Posted by: facetothewind | September 28, 2010

Road Trip American Style

Sebastian loves a good road trip. He is after all, German—where the open road yields a new town every 5 minutes. It’s more like every 5 hours in the desert Southwest of America. For him it’s a feeling of Freiheit…freedom found on the great super-slab of America.

Me, I love a good train trip. But this is HIS last week in America and so we pulled off a couple of good road trips for him. First stop: Willcox, Arizona…characteristic of the dying towns of the mid-century American west…

What is the appeal with the dying towns of the West? Is it that we all love ruins? And here we’re seeing ruins in the making? Or is it that the desolation taps something in us—a quiet and broken place inside? Or is it just fascinating to see the effects of neglect…curtains shredding themselves silently in the blazing afternoon light behind broken glass windows, cars sinking into the ground on flattened tires, the fake smile of figurines holding hamburgers and root beers while their parts fall off?

I think there’s some perverse pleasure we get from seeing these old towns writhing in their misery and eventually crumbling. We take pleasure in seeing how idealistic notions of happiness just didn’t survive the test of time. And we enjoy knowing that somehow we’ve figured it out now. So we think.

Willcox—where there’s no such thing as a healthy meal and who cares about spelling when you live in the dessert…

Next stop: Portal, Arizona, the Yosemite of the Southwest. It’s on the border of New Mexico and Arizona.

It’s a really gorgeous place and the resemblance to Yosemite Valley is kind of uncanny, only here there are no buses, no hoades of tourists. Just a few million grasshoppers smashed on the road and some rattlesnakes to shake things up a little. Other than hiking, ain’t nothing much to do in Portal except enjoy the quiet, go birdwatching and wonder how anyone could live so far out in the middle of nowhere. But it does bring a grin to the face of a German. Trust me, there’s nothing like this in Germany.

Oh, and we did see a rattlesnake on a hike. And some bright red ants and a really cool grasshopper taking a dump. See the video:

The only other reptiles we saw were in the Chiracahua Desert Museum. Who doesn’t love a good road trip?

We spent the night at a little cottage in the desert looking out at the mountains of New Mexico. We spent the evening grilling and eating out under the stars, singing along to some music by candlelight…

* * *

Next weekend’s road trip, we went to Bisbee, a defunct mining town 90 miles south of Tucson….another one of those dying places in the West. Parts of Bisbee have come back, but some parts are slowly falling into ruins…

We stayed at the Shady Dell, which is a motel where the rooms are actually vintage trailers from the 1940s and 50s…

Nothing like your own piece of Astro Turf to give you that comforting feeling of green. No worries about bugs or hayfever. Just vacuum it once in a while. Notice that the trailer is right next to a cemetery. Coincidence?

Trailers and trash. Like cookies and milk. Buckteeth and gingham. I made the dress, myself. She’s expecting…

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