Day 5: Moriarty to Las Vegas

Our epic road trip has almost come to an end. We have one more day of driving; Google tells us it will take 8 hours and 44 minutes, which, if experience serves, means it will take 12 hours. Today will take us about 140 miles out of the way, since for some reason we can’t go straight through Death Valley. Instead, we’ll go through Bakersfield! That’s kind of the same thing, right?

Some highlights from yesterday:

dennys

What? They have a veggie burger.

dino

We saw dinosaurs. Not only are we traveling through the southwest, we are also traveling through TIME.

Here’s the close-up:

dino2

We stopped in Flagstaff, AZ to get our oil changed at Jiffy Lube and have vegan biscuits and gravy at Macy’s. A view of the San Francisco Peaks just north of town:

sanfranpeaks

The sunsets in the southwest are possibly the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Illinois has nothing on you, Arizona.

sunset

When passing from Arizona into Nevada, we were stopped by a border patrol wanting to look inside our truck for firearms and drugs. We were told to take off the tarp (which would mean untying about seventeen knots) and wait for the officer to check through our belongings, but he let us off with only a quick check under one of the flaps, revealing a suitcase which he did not open. Guess we have an innocent look.

Hoover Dam!

hooverdam

Shortly after the dam, we saw the bright lights of Las Vegas!

lasvegas

Thanks to Brett, whom I met at a stage combat workshop a few years ago, we got to stay in a lovely room painted to look like a cake:

CIMG2018

And now, the last leg of our journey to San Francisco.

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Day 4: Moriarty, New Mexico

The sign into Moriarty says, The Land of Opportunity, which is funny because the unemployment rate is sky high, the poverty level is just shy of 18% and many parents home school their kids because they can’t afford to take them, the bus system being mostly non-existent. The main drag goes something like: Arby’s, Burger King, strip club, McDonald’s, China Super Buffet, strip club, truck stop, Fireworks World Outlet.

My mom and step-dad moved here during my senior year of college, to escape the Tucson heat and to grow gourds and raise chickens.

chickens sunset

I can’t say that I blame them for wanting to live the country life, even though Moriarty is so depressing it makes me want to stab something. Also, I’m a city girl. I prefer my nature to be in documentaries. But my mom takes full advantage of the extra labor when I’m here, so I spend a lot of time picking raspberries and grapes and apples, harvesting sunflower seeds and preparing to run like hell if I ever see a snake. It sounds horrible, right? Picking fresh fruit and herbs! What kind of mother does that? The thing is that there are WORMS in the sunflowers and CRICKETS on the grapes and as I reached for an apple, I stepped in the dogs’ WATER BOWL. That would never happen if I was inside, hiding safely behind a laptop. Neither would this frightening sight:

the horror!

the horror!

It’s like Jurassic Park around here! Actually, the chickens were really cute. Mom has 11 of them now. And one of them even left us a parting gift.

egg

When she didn’t have us tilling the fields, mom put us to work in her sweatshop, where we were told to make “manly” jewelry for her Etsy site, NativeBeads.

the sweatshop

the sweatshop

ellie jewelry

Mother Theresa

Mother Theresa

Manly necklacess

Manly necklaces

I’m sad to say goodbye so soon. I only see my mom and step-dad about twice a year now. Our family is too spread out: New York, New Mexico, Chicago San Francisco, Arizona. I told them to come to San Francisco and that they could even bring their chickens, including Obama.

Obama, the rooster

Obama, the rooster

But only on the condition that they leave their newly purchased shotgun here, which they bought “to scare the coyotes away.” See, this is what country living does to people. Makes them think buying firearms is a perfectly legitimate way to deal with trespassing animals. However, shooting worms with a 12-gauge is something I can totally get behind…

mom and me

Day 3: Tulsa to Moriarty

Despite our ever-flapping tarp, the drive from Oklahoma to New Mexico was much more pleasant (no rain!) than the day before. I marveled at the scenery:

redearth

windmills

…and Anna vogued while driving.

driving

We were excited to see a REAL Indian at a rest stop near Oklahoma City:

indian

Well, ok, it wasn’t a real Indian. But the sign behind this 20-foot tall statue enlightened us as to how Indians must feel about spirituality and patriotism:

godbless

For those of you who can’t read Cherokee, the sign says “IN GOD WE TRUST. GOD BLESS AMERICA.”

