Wed 8th, 10:30 p.m.
The 1-10 Motel in Lordsberg, New Mexico is $31.95 a night, $39.99 after tax, and I imagine they’re making a killing. The room is clean; spare is a pretty good word for it, I’d say. No Wal-Mart framed litho-posters adorn the bright white walls. There’s a bed, a nicked-up dresser with a twenty-inch Magnavox on it—don’t know if they have cable, but they certainly don’t have internet service, wireless or otherwise, and if one of the other hotels nearby has it, I can’t reach it because I’m on the lee side of the motel. There’s not even an alarm clock, much less a coffee maker, both of which I’d come to expect as standard equipment, even for a cheap motel. I suppose I’d be disappointed, except for the fact that all I really want is a shower and a bed.
And the ability to post this right after I’ve written it instead of having to wait for a hot spot. Somehow I’ll get by.
As to the drive. My experience with Los Angeles has been limited to say the least—one trip to the Science museum and todays’ drive, but based on that experience, all I can say is, I don’t get it. It’s dry-hot, the air is for shit, and the roads seem to overwhelm everything, which only adds to the hot, bad air. I was glad to be rid of it. The closer I got to the Arizona border, the more I thought the countryside looked like the Arizona/New Mexico area around I-40, only greener. I don’t know if there’s been more rainfall than usual down there this year, but parts of the area between Palm Springs and Phoenix were almost verdant—green shrubs along the roadside, green stretching all the way to the brown mountains on both sides of me. The air was so dry that I found myself drinking constantly, and rubbing Chapstick on my lips like an eight-year old girl with her first flavored lip gloss, but it looked like it had rained enough to let these plants prosper, at least for the time being.
The winds weren’t so bad today, but the truck still got its tail twisted a couple of times. Perhaps the most interesting driving moment was when some tumbleweed broke loose and got smacked by two eighteen-wheelers directly ahead—the wind caught the remains and flurried it in the air. It was beautiful.
I skirted Joshua Tree National Park and wish I’d had time (and the extra miles) to explore it. I didn’t get to see anything from the highway, but I saw enough saguaro to know that I want to return and hike this place, both Joshua Tree and Saguaro National Parks. I really wanted to take pictures, but there was nowhere really to pull over—that truck is a behemoth, and I wasn’t sure if I could get it completely off the road.
I’ve never seen saguaro before today, and I can only say that pictures don’t do it justice. First of all, it’s bigger than I imagined. Some of the ones I saw today were 12-15 feet tall, with multiple offshoots. One in particular jumped out at me, to the point where I nearly pulled over despite the traffic (which was surprisingly heavy). It was only about 8 feet tall, but instead of the 3 to 3 arms that most had, this one had at least 6, and they weren’t independent—they wrapped around each other like Shiva’s arms, intertwined.
And beyond—at one point, past Tucson, but I’m not exactly sure where, the landscape changed. The hills became less dirty and more rocky, smooth, curved rocks like the kind I used to toss into the ponds around my friends’ houses when I was a kid in Louisiana. Rocks that I found in driveways, that fit the palm of my hand, not flat for skipping, round for hurling as far as I could. Only, you know, bigger. Bigger as if they were gravel for giants, for eighty-foot children throwing them into the Pacific to see what kind of splash they’d make. The sun was setting as I drove through these rocks, and had there been any room at all, I’d certainly have stopped. The contrast of light and shadow was intense. I’m coming back here someday, and sooner rather than later.