal, Illinois to East Texas and once when I was windexing those windows -- inside and out -- I said "It's amazing how much cleaner these windows stay since I'm not smoking." Without missing a beat my dad said "To say nothing of your lungs." I just coughed up some phlegm and kept on windexing.
Woke up this a.m. all "I just want to be home." But, I'm in Santa Fe and have not seen Tove yet. Plus since I cleaned and repacked I'm back into being here now again. Tove was in Encino last week, racing her bicycle -- at the Velodrome - fixed gears, no breaks -- and seeing her son -- who lives in Venice -- and is a cameraman -- mostly commercials, but I could be wrong about that -- and inviting me and J--- M over to her son's dad's place in Encino for a bbq. Well, I never got the msg because I was in Big Bend and there was no cell reception down on the Rio Grande for me. I did get her message on Tuesday and called her back when I was in Kent, TX and she was in Needles, CA and I was heading west and she was heading east and she said but you're taking the southern route and I'm taking the northern route, you'll be taking the 10 or the 8 and I'll be taking taking the 40, and I said but I c-o-u-l-d take a right at Las Cruces, from the 10 west to the 25 north and come on up to Santa Fe -- but I have to call J--- M. first at home and see what's up.
I was here in Santa Fe to see Tove two years ago but I have not seen her son in about twenty-something years, since he was four. I remember him but he won't remember me, for sure. Once I asked Tove, like I ask every mother, why she did not name T---- G----- O----- after me, why he's not called T-----. She said she "I had to name him who he is, but you'll notice his first two initials match yours." That was good enough for me. T----'s dad was hosting the bbq and I'dda loved to have seen him. The best Christmas I ever had (post childhood) was at his parents home in Delaware. If I ever do Christmas and include many others it'll be like theirs was. What do I remember? An open house on Christmas Eve and bloody mary's on Christmas morning and too many presents but the important presents, the ones all awaited excitedly, were the home made presents, the home made presents to remind us of those years when we could not afford the abundance we can now.
Anyway, I had not planned to come north but since Tove called here I be. It makes sense anyway, in a navigatory way, since I got to continue following the Rio Grande on the route up here. Did not cross the Rio into Mexico, but I did cross it 4 or 5 or 6 times here in New Mexico. I forgot this is where it comes from when heading down to make the international border.
Forgot too that surface street Colorado Boulevard, or, Route 66, the street I used to take home from goddaughter Ingr--'s house in Pomona goes through here too. Life is good. Extree good when one's getting his kicks on route sixty-six.
Gotta tip the housekeepers and check out and go find Tove now.
Was pumping some Chevron Techron into the Escapay this morning down in Albuquerque and the darn pump had a video screen and there was my Fox News, on pump #2, cable-casting live, showing that Lindsay Lohan -- such a talent -- getting busted again.
Hey, that's not the kind of gas I want. Hey, leave me alone.
Just watched a movie of hers in Bedford, with K---. She was ok. Mark Harmon was good as always. But Jamie Lee Curtis? No one tops Jamie Lee. She shines, all ways, all the moreso working against such as LL.
Some sights you only can see in LA. But you cannot seem to escape them. Not even in an Escapay. Not even after 3000 miles. Not even here in the blessed New Mexican desert. Who's that shortie? No, the guy shortie.
Get thee behind me, Satans.
PS: Well, I did look, and over on C&D Shanna4 says "Tom Cruise looks crazier everytime I see his ass. Katie just looks like she set off some distress signals and is wondering why nobody has responded."
Well I was wrong. Note the date. I'm not heading west, I'm heading north. Unbeknownst to moi, there's the McDonald observatory up ahead. I'm pulling in. The girl in the gift shop is eating Easy Mac. "Triple Cheese?" I ask. Nope. Try the triple cheese, it's so good. The woman at the entrance desk is eating pie from the little cafe here. She interrupts her pie-hole exercise to give me the update. I have to wait an hour and a half for the next show. Said show includes looking through the telescope at sun activity. Well, one does not actually look through a telescope, we, like the astronomers and assorted scientists, see what the telescope sees on a screen. How could I pass that up? She tells me how good the pie is. I tell her about my breakfast at the Eidleweiss. "Oh yes. The Eidleweiss. That's one of the few places I'll travel out to get a meal" she validates my cuisiness. Not that I needed a second opinion. I think about going back the 40 or so miles for a dinner, since the Eidleweiss food was tops and since the Eidleweiss also brews beer. The entrance desk woman did ask if I'd had a beer or two down in Alpine. Nope, no beer with breakfast today. Well, I get my MacBook from the Eskapay and go to the cafe. Surpise: I get internet access up here in the Davis Mtns. What's the soup of the day? "No soup today" the cook says. "It's cloudy enough for soup but I'm afraid to make a pot and then have to dump it of no one orders it." Then she adds: "My husband likes soup too." Anyday can be soup day, I offer my stance on the soup issue. I settle for some chili -- no beans -- and log on while I await sunspot activity. This area of West Texas is a splendid comingling of Europe and Texas. Nothing could be finer. Too bad I don't have my card reader in my bag or I'd upload some pics of the road from Alpine to McDonald. Will you settle for this one of me back in the Chisos on Saturday? Look at that happy face. Okay, gotta run, the show's about to begin.
