Monday, March 6, 2006

Road Noise -- Part II

To keep going.

Noticing a hitch-hiker at a random point on the road: he is some middle-aged dark-skinned reservation native of the area. He's seemingly stranded at seven-something a.m. on a Friday morning. I feel bad for him and want to stop. I almost _do_ stop, but then remember the "all kinds of trouble" I tend to get into for doing so. . . it's nice to have protective younger (albeit bigger and stronger) male siblings who care, but at the same time, I have empathy.

Just when I'm about to turn around do I notice that the white pick-up truck that had been driving behind me stops; I am relieved and gladdened.

* * *

Mid-morning on Friday lands me just outside Page. I park my vehicle at a gas station and pop the trunk.

It's nice to have packed to be prepared for just about anything: gallons of bottled water and some food, de-icer for the windows and snow-cables for the tires, blankets and first-aid kit, flashlight and candles. Books, notebook, and writing utensils. My laptop and AC/DC adapter-kit designed to run off various power sources in a home, vehicle or airplane (geekette tendencies are inescapable :P ).

I remove from the stash an orange and some bread. Sitting on a landscape-deco-type rock underneath some scraggly tree at some gas station at nine in the morning, I feel peace: peaceful and content. . .. This eating an orange and surveying the distant grandeur of Lake Powell at the beginning of March (non-tourist season) is peace.

And then I notice: there is a giant Wal-Mart directly across the highway from the gas station!

My muscles literally "jumped." Startled, only semi-aware that the back pockets of my jeans had become caught on some rough-edge of the rock, I nearly fell off the landscape-deco rock into the gravel. My orange was not so fortunate: it met the gravel.

I'd visited this particular gas station many times during my travels back and forth across the west, but I'd never noticed a gigantic Wal-Mart SuperCenter. Wal-Mart stores tend to be not that difficult to miss. This one, at least, was not entirely obtrusive. Instead of blue, the store was brown. The parking lot was not shimmering black-tar, but something else. . . somewhat chameleoning into the landscape. Not all bad.

The road noise that is experienced during travel is not always audible. . . this I came to realize (and thus propelled to comment upon with these last couple of entries) and to respect.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Road Noise -- Part I

Journey begun and out, out the familiar door and past the familiar neighbors and buildings. Over the concrete, the thrum of tires and wayward potholes. Out, out the familiar streets and landmarks; the edge of town and gone. Hours pass. Gone, gone deep into the desert. . . a random dirt road taken, hellspent with momentum and to be out and away from the being of even a solitary being; dust kicks up behind my vehicle and rocks protrude sharp from the road but I do not care. Tumbleweeds fly by and wave as old familiar cronies might.

Camping. At altitude - in a small tent, on a gentle and sandy rise with but a lantern and a couple of blankets. March has taunted daytime; night turns to chill. Cold, no fire; with the warmth of some brandy and an old loaf of slightly stale french bread, I am satiated and moved to write.

Hand and wrist poised over a blank notebook page, the spiral is steely and cold. Words beckon elusively but will not come. My fingers are frozen; my mind electric. Easier does it become to close the notebook, turn off the lantern, and bury underneath the blankets myself. . . me, in the most dark and cozy realm of mind to cease. Curling in the way one can curl to maximize body-warmth retention, I clasp my hands and draw my knees into my chest.

Eyes closed. There is no defining point between night and day; the night becomes everything a mind can grasp when eyes are closed and there is a sense of comprehension between nothing and everything that might be. Eyes closed.


Subtle morning. Morning. . . a tiny and minuscule degree in concentration of a square or circle or triangle of light somewhere is comprehended and quietly acknowledged behind closed eyes. The acceptance is taken with either a gentle acceptance or a defiant denial.

Mine usually seems to be acceptance. Opening eyes.

Opening eyes, I listen to the earth awaken from its slumber with or defense against the night: I cannot decide which. My tent has a billowing rain-flap on top, visible through the mesh. I stare at the shadows and patterns of texture of fabric and light upon. I hear the distant noise of a road and some vehicles. Their sounds come first as a relief, then as a source of disappointment.

Thank God I am not alone out here.

GAH! I'm really not that alone out here.

Dual emotions, countered and that feed off each other. Social angst vs angst of solitude.

Body still huddled into that body-warmth maximizing state, acceptance. Mind moving into that mental-expanse preparing state, continuance.

Morning light outside my little tent. A plastic bead of the rain flap in the breeze taps upon the fabric; with the largeness in subtlety of light, weak shadows begin to take form. I am ready to keep going.

(to be continued)