I peeped out from under the blankets to check the light in the car, it still seemed dim, so I curled back up. Presumed morning had not quite arrived but an aching hip wouldn’t let me go off again, back on the back seat again. I sat up and to my amazement it was snowing outside. A double take moment, wow. I was thankful for Lori’s felt blanket, I’d been pretty snug all night but remembered my nose had been cold.
Kirsty Maccoll – Endless Days, playing in my head. I sat up legs outstretched along the back seat for a few minute just enjoying the feeling of being snug in there whilst outside the snow was coming down, Kirsty’s voice looping in my head. Happy. Then folded everything up boots on and stepped out. How wonderful. Scraped the snow of the windows with a piece of card, must have been over an inch deep. I’d seen little flurries last night but I didn’t take much notice The yard I’d slept in had obviously salted as it was just mush all around us.
It was cold, so quickly back in Hummingbird heaters on, the pause then.. woosh!. We then rolled up and down main street, the old route 66 looking for a coffee bar. There were lots of restaurants, but I just wanted a coffee bar with wifi. I’d worked hard last night and wanted to post.
Hummingbird hissed along as I scoured the place, which didn’t take long. I even found the graveyard with its route 66 style trumpet blowing Angels at the gates. Really make me laugh. Gallup was quiet, not much traffic on the road, one or two figures; hunch shouldered working their way along the road against the winds.
I’d noticed a place called ‘Bert’s Bakery’ that compared to everywhere else, their parking lot was packed. Hmm. It said ‘good healthy cooking’ ‘Seattle coffee served’ ‘Fresh bread’ ‘Get your buns here’ I couldn’t resist.
I stepped inside and squinted, into the surprising dimness. There were no lights on, the sound was muted, Indians in cowboy hats, groups of people sat around tables. Behind the counter were Indians serving coffee.
An old guy was asking “Well how will I pay you?”
The lady behind the counter said “I’ll write you a note and you can owe me”
“Oh Ok” that’ll work, you sure” he said
She later told me this side of town had had a power cut.
At first I thought darn, I wanted to get something done and head off, but the vibe, in there was warm and cozy and people were talking, a quiet hum. This was the place. Coffee was good I found a table sat and had a potato and egg breakfast burrito.
“A lady was saying I haven’t had a spam Burrito in so long and that was delicious”
Perhaps because of the power cut, and perhaps not, there was no bread, but there were lots and lots of cakes, sticky donuts and pastries coated with chocolate and others oozing syrup. That is not what it had said on the billboard outside.
Next to me were two Indian guys, a little older, and a white guy and his young son had come to sit with them. I got the impression he was a school teacher. Something I have noticed whilst being here, the initial snap shot impression is spot on. In Gallup there seemed to be a genuine friendliness between the people here, the Indians and the whites all interacting. Might have been superficial but it didn’t feel like that. I overheard many times people asking about one another’s families. Same last night in the bar all having a good time together everyone interested in one another. I liked Gallup very much because of it.
I heard the white guy say
“We always talk about Ann Frank and the suffering of the Jews, why don’t we talk about the walk, the same thing happened here.”
I noted the two Navajos bristled with pride and were obviously happy at the suggestion.
He was referring to the Long walk of the Navajo in 1864 when they had been forced to march from their homeland here to Fort Sumner in southern New Mexico. It is a complex story of ages old intertribal raiding and warfare between them, the Comanche the Apache the Utes the Pueblo Indians, Hispanic settlers, Mexicans and from around 1846 the new Anglo Settlers. It culminated in not just one march but apparently over 50 between 1864-66, which caused great suffering, and loss of life for the Navajo.
Then in June 1868 after a treaty was signed, the once scattered bands of Navajo were allowed to walk back to their homelands in Arizona and granted 3.5 million acres for their reservation and which contained within it their 4 sacred mountains. In the long run, in our terms I suppose, because of this treatment the scattered bands became a more cohesive tribe. They have prospered and increased their land to 16 million acres, the largest reservation and become the largest Native American tribe in the US
Berts Bakery began closing up at around 10am and I took off to find a Denny’s to get internet connection which proved to be frustrating and eventually I just pushed Hummingbird out onto Route 66, up onto the I-40 and we were coasting west though the mist.
I’d left Albuquerque yesterday feeling really quite sad, I’d been to pick up the phone from Elaine’s boyfriend. He’d left it on the wheel arch of his car as arranged. I’d then driven back into town did some work but I was a little scattered and it took some time to just get on the move. It was a cloudy and overcast a little like my mood. I have been asked to censor my work you see. I’m not going to go into it right now, I’m processing it and it could take a little time. I have written to everybody I have written about to see if anybody has minded. Th reply’s have been very encouraging and complimentary. This is part of the journey and I promised I would be as open as I could be
When I’d arrived in Albuquerque the first night I’d had a seeing but hadn’t written it down, it had worried me. So I kept it to myself, but it was vivid and clear. Sometimes things come that are at first not understood or perhaps uncomfortable. I understand now, sometimes that is how it is. I trust it more and more.