And speaking of God, did you know that the nation’s largest cross is located in Groom, Texas? It is:

cross

The people you see at the bottom of the picture are life-size statues. So yes, this is a large cross.  And along with the main attractions and the 14 stations of the cross, there was a little memorial for the innocent victims of abortion. How sweet:

gross

I looked and looked, but didn’t find where they put up the memorial for all of the victims of wars fought in the name of Christianity. Hm. I bet that part’s under construction or something; they couldn’t have forgotten it, could they?

They certainly did not forget the gift shop:

jam

That’s right. Jesus Brand Jam.

What better way to end our little pit stop at Jesusland than a big gay kiss?

kiss

Tomorrow, on to Las Vegas!

Day 3: A dream deterred

dream_wonderland

I had a dream last night that I had a four-year-old daughter. She was so small, all elbows, light brown hair that fell to her shoulders but curled under. I was leaving her. Not forever, but for a while. She wasn’t sad though. She hugged me like a bird and it was full of warmth and affection. I left her with my “family” except I didn’t recognize anyone save for one person, my Grandma Lois, who in real life is very ill. They all lined up, all of them blondes, and I hugged each one of them firmly and said a few words. My “brother” and his wife, their two kids, then my Grandma. I remember being concerned about her because she was sitting on the ground and too weak to walk. But she saw me approaching and she stood up and gave me the longest hug and I could feel every bone in her body. She was so fragile. I told her that I’d be back and then I went outside into the bright sun. I got as far as the driveway before I turned around and came back. When I did, only my daughter was there.

Road trips make me introspective. Whenever I have a lot of time to ruminate, my thoughts inevitably turn dark and I can remember with perfect clarity all the offenses, rejections and slights ever inflicted on me, as well my own regrets and walks of shame – from the relatively benign time I forged a hall pass in 8th grade, which got me kicked out of Attendance Aid class (Ed. Note: that was the stupidest class ever. We walked around and collected teachers’ attendance. How is that an elective?) to the more serious offenses. It’s hard to stop these thoughts once they start. Like the ultimate masochism, I relive my bad deeds, calculating their severity to determine if I still qualify as a “good” person.

Then I see a sign for The National Shrine for the Infant Jesus of Prague and the memories subside, their staying power momentarily eclipsed by the ridiculousness of circumstance.

Day 2 Part Deux

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m happy to be in Oklahoma. Passing though Missouri was a bit treacherous, including one stretch of about 40 miles where the lanes looked like this:

lanes

Apparently MO had expanded the freeway and moved the lanes over without erasing the old lane markers, and none of the cars on the road knew which were the real lanes.  Fun!

On the bright side, though, our canvas tarp is, as Britney Spears says, stron-ger than yeeesterdaaaay. Anna knows how to tie some mean knots:

knots

And what better way to keep the tarp tucked in than to shove a scraper in between it and the cab of the truck? I mean hey, if it flies out, we don’t need a scraper! Am I right?

(Ed. note: it didn’t fly out.)

scraper

And before you think we’re all drive and no fun, check out our touristy sightseeing:

arch

It’s the St. Louis Arch!

Also, every time we’d pass a sign for this town, Anna said “ROLLA!” (you know, to rhyme with HOLLA!) And let me tell you, Rolla must be a very popular destination because there were a LOT of signs.

rolla

We ain’t no Rollaback girls. (Ed. note: Yes we are.)

Day 2: Tulsa, Oklahoma

We are in Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain / And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In other news, someone grafitti’d our tarp in a possibly Asian language that we can’t interpret! I think it says “Nice Tarp.”

graf

During the torrential rain storm in St. Louis, we brainstormed what our Roller Derby names will be if ever we decide to join the Derby. Meet:

Farrah Moans

and

Elle MacFierce’un

We’ll stab you.

Things that amused me:

Though we are in the Midwest, we drove through Cuba, Troy and Lebanon, as well as more corn-pone type towns like Bourbon and Farmersville

A gas station called Kum & Go

kum

Road sign: “We sell pistols and guns” (Are pistols not guns? Are they actually lazy susans?)

P.S. Did you know Paul Simon has a freeway named after him in Missouri? It was his dying wish.

Day 1, in pictures

We had to fit this:

this

into here:

there

and wrap it up like this:

wrapped

With love like this:

love

What could go wrong?

This:

ripped

Day 1, The End.