At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Too lazy for proper prose, and since it's a road trip post I'll do it Kerouac-style...

Thursday evening pick up brother at Lubbock airport, Chinese buffet (I never noticed they had green tea ice cream before but my brother discovers it by mistake, thinking it to be sherbert), back to Plainview, Friday grab some coffee at the brand-new Starbucks (hot blonde barista with elegant profile), drive through Clovis, Portales (so-so Mexican lunch), and Roswell (kitschy alien-themed signage everywhere), then along the Hondo valley thick with trees winding upwards through hills spotted with juniper and then tall ponderosa pine, (melancholy feeling from the cool autumnal air, the fading afternoon light, the solitude), resort town Ruidoso disappointing (just a block or two of gift shops), over the mountains and into the broad flat Tularosa Basin where sits Alamagordo, Days Inn advertised free internet access but my brother can only get it on his laptop by standing in the hallway, strange that Deutsche Welle is on the cable, eat dinner at tiny, junky Taiwan Kitchen restaurant, onto Hastings where we skim travel guides and debate plans for the morrow, decide on going to Guadalupe Peak and then Carlsbad, wake up early and drive to White Sands Nat'l Monument, a sweep of gypsum dunes glaring brightly in the green and brown landscape of dirt and sage, no entry fee cause half the park closed due to flooding, we walk around a short one mile trail, then leave the park and cruise down a smooth straight highway skirting the missile range (sign warns that delays may occur during testing), the Saturn (4 cylinders) struggles up a mountain pass and then swoops down into Las Cruces, there's a hillside on the left jam-packed with brown adobe houses and hardly a scrap of vegetation, on to El Paso whence I see Mexico for the first time, represented by colorful but dilapidated shanties overlooking the Rio Grande, we keep looking for someplace to eat, if only a McDonalds, but no luck, weird how drastically the highway divides crowded suburbs on the right from open desert on the left, surprised by a checkpoint in the middle of nowhere on 62/180 where we're interrogated and the luggage is sniffed at by a dog (a light says security alert is "high"), drive to Guadalupe Nat'l Park (we're hungry and we're thrilled to see that sign at the little cafe in Salt Flat says "open", but when we turn around someone pops out and turns it over to read "closed"), the usually dessicated Salt Flat is adorned with a glassy lake reflecting the mountains rising in the background, we hike for three or so hours up the side of the mountain but hunger, fatigue, and fading light cause us to quit before we reach the top, we head back down and drive off to Carlsbad, check into the Motel 6 (internet access works here) and look up a local pizzeria where we get a good big homemade thin crust supreme and some New Belgium ale, oddly a faculty member from my university walks in, but I've been wrong about that sort of thing in the past (the first time I saw Felix at BU I thought he was someone from my high school) so I don't approach him (later I confirm that it was him), then to the local Hastings (a modest oasis of culture in small southwestern towns) where we look at used CDs, next day long boring drive through flat scrubby SE NM to Lubbock, a busy Thai place for lunch, CD shopping (I get Dave Brubeck and the Beatles), Little Miss Sunshine (weak, tasteless attempts at humor, a sickly child of Squid and the Whale (dysfunctional family) and Sideways (depressing western road trip)), and a Japanese steakhouse for dinner (which has the most open space I've ever seen in a restarant) then back home, next morning back to Lubbock for pancakes and then to the airport.