I’d arrived in a white place, a brightly lit place, not dazzling just clean and fresh, glowing with brightness. I was in a corridor of some sort I sensed there were two exits but I had a feeling of being chased, trapped or restricted. Somebody had come into corridor the entrance just ahead, I couldn’t see them as I was hiding around a corner in the corridor. They were looking for me. As they approached I made a dash for the exit nearest me, to my right, who ever the person was sensed or heard me and came after me, I got outside, it was all white with snow. I then fell, I looked down I saw myself laying in the snow I’d been shot or hit from behind, there was blood sprayed out across the snow. I clearly saw the red blood in the snow. It had disturbed me but I understand it now.
It’s snowing here in Gallup this morning.
The drive here along the I-40 was a straight line. Though the red cliffs were magnificent they were not as personal and up close as it was out on the 9 the other day. The freeway was heavy with trucks and traffic. I’d called in at a town called Grants with the intention of working there, but it didn’t hold me. I was looking for a place to just cozy down in, sit, and catch up.
Then I’d remembered the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup where all the classic movie stars had stayed when they were out there shooting the westerns steeped in history that would be perfect.
I’d been wanting to go to Acoma Pueblo – Sky City The infamous scene of Onate’s revenge attack on the pueblo in 1599, The Pueblo had killed 11 of Onate’s men including his Nephew, they had underestimated ‘the Spanish ability to wage war’ and paid heavily. They The Spanish killed over 500 enslaved over 600 and Onate ordered all men over 25 to have their right foot amputated, a terrible price.
But for me now, I just didn’t want to stay in Grants. I would have to forgo it for the time being.
Just over an hour later I pulled up in front of El Rancho now on the historic register built in 1937 by RE Grifith brother of the movie magnate DW Grifiith, (come on it was bound to do well, it was in the family) Everybody had stayed there. A genuinely beautiful place
Signed photos cover the upstairs walls from Ronald Reagan, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Ben Johnson to name but a few Errol Flynn had apparently rode his horse into the bar when he wanted a drink It was the place to stay at its height and still retains its class.
I’d gone straight in like an old regular and asked f I could sit and write and just have a beer.
The bright cheerful receptionist came out from behind the bar and led me virtually by the arm to the bar at the back of the place. Excellent. The guy who ran it clocked me as I walked in and decided to ignore me for some reason, it went on for just for a minute too long, so I turned my attention to a lovely girl serving. She was such gentle thing. She suggested a local IPA. Perfect. I perked up and got down to business.
It had started off pretty quiet in there and I was so engrossed that I hardly looked up. She would appear out of the dimness, angelic like. Was I doing ok?
Some people bring the goodness out in you, she certainly did and some, the manager, bring the worst, he and I blanked each other all night, it was quite odd.
Every time I looked up there were more and more people, it got louder and louder. There were two Navajo couples sat a few tables away. I don’t know what was being said but it must have been funny, as the bigger of the two girls was laughing a high-pitched, glass shattering, nerve jangling jaw clenching, laugh
Have you seen that Internet clip where a guy is looking at his lap top and starts laughing and eventually everyone on the carriage joins in. This was the opposite. I was sure at any moment the glasses and bottles on the bar shelf were going so start shattering and raining down on us. It went on and on and got louder and louder, I’ve never heard anything like it. Everybody was looking uncomfortable.
Eventually and thankfully they left, the womans laughter fading into the evening outside. It was so nice to have the room back. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the bar, maybe I was in another culture, but there was some strange manic laughing going on in there, drunk laughter. Then somebody at the bar started doing Indian or maybe it was cowboy “yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee yeeee yeee yeeeeeee’s” over and over
I just kept on, engrossed and got a lot done I must have been in there 3 or 4 hours, eventually at around the witching hour I gave up. It wasn’t aggressive at all, just a bit mental so I went out to the gorgeous foyer my head aching, Perhaps it was the IPA’s. Their internet wouldn’t load the photos. Damn. I sat a while longer trying but two guys behind me were talking, one doing most of it, fast strong accents. He sounded like a dog.
Have you ever heard a dog with a rag in its mouth, shaking it from side to side growling “RRrrrr rrRRrr rr rr RrrrrRR”
I stopped what I was doing and listened. Yep it was a dog. But that was it, my head was numb. So out to Hummingbird, rolled her down the street a few blocks found a quiet spot and that was me. Out for the count.
We shot out of Gallup I decided on Sedona. But I would take the long road.
We raced what seemed to be mile long train along side the freeway, the snow blustering and swirling. As the day grew more confident the earth warmed and pushed upwards. Like an age old struggle the mist sat flat like a plate on some invisible force about 30 feet above us, above that swirling and dancing wildly. We shot through the gap westwards, eyes on the road, dodging semis and 4×4’s
As we crossed into Arizona the mist lost its hold and began to disperse. I was missing safe trusted company.
