Modest Mouse’s most recent CD is titled This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About. The drive from Tucson to Pagosa Springs (Colorado) is pretty long, but for the most part void of the dead spots, the long stretches of featureless interstate that put you to sleep despite gallons of coffee. Be that as it may, I still had plenty to think about over 11 and a half hours there last Sunday and back yesterday.
Uncharacteristic pea soup fog between Winkelman and Globe, wistful poetry composed in my head:
I liked you better when you drove that beat up old Rodeo
And wore your hair wild and free
Before you married that preacher man
And one of the pushpins on your wall map meant you and me
And a tent and a couple of dogs
In the Galiuros Mountains
A cold night curled up like kittens
And I could almost believe the world was all right after all.
Solid, steady, winter-like rain from St. Johns to I-40:
Driving through Apache lands
A water tank lies on its side
An impromptu pile of dirt keeping it
From rolling down the side of the hill
In a grassland town named for a shell
Hundreds of miles from the sea.
Okay, the poetry buzz ran out round about hour five. The rain lasted, unabated, through to Tohatchi on the Navajo rez north of Gallup. That’s pretty weird for this time of year. Other things I saw this time I’d not seen on the previous many many times I’ve made this drive:
1. Actual non-captive, alive javelinas north of Globe. Unfortunately, I think I also saw them on the return trip, on the same stretch of road, squished. Wasn't me.
2. On the “Watch For Animals” sign outside Show Low, “And Bigfoot” scrawled in Sharpie.
3. Munoz Avenue in Gallup under construction between I-40 and NM491. No, just kidding. I’ve actually never seen it NOT under construction in 12 years of annual to semi-annual trips. Gallup, as always, blows. The sole upside was GasMax, a nice little Navajo-run station selling 86 octane for 2.99, a full 16 cents under the price at the few remaining stations that have not yet succumbed to the decade of construction-induced chaos.
4. Almost all the washes running on the Navajo reservation between Gallup and Shiprock.
In Pagosa Springs news, the march toward Aspen-ization is meeting some local resistance, with a few scattered bumper stickers reading “Keep Pagosa Pagosa” and “Save an elk: Shoot a developer.” The downtown river area has been spruced up a bit with extra large boulders replacing the smaller cobbles that used to line the banks—better for basking in the sun—and a few little boulder pools have been constructed to catch the runoff from the hot springs on the public side of the river. So now us poor folk can enjoy the sensation of being slowly boiled alive in sulfrous water for free, rather than ponying up the 15 bucks for the same experience—albeit with more lobster pots to choose from—on the resort side of the river.
After I typed this I looked at the map of the pay-to-play pools and found that one is, indeed, actually called the Lobster Pot.
The most curious addition to downtown has to be the new bell tower sitting under the new stoplight at the Pagosa and Lewis intersection. It’s a nice little tower. More accurately, it’s a nice little handicapped-accessible unisex bathroom with a belfry. You’d think they might have put the door on the backside of the structure, so people in need of the facilities could enter somewhat discreetly rather than being on full display to cars waiting at the intersection. I don’t know if the locals are in the habit yet of honking when some unfortunate soul goes inside. Or maybe that’s what triggers the bell.More scenery tomorrow; I know you're all just dying to see.