Friday, September 29, 2017
Thursday, September 21, 2017
As we were leaving Truchas, Emily's mom mentioned that she would like to look at the old mission, Nuestra Señora del Sagrado Rosario, built in 1764, and recently restored. So we parked in front of an abandoned bar in a space labeled HARLEY PARKING. I took a picture—what the hell, let folks think we spend our vacation drinking and discussing politics with bikers . . .
Highway 84 goes through Northern New Mexico, cutting through Arizona into Utah. There are outback pizzarias, and mix-bag fantastic Aztlán geology all the way. A sign announced MONASTARY 13 MILES. Dead skunks were deodorized by the high levels of ultraviolet radiation. Trees on a mountain turned out to be microwave towers in disguise. John Wayne and Jesus watched over us in a Cheveron. We passed the skeletal ruins of a drive-in movie theater, and turned onto Highway 64, where a sign said VAYA CON DIOS.
"We are in Tony Hillerman Territory,” said Emily's mom.
On the reservation, there are practically no signs telling you what road you're on. Guess they must figure that if you don't know where you are, you shouldn't be there.
Also on the Rez, the Red Mesa High school team is the Redskins.
Back in Bluff, Utah, we couldn't resist the Navajo tacos at the Twin Rocks Cafe. Our server was blue-haired native girl.
Highway 95 is a spectacular eye fry. “Kind of like being on Mars,” said Emily.
Next to the Colorado is a smaller river called the Dirty Devil.
Our favorite spot was Hog Springs. It's the home turf of the Moqui Queen.
In Hanksville we couldn't resist stopping at Carl's Critter Garden, though Emily's mom thought the Frankenmechanoid creatures were ugly.
We kept seeing llamas along Highway 12.
At Rustler's Restaurant in Tropic, the pulled pork sandwiches were great, but the western décor was bland. I didn't bother to take any pictures. After a while, the people at the next table started talked about Obama, socialism, and how they messed up everything.
Things were different at Bryce Pioneer Village. Em's mom's room had a photo of Siting Bull and a demented-looking portrait of John Wayne, who's becoming a secular saint in these parts.
Our room had a print of Frederic Remington's Apache Ambush, with the warrior taking aim at a covered wagon, and a copy of The Book of Mormon in German.
That night, the live country music next door didn't keep us up. Utah shitkickers must be a mellower breed.
In the morning, a lot of German was being spoken at the breakfast bar.
A Bryce Canyon we ogled the hoodoo rock castles below where sea monsters once swam.
Zion National park is a geological phantasmagoria, with lots of datura in bloom.
We stayed in Kanab, the cowboy gateway to Bryce/Zion. In memory of the days when Hollywood would come over to use Utah for its mythic Texas, the place bristles with TV/movie Wild West décor.
The Lone Ranger lives here—a poster was in both the rooms we rented, and a cutout guarded an intersection
I enjoyed chicken-fried steak at Houston's Trail's End Restaurant near a replica of the iconic Trail's End statue.
Finally, it was a banzai run down 89A, back across the Rez, down to Flagstaff where we heard the Grateful Dead--“What a long, strange trip it's been”-- in a Shell station that was attended by young Indian man.
Back in Phoenix, on the 101, a car was flying a full-size Confederate flag.
Monday, September 18, 2017
We took a meandering shot up Highway 25, zigzagging across the Rio Grande to the WiFi-less outback.
Did a pit stop in Belén. In English, that's Bethlehem. I wonder what they do at Christmas time. A Mad Max-ish two-seater motor trike was also filling up. A local newspaper announced that archeologists were going to excavate their old mission.
New Mexico is an archeological wonderland. And the homeland of a new futurism.
A truck labeled MAGICO LOGISTICS passed by. Actual, live bison grazed in a fenced field. There were lots of pueblos, solar panels . . . casinos . . .
Huge ravens greeted us in Truchas.
Once we unpacked, Em and I did quick run to Taos. I found all three volumes of Eduardo Galeano's Memory of Fire trilogy.
There was a new mural at the Wired? Cafe, and a Zen sand garden. The times—among other things—are a-changing, to quote that Nobel-prize-winning dude.
While taking pictures of some motel totem poles, I found a hidden mural of an arrow-shot Billy the Kid.
The next morning Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. Trump declared it a disaster. And pardoned Joe Arpiao. And I thought we were out of Trumpizona.
