Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tom Joad - Day 8, mile 1,530.9, Chasing the Sun Belt...

Feeling a sense of accomplishment in my job-hunting endeavors during my Los Angeles visit, I awoke way too early this morning anxious to continue my motorcycle adventure. I was up and loaded by 5am, and on the road before 7am to beat the L.A. rush hour traffic. I departed L.A. to a chilly, damp 47 degrees, with sun rising over the San Gabriel Mountains. Traffic was accommodating, and I quickly slid out of the congested suburbs towards the High Desert of San Bernardino and across the eastern desert of California.

It has been 20-odd years since I drove through the Southern California eastern desert. I didn't recognize it. Obviously wind-farm technology has found a home here because I rode through miles of huge windmills, all of which I'm assuming is providing power to Los Angeles in the west, and Palm Springs in the east. Very impressive.

I crossed the Arizona border around noon to a very satisfying 60 degrees. I immediately started shedding my heated clothing hoping I wouldn't need it again for the next thousand miles or so of the trip.

Phoenix, AZ is, or was, a booming metropolis. New subdivisions dot the rolling desert hills as far as the eye can see. I rolled into Phoenix at nearly 70-degree temperatures, blissing out to the heat and sun. I jumped off of I-10E temporarily to fuel up and have a look around. The high hills surrounding Phoenix contain gated, landscaped, and manicured communities for the new wealth which has found a lively hood here. It made me wonder... how long before the economic decay of the rest of the nation becomes evident here? I'd like to travel through this area again in 5 or 6 years to see the effect.

I continued southward towards Tucson, AZ, and my final destination for the evening, a crappy Travel Lodge hotel just off of I-10 to make my departure faster tomorrow. I spoke with my long-lost cousin Linda during my stop. Linda and I both grew up in New York. She was a year or two older than I was, and her father got my brothers and I hooked into playing ice hockey. We lost touch after I joined the military in the late '70's, but it was terrific to talk with her again this evening. Obviously we both have the same hopes and concerns for our nation, and our planet in the future. I intend to stop in Tucson again upon my return voyage home to spend a day with my cousin 'catching-up'.

Tomorrow, 500+ miles of crossing western Texas, Arrrrrgh!

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