Sunday, March 22, 2009

Californian Cowboys Part 3

Day 5 Seeing is believing
We can't wait to get back to the desert. We head for Death Valley. We stop at Nevada Joe's - the pair of pink breast cancer ribbons entice us in. The large but empty store is filled with UFO and alien faced posters referring to Area 51. Throughout the trip we have had to bypass several fenced in military training facilities, which take over huge expanses of land - they are often bigger then national preserves. But the conspiracy theorists believe Area 51 is where all the freaky top secret X-files action happens. We buy more hot tamales cinnamon candies, and salty sunflower spits and keep driving. About an hour later Hilary sees UFOs, which I'm pretty sure are just fancy fighter jets.

We get to Scotty's junction - the most north eastern entrance of the park. Amazed at how much distance you can cover going at 100 km / hour, instead of the 50 we were used to taking back roads or going up mountains.
Here - we coast downwards... for hours. Death Valley is 85 m below sea level and we started out at around 3500 feet elevation. It's is the hottest place in North America, and folks round here don't even dare go in the scorching summer heat. In fact it was a clause in our rental agreement - NO TRAVEL TO DEATH VALLEY April - October.

Beautiful rolling slopping hills and trees are a welcome sight, but quickly transform into the rocks and dessert that we had grown to love. After about an hour we are surrounded again by dry arid land, bare desert, back roads and no one in sight.

Now it's my turn to see a UFO - an Unbelievable Flying Object.
"Hilary - what's that over there?" I say as I point to something small, and red floating in the huge expanse of beige rocky empty land.
"It's a red balloon"
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, it's far off, but I'm pretty sure."
"That's what I thought. pull over"

I try to take pictures.. but the digital zoom, and the bright dessert sunlight just make the balloon look like a misplaced pixel.
We had seen several giant red Cloudbusters on the trip - I pointed them out in Santa Ana, at the used car dealership next to the place where we picked up the Hale Pua from Bill. I felt like they were some kind of reminder. Reminder of why I was out here.
but this.
this little rogue red balloon, floating out into my periphery, as if it had followed me and had come out to play - in the middle of fucking nowhere - this was unbelievable

"What does that signify for you?"Hilary asked me after I got back in the van.
I couldn't even answer. I just sort of sat there dumbfounded.
But it was a reminder of my reality - a reality that I had finally fully accepted.
and felt, from the bottoms of my dusty salty boots, so very ready to move on from.

"let's just keep driving" I said to her, and we did.

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