Wednesday, 5 August 2009

What's wrong with calling them cacti? (day thirty five and thirty six)

This story tells how two friends went on a road trip. And while on that road trip they decided to go on another road trip. It was a road trip to see some cactuses, down in Tuscon. On the road trip they met untold perils- a car not checking its blind spot, emergency braking, rattlesnakes (there were no rattlesnakes). They saw some really big cactuses. They were old and sprouting, with birds nesting inside. The road bucked and twisted like the best old rollercoasters. There were smaller cactuses too, because everything has to start somewhere. And prickly pears, with purple red bulbs radiating out from the fleshy palm sized discs. Poisonous beasts lived in the fearsome land, but they hid from the heat, heat that could dehydrate a man in hours. After driving many miles around this arid land, they turned round and headed back home, weary from their travels, after half an hour. The motorway was busy and petrol ran low. They were not sure they would make it back. "Is that a mirage?" they wondered? But no, it was a gas station, and lo, their noble steed could be fed. Dusk was falling quickly, and they were unsure whether they would make it through bandit country, past the ostrich farm and the ranch resorts to the safety of Phoenix. After many trials and tribulations they successfully returned home, after six hours on the road (round trip).
We have an average teenager's night. A flick at the cinema, fast food at Sonic, Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. Bruno is ridiculous and funny and ridiculous and funny. If I never see a rotating Brazilianed cock in my life again, I will die a happy man. This vaccination against reality, old consumerism. There's nothing else to do. Don't seek knowledge- seek escape. Eat and drink and spend your way to happiness and freedom. I am Tyler's unoriginal thought. If I express my own opinion I will die.

The Arizona Mineral and Mining Museum is in downtown, where the homeless push their trolleys in the fiery heat, sweating down. They have to be healthy here, glugging back water from a gallon bottle in shorts and T shirt. Who would be a vagrant here? Trapped in a maze of single storey crumbling abodes, no energy to find a way out. Inside are a lot of rocks, gems, geodes, minerals and all you could ever want to know about them. They celebrate the open cast mines that sear the Arizona landscape, welts exploded craters into the desert soil. The older guys knew how to do it- dig a tunnel, a network underground. Where's the challenge and where's the romance? It ain't here in this $45 room where nothing works and the beds face each other out on the New Mexico border.

The Thunderbird Motel was last open in 1973. New owners just took over, today. Does this sound like a Hollywood pitch to you? The ceiling tiles are falling down, everything's cracked, or worn... Three air conditioners, one working. Four lightbulbs above the mirror. One working. The paintings above the bed have faded into a purple mauve smudge in the sunlight. And by paintings, cheap prints of nature; some idealised dream of nature by a Victorian author who never left London. An approximation of a second hand tale.

The sun is setting in the mountains and we're freaking out. We're going to get lost or drive off the edge or kill an elk or get eaten or something. But, gosh, that sky is beautiful. Orange blending upwards to blue and green and blue blending sideways into the orange and my god that is nothing if it isn't the darnedest heart splitting oh wow that is amazing moment of my life. The ranges layer up underneath and the road curves and takes us away. It gets dark quick when you're wearing sunglasses. These headlights are weak aren't they? We use comedy to keep the spirits up- shouldn't we have left Phoenix earlier? No. Lightning flashes up the sky, obliterating the pinpoint million year old pulsing bright light stars for a moment, all that journey, to never reach my retina. Poor star, are you sad now? I can see the eyes glaring in my headlights, this road is a dead end. Turn, quick. And oh so suddenly we feel like the couple in the movie that are killed at the beginning to scare the audience before the main characters come along to get emotionally invested in. We are extras in our own lives.

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