On the Road

by solunabirds

After driving for two and a half days, I’ve arrived in Salinas, CA. I haven’t had time to explore yet, so I’ll leave that for later. For now, I’ll share some scattered thoughts about being on the road.

On the first day, I drove the stretch of road from Houston, TX to Las Cruces, NM. The most remarkable thing about this stretch of road were the clouds. The clouds were amazing. Their heavy, fluffy layers allowed for the most extraordinary display of crepuscular rays. I’ll try to attach some pictures later; I haven’t been having the best luck with signal/wifi on this trip. Also, at some point on this day, T-Mobile informed me that I had entered Mexico. Sorry, T-Mobile, but you were mistaken.

The second day hid the clouds and replaced them with a glaring, unobscured sun. It was hotter than the first day; the high was 111 F, and that temperature stuck around for hours. Then, in the afternoon, the temperature dropped. The clear, blue sky became tinged with rust. New Mexico and Arizona are parched, dry states. For the first time in my life, I saw signs that warned of “Dust Storms” and “Strong Gusts”. I noticed patches of sand that blew across the roads and drove through some winds that threatened to rock my little car off its path. However, I managed (mostly) to stay on course. At night, around midnight, I stayed at Castaic, CA, just north of Los Angeles.

For the final leg of my way up, I drove along Highway 101 up the coast of California. The path I chose took me through mountains that layered into themselves, sometimes posing as the backdrop to the acres of farmland that held rows of crops and ripe Napa oranges. The land was so fruitful that I couldn’t help but imagine how must it would have been during the Dust Bowl, the era depicted in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. There’s a lot more I could say here, but I will touch on them later. For now, there is one more thing I that I will share. On the way up the coast, I stopped by a little bakery in Los Alamos. There was a man working there. At some point when I was ordering, I smiled a little. He smiled back. It was a slight smile, like mine, but for some reason it got to me. It was the most heartwarming, genuine smile that I had seen in a long time. Very innocent, but striking, and soft. I think I am writing about this here so that I will remember.

The drive was long, but not tiring. Not really. Once the driving starts, it kind of gets into you. The road gets into you. Time breaks down into chunks. Between cities, time seems to stretch on and the drive is just one long, continuous string. But then you hit the next place, the next chunk, and then it’s as if time hadn’t passed at all. You’ve jumped from one point to the other, finished a chunk of the journey. It goes on like this, chunk by chunk, each one infinite in itself, but gone when you pass it. And soon you find yourself at the end. You’re not sure how you did it, but you did. Well, I did it. And just knowing that I could travel this far on my own brings me a certain sense of satisfaction.

That’s all, for now. I’ll hopefully return tomorrow with an update.