we are showered and primped and smelling much better now, after a couple nights in the yurt just north of flagstaff. i think we had been swimming so much in albuquerque that we didn’t realize it had been quite a while since we showered and it all caught up with us all of a sudden so once we got to barstow, it was a mad dash for the shower.
way back when gil and i lived in albuquerque we took one particular road trip to san fran and ultimately portland oregon — our first road trip together, in fact. we drove from abq to barstow the first night and then barstow to san fran the second stretch, and then to pdx. this is what i remember about it:
we hit a CRAZY sand storm in the mojave — CRAZY. i didn’t really realize it was the mojave at the time. it was dark and i think early spring so it wasn’t hot — and to say it was dark doesn’t really capture the otherworldly weirdness of the sky…as it was brown and black — mostly brown from the sand engulfing our car and the headlights reflecting off of it. but what are you going to do but roll along…and i remember being soooooooo excited to finally get to barstow and get off the highway and get whatever bad fast food we got and tuck into our hotel room for the night.
it was harrowing.
i also remember barstow was much more sparse. i think we’re on the same stretch of first exit off the highway, main street barstow. i remember seeing the palm trees through swirls of sand and a quiet, wide street as we unloaded our few belongings from the car. and then the next day we got up and gil spent a good deal amount of time trying to get sand out of mildred’s (our car’s) various filters and vents and nooks and crannies. then we started to drive again, an interior road to sfo, beautiful and full of this purple haze that enveloped the cows in the fields alongside the road. you could only see the bottom half of their legs and hooves clearly. turns out the purple haze was smog pushed inland from los angeles during the crazy windstorm the night before.
that’s also the trip where i had the most perfect cup of coffee and poppyseed filled croissant at a san francisco coffee shop early one morning — watching the fog burn off and the city street wake up. it was so incredible and perfect and amazing i still think about it to this day and eternally looking for another poppyseed croissant — anywhere really, but i do hope to find that particular spot again someday!
back to barstow. and really, i think the stresser here is the mojave. OHMYGOD whatinthewildworldofsports WHY oh why be so mean? actually, i know you have every right to be. and you are wild and beautiful and scary and all those things because that’s just what you ought to do. but damn. i know my temples are grayer today then they were yesterday. kind of made me more relaxed than i have been in a while, tho. thinking of all the things that could have happened and didn’t.
so a vw van, prolly of any make (the bus, the vanagon, the eurovan) is not going to climb those passes well. and all things considered, belugi didn’t drop below 60 mph. but not without putting up quite a fuss. we turned off the airconditioner at each climb. which catches up with you quickly in temps well over 110 degrees. and there were lots and lots and lots of crazy steep climbs. and her check engine light — we think we know what it’s about and eurovans have too many computers and sensors and blahblahblah but STILL it’s just too much and i know gil was running on pure adrenaline for the last couple hours and you keep seeing signs for barstow along the highway and IT JUST DIDN’T SEEM TO BET GETTING ANY CLOSER. especially the last twelve miles when our gas light went on because we used so much gas climbing all of a sudden it seemed like we went from 3/4 of a tank to just about empty. gil and i had total tio johnny butt (a reference to gil’s uncle, who tells a hysterically funny story where once he was on a really high ladder and suddenly harassed by bees…and he’ll get up demonstrate through body posture the tension he felt.)
…egads. so we get to the quality inn here in barstow and it’s lovely, and cheap. perfect combo. a little outdated but in the most fabulous way — a nice dose of 1960’s/1970’s cali. some updates, but not too many. it’s clean, folks are friendly and mellow. it’s HOT and the pool and room are cool. lovely courtyard with a fountain to make wishes — the grass (in the middle of the desert) is so well manicured that miss cv can’t believe how soft it is. nothing like the grass in our yard. she’s pretty sure this grass isn’t real.
we shower, do laundry, swim, shower more, relax, then catch a late showing of cars 2 across the street. pass palm trees and bright neon signs, and a few scurrying nighttime cockroaches — as there should be in the desert — totally takes me back to walking around albuquerque at night.
barstow is quite alright.