Was walking about my campground on Saturday night and I smelled my downhill neighbor family's -- mom, dad, three kids, three tents, five bikes, u-haul trailer behind a Suburban -- dinner cooking over the charcoal. Classic scent. I wanted a hot dinner, I wanted home cooking, I wanted Cantura food, I wanted Jill cooking. Well, I had tuna and cottage cheese and a Hershey bar and a peach and some icy cold milk.
I thought about taking down my tent in the Chisos Basin on Saturday night and sleeping in the Escapay just in case it were raining in the morning up there at 4600 feet but I decided not to be a weenie. Not that the tent doesn't keep me dry -- it do. I just didn't want to pack a wet tent. Shouldda learned not to second guess myself by now. It was raining plenty on Sunday morn. Didn't rain all night, commenced to rain as I was poking my nose outta the Coleman. But: I did learn how to successfully clean-in-the-rain-and-pack a wet tent. The Escapay was completely disorganized, but the tent part went ok. Anyway, gassed up -- this is the kind of business I'd like to have right now in this kind of place -- and the old guy at the Fina station called me Mr. Harris and I asked him (see, I'm forcing myself to talk to strangers on the road) how long he'd been in Big Bend. Three years. Still has a home in Las Vegas, lives with the Mrs. in their motor home here in Big Bend, but "I can leave any time I want" he added with a wink. Looking at the overcast he said "This is about the best we can hope for today." Hey, it cleared up nicely yesterday, and when I went the 25 miles over to Rio Grande Village and the hot springs yesterday it was misty-drizzly here and sunny and desert hot over there. Thanked him for being there early on a Sunday morning and motored on.
I tried to go to St. Elena Canyon and to see St. Elena across the Rio Grande, but the road was flooded at Old Castolon. There's St. Elena from a distance. That's their water tower across the rio (a little Espanol lingo for ya). The little Mexican town is at the bottom of those huge mountains past all those cottonwood trees over here. The old lady that lives and works at Old Castolon, who told me the park service would hire me (me talking to two strangers in one morning), loaned me her binoculars so I could see the waterfall caused by the excessive recent rain. "I could see three waterfalls yesterday." I couldn't get pics of the waterfalls because my camera will telephoto splendidly but only telephoto so far. Not to worry, I have hundreds and hundreds of other photos for your imminent enjoyment. Well, this connection is too slow right now to upload my pics so I'm agonna pack the Escapay and hit the road. ....... I'm in Alpine. I'm trying not to stay another day. The town is lovely. Better than expected. The Edelweiss restaurant serves the best breakfast I can recall. And those Bavarian pancakes may rival chile rellenos as treat of the drive. Anything with raisens AND coconut (!) with cinnamon as punctuation catches my attention. .... And the university here is surprisingly lovely. Red brick (no ivy). Nothing I've seen online does justice to Alpine. I could blog all day but I'm heading west instead, I think. P.S. No cell service for me since last Wednesday.
Motored across the Permian Basin today and now in Ft. Stockton. How come we're sittin atoppa natural gas and sittin atoppa big oil big oil fields and these gas prices be so high here?
Okay, gotta pick up some ice and then turn right and head to the Big Bend and the Rio Grande. Don't know what my connectivity will be down there in the desert, on the border. Be back as soon as I'm able. Luvya.
Well, glad that my little emotional outburst is over. Traveling can stir up the emotions, ain't it.
