Friday, January 14, 2011

My Second Solo Trip


Notwithstanding some experts' view that the new millennium started in 2001, in my view, it began January 1, 2000.

I wanted to celebrate it either on an ocean beach, contemplating the timelessness of waves in and waves out, or a under a canopy of stars out in the desert, contemplating our tiny blipness in the universe. Given the time of year, warmth was also a factor. 

Invited various friends or family members to join me. Although there were a few desultory noises of interest, in the end, it was go solo or not at all.

Went with the desert --> Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona.

Took a modestly-priced bottle of sparkling wine that the NYT proposed to be a good one, which I intended to open at midnight of the Big Night.

Got a late start, as I had car trouble, and almost cancelled the whole thing. But after working that out, took off. 

Memorable points

The numbing count of roadside crosses memorializing fatal crashes along a long, flat, straight, secondary road between Tucson and Organ Pipe. 

Beautiful artwork of George Littlechild I saw on cards at a roadside artisan store. I bought this card of his, Winner of the Miss Hobbema Indian Princess Pageant.


How I had to be really ingenious at setting up my 15-year-old, A-frame tent. It wasn't possible to insert stakes, so I had to find rocks to make it work.

And everywhere in the campground, one saw "no" signs: "Do not do this, do not do that. Don't tie this to that ..."

I like to string a clothesline at my campsites, and it was a real brain-thumper to figure out how I was going to do that with all the "no's." Wait! I can tie the rope between the two cement parking posts! It was kind of low to the ground, but workable.

Along came the campground host. He popped out of his golf cart, and the words of admonishment were erupting from his mouth while his brain went through the lengthy "no" checklist, only to realize that there was not yet a "no" about tying rope to the parking poles.

It was kind of amusing to watch that mental-physical process. Like your brain knowing you're about to slam that car door on your hand, but the momentum of your hand shutting the door is already too great to stop in time. Oww.

It gets goddamned cold in the desert at night! So I went to bed early, to snuggle in warm sleeping bags and blankets and hat, counting on happy shouts and horns when midnight rolled around. I prayed I wouldn't have to get up to go to the bathroom before then. So cold outside.

.... and the next morning it was warm and sunny and I'd slept through Y2K. It was a quiet campground, apparently.

There were no shower facilities at the campground, so on my last day, I drove down to Lukeville, the tiny community on the U.S./Mexican border. I paid for a shower at the little motel and had an enchilada breakfast. Then I walked over the border, bought cigarettes for a really cheap price, and walked back to the U.S.
When I'd turned out of the park to go to Lukeville, I noticed a woman hitchhiking outside the park entrance.

When I returned from Lukeville, she was still there. After I broke camp and headed back out, she was still there. So I picked her up.

Don't remember her name, but she was probably in her 50s, from the UK. She'd come to the U.S. some months earlier with the intent to walk the Appalachian Trail. She did that for awhile, then found it wasn't for her, and decided to get a Greyhound pass across the country. She'd been trekking around the country ever since. But now she was headed back home and needed to get to the closest Greyhound station and commence to her take-off point. I think I took her as far as Why, where I'd veer east, and she'd get another ride going west.

On the way down to Organ Pipe, I stayed the night at a hotel in Tucson. In the parking lot was a car with government license plate ... from the CIA. I love the irony.


Geoff Reed said...

Ahh! "contemplating our tiny blipness in the universe" - well spoken

Mzuri said...

Thanks, Geoff. It was a cool trip. A satisfying nod to the calendar flipping over to a new millenium.