A grasshopper had become the guardian of the farm house's front door. We did a thrift store expedition to Española with it's creaky buildings, treacherous staircases and dangerous parking lots. I snagged more books and a Waco baseball cap with a cowboy riding a giant scorpion, that suits my mood this year.
We passed a place where you couldn't tell where the junkyard ended and the parking lot began. Is this a brave new world, or an archeological site? What kind of America did we come from? What are we building to replace it?
Someone had painted TRUMP in red circle-and-slash “no” symbol, with marking that made it look like the New Mexico sun sign.
On another wall, in neat, black letters: IMPEACH!
Seems like we were always crossing a county line, or entering another Indian reservation, and stumbling into serendipitous photo ops.
Back in Taos, we cruised Paseo Pueblo de Sur, that I like to think of as Dumb Fucking White People Road. There's a hill where about twenty years ago, our car stalled. I jumped out to push it. A car full of Indian kids whizzed by, and one of them yelled, “Dumb fucking white people!” Some people think I'm white, others think I'm black. Go figure.
We saw vultures on Salazar Road, where the police had pulled over a guy with that aging New Mexico scallywag look about him.
There were lots of white kids with dredlocks, man-buns, and/or mohawks. A traditional counterculture, if you will. I wonder if it will survive under Trump and the apocalyptic TV reports from Texas. Emily reminded me, “The woo-wooism is strong in this one,” a wild storm sent it's tentacles in from the hills, occasionally raining on us.
In Santa Fe, a cleancut white boy carried a barbell-like thing that might be a post-modern boom box.
The Super 8 Motel offered “Law Enforcement Rates.”
I found out that the Santa Fe Indian School's team was the Braves, and took a lot of pictures of murals along Cerrillos Road.
The rain started to pour once we got back to Truchas. The grasshopper had abandoned his post.
Friday, September 15, 2017
Monday, September 11, 2017
Trump was coming to Phoenix for a campaign rally, even though the election was last year. And protests were brewing. Luckily, we had planned to go on vacation. A good time to get out and wander, where the buffalo roam and the bubonic plague had been skulking around. That night I dreamed of pushing a convertible out of town, in the dark.
Somehow, Phoenix managed not to go up in flames that night, even though the police broke out the tear gas. We drove away from the bullshit fallout.
Soon we were in the mountains, where little green men carved from logs with chainsaws were for sale. As were statues of elk, but no live ones to be seen. A lot of businesses had “bison” as part of their names, but none of the creatures themselves. Clouds hovered like parked starships. An occasional raindrop hit the windshield. Twisted ribbons of lighting crossed the sky.
Soon we were in Show Low, Arizona, SINCE 1870, according to the sign, checking in to a motel on a street called Deuce of Clubs. The Trump/Pence campaign headquarters was a few doors down. A sign announced RESERVED PARKING FOR DEPLORABLES ONLY, and a LIBERAL FREE ZONE T-shirt was on display.
Again—wasn't that election last year? Didn't they win?
Soon a hard rain was a-falling.
And the motel cable had a lot of Spanish stations.
Show Low has a lot of cowboy-themed murals, statues, and things like a geodesic dome that housed a bail bonds office and a Christian ministry.
And a nice bookstore.
Soon we were heading eastward, down Highway 60, past green hills with black, volcanic gashes, like entrances to the underworld. Underworlds are a big part of native mythologies. We were where entering places where realities and mythologies merge.
And a Circle K sold “patriotic” flag cups.
In New Mexico, we stopped in Pie Town, at the Pie Town Cafe. I had the New Mexico apple pie with green chile and piñons. Ah, sweet America!
Our next stop was the Very Large Array. It has a wonderful visitor center, and it's great to see all the radio telescopes, exploring parts of the universe that are invisible to the human eye. Even if they never hear any messages from alien civilizations, it enriches us. Because there are more things on heaven and earth than anticipated in your programming.
We spent the night in Socorro, a funky old conquistador/mission town (church bells bong out the hours), in a funky old motel. New electronics have been spliced onto architectures of the past. The cattle industry, and vaqueros, still live here.
We ate at El Camino, a wonder of wild, midcentury modern design, clustered with native/Wild West kitsch—and security cameras. Country western music plays while tacos are served, and most of the customers are Indians. This is the real America/Wild West/Aztlán.
And the carne adovada is excellent!
I felt at home, far from the contemporary American dystopia. For a while.