Did see M--ya before I left the Metroplex. She'd been over to Tyler. Yeah, over to where I used to visit the east Texas relations plus. Not too far from Gladewater. She came over to K's house before she caught her plane home. Was great to see her. Hard to believe we met 26 years ago this summer, on the isthmus, when K and I waited tables at JoJo's and she worked McDonald's. She looked at all my roadtrip pix, praised some of them, and then showed me her own computer collection of pix. Her collection included more of her with her chin resting onstage at the front row of Bruce Springsteen concerts. Great shots. She works hard getting those lottery-bracelets that get you into the close up section of his shows. She still goes to many of his performances. Including the Vote For Change concerts in 2004. "We voted and there was no change" she noted, not unbitterly. Oh well. Can't win 'em all. The trick is to not get bitter. "Glad you never donned the bitter hat" K--- once told me. Me glad too. Hope I see that billboard outsidda Midland, TX later, the one that says "Hometown of George and Laura Bush." I'll snap a shot and send it off to Miss M. Hope that don't stir up a nasty episode of BDS. Some of my favorite friends suffer from BDS -- Bush Derangement Syndrome. Sad but true. Laura's my favorite librarian and a beautiful first lady, even if it's true she smokes. But not nearly as much B. Hussein Obama.
Washed my bedding, fluffed my pillows, cooked and packed some lunch and some dinner for the westerly road, packed the Escapay, removed the wasp hive from KCD's front entryway -- I had to kill today -- I don't like to kill, even the French rats back home on the compound, on Cantura Street; I don't like to kill, especially that birdie that flew into my windshield along the roadway the other day, I don't like to kill, even the solo wasp this morning, but I couldn't let it finish building it's combhome there outside the door. Hey, some days are killer days and I just don't like to kill -- so anyway, I took my last skinny dip in KCD's Texan pool, toweled off in that hot sun and called him at work and said bye bye, walked out the waspless front door, stood on the cinderblock and untangled Old Glory one more time, saluted and drove away.
Warning: Sentimentality Ahead.
All my life, even my child life, I've been driving away from loved ones in Texas. Used to come down here -- Mom, Dad, sisters & brother -- to Texas -- yes I can remember the 50's and the 60's -- for family reunions -- cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents -- it was always so hard to leave. I never got to see any of them enough and of course I wanted more. Plus the eating was always really good -- a family of Southern cooks.
None of us still in Texas these days, I don't think. None that know me anyway. And no family of which I'm aware. It was east Texas, where we visited. I always called it west Arkansas over there where we reunioned, but it was still Texas, as we all know; and I always remember the leaving as much as I remember the being there. At leaving time as each family would pack up to head home the extended family always gathered, we always did this, bowing heads and praying together before hitting the road. Invoking His name, we said our words, our words of gratitude for being together and then, always, praying for "traveling mercies," -- those were our words: traveling mercies: meaning: Sweet Jesus keep us all of us safe on the road.
More than a quaint Southern tradition or retro/evangelo-Christian affectation, I'm sure people still do this type of praying today. Plenty do, yew, but no one I know -- or more precisely, no one in my desacralized everyday world.
Who's loss is that? I might ask myself. Whose? Anyway, those are the only two words I remember from any of those prayers: traveling mercies.
I still like that concept. Those concepts. That of stopping to pray and that of road mercy.
Departure was no big boo-hoo-fest, but it wasn't only my mom who teared-up when we headed out either. I remember that too. We all saddened up.
Flash forward to 2007. No gathered prayers upon my solitary departure today, though. Nope.
I know you know I loathe sentimentality. But I also know you know the loathing does not make me immune to emotion, to feeling, to passion. Happy to report that I cried a little as I sat in the kitchen writing my bye bye note to KCD today. Then got on the road, thinking that throat lump would fade away fast, thinking I'd fuggidabouttit, thinking my tears would evaporate as I motored westerly.
But I gotta admit just like always when driving away in Texas all those years ago, this time, this big-man adult-time, my little heart hurt more miles than one woulddathunk.
Thought that ouch wouldda been gone by Abilene, but it warn't. Lordy. Thought that ouch wouldda been gone by Big Spring. But nope. I'll leave it to you to look at the road atlas, the Texas counties map, the map'o'the'Soutwest. Hey, this ain't the place to analyze feelers. Nope. This is the place for reportin'. I report, you analyze.
Makes me think: That's the o-n-l-y good thing about flying as a means of travel.I don't much like to fly any more. Fact is: I'd rather Greyhound. Uh huh.
Flying: When heading for the plane you don't say byebye at home because you pretend you'll say byebye at the airport-- you'll do all of your unfinished business there curbside. But you get to the airport and the traffic's crazy and the patrolman won't let you linger and everyone's rushing and there's no time for eye contact or true love or real byebyes (whew!) so you just get dropped off with a hug and a promise and then you turn your back -- with a wave -- and you get to focus then on your carry-ons and your boarding pass and your ticket and your ID, and you go check the departure boards and you snake through security and you get to Auntie Anne's and get a pretzel dog with yellow mustard -- well, if traveling alone you might get two pretzel dogs, hell, who's counting? -- and pick up a Cinnabon -- well, you're on vacation and even your diet's on vacation, so why not? -- and you get a bottle of water for the plane and by then you've neatly forgotten about
who luvs ya, who just dropped you off, who you're missing, because it's time to face flying and think about the in-flight movie and will I get upgraded and where are my Bose and where's my book, and thinking about being home in flight-time and where's my Parking Spot receipt anyway?
