two days of walking arm in arm with my sister, hiking in sabino canyon just outside of tucson. the first day we hiked 8 miles and yesterday another 6 miles. my legs are broken but spirit jumping…hopping on rocks across streams, lying on cool rocks under waterfalls, my sister and i dipping our toes in the water. tsafi and i in wonder with such a new amazing place, photographing speckled frogs, 4-inch grasshoppers, cawing like desert animals, hearing our bellows echo in the canyon, amazed at cacti.. their skeletons are wood ribs. birds live in them. dead cacti turn yellow and look like hideous corpses. cacti in all shapes; small, round balls, huge stretching appendages, short fat ones, all untouchable, all from mars. flowers on top of some of them, zebra-patterned boulders recklessly placed, mountains all around. bends in the thin dirt path around them, treacherous… i went skinny dippin and got caught by strangers. i taught diana how to pee in nature. we got to know bryce, her new boyfriend. a really nice guy…he makes her happy and that’s good enough for me. we slept on our air mattress in his living room for 3 nights. this morning we packed the car back up and hit the road again.
we’re now driving on the last stretch of highway from arizona to california. my hand rests on top of tsafi’s hand on my lap. we’ve been forming plans and dreams and now it’s all happening. california is racing towards us, full speed ahead, rolling down that center perforated line, yellow flowers offerred up from desert powder, dry yellow scorched grass.
“cheryl…look at the view…” he says holding my hand and we watch auburn mountains come into view. “this…is california…” we rock out to sheva and to afro celt sound system…rhythmic, silent, definite, infinite, scaldingly real..we pass air force bases and he tells me what kinds of planes are passing and refers to his army training days. this road looks like israel.
we unsheathe our stake, firm grip and prepare to drive it into our bit of earth…
we cross the california state line….
sitting on a white sand dune in new mexico; sunset is stewing. my love is running up and down, this way and that, in love with digital photography. the wind rakes the sand in audible crisp brushes forming supernature in an otherwise irreversible corner of the world.
when at first we parked the car and stepped out into this stuff, we were like cautious moonwalkers, reaching out petting the dunes, tossing it palm to palm. coarse vegetation braves the elements sporatically throughout the landscape, plowed paths allow us movement.
still going 100 mph now off the main highway where not a soul is in site. we’re passing indian reservations and the contour of the landscape is changing from plains and cattle ranches to rolling desert brush. our goal is to hit the white sands before it closes.
we stopped off in clovis, new mexico for a chinese buffet where tsafi ate warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top for the first time. we’d driven a bit off-route before that and drove the 16-mile road into palo duro canyon. we climbed red rocked hills and i took some natural rose quartz from the hiking path. the canyon was unreal! we vowed to come back there to camp out when we have children.
we’re now passing UFO cafes with comic aliens adorning both sides of the street. we bypassed the UFO museum for nature. for white gypsum!
absolutely nothing to all sides around us. a freakin tumbleweed even danced across the road in front of us. we’re traveling a steady 100 mph listening to local country tunes
we survived the night in winter-like storm conditions…in a tent… in a bumblefuck, oklahoma state park. rain, wind, cold, mud…yeah… we threw the tent in the mud and when it seemed it was going to stay up, a wind would come and turn it into a parachute. we grabbed the corners, wrestled them down to the ground and stuck pins into the mud to keep it secure. we slept with our car between us and the wind, although it didn’t help much. the zippers jumped hyper all night and the whole thing threatened to capsize. we clung tight to each other to keep warm. when i heard birds above singing, i knew the worst was over. we came up out of the tent like base camp at mount everest, followed a game plan and got on the road early.
we’re in the texas panhandle now. we theorize about the meaning of the word, ‘panhandle’ and turn the map of texas sideways “ah yeah… there it is. like the handle of a pan. we take photos of state lines and sleep for free in campgrounds. tsafi drives recklessly in the rain and gets cranky sometimes but for the most part we are enjoying ourselves.
we’re on “the road to nowhere” officially titled, affectionately called as the road seems to go on forever. we’re listening to “is there anybody out there?” by pink floyd as we pass the plains of texas.
