When we left the boat in Guaymas, Mexico in mid-June, my little laser thermometer gun was taking readings, everywhere inside the boat, of 104 degrees F. Galivant‘s overhead, the floor, the mast, the upholstery, every surface you could touch, was in a high grade fever. One night I slept under a wet towel, effective, but unpleasant.
We ended up at the last minute flying to Maryland, despite dreams of dispelling the summer heat in the Sea of Cortez, by sailing, snorkeling, swimming, scavenging seafood, and studying about the surrounding desert. So we hauled the boat out at Guaymas Marina, parked it in a row with a couple hundred other norteamericanos, and bolted. The last enervated gringos (may have been us!) turned off the lights when they left. We were too busy swatting mosquitoes to notice.
Then, it was a working holiday on the shores of Warehouse Creek, Kent Island, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Maryland can be steamy too, but this particular summer was, weatherwise, a delight. The land area has gotten distinctly smaller in the nearly forty years I have been there to observe. Here is a high tide, definitely higher than those of the previous century. But it’s still a lovely, mellow location.
The Annapolis Sail Boat Show is always on the agenda if we’re in town, even if we just look for friends who used to be there but don’t come any more. Might be us! On the way out of town, driving west back towards Mexico, we paid a call in West Virginia, and got introduced to mountain biking, which was something I could definitely get interested in. But as with zip-lining, I’d like a bit more time to look around as the world zooms past.
Not so on the interstate, although the autumn colors were about peaking, which that made the interstate driving way more enjoyable. Also our new-to-us car came with a Sirius radio trial period. We tried it, and liked some things, but I have to say that, at least away from highway driving, I’m pretty content listening to the noise inside my skull. ‘Talking Head Radio’ has nothing on me!
Every so often we break free from the Big Road, especially if food might be involved, and ‘check the pulse’ of the country’. Here, somewhere in Tennessee, was a mighty fine breakfast, biscuits and gravy, and grits. Though, I got the breakfast burrito, and a good one, here in the heartland. But for pure local color, not much beats the sign we saw, I forget where, that said “Do not stop for hitchhikers. Correctional facility nearby.”
I mustn’t neglect to mention the nice stop we had in northern Alabama, where Doug spent his youth, and lots of his friends and family are still reliving it. For me, it’s interesting to eavesdrop; surprising how different my connections are. And the food! It keeps on coming! We had pork barbecue with potato chips, fried okra, deep-fried pickles, jug upon jug of sweet tea. Hush puppies.
Catfish. Imported from Vietnam, when they grow nearby. What part of globalization makes that a good idea, I wondered. Read about it here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/12/16/250845123/battle-of-the-bottom-feeder-u-s-vietnam-in-catfish-fight. And wonder.
We had three kinds of greens cooked for hours with potatoes in Hazel’s very own cast-iron skillet, delicious, but not too photogenic. And cornbread mushed in buttermilk never tastes as good as it does in my brother-in-law’s kitchen.
This “world traveller” has barely set foot west of the Mississippi in all her life. From the rice paddies of Arkansas to the actually White Sands of White Sands NM, it was all new to me.
One astonishment was the miles of giant wind turbines peppering the Texas panhandle. When I Googled them later, I found out that at least some of these turbines are Google’s own; specifically the company’s effort to reduce its carbon footprint. Because of the nature of the power market, their production can’t run the Google servers directly, but they can indirectly, with carbon offset credits and wattage numbers too large for me to comprehend.
On the same subject, I was interested to read that Denmark, the world leader with forty percent of its energy coming from wind, has come to a conundrum. They can continue to increase their wind power generation, but must be concerned about harming the traditional electric companies, whose services are still required for calm or dark times. More about that here: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/science/earth/denmark-aims-for-100-percent-renewable-energy.html?referrer=&_r=0
I also learned that ten percent of Texas’s electricity needs are served by wind power, and that modern turbines can have a wingspan of 350 feet. They move in a far more stately fashion than the 3-foot spanning, sometimes spinning, wind generator on Galivant. When I commented to a waitress that cows on the ground and blades in the air must be good news for everyone, she told us that in some places, no cattle were allowed, due to problems the cows could cause for maintenance and construction crews. Culture clash? But for the owners of what, ( to an easterner, at the end of the summer) looks like pretty unpromising land, wind money is just as good as cattle money, she said. Somewhere in the vicinity is also a ‘wind farm’ lab where they test new turbine designs.
And the trains! Line after line of them, maybe 150 cars each, including many double-deckers, and three engines apiece, run (are they all always going east, or was it a scheduling thing?) alongside I-40. Back east, much of our railway right-of-way has been turned to bike path, or sits unused. Train cars labelled Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe had me humming Judy Garland’s catchy rendition (from before I was born).
“Don’t Mess With Texas” is how the anti-littering signs on I-40 put it. Another sign I liked was “DUI. You can’t afford it.” You sure can’t. I must also report that the famous Rio Grande, wherever it was that I crossed it, was narrower than the creek in front of my house, and bone dry.
After hearing the lyrics of Little Feat/Linda Ronstadt Willin‘ several hundred times without really understanding them, I had to see the place.
(And I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made Driven the backroads so I wouldn’t get weighed And if you give me weed, whites and wine And you show me a sign And I’ll be willin’ to be movin’…)
And so here is Tucumcari. Somehow I thought there would be more to it. And maybe there is. There’s a Readmore Bookstore, for one thing. And a People’s Credit Union.
One thing you see more of in the US of A than most places is the bumper sticker. Apparently, we’re an opinionated people and care to share. Yin and yang.
It was also election time. Signs proliferated, big money was spent, but at least in my county, there wasn’t much substantive conversation. My Congressional District, well, let’s not even get into that! There are times when having no TV and no phone is No Problem!
I’ll stick to reading bumper stickers. And church signs: “Become an organ donor. Give your heart to Jesus.” I’d like to see the book the pastors can chose their signs from. The Bible should be so catchy!
But for now, as we drive back to Mexico in our blue mini-van, home is where the boat is, and that’s Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico.