As I start writing this, I’m waiting for my laundry to dry at a truck stop outside of Amarillo, TX. There’s a charge to use the WiFi, so I’m just typing it out offline. I’m on my way to Austin to meet up with the guys from Hotel Hotel.
In Santa Fe I did my laundry, talking on the phone and grocery shopping and then went camping up in the Jemez mountains. The whole time and up until now I’ve been battling my stomachache–all the leftover anxiety from my past that sits in the lower right corner of my gut, and comes back to taunt me any time I run my body down. Certainly broken sleep in a Honda backseat is a trigger. Finding a spot to lay flat on my back and stare at the sky is the only medicine, although temporary. I did just that on a bench outside the Santa Fe laundromat, and on a big boulder outside the Historical Museum in Tucumcari, NM. Sitting at the Travel Bug Cafe and drinking iced tea helped a little (where I wrote my last blog,) but then the stimuli of the interwebs would bring it back. It’s a weird animal, my guts.
But I still have two weeks or so on the road, and I don’t want to spend the whole time complaining to myself. My Jemez outing was sort of an R+R retreat. No other campers were present. I stuck around the site, grilled black bean burgers, worked on songs, wrote postcards, and drank Black Label. A lot like home except I was up on a mountain. When it stormed, I sat in the tent and programmed the drum machine. When it stopped, I peaked out to see a handful of free range cows grazing outside my tent.
I went for a flask-and-headphones walk at dusk where I listened to Andrew Bird and Sigur Ros and checked out the humbling environment. Massive red cliffs cut by a tiny stream lined the gravel road to my site. I thought about the smallness of life, the permanence of natural beauty and the temporality of an individual’s appreciation of it, punctuated by death. I thought about love, and magic. I thought about how happy I am right now, and in my small life, that means so much because it keeps me awake inside to appreciate everything outside of myself. I was drinking Jameson.
I also realized that I was dangerously close to not making it to Austin in time, so in the morning I packed up, with stabbing in my stomach, and headed east. I didn’t get very far. I made plenty of stops. Dump my garbage here, fill my tires there, get water, look for ginger ale (no ginger ale in NM convenience stores, btw. WTF.)
I stopped in Tucumcari NM in the late afternoon, probably the least traveler-oriented of my interstate stops. It’s run down with wide streets and ruins of houses and old buildings, cats everywhere and a desolate quietude much like the mountains. You feel as though something very slow is going on all around you. One day a crack in the stucco grows an inch. The next, a storm weathers the sign of a-gas station that closed it’s doors years ago. I get a good vibe from the Southwest, but I don’t quite understand it. I appreciate it with a restlessness. I’m too aware of it.
A man on a bike tried to sell me weed. I declined. A car full of people yelled “Hey Baby!” at me. I knew I was out of place.
It wasn’t until well after dark that I pulled out of Tucumcari, trying to get to Amarillo before trying to sleep. It didn’t work. I got halfway before trying to find a spot on one of the many gravel county roads that service the wind turbines. I was quickly greeted by the Texas police as soon as I pulled over. Sure it was an inconvenience, but I do really enjoy a run-in with the authorities knowing that I’m doing nothing wrong. It would have made his day if I was drunk, or high, or had a weapon on me or whatever. Instead he gave me my ID back and pointed me to the next rest stop.