Thursday, September 28, 2006

This is it

Total miles covered: 3000
Days on the road: six
Number of states traversed: nine
Surfboards lost en route: three (fuck you, Oklahoma City)
Number of times the dog barfed: seven
Number of times the dog pooped on the Taos Pueblo Indian reservation: one, but it was big
Blatant misuses of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” by Midwestern radio stations: about 10 million
Number of trucks that began making bad noises in the middle of New Mexico: one
Number of trucks that snuffed out at a Super 8 Motel in Grants, New Mexico, while psychotic vagrants sparred brutally with nearby trees and threw bottles at hapless motorists: one
Number of U-Haul employees who assisted in unpacking and reloading belongings alongside of gross highway in Grants, New Mexico: technically two, but one was faking.
Number of times we will ever U-Haul anything again: zero times infinity

Here is my synopsis of the trip out west: Santa Fe was awesome! We got to see some friends in Nashville! Arkansas roads are shitty! Indian pueblos are neato! Ditto chilies rellenos! U-Haul is the spawn of Satan!

Here is Beulah demonstrating how to look cool on the road. She definitely had the full blown model act going on, what with the constant vomiting, expensive shades, refusal to eat anything, nonstop smoking and complaining and general witheredness. Perhaps I am callous. So be it.

After sitting in Atlanta traffic for three hours (I was driving), we visited the first night with some friends in Nashville, Suzy and David Howerton (Howie) and their young son, Evatt. We had a sublime evening of fine wine and homegrown tomato tarts and lettuces, seated on the porch under the stars. My friend Kimberly, whom I love dearly, had decided a few weeks before, to join the newlywed caravan as a new divorcee, and met up with us after berating the bellman at the Lowes Plaza for taking too long with her luggage. I feared she was going to dislike the fleabag motel I’d chosen in Oklahoma City. I’m afraid none of us did.

The best I can say for it was that we were only there for about seven hours. Then we plowed through a gale (I was driving) until we hit Texas and realized that all the surfboards were gone. Kimberly was behind us and hadn’t seen them, so we assume someone stole them during a gas stop or had picked them up quickly off the side of the road. May Simons’ “Blue Shark” deal them as bad a blow as it did me last year.

Anyhoo, we hit Santa Fe before dark, in time to head to hills of Tesuque for dinner and sunset at George and Donna’s country cabin. Their house is absolutely inspiring. George found old redwood rafters and western saddle trees for footrests and a “hog scraper” to use for the sink. The whole effect was gorgeous and very cozy.

Early next morning, Kimberly drove us to a place called Tent Rocks, a canyon made up of white teepee-like rock formations. All of the ones with little boulder hats stay pointed, while the ones that lose them just melt away. We found lots of Apache Tears, tiny pieces of black obsidian washed out of the softer ash, and climbed around on the rocks and were generally amazed. It made me wish I’d paid more attention in geology class. I guess I wouldn’t have been in geology class if I were big on paying attention in general.

Wednesday we decided to spend an extra day in Santa Fe, and Kimberly took us up to the Taos Pueblo, to take a tour and see the Indians and maybe buy some turquoise. Although the tour was a little rehearsed, Simons and I loved meeting this old man who was replacing the adobe on his house before the snows. Apparently the underlying bricks are over 300 years old, and the outer mud just gets a new coat rubbed on the exterior every fall. They have festivals and dances every season, and I’m dying to go back and see one for myself. One man collecting willow bows flirted with us by the river, and we “rescued” a dog with porcupine quills imbedded in her nose. We could hear the sacred flute playing from inside one house, and the smell of burning pinon was everywhere. This nice Indian man, Steve, sold me some turquoise…here’s me wearing it.

Check out these great ovens. The women wake up at 4 a.m. to make their bread before the heat of the day. Can’t you just imagine the laughter going on between these two ovens in the pre-dawn hours?

Later Kimberly took us ALL OVER New Mexico. This is the mountain that God gave Georgia O’Keeffe, the Pedernal. She said that if she painted it enough, God would give it to her when she died. Isn’t that a romantic word? It sounds like "PAH Dur-nal." It looks so different in all kinds of light. She loved painting this mountain right across from it, with lines of chalk between the striations, which they think resulted from The Meteor.
And then Kimberly took us to The White Place, another GOK haunt, and looky what I found.

That night we went to Pasquale’s, a James Beard dining experience. God, I love the food here. So spicy. So many colors. So many things to dab about, like art for your mouth. And so much cheese.

After that, we had to leave, to get out of the limbo of not traveling and not really staying. It’s hard to really enjoy a place, knowing that you have so many days of driving and moving ahead of you. So away we went, ignoring the growing rumble under the hood, determined to make San Francisco by Thursday morning in time to meet the police officer who was saving us a parking spot. And then all hell broke lose.

“Simons, it sounds really serious. Like it’s the engine dying.”

“No, no, Sarah [stupid female], it’s just a pipe that’s come lose under the cab that’s rattling around.”

“Well it sounds like it’s rattling the truck to pieces. If you can see it, why don’t you strap it down or duct tape it.”

“It’s fine.”

Five miles later, we sat motionless in a Super-8 parking lot, while a scary homeless man beat the living shit out of a tree, screaming all the while. Unbelievably, a U-Haul place was less than a mile away, and they had a BIGGER truck that we could use. Apparently our brand new truck “threw a rod.” I would equate “throwing a rod” with “busting a nut.” It ain’t good. At any rate, it was dead. Very dead. Totally dead. And that meant we had to take everything out of our 14’ truck and put it in the new/old 17’ truck, complete with stale cigarette smoke and lingering body odor.

We finished loading right before a dust and lightning and wind storm, and amazingly, it was my turn to drive again. The wind was so strong, it blew my door backwards and dented the side panel of the truck. How droll.

So after that five hour delay, we had to drive all night through Flagstaff and Needles and Bakersfield (the meth capital of California). We switched off every four hours, but neither of us got much rest. I can still remember the owls flying over I-40, all white and ghostly, and wondering if I was dreaming or driving.

But after all that, here we are in our new home. Nob Hill with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the back door, and the sound of the sea lions barking. There is a cable car that rumbles its way up our street…there it is now, and a gourmet shop right around the corner. This is it.


barbie2be said...

awesome! glad the three of you made it in one piece. welcome to california!!!

Horrible Warning said...

Bakersfield is never a proper introduction to Cali. I think it's a shock when you're expecting either mountains or coastline.

But your place sounds freaking amazing. Hubby did well.

Anonymous said...

First, the photos? Fantastic. Second, the story of your trip? Incredible. Third, someone took your surfboards in Oklahoma City? What the hell are they gonna do with them? Geez!!!

charlie said...

I'm exhausted after that story. It's cool you were able to throw a little bit of "Yea! It's a road trip!" into it to make it tolerable, though.

UHaul is so gross. I moved halfway across the country in a nasty truck that smelled like cat pee. It took me days to get the smell off of me!