Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pacific Time Zone

Traditionally the stretch of Interstate Ten between El Paso and Riverside has been, for us, a grind. It's all desert and the novelty of buttes and mesas and sandy colored piles of...sand soon wears thin. By this stage in our transcontinental trek we are ready to have arrived. This next picture was taken in New Mexico shortly after leaving Mesilla. It could be anywhere along the route described above. In case the highway gets too monotonous the Border patrol has fixed up a couple of checkpoints, one in each direction, to check for illegal aliens. "American citizens?" the bored agent asked and waved us through with barely a halt."Shall we..?" I asked my wife a few miles further on.
"It doesn't seem likely..." she demurred.
"Yes, but suppose it's real?"
"We're here for adventure," she said so we pulled off the highway and followed the signs to this:Amazingly enough they had delicious wines, Riesling, chardonnay, Syrah Cabernet and Pinot and we bought some quite decent wines to take with us as a souvenir. It was really rather nice to offer our snobby California friends a taste of New Mexico wine, and find they liked it as much as we did. She was all right too. "Check out Coronado down the Interstate" were her parting words as we staggered out into the blinding sun loaded with pecans and wine. "They're tasting today and they right off the highway." Fort Bowie has wines for sale but as a township it has certainly seen better days.Coronado was technically speaking, visible from the Interstate. My wife figured it was a stretch to say they were "close" to the freeway. Perhaps she got that impression because the road wasn't paved.And guess what: the wines were splendid once again. The scenery wasn't bad either.Our pourer was a native of nearby Willcox who went out to see the world and came home to marry a Dutchman. Apparently a number of Dutch have been imported to grow world class tomatoes in the Arizona desert and one of them had the good taste to ask her to marry him.
We left around four pm with a trunk starting to resemble nothing quite so much as a well stocked wine cellar. More open road awaited us. Cheyenne snoozed I tried not to.Arizona's state line passed in a blur but our clocks went back an hour, assuring us we wouldn't be late for dinner. We droned on at 80mph in a 75mph speed limit. Eventually we hit what passes for civilization in the Arizona desert, a state that it turns out doesn't like immigrants or helmet laws. It's not all bad.
Josh the Key West High School Teacher is in Tempe for the summer working at his Master's in Physics and living the bachelor life in an apartment in an anonymous suburban street near Arizona State University. He didn't seem to be missing his little canal house on Sugarloaf Key. Perhaps he was putting on a brave face, or he was just worrying about his work load which is apparently tremendous. His thesis has to be 70 pages long. His wife was with her parents so he cooked dinner. Cheyenne rested, not very entertained by the 110 degree heat outdoors. The next day Josh had a hangover and went to class, I had no hangover but we left with a lot less Gosling Black Label rum in the bottle than we had arrived with. This is East Lemon Street in Tempe. "It's not so bad," Josh said. "Tempe has a great public transportation system." Which doesn't make this pretty in my opinion:Besides, on my early dawn walk with Cheyenne in the cool of the morning we came across some drunk students on a balcony and they took exception to my pink Crocs. "Come up here and tell me that!" the ringleader yelled down at me after I advised him he was a scaredy cat if he was afraid to be seen in public in pink sandals. "I will take you with me as a fond memory of Tempe," I called back and his girlfriend pulled him out of sight. Really, it doesn't bode well for Arizona, a state raising such fussy dressers for the next generation.
Arizona is also distinguished by using a European approach to traffic control, installing these speed cameras on major highways. They have also started using mobile cameras mounted on SUVs. These they park in strategic locations and move them around at will. Very sneaky. The good news is camera tickets don't generate moving violation points and the tickets have to be served so out of town tags can we are told, simply ignore them. I will see how many I got when I get home.They really do have these ridiculous plants in the Arizona desert.
And you thought they were just the product of a fevered imagineer's imagination at Disney.
California is somewhere around that hill.
Getting close.
That smudge of trailers and neon signs in the valley must be Blythe. Cool.