Tuesday / Day 29: Fort Stockton, Big Bend National Park, Alpine, El Paso, Las Cruces, Dragoon
Wednesday / Day 30: Dragoon, The Thing, Tucson, Wellton, Yuma, Slab City, San Diego, SD Navy Yard, Del Mar Dog Beach, Los Angeles, Barstow
Thursday / Day 31: Calico, Mojave Desert, Oatman, Kingman, Flagstaff, Canyon Diablo Bridge, Meteor Crater, Gallup, Cibola National Forest
Upon reaching Los Angeles last night, I entered the final phase of my trip. It’s all eastbound on Route 66 from here on out. I’d say that I’m returning home, but I have no home to return to. I guess I’m returning to my “point of origin”.
I’ve arranged to meet with my colleague in Madison in my way back. Hopefully I’ll come away from that meeting with some idea of what my immediate future will look like. Afterwards, I intend to go to Green Bay to take care of a little business before heading up to Nicolet National Forest for a night or two to unwind a bit.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I feel like this phase is my perp walk in chains. I’ve been dreading this part of the trip since long before I even embarked on the trip.
Of course, the trip is not over yet, and over the next few days, there are still a number of sites to see and places to visit. But this is the wind down, and I’m beginning to look back on the past month and consider what has happened to me.
I expect more than a few people to come up to me and ask me “how was the trip?”, including my colleague who I’ll meet in Madison. How do I begin to answer that question?
It has been a transformative experience. This trip has changed me in almost all the ways I had hoped it would change me. The only part where it failed was to make me more outgoing and friendly. And it wasn’t a total failure. I have been more outgoing and friendly – to people like me who I can relate to. But to everyone else, I have grown even more distant and reclusive.
And the trip had one impact on me that I didn’t set out to achieve or expect. It has bonded me very closely with nature. That’s why the trip to Nicolet is so important. I haven’t really been able to bond with nature ever since Mount Hood, because it was shortly after that experience that I moved into desert territory.
Intense and Mixed Emotions
I know I’m a broken record on this subject, but I am super-fucking-pumped to be involved with haunt season this year. I’m glad that my shortened trip is freeing me up to participate. I have seen so many strange, new things and had so many strange, new experiences – I can’t wait to begin incorporating these things into my craft. Plus I’m just excited that Halloween is fast approaching.
But I also do not want to return to the “real” world. Or the “plastic world” as Zombie would call it. The thought of it is literally bringing me to tears now. I am now desperate to figure out a way to have my cake and eat it, too – to maintain this lifestyle but still be involved in the work I want to do. I already have the ideas of how I might accomplish this. Now I just have to convince someone to help me achieve the dream. And at this point, I might just cry and beg. Not to be manipulative, but because that’s literally how I feel about the idea of living in an ordinary home or doing ordinary work again.
Last night I was in San Diego and Los Angeles. Of course, I was miserable because they are both densely populated areas. But I have to concede one thing I like about Southern California – the eye candy. And ironically, that’s the single biggest reason why I would not move there. I’d be too distracted. I’d literally get nothing done because I’d be horny 24/7. It’s bad enough being horny 16/7.
One thing that I come away from this trip – particularly during my time in the Great Plains and the desert southwest is the staggering amount of poverty. It’s like anything we see out east. Sure, we have poverty out east. And there is wealth out west. But the intensity of the poverty out here is beyond comparison.
And I don’t say any of this to demean or ridicule these areas. In some ways, I admire the people out here – being able to live with little to nothing. But I can see now why religion keeps such a tight grip on the south. I think if I lived in some of these neighborhoods, I’d find Jesus, too. Why? Because what else would there be?
Similarly, I can sort of understand (not condone, but understand) why these states swing red and vote for people like Donald Trump. If I lived out here, I would feel abandoned and neglected by the government, too.
Near Death Experiences
There have been plenty of treacherous mountain roads and bumper-to-bumper traffic scenarios throughout this journey. I’ve already had my share of close calls. But none compared to this morning.
By all reckoning, Remy and I should be dead right now. The hundred miles between I-40 to Oatman (a ghost town) and back to I-40 was the most treacherous and terrifying drive I have ever had. We had so many close calls and near misses that it’s only by stupid luck that I’m still alive to talk about it.
The path would have been dangerous even in good condition. But the roads were in terrible condition. Imagine what I showed you in Coyote Gulch and multiply it by a factor of about ten. I had never seen so much destruction of a road in my life. One would almost swear that a tornado had ripped through the area (and it’s certainly possible – a severe thunderstorm did come through the night before). But I think this is just what happens whenever it rains – roads get utterly washed out and destroyed. Rain is NOT a blessing in the desert – I know that now.
I wish I could describe the conditions in more detail or at least show pictures. Suffice to say, I kept my hands gripped on the wheel. It was quite the traumatic experience, and once I have no need to repeat.
Last Few Days
Tomorrow, I expect to reach Albuquerque and Oklahoma City, plus two more ghost towns and two other points of interest. The day after I should make St. Louis, and the following day – Green Bay. That’s right – just three more days.
Also tomorrow, I expect my truck’s odometer to roll over to 100,000 miles.