somewhere between rollo and springfield, missouri, we decided to venture into a side road to see the onyx mountain caverns. down a dirt road we went flanked on both sides by black frothing canines. a UPS truck was oddly leading the way. we parked behind it adn went into the cabin. i bought quartz crystals there but we did not take the tour of the cavern. opting instead to head towards springfield and onto the place on the map where the three states greet each other in one spot… missouri, oklahoma and kansas…
we drove 1/3 of the entire way from east to west in one day yesterday, making good time and enjoying ourselves. we slept last night next to a pond in brownstown, illinois. the tent and queen-sized air mattress meant we slept in style. we pissed on trees and cuddled as the night temperature dropped to 40 degrees. we awoke to symphonic feathered friends and dawn thru winter branches. and by 6am we were happily back on the road again. we stopped at the arch in st. louis. the ‘gateway tot he west’ was a beautiful welcome. a cop asked us to remove our car from the sidewalk. there was only time for a quick cartwheel photo there. we then travelled on the old route 66. it’s unclear if route 44 west used to be the old route 66 or if the original pavement runs alongside it but we saw old signs and abandoned roadside attractions and especially after st. louis, felt that pioneer spirit.
billboards of fireworks, of exotic animal paradises promoting jesus roadside slogans. “look. i found a recent radio station, the seventies AND the eighties!” tsafi told me excited. he’s entertained by twangy accents in heated debate over the war..ah, midwest family broadcasting.
sushine, perfect day. we’ve successfully traded in our rental car in pittsburgh for our free (including all gas paid!) auto driveaway 2000 honda civic and we’re now burnin rubber westbound on route 70. we pass handmade pottery and auntique barns. 18 wheelers make me happy when they blast thier horns with encouragement when i do the elbow jive signal. tsafi and i groove to steve miller band and make fun of southern accents on the radio. we get excited when we see cows…. EVERY time we see them…. we ate subway for lunch and our necks get whiplash left and right taking in the sites. nj to pa to west va to ohio…we hope to get our tent set up in illinois by evening tonight…
an amazing golden crescent moon to our left, trailing the car and the first glimmer of sunrise to our right pushing us west where the morning points to. we left my father’s house at 3am. we were both too excited to sleep. opting instead to toss and turn in syncronicity for 3 hours before our instincts awoke us from twilight resting into the reality of a failed alarm clock.
three and a half hours on the road now. last night, mad last minute preperation… we’d picked up the rental car that would take us from new jersey to pittsburgh, pennsylvania to pick up the car we’re taking to san diego. mom surprised us and paid for that car and when we got their to pick up the keys, there was an envelope with gas money and calling cards. she’s the best! i spent the evening cleaning out dad’s computer, ran next door to say goodbye to the wilcox’s. mrs. wilcox was knitting in her country-style living room with her mother-in-law. her MIL has 16 great grandchildren!!! i told mrs. wilcox that it’s not enough notice for her amazing chocolate chip cookies but sure enough an hour later, the doorbell rang and in a zip-lock bag, still warm from the oven were her lovely cookies; the perfect send off!!
dad and i had a long silent hug in the living room. he told me that he’s happy for us, told us to be safe. i left him and mom gift-wrapped wine bottles with notes of love and thanks. before we left, i ran into his room and kissed his cheek, “bye dad…i’ll call you when we get to tucson!” my throat tightened and my heart pounded as i locked the front door of my childhood home, yet again. the porch light had burned out. i kissed the door, pulled out the keys slowly and ran to the car where tsafi was waiting. it was reminiscent of the scene in practical magick when nicole kidman throws her bags from the second floor of her house and jumps down the railing giggling into her lovers smile.
the sun turns the sky behind us a pale pink orange; the moon holds her own but fades in the magick time of sunrise. we pass amish farms as we head west in pennsylvania. i explain to tsafi about silos. he says he likes the smell of skunks. we listen to local news, where their main headline was someone had stolen cow and sold them at livestock auctions. on other stations, updates on the (so-far) week long war in iraq are ever raging. talk of american activists that are in iraq as human shields. talk of social consequences of this war. several people emailed me recently questioning our timing of this road trip. but traveling is the only way to be… there’s a future with our names on it and it’s time…
we passed a billboard roadside in a hippy design that read “spread the love. let someone merge. peace, love and the highway…” local radio reads out winning lottery numbers as i take photos of sunrise in the rear view mirror and munch on mrs. wilcox’s cookies for breakfast.
really happy…adventures in front of and behind me, wide open roads, a husband that calls me to tell me that life is meaningless without me. his plane is about to touch down; enough money in my pocket, my parents are still alive, i’ve moved on from past traumas, learning, moving forward. i watch birth stories on the TLC channel and cry from the cyclical emotion of it all. mothers become grandmothers in an instant. tiny toes are calling me. things are falling into place…. i’m happy.