“The book American Gods wishes it was.” --Despina Durand

Thursday, April 29, 2021

STRIP-MINED EAST ARIZONA

 

We took Grand Ave. out to the 60, past the Superstition Mountains, and Apache Junction, through the desert, into more mountains, to a town called Superior. There it got surreal . . . Lots of abandoned motels, middle-aged/middle class bikers and their shiny machines all over, plus old, rusty mining equipment on display. Magma Avenue! A monument to fallen miners makes it even more surreal . . .


Oddly, there were no Trump signs. Somehow, I was expecting them.



Along Highway 177 we say the results of extensive strip mining, and bleak towns that weren’t ghost towns, yet. I got ideas for sci-fi planets, entire worlds sucked dry of all resources, nothing but ugly, collapsing dunes of slag, patrolled by the stubborn mutant ancestors of the original miners.



Past the town of Oracle was a sign announcing a road to Biosphere 2, continuing the science fiction mood in my head leaking into reality. There were Joshua trees along Route 77, showing that different ecosystems do intersect. The Tom Mix monument wasn’t very impressive—like a tacky ornament that would decorate a neglected Scottsdale front yard. The desert was scarred, yet beautiful the way a disfigured face and deformed body can be beautiful. 



Florence has some Southwest charm, but the prison that shared its name and was the main industry gave it a miasma of quiet misery. We had lunch at Lidia’s Cocina at the Old Pueblo—home of the “eggschalada”—and there were motorcycles parked out front, and guys in black leather in the bar. This region is ideal for the twenty-first century biker.



Instead of going back the way we came, we took the Old West Highway. With the exception of images on some tacky signs, anything Old West was long gone. It was all shopping centers, bar/restaurants (with more bikers), motels, trailer parks, abandoned businesses that got more franchise contemporary as we got into Mesa and met up with the light rail.


For a while we were behind an SUV, its rear window decorated with GIRLS FOR TRUMP and grinning skulls.


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