Thursday, April 2, 2009

Carlsbad Caverns, NM: 48 Hours in New Mexico

Miles since last blog: 55.5
Miles Total: 2757.0


Day 1. It was peaceful, serene. The desert is looking as I remembered it from Survival School and it isn't the barren desolation you feel it is when you are in a car, it is a beautiful world that probably inspired the camera setting 'sepia' and a place where it is unneeded. I felt at home. I felt alive. I was singing and dancing as I walked, filming and snapping photos which could in no way encapsulate the beauty I saw.

It's always part of a whole, a photo, like riding in a car, cuts so much out of the desert experience. The scent, sounds and feel. The air is dry and and cool and the sun feels like sheets just out of the dryer, it always feels good, even when it's hot out, at least for a while. A photo or windshield can't master the vastness of the sky or capture the blue of the far off land the way we can with nothing between us. I was at home again on the walk, even though I wanted to move fast and to finish, shaking off the mental drudgery of the giant state of Texas is proving a better boon than I truly thought it would be.

Day 2. To mix things up a bit, I've decided to let you in a bit on the process of how I work, write, exist. I'm not an orderly fellow in thought or planning for the most part. I keep a relatively tidy house when not homeless, but that's about it. The best way I can describe this is to describe my body and its various non-permanent to semi-permantent ink markings at the end of these two days.

Writing on myself is my version of a PDA or whatever electronic device is in vogue right now. On my left forearm is written the following:

T2 Donuts
Long Run
GJ (The Gentleman of Jal)
Extinction Cost
Mummified Snickers & Billy Holliday
1106 (In Semi-permanent)

On my Left hand:

Peaceful desert
Land of Enchantment

On my upper right leg above the shorts line:

The address and email of my Carlsbad Host (In Semi-permanent)

None of these is in this form. It's not a list. it's a dartboard of randomness that is the expression of how my brain works and the few things I deemed worthy of writing down to remember later and today is no different than most of my life. Hardly a day goes by that I don't write on myself.

Some of these things, they're just fleeting thoughts like when I opened a package of powdered donuts for dinner. The wind was blowing at up to 70 mph by some estimates and the donut simply crumbled and blew away right out of my hand as I pulled it out of the wrapper. It reminded me of the way those ash kids in Terminator 2 crumbled into the wind of the nuclear pulse after they were already toast, except this was much more sad because the donuts were real and were to have been a part of me.

Some of them, are ideas I wanted to track down, like is it possible to track the economic cost of an animal going extinct? Did it help commerce in any way and what potential benefits have we lost in the future?

The slogan of the state: Land of Enchantment. Embodied by my early morning walk through the quiet empty land listening to Billy Holliday and finally eating the mummified snickers that had been at the bottom of my pack since Georgia.

My host's info which i didn't want to lose or have washed off. In the event of my death I'm sure the poor guy would have been questioned thoroughly even before ever having met me.

1106. The mileage I estimated myself to have left when I left Jal, NM. I've taken to writing this on my arm when I know it, a little ticker that counts down although the similarity to the holocaust tattoos bothers me I don't know what to do about it.

Some are just memories I wanted to continue remembering. During the heat of the day all I could think about for a time was during my second failed attempt at marathon training (failed for the same knee problem I have been tactically ignoring lately) my running partner and I would do a long run in the morning, then get Jamba Juice and lay on the couch doing nothing but watching movies the rest of the day. I couldn't imagine anything that sounded more amazing or delicious than sitting on a couch with a friend and a cool smoothie and didn't call only because I knew the rest of the world was working.

And finally, sometimes, it's actually something I wanted to write about. The Gentleman of Jal is one of the kindest people I have met. I met him briefly while I was charging my computer in a gas station in Jal and barely remembered him the next morning when he drove up to me 30 miles down the road.

The Gentleman of Jal had brought me breakfast, a XXL breakfast burrito. It was nice but I didn't think anything extraordinary about it until I saw him turn his car around and drive back toward Jal. I thought he had been on his way to Carlsbad. He had driven 60 miles just to see how far I had gone, how I was and bring me food.

Imagine my shock when at a little after 5 pm, 50 miles from Jal, he drove up again. He brought Chicken fingers, Texas toast, French Fries, Cookies and an Energy drink. The Gentleman of Jal took my picture for the county paper and drove back to Jal. 160 miles to bring me food during the day. If one tenth of the people in this world were as good as the Gentleman of Jal then the world would be a truly amazing place.

This is just a glimpse into the random action firing of a brain that causes someone to up and walk across the country. The rest of the day was defined mostly by kind construction workers in the first 75% of the day who gave me reflective vests, the aforementioned donuts and also a host of beverages. The other 25% was defined by wind. Unbelievable stop you in your tracks wind that I have never seen the likes of in my life, thankfully very little sand . . . more on this in the future (See new arm note: Tom's All Natural Sand Blasting).


Coach J said...

There's nothing I would like more than a Jamba Juice and an afternoon of movies. Thanks for the little peek in your psyche. I miss that psyche.

Dixxe's Doodles said...

LOL...this was such a great post. it was fun to see into your world and ...but for the Kindness of Strangers this world would be positively cruel....
We need more JAL's in this world.
I hope your host in Carlsbad can appreciate that tatoo!
Safe Travels! Enjoy the desert!