Four Sentences from the Road

On Day One she pointed the car south and drove through the frozen tundra of Minnesota, the barren cornfields of Iowa and the vaguely southernish-feeling byways of Missouri until she reached a place where the highway rest stop could be broached without the aid of mittens, hat or parka, and that land was called Kansas, and there, ignoring the fact that the entire motel smelled vaguely of poop, she slugged back some Jim Beam and rested.

On Day Two she angled the car southwest, fought the gale-force winds of western Kansas, crossed into the enormous flatness of the northern Oklahoma panhandle, shut the windows against the dense smell of manure and piss as she passed through massive holding pens of cattle in northern Texas, crossed into the Land of Enchantment to behold the vast magnificence of that rangeland and its fiery setting sun, and cruised through invisible mountains until the lights of Albuquerque twinkled in the distance.

On Day Three she pointed the car west-northwest, set the cruise to 78 and sang along with Greatest Hits of the 70’s all the way across New Mexico –a state that she fell in love with due to its unearthly beauty and the smiles and kindness of every single person she met eyes with or spoke to at gas stations, Cracker Barrel, rest stops and traffic lights– then crossed over into Arizona and made her way to Sedona, where she hiked Bell Rock and tried to feel the mysterious vortex energy but instead felt only an unmysterious happiness, after which she drove into the sunset to Prescott, where she took herself out for an old-school martini and made friends with the waitress, a woman born and raised in NH who two years ago took six weeks’ vacation to ride her motorcycle to Arizona and never went back.

On the Last Day she passed through a hundred miles of Arizona desolation, outposts with crumbling stores surrounded with razor wire, observed that the cars crawling their way up and down a steep and narrow road looked like bugs clinging to the side of the mountain, realized that her car was one of those bugs, crossed into the California desert at a gateway where every vehicle was photographed and where traffic began inexorably to multiply, until the wind turbines stood sentry by the hundreds on ridgetops and the sense of speed and density was so omnipresent and oppressive that she kept both hands gripped on the wheel and tucked the tiny car between two giant trucks, the better to hide for a while, until at long last she reached a small and beautiful town perched on the far western edge of the country where the mountains meet the sea, and that town was her destination, so she parked, unpacked, and drank some wine.