Saturday, August 18, 2012

What I see in front of me/What I see behind me

Yesterday, driving west on I-80 through Nebraska, the white lines between lanes were obliterated by the afternoon glare. I used the seam in the pavement to orient me, noticing that when I looked in the rearview mirror, the lines were there behind me, clear and distinct. What I'm heading towards as I travel across country with my just shy of 88-year-old mother is hazy like those lines. Yes, she's coming to live with me in California, but what does life have in store for the two of us? The past is clear-- like those lines in the rear view mirror, through memory has its own way of obscuring things sometimes. The afternoon drive today was a similar mirage. A ghost landscape against a distant sky that sometimes appeared as white as the haze shrouding the mountains and mesas.

We made our target destination for the drive today--Green River, Utah--but we all feel weary tonight as if the hot dust from the landscape has coated our enthusiasm. The desk clerk told us that it's been over 100 for the past 90 days. Tomorrow our goal is Vegas or somewhere near. It will be scorching there, too. The alpine scenery of the Rockies and the Colorado River with its banana-colored kayaks seems like a mirage in this dry place with its closed up storefronts and sandy streets.

Rivers crossed today: Kiowa Creek, Clear Creek (twice,) Eagle River (three times--at least,) Colorado River (numerous times,) Plateau Creek.

There was a strand of weird town names in Colorado--Silt, Rifle, Parachute.

Favorite road sign: WE BUY ANTLERS

In Utah on I-70 there was exit after exit that read "No Services." Western Nebraska is big and wide. That wide open countryside and Eastern Colorado seem to be made for grazing. Stretched out herds of cattle and fields of hay bales--some like lego blocks stacked into sturdy piles, some cylindrical, and even a few old-style haystacks like in a Van Gogh painting. The landscape in Colorado changes abruptly. Sage brush and cragginess and then, as if a page in a picture book has been turned to a new chapter, lush evergreens sprout toward the sky. The part of Utah that we drove through today makes Nebraska and Colorado look like the intersection of the Tigris and the Euphrates. It seems full of mystery. If someone exits at one of the "No Services" exits, where do they go?


Teresa Evangeline said...

Where do they go? Deep canyons with history that's well over a thousand years old, that you don't even know are out there until you're right at the mouth of them. From a distance it looks like flat terrain. One of those exits goes down a road that leads to some of the finest, most spectacular petroglyphs and pictographs in all of the SW. IMO, some of the finest hiking in the country. But, I love the desert SW and find it endlessly fascinating. I've been following your journey. A road trip with your mom and new chapters for each of you. What an adventure!

Ms. Moon said...

Even in Florida I am always astonished at the vast amount of unoccupied space. And when I do see houses in the middle of nowhere I wonder where in hell they do their grocery shopping.