Waning Gibbous Moon
Gila Bend, Arizona
Leaving New Mexico on the interstate, I began to get that "heading for the barn" instinct. The mileage and the gasoline bills were piling up so I started to think about getting home while the getting was good. I had wanted to make a detour to Chiricahua National Monument southeast of Willcox, Arizona, but I decided to pass it up (again - one of these times passing through I'll veer down the road and explore this park). I continued to follow my old bicycle bypass route around Phoenix and headed toward Gila Bend.
I forgot that Gila Bend is one of my long-time magical places (read Palomino and the Dream Machine to find out why), but when I pulled up outside the Space Age Lodge for lunch, I began to remember. The aliens would have one final adios to send me on my way back to California.
When I asked the hostess if she had ever been to Roswell, she looked me straight in the eyes with a serious, dead-pan expression and gravely nodded yes. The Space Lodge is solely for true believers, hahahaha. The food is good, but be sure to check out the zany gift shop, too. Pat would have loved this place for its reverent, but silly attitude and its out-of-this-world banana splits.
Across the Colorado River - Mojave, California - Safe at Home
The price of gas jumped from $3.87/gallon to $6.39/gallon when I left Yuma, AZ and crossed the Colorado River into my home state. Remind me to boycott Chevron and Valero every day for the rest of my life. Also, may every single member of their respective Boards of Directors be chased down, abducted, and abused by the meanest, baddest, most metallic Space Aliens in the galaxy. I have connections in Roswell and Gila Bend now. You guys are toast.
Just to end the trip on a trippy, alien, whirling-dervish, dust-devil note, I spent my final night in a Motel 6 in Mojave - not the snazzy, brand new one on Hwy 14, but the old rundown one that used to be White's Motel on Hwy 58. My room was a hiker trash classic - only one light fixture worked and the toilet didn't flush because somebody had snapped off the flusher handle. The AC kinda worked, but the TV only got one channel - the local weather. Guess what? The forecast was hot and windy as hell for the rest of the year, maybe longer. For dinner, I had some sort of mystery meat and mashed potatoes with brown gravy and a side of soggy green beans at Denny's - America's Diner. It was perfect.
Pat would not have put up with any of that nonsense for one windy second, though. Her unconditional sisterly love had realistic limits when it came to non-flush commodes and floppy green beans.
I more than made up for all that self-imposed Mojave misery the next morning with a masterfully served breakfast at Henry's Café in Tehachapi. I did not catch the waitress's name, but I'm pretty sure she is The Happiest Woman in All of Southern California and I told her so. That changed her rosy, clean, mountain girl smile to its mesmerizing high-beam version that almost burned my eggs. Whoa, take it easy there, mountain girl!
From Henry's it was one fast, long swerve to I-5 all the way to Pacheco Pass and up-and-over to San Benito County and San Juan Bautista. I whiled away the driving time dodging trucks and other random speed demons and carefully contemplated the previous few weeks.
The following are my conclusions. I am proud of my well-executed journey to celebrate P. S. I Love You's stellar life. Even though the Great Mystery persists as to whether human consciousness survives after what-we-call-death, I know for certain that my memories of my sister will resonate and continue to inspire me at least as long as I live and breathe. Pat, if you can hear me...
|The Very Large Array, the plains of San Agustin, New Mexico|
Peace, Love, and Infinity,