Not so when you're rolling alone, when you're road-tripping, when you're camping your way across the horizon, when you're tented and solitary and grateful for the solitude and the occasional loneliness. Doesn't work that way in road time. Old fashioned time. Real time. All night time. All day time. American time.
When you're road tripping you have time to think about everybody and all of it. And you get to, um, be here now.
Don't get me wrongo. The road can hynotize and benumb. But it can also focus and heighten. Not suggesting we wallow in misery. Just that it's good to hurt. It's good to be sad. It's good to miss. As LB, may Light Perpetual shine upon him, as LB used to tell us: "If it don't, hurt it ain't love."
Ain't that the truth.
Motoring out of East Texas always did hurt. Still does. Hurt the youngish me. Hurts the oldish me. Hey, that's life and that's love.
Working in K--- D---'s garage, we (he) cut the AT'n'T wire on Sunday morning. Took acoupla days and some backtracking to figure out where the heck the internet went. Even on the road skipping church on Sunday comes with a price -- but no internet is a pretty steep price, more than a tithing. Some splicin' and dicin' and electric tape wrappin' out in the garage tonight and we're back online with no help from AT'n'T eye tee. The garage was pristine to begin with, to be sure. With plenty of room to get the Eskapay in out of the daily heat. Sun or no sun it's steamy here. Garage is even more pristine now. Made me think of home -- and our clean and sober garage back on Cantura Street. Uh huh. And so is the Eskapay now likewise pristine. Gave it a wash in Midland last week, and another wash in Bedford yesterday. I may have washed the Eskapay more often in the few months that it's been paid off than I did the last coupla years the bank still owned it. I'll do better in the future. I mean it. The Bedford carwash was backed up for a block -- three lanes -- I waited patiently. After all the weeks of rain here in Texas everyone wanted a washin'. And the workers needed the work -- and the tips. Heck, K---'s yard is holding so much water it's squishy to walk on, there's been that much rain here this month. Then spent the morning today going all ArmorAll on the Eskapay. Inside and out. In preparation for hitting the road again and commencin' to head west. I'm not much of a sweater, for the most part, but I was so soaked-and-leaking-more after an hour and a half in the driveway at high noon that I skipped the gym today. Work in the driveway was better than the sauna or the steam room at Bally's -- with the bonus of no naked guys here on Emerald street. Meanwhile M--ya's in town from Chicago. Miss M has acoupla clients here. May do lunch with her tomorrow. There's a new Chili's right over there, convenient to us both. Never been to a Chili's, but this one comes highly recommended. And I want my babyback anyway. Already got my sexyback. But meanwhile meanwhile, if you look at the pictures -- same view as if you were in the pool there with me -- you'll see I'm doing flotilla in K---'s pool under the Texan sun. Sure the eye is naturally, compellingly drawn to my feet, handsome, masculine, floating there over the h20, or perhaps drawn to the lush greenery of K---'s yard, but don't neglect to look up at that Texas sky. We don't get sky like this on the California coast. I like summer, don't you?
I'm sleepy alot. I don't pop up at 4 a.m. here all awake like I do at home there. I think this Texas humidity is knocking me out. I'm in Bedford, TX. Been here for a few days. Having the good time with K--- D---. His house is great. His pool is great. The Bally's is great -- with a great outdoor pool -- tho the food intake with K--- D--- seems to offset mightily the meager Bally exercise output ..... At least he and I no longer order three entries between us at each meal the way we used to when we were slender young men. Still start with double appetizers tho. Came outta the Bally's yesterday and I said "I smell food." K--- said "We're surrounded by grease." But we skipped that grease and went into Dallas and ate at Snookies. Another time when going out to eat he said "Dallas is a cornucopia of corporate eateries." And, "A lot of our food is to be found in strip malls." Not a problem. We're in America, afterall. Did join friends and go to Macaroni Grill the other night and had a great time and a good meal with a special people-watching bonus. P---y was facinated with the tiny chef and K--- said the diminutive cooker was half a chromasone short of being an lp (little person). I still haven't sent pics of where I was camping in Cave Creek, AZ. (Get on the Google Earth.) Or pics of the doe outside of my tent. Or the horses that came running toward me as I hiked up the mountail. I'll post those as soon as I wake up. Been gone long enough now so that I really miss Cantura Street. That's part of the reason for traveling, ain't it? To miss home? Soon as the missing gets too painful, I'll be cruise-controlling back. But, Texas is big and I might have to stop by Lady Bird's, to say nothing of Alpine and the Rio Grande again and the Big Bend. And there're more chile rellenos to be had in New Mexico along the way.
