I decided to dial back to October 2009 and track myself all over the southwest and Mexico for the intervening 18 months or so. The log shows almost 30 excursions, either day trips or long weekends or much more elaborate forays.
Unbeknownst to me (do people still say "unbeknownst" nowadays?), I was hitting a personal bottom throughout these months, slowly falling from a great height of trying to manage a lot of unmanageable aspects of myself, slowly watching it all unravel. Like watching a tornado in slow motion. I was only dimly aware of a lot of it, which is probably for the best in the long run. The journeys here were one way to boil it all down.
In October of 2009, I hit the road for Joshua Tree. I see this as a first experiment with travel as meditation. This particular trip was riddled with self pity and a chorus of evil voices in my head, for a lot of circumstantial reasons. But the sights were grand. A theme for this series of travel postcards. "I'm miserable, having a miraculous time."
sunset along California 62 from Vidal Junction to Twentynine Palms.
Scruffy old Escobaria alversonii at Joshua Tree.
Incredible spine color on Ferocactus cylindraceus, Joshua Tree.
Fearful symmetry of Escobaria alversonii.
Typical form of Echinocactus polycephalus in Joshua Tree, many small stems.
Fierce Grusonia kunzei, along 95 near Parker.
Echinocactus polycephalus toughing it out in a vertical rock crack.
Incredibly spiny form of Echinocereus engelmannii, perhaps 'armatus'.
A heat-addled bunny, not at all spiny.
Dehydrated purple Cylindropuntia ramosissima.
I decided to head back through Searchlight, Nevada. First time I ever stayed at a motel where the checkout time was 9 am. The glorious El Rey Motel. A theme throughout these travels is cheap and strange motels, for sure. I didn't start taking motel pictures until later into the trips, so I don't have a photo of the El Rey. It's like roulette: you never know what you're going to get. In this case, the woman who runs the place was unfriendly, unwelcoming, seemed irritated to have me as a guest and pounded on my door at the 9 a.m. checkout time. Maybe she hated the quasi-hippie stickers on the back of my car ("Expect Miracles," "No War," and perhaps the most damning one, "Have You Threatened Your Children With Eternal Damnation Today?"), judging from this review on Yahoo!: "2 weeks ago I made a reservation & spoke with Marie. I just called her to ask about details for Tea Party 3/27. She has not heard about specifics or location, but has received many calls. She is a very nice lady, very accommodating, & sweet. I can't wait to meet her on 3/26, day before Sarah Palin gets there for kick off. 5 Star customer service so far." 5 Star service for Tea Party members; scruffy, cactus loving environmentalist commies, not so much? I wonder if Marie is even crankier, since Harry Reid got re-elected?
A few spine close ups of the burly Searchlight Echinocactus polycephalus:
Sunset on the drive home, along Carefree Highway toward I-17.
Miracles and wonder. Filtered through a completely addled and murky psyche.