I thought I might stop at the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona to eat. It's a fully restored Fred Harvey hotel, harking back to the thirties in every way. But alas, I didn't feel like stopping there either. On to Flagstaff, and over the mountains to Seligman, a tiny town where they advertise the birth of Route 66. My youngest son Sam and I broke down there once, years ago, on the way back to California from Bluewater Lake. Ended up spending several days while the Aerostar was being fixed. It was like the Twilight Zone. After about an hour in the town, it was as if you'd seen everyone there was to see. And from then on, it was just seeing them over and over. And over.
I drove through, for old times sake. But gas was way expensive. I pushed on to Kingman, where it's cheaper.
Down off the Colorado Plateau, and into the Mojave Desert. Across the Colorado River and into California.
California is always welcoming to me. There's a gentleness to it, a softer beauty than most of the country, and a sense of possibility. If America historically has been the promised land to much of the world, then California has been the promised land to much of America. Granted, many of those promises have been broken. But new ones are always made. Hope does indeed spring eternal.
I pull into the border check point. The uniformed man talks like a radio announcer. There is no indigenous California accent per se. All of the inflection gets knocked off the syntax on the trip across the continent.
The guard inquires where I'm coming from. New Mexico, I say. And Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Colorado. Any fresh fruits or vegetables in the vehicle? No sir, I reply. Have a nice trip, he says, waving me through. Now that's my kinda border check. No dogs sniffing your stuff, or standing by the side of the road with your pants falling down while they feel your crotch and decide whether or not to arrest you or just take your stash.
Frank Lloyd Wright once described Los Angeles as a place where everything loose west of the Mississippi rolls into. I guess I fit into that category.
Frank Lloyd Wright built some great houses in Los Angeles. As did many other influential architects. The city is an odd amalgam of incredible wealth and abject poverty. Ultra creativity blended with the almost unbearably mundane. It has mountains, islands, deserts, beaches, skyscrapers, farms, ports, canyons, freeways and almost infinite suburban sprawl. The last time the Olympics were held in Los Angeles, they didn't have to hire interpreters from anywhere else. It is the prototypical modern city, really. For better or worse. Like the internet, it has no center. You can't very well destroy it, because, alas, it has no heart. And that, oddly enough, is somehow comforting. If you leave, it will not miss you. And yet, it will always take you back.
I don't think there's another city I could ever think of as home. It's a place that's been good to me. Somehow I've managed to own a nice house in a beautiful area, maintain a marriage through the years, help to raise three children, and still basically do what I do. You really can't ask much more than that.
I never take for granted what the future brings. I confess to not having a clue. Everything in my life could easily unravel. Life is just a fleeting moment. You've got to enjoy the ride.
I wrote this story in between road trips. Because I know the next one, which will begin in a matter of days (Lord willin' and the crick don't rise) will bring with it a whole other series of adventures. And misadventures.
Writing it down has served as a taking off point to delve into a lot of personal baggage. Thank you for indulging me as I dumped my laundry on the floor and rummaged around in it. I hope that reading it, for you, has had half the value as writing it has had for me.