The I-40 was a bit of a trek to be honest, straight as an arrow, busy and mesmerizing. Massive trucks dragging clouds behind them. The billboards building up to Indian City, I very nearly turned off to buy what? what did I want? I broke the spell with a wave of the hand. Gosh those Navajo’s are pretty persuasive.
The family were all tucked up in the car, but quite and subdued.
“There is no need to apologize to us ” Cynthia whispered “You are tired”
The petrified Forrest National Park was coming up. Perfect. They would let me sleep there undisturbed, McDonalds had moved me on at Grants yesterday.
We rolled in ever so quietly, parked up, pillow out and under my head sarong over my eyes and I was just gone. I am not sure how long for. I am making a point of not timing it. Just going with it, when I wake I wake. That’s that.
Later I went in and watched the educational film about how the petrified forest had come about. It was all rather interesting. Then shot off to Winslow Arizona. The snow was rain now. Found a really great coffee place. Internet was fast so loaded the page. The coffee was excellent too.
The lady gave me better directions than her husband the long way round to Sedona on the 89. A man with judgment all over him eyeballed me suspiciously, kept looking at my torn worn out clothes. Irritating me I’m sorry to say.
I was glad to be out of traffic we had the beautiful road to ourselves again, across sage plains, we shot towards mesas in the far distance. Happy to be out on our own again. Yellow grass lands, red soil, the roads green fringed. I have come to notice it. Everywhere is basically brown and yellow and brittle out there, but right along the very edge of the black tarmac is a thick vibrant growth of green, it has something to do with the run off of water from the roads but I’m not sure what. It wouldn’t be noticeable at any other time of year and I am wondering why. Where my focus is on long drives I suppose
As the road subtly rose the sage and grass turned into Juniper and they into Pinion Pines and they into Douglas Fir trees and black Pines it was a long drawn out rise but we were going quick enough to notice the trees growing taller as if in quick time higher and taller the further we got. At one point I noticed 7460ft.
I do try to keep my focus on what the land looks like, memorize the different features, colours and characteristics. I think I’ve got quite good at it, but today as the trees whizzed by like a strobe I lost it and am not sure how long I was driving for. I suppose that has its purpose too, a meditation a silence and deepness, yet there was something else an old voice coming up to the surface.
Its something I haven’t heard for a long time. I call it the Geini.
Cruel and usually comes when my guards have been lowered, or battered down. It’s a pity, I was working hard on pushing him back, and it is a him. Harsh sarcastic and always there to point an accusing finger and poke a sharp stick in an old wound
“You’re weak” is what he always says. “You’re weak”
I was quite taken aback by him. Perhaps I shouldn’t have driven so far. Perhaps I should have stayed in NM. Perhaps I need a plan. Perhaps I should, I don’t know what…
I’d noticed the crows struggling all day trying to find the up thrust. It is always the same with them, I notice them, they are always clues. I thanked them.
I told the Genie to step back, he laughed
Highway 89 onto the two 60 right up there in oxygen thin heights. A beautiful drive, then we burst out of the forests, an incredible sight. Below was the Camp Verde which I’d thought was a scouts camp ground, I hadn’t realized it was a town, an old camp that had blossomed into a modern destination. Across to the north a glowing area and the clouds breaking up.
Spring had reached here. A great thing to see the lush green shoots on the cottonwoods. I really do love the cottonwoods, a swath of vibrant green. The pastels over these last few weeks had seduced me, out of my orbit you see, but gosh there is nothing like spring green, new life, new shoots, freshness.
I’d seen Sedona from up there on the 260, it seemed to glow from behind a dip valley. I’d know what the glow was and after that day it seemed that the gods were waiting just over there, warm looking, inviting.
The sun was out the valley shone, it was just remarkable as we rolled into Oak Creek. Red spires, golden domes, stunning green of the valley, incredible jaw dropping beauty. It looked like the Promised Land, in from the cold.
I drove up and down for a while looking for somewhere to sit and write, I must have driven the length of Sedona and ended up back down in Oak Creek in a pizza and brewery which was ok and played hard rock, fast internet and was ok. They closed at 10pm on the dot.
Though the land all around here is just incredible, I just didn’t recognize the place. It had had a facelift and it just seemed sort of unnatural t was beautiful and clean for sure but sort of private and unlived in.
Later that night I went to park across in the parking lot, there were a lot of white gazebos set up for some sort of craft fair. A security guard clocked me and came a tappin on my window. It is the first time I had been moved on from an empty parking lot at night. We gave a few curt words to one another. I wasn’t loving Sedona the town, but I wanted too.
I found what appeared to be a quiet park down the road in the suburbs, only find quite a hive of lights out activity. I’m not sure what was gong on but they checked me out. Lights from parked cars flicked on and off, clandestine meetings. Drugs sex guns who knows. I got out to have a pee at one point, other voices away behind me. Most odd, then a guy seemed to be giving directions on a phone, then a pick up arrived out of the darkness and he hung up.
I left them too it. I was tired I just wanted to sleep.