After Nogales/Nogales it was back to the two-lane roads. Arizona 82 up to Patagonia -- where the street was lined town-border-to-town-border with stranger-welcoming folks in lawn chairs or curb sitting folk or fender sitting folks all awaiting the Independence Day parade that was amassing at the high school on the north end of town.
I may have missed San Xavier yesterday, but I did not miss this little shrine by the side of the road, somewhere between Nogales/Nogales and Pagtagonia this morning.
Scented candles and plastic flowers and braided wreaths and Mary and Joseph and The Man Himself there up off to the side of the road in a little cave. Erected by the 19 century ranch owners, it's maintained now by their descendents. May not get as many many-thousands of annual visitors as San Xavier, but it got my visit to be sure.
Then I continued through this section of the Coronado Nat'l forest, through the little town of Sonoita before hitting the 90 and down to Sierra Vista. I'm somewhat older now than Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was (he was 30 years old) when he began his expedition into what is now the American Southwest in 1540. Unlike mine is, his expedition was considered a failure. Mine's a resounding success already. Though like him -- tho many many years from now (clutching my clicker) -- like Coronado, I probably will die in obscurity. (But not yet.) Nothing wrong with obscurity, that's what I say. Not so anti-fame as I am pro-obscurity these days. Anyway, down through Sierra Vista -- a military town -- who knew? -- very quiet on Independence Day -- and on to the Coronado National Memorial -- and then outta the forest and on to Bisbee and to Naco/Naco (one Naco on this side of the border, one Naco on the other side of the border, then more desert on the way to Douglas/Agua Prieta. Douglas on this side of the border, Aqua Prieta on that side of the border. (My translation: Agua Prieta = Dark water.) Sure there was fence at Dark Water.
It was too early to find a date shake on the 86 south but not too early to lose at wheel of fortune. I was not happy.
I saw some migrant field workers, south of Mecca, (Mecca!) (my second infidel Haj) north of Brawley. I didn't take any pictures of the field workers. I kept driving. I won't tell you the Gary Soto poem they made me think of, working there. Or maybe I will tell you the Soto poem. I'll tell you later. During poetry hour. I went down to Calexico to see the fence. That's Cal on this side of the fence, and that's Exico on the other side of the fence. Or Calexico over here and Mexicali over there. With a fence between the two. I took two lane blacktop 98 as far along the border as it went, probably about 30 miles. There was more fence along the way:
Then the two lane road ended and I joined the fast-lane people on the Interstate and before I knew it I was over in Yuma. I had to turn around, returning once again to California to get you-know-whats: Back in Yuma at the Chevron station I spotted a happy sight from my childhood. (Hola Scott.)
I don't remember where but somewhere I was asked by three Border Patrol young men in uniform who I am and where I'm from and where I'm going and where I was born. Believing me, they waved me through. The desert was so very very hot on July 3rd -- maybe 114 degrees -- maybe more -- that I jettisoned my intention to go down to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and pitch my tent like Yerbooty, Sheik of the burning sand, and look at the stars and the cacti and maybe some wildlife and hike the trails and listen to the night and think about Kris Eggle, RIP, and see the border towns of Lukeville and Sonoyta. Plus, I was still fresh in the rolling mode, not ready to stop yet -- too soon -- so I stayed on the Interstate, hydrating, listening to Fuego (channel 90) on my XM all the day long (thanks, J--- M), I love it when Karla Rodriques (K-Rod) says "schnizzel" en espanol, never get tired of that. Later passing by the military plane bone yard -- looking south I could see it from the highway, but it was too late in the day to stop -- until Tuscon, where I turned right and, hydrating, headed south to Nogales. I could see my other planned stop -- San Xavier del Bac Mission -- the lights were on -- it was calling me -- but, still hydrating, I kept rolling to Nogales/Nogales. One Nogales on this side of the border, one Nogales on the other side of the border. I didn't take any pics of the fence in Nogales. I ended my first day there, where I was, where it was cool and green, rather than where I had been, where it was hot and hot.
Chuck Norris was the fourth wise man, who gave baby Jesus the gift of beard, which he carried with him until he died. The other three wise men were enraged by the preference that Jesus showed to Chuck's gift, and arranged to have him written out of the bible. All three died soon after of mysterious roundhouse-kick related injuries.
In It Together: At last, something worth